On Westport Road, tucked away in the new AC Hotel, is the neighborhood’s newest hangout — AC Lounge.
Since the boutique Marriott property opened last week, people have been wandering in to check out the bar. At first glance it looks itty-bitty. A sign reads “Maximum occupancy: 24.”
Instead of feeling like a claustrophobic nightmare, the vibe is airy and light. There are no walls, not really, just walkways and windows with breezy sheer curtains. It’s the kind of place where Olivia Pope might go to watch “Empire” and escape her own scandals.
While so many hotels go mod with bold and bright colors, AC Hotel and its lounge oozes soft sophistication with bronze, chrome and white. You could sit at the bar in the plush leather stools or at round tables with cushy chairs, or relax on the couch. On a Sunday evening, a flat-screen on the wall plays CNN on silent. The music is soft but soulful: Janelle Monae, Pharell, Ed Sheeran and Aloe Blacc, the songs you feel in your chest.
It’s instant vintage, and something about it makes you just wish for a pool or patio. But that’s all right. At least you get your sunshine in the drinks.
Ask for AC’s signature cocktail: Battle of Westport ($11) — blood orange, St. Germain and Dark Horse Distillery Long Shot White Whiskey. Trust me when I say it’s a short glass of spring, equal parts floral and citrus sweet. My other favorite leans toward the summer — the Porch Rocker ($11), a tall glass of Patron, lime, Campari and grapefruit soda. Don’t drink it too fast; it’s stronger than the bitter fizz suggests.
And the menu? Let’s talk about surprises. There aren’t many bars where I can take my vegetarian fashionista friend JC, and her options are stacked. Even on a short menu of small plates, she finds plenty to rave about. We settle on the Parmesan and sea salt kale chips ($3), cilantro lime pistachios and pepitas ($3) and some spicy roasted fava beans ($3) with a Corn Nuts flair. Sounds strange, but these beans are addictive.
Another must-try: tomato-braised eggplant and ricotta toast ($5). An order comes with three pieces and tastes like pizza. This is about as healthy as bar food gets. But the dessert is still decadent. Anyone want some goat cheese and honey cheesecake ($5)? I do.
By the time we’re done ordering, deliciousness crowds our little table. But don’t worry about the lounge getting too packed with people. The bar might have limited seating, but it opens right into the hotel lobby, where couches, tables and chairs make for a posh coffee shop vibe. A game room with two white tables is hidden in the back of the lobby. Go for the one with the bronze-leather high-back chairs and the sexy set of Xs and Os for tic-tac-toe.
AC Lounge might be a mini bar, but it’s big on good times.
The lounge is in AC Hotel, 560 Westport Road, in the former Q Hotel + Spa. It’s open 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. For more information, go to ACHotelsKansasCity.com