Wesley Boston started his restaurant career in a hamburger and hot dog joint in Chicago.
After culinary school, Boston worked at a Chicago-area Italian restaurant, then helped open restaurants all over the country for The Cheesecake Factory and Bravo! Cucina Italiana. The chef worked stints in Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, D.C., Michigan, Iowa and Utah before accepting a position as executive chef at the more upscale Sullivan’s Steakhouse
in Leawood. Sullivan’s is a franchise of Texas-based Del Frisco Restaurant Group.
He says his travels taught him a lot about regional cravings.
“In Salt Lake City, they drink Dr Pepper with lime,” Boston says, and they make “fry sauce” out of ketchup and mayonnaise. Since relocatingover the summer, Boston says he’s learned that people here love their barbecue sauce and meat. “This is beef country,” Boston says. “Compared to a lot of the other Sullivan’s (Steakhouses), we sell very little seafood.”
“I get it — I’m a steak guy, too.”
When I ate at Sullivan’s over the holidays, I (like a good Midwesterner) went for the steak. The bestselling filet mignon was a solid choice: The 8-oz. steak was perfectly charred on the outside, tender and succulent on the inside. A side of horseradish mashed potatoes helped soak up all of the steak’s flavor-packed juices.
Because I wanted to sample several menu items, I opted for “The Sure Thing” prix fixe meal, which costs $39 and comes with an appetizer, soup or salad, and smaller-portioned entree. The server-recommended cheesesteak eggrolls and iceberg wedge salad rounded out my deliciously over-the-top meal.
The super-cold and crisp salad was laden with a rich, creamy and sharp blue cheese dressing. And the fries that came with my date’s peppercorn-encrusted Steak Au Poivre ($29) were topped with a heap of lump crab meat and Parmesan cream sauce.
“We don't really hold back on our flavors,” Boston says. “We go pretty bold.”
Bold is a good way to describe the handsome bar at Sullivan’s — there are sexy jazz murals on the walls, a cigar case near the bathrooms, a smoking patio that opens on warm days, a cocktail menu full of dangerous martinis (try the pineapple-infused Knockout) and live music almost every night of the week, except Monday.
One of menu’s heftiest offerings is the 22-oz. bone-in ribeye cowboy cut steak. The $43 hunk of dry-aged meat looks like something Fred Flintstone might order. “There’s no way around it,” Boston says. “That steak is amazing.” At Sullivan’s, the steaks are broiled, so they don’t have grill marks — just an all-over crust of flavor that comes from searing at a high temperature.
When you start with quality steak and seafood, Boston says, keeping the preparation simple is best. He says Sullivan’s Steakhouse flies in fresh fish from Boston, a costly choice that pays off on the plate.
“If we get a great piece of sea bass, it gets salt and pepper,” Boston says. “That’s all it needs. I never want to offend a great ingredient by trying to make it something it’s not.” Any good chef knows when to go bold and when to keep it simple. Sometimes, Boston manages to do both at the same time. The chef, who’s studying to be a Cicerone, crafted food pairings for a New Belgium beer dinner in October. For dessert, he matched pumpkin ale with funnel cake. Aside from the salted caramel drizzle, he kept the funnel cake recipe classic.
“Funnel cake is so delicious,” the chef says. “Why mess with it?”
It sounds like Boston has landed in the right place — because here in the Midwest, we can certainly appreciate good steak and funnel cake.
Location: 4501 W. 119th St. in Leawood’s Town Center Crossing
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 4-11 p.m. Saturday and 3-10 p.m. Sunday
Credit cards: Yes
Parking: Free lot
Live music at the bar: Every night of the week except Monday.
For a good deal: Go on Thursday and grab a seat in the bar, where select drinks and dishes are discounted. You can get the popular Leawood Burger, topped with candied jalapenos, bacon and cheddar, for $6. And Sullivan’s signature cocktail, the pineapple-infused Knockout martini, is also $6 on Thursday.
Don’t miss: The $39 “Sure Thing” prix fix menu is a good choice if you like variety. The three-course meal comes with your choice of starter, soup or salad and an entree. Best bets: The cheesesteak eggroll appetizer, the iceberg wedge salad and the 8-ounce filet mignon, served with a heap of garlic-horseradish mashed potatoes.
Vegetarian: A steakhouse probably isn’t the best place for vegetarians, but there are a handful of meat-free options on Sullivan’s menu. Try the seasonal Kale Salad ($9), topped with apples, dried cranberries, candied pecans and goat cheese. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding ($8), topped with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce.
More info: SullivansSteakhouse.com/Leawood