InterContinental hotel makeover includes new French-inspired restaurant

The carpaccio features beef filet, caper, truffle oil, arugula and croutons.
The carpaccio features beef filet, caper, truffle oil, arugula and croutons.

The InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza’s new $16 million-plus makeover includes a French-infused dining destination overlooking the Country Club Plaza.

American Slang Modern Brasserie is on the first floor of the hotel, at 401 Ward Parkway, in the former Oak Room space.

David Ashen, founder of New York’s Dash Design, wanted to give the restaurant and bar its own identity, separate from the hotel but in keeping with the InterContinental brand. Black-and-white check flooring, subway tile, marble and brass appointments, alligator upholstery and a brasserie table are among the touches that make for a “bright and airy modern brasserie,” casual but elegant, he said.

Previously, customers might have come just once a month or so, using the Oak Room as a place for special occasions. Now the hotel hopes they will come several times a month — for a morning stop for Starbucks coffee and pastries by Baked in Kansas City in the market area or for lunch, happy hour or dinner. The market area also sells products by local specialty food vendors.

Executive chef Drue Kennedy was previously with the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence, Grand Street Cafe just east of the Plaza and most recently was the executive chef at Seasons 52 on the Plaza. He will feature “French cuisine with a twist,” including his personal favorites: vanilla-battered French toast and omelette du fromage (slang translation “The Big Cheese”) for breakfast; the beet and butter lettuce salad with goat cheese croquette for lunch; and trout amandine and steak frites for dinner.

For his chicken entree, the chicken has a mushroom stuffing, then is rolled up and poached and finished off in the oven for a crispy skin. He also offers small plates such as marinated olives and carpaccio for sharing, mussels, soups, burgers, lobster pot pie and four desserts, including a chocolate crepe cake.

The American dip sandwich comes with prime rib, caramelized onion, provolone, au jus and horseradish cream on a baguette.

“Here’s something American, but we are going to put a French take on it. How would a French chef interpret an American dip?” Kennedy said.

American Slang’s full bar seats 35 people, with USB ports at each seat. It also offers signature cocktails and more than 60 craft beers, kept on the bar back in vintage-style commercial refrigerators made in Spain.

Ashen’s friend, New York artist Manuel Santelices, did several illustrations of famous people, some with Kansas City ties — including Kate Spade, Burt Bacharach and Ernest Hemingway — as well as Kate Moss, Count Basie and others for the bar area. A Portland, Ore., artist created a fashion illustration-style mural of the Plaza on the back wall by the private event space, which can be sectioned off for groups of up to 100 people.

The InterContinental renovation, which has taken more than a year, included the grand lobby, 371 guest rooms and suites, and public areas of the hotel, circa 1972. In 2016, the city approved a controversial 1-cent community improvement district sales tax, imposed just within the hotel property, to help fund the renovations. The controversy arose when the hotel sought a “blight” designation. As part of the agreement, the hotel agreed to provide $250,000 over the next seven years to help needy senior citizens with home repairs.

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC