I am a traditionalist.
I love “old school” cuisine whether it’s Italian, French or American. And I especially love Southern American cuisine. I travel the south looking for great restaurants that uphold the traditions of Sunday brunch, fried chicken & waffles, deviled eggs, smothered pork chops, collard greens, mac & cheese, shrimp & grits, low country navy beans, black eyed peas and gumbo. … My list is endless.
Well guess what? I found this all in my own backyard. Yes, right here in Kansas City at the new Magnolia’s Southern Cuisine & Bourbon Bar.
Chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant operated the old Magnolia’s at 29th and Cherry for three years, and it was time to move to a larger location. The 99th and Holmes space is twice as large as Magnolia’s old home, allowing Chef McAfee-Bryant to expand her menu, serve more diners faster and offer other features. “The whole entire old restaurant could fit into the new dining room,” she said.
At Magnolia’s, McAfee-Bryant celebrates the South’s world-famous culinary tradition with highly flavorful recipes that are rooted in seasonal freshness and ethnic diversity. Magnolia’s dishes are prepared with a passion for perfection. The Food Network “Cutthroat Kitchen” winner has perfected Magnolia’s menu and regularly adds new and exciting dishes that have foodies in Kansas City talking for days about how wonderful the food tastes.
Chef McAfee-Bryant understands how the South’s culture, history, people and seasons help shape its cuisine, and she has poured this knowledge into her mouth-watering dishes. With every dish she embraces the philosophy that there is an intimacy between good food and cooking so you can literally taste the love in every bite.
Southern Cuisine is the oldest and most developed of all regional American cooking styles. Its culinary tradition is based on seasonal freshness, ethnic diversity, simply prepared, highly flavored food. For these reasons, it has become one of America’s favorite ways to dine. At Magnolia’s, McAfee-Bryant honors the Southern tradition in Kansas City by creating a menu that combines the purest flavors, the freshest ingredients and the highest quality herbs and spices with a dash of culinary passion.
Her passion for food started with the homemade crust she made for an apple pie at the age of 13. Just four years later with a new baby in tow she trained at The Culinary Institute at Johnson County Community College. Magnolia’s has been nominated for Best Small Business in Kansas City by the KC Chamber of Commerce, Best Brunch Spot by KC Magazine, Top 12 Restaurants in 2012 by KC magazine and many other honors throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Magnolia’s serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. As for this chef, I fell in love with her Sunday brunch. Actually, it’s my favorite meal of the week other than Sunday dinner. Yes, I like Sundays!! It’s family day and Magnolia’s is the perfect setting.
Magnolia’s was the first place I experienced red velvet waffles. Let me tell you, the memory stays with me and it’s one of my favorite breakfast dishes. How about sweet potato pancakes that are to die for along with buttermilk pecan waffles & Nutter Butter French toast, traditional Southern biscuits and gravy along with buttered grits, braised short ribs, Nashville chicken and pickled beet salad. The kitchen is very creative with a Nolia Skillet of sweet potato hash, andouille sausage, eggs and smoked Gouda cheese.
And this story would not be complete without my all-time favorite brunch dish and that is Chef McAfee-Bryant’s Southern Eggs Benedict over toasted sweet potato biscuits with Dr. Pepper glazed ham and a crab Creole béarnaise sauce. Oh my God, I think I just gained five pounds describing this dish. Need I say more?
Did you think I forgot about desserts? White Chocolate Blueberry Bread Pudding prepared with toasted local Farm to Market challah croutons, white chocolate vanilla custard, fresh blueberries along with McAfee-Bryant’s Sweet Potato Pie and Buttermilk Chess Pie. And the cobbler … Oh the cobbler. Now THAT IS SOUTHERN!!!!
I recently had dinner with McAfee-Bryant and after tasting a few bourbons at her newly opened Bourbon Bar inside Magnolia’s, she explained to me, “I like to honor the tradition of many old-school soul food recipes and give each dish our own creative flair and that’s how I have created a lot of my dishes.”
I have personally been back in the kitchen with Chef McAfee-Bryant and I have seen her passion in action not only while cooking but also while expediting dishes.
I felt bad putting the chef on the spot but I just had to request a recipe. The chef did not even hesitate and I’m very happy to share the recipe with you and I think after a few more visits to the Bourbon Bar, I may just get that sweet potato biscuit with Dr. Pepper glazed ham and creole béarnaise recipe.
Seriously Southern, seriously delicious!
Magnolia’s Southern Cuisine & Bourbon Bar, 99th and Holmes.
Magnolia’s Sweet Potato Pancakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup grated sweet potato
3 large eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups buttermilk
1. In large bowl combine the flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and grated sweet potatoes
2. In second mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, melted butter and buttermilk.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk 10-15 times until the batter is combined (batter may still look a little chunky and that is OK)
4. Heat nonstick griddle to medium high and spoon batter on griddle top to make pancakes the desired size, once the pancake starts to form bubbles, it is ready to flip.
5. Serve on powdered sugar plate with melted cinnamon butter and warm maple syrup.
Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 62-year-old restaurant with his brother. Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.