Cityscape

Iconic Savoy restaurant aims for 'throwback' feel with fun, like blue cotton candy

The Savoy restaurant opens with a 'throwback feel'

Savoy's Executive Chef Joe West and his team bring the old and new worlds together in a menu that pays homage to the Savoy's heyday, while also showing they are here to be creative and have fun. The Savoy is located at 219 W. Ninth Street.
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Savoy's Executive Chef Joe West and his team bring the old and new worlds together in a menu that pays homage to the Savoy's heyday, while also showing they are here to be creative and have fun. The Savoy is located at 219 W. Ninth Street.

The Savoy restaurant reopens July 3 with many fan favorites — the dark-paneled walls and crown molding, stained glass, carved oak bar, 1903 murals of pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail and booth No. 4 "The President's Booth. Harry S. Truman's favorite" in what is now the lounge.

But it also has some dazzling new touches in its contemporary main dining room, including overhead lighting "fins" that subtly change colors throughout the meal (brighter earlier in the evening and deeper colors later at night) while also absorbing sounds. One guest at a preview event described it as "dining under a tanning bed."

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The Savoy's contemporary main dining room features overhead lighting "fins" that subtly change colors. Joyce Smith jsmith@kcstar.com

Executive chef Joe West and his team bring the old and new worlds together in a menu that pays homage to the Savoy's heyday, while also showing they are here to be creative and have fun. The Savoy, at 219 W. Ninth St., has been redeveloped by 21c Museum Hotels.

So there's vichyssoise — the chilled, creamy potato-leek soup "because it's hot outside." Scallops Menieure with a sauce of brown butter, capers and lemon "that makes us all smile," and a side dish of potato gnocchi because West was "the fastest gnocchi maker at a restaurant in Las Vegas. Just saying." The towering Burger Royale is a dry-aged double-steak cheeseburger with "really good" Wisconsin American Cheese.

Longtime Savoy fans clamored for the return of the prime rib ($32), as well as the lobster. West's Lobster Newberg is poached in a butter bath and served with cognac-sherry sauce (market rates). At a preview event June 29, an Independence guest planned to return as a customer for another serving of the roasted Apicius Duck ($23).

"Introductions" include the chicken liver mousse with hand-picked summer cherries ($9) and the avocado crab Louis (butter lettuce, lump crab, heirloom tomatoes and champagne vinaigrette for $13) — both popular orders during the preview dinner.

Customers can add caviar to their omelets for an extra fee. Desserts include passion fruit and coconut cake, profiteroles, baked Alaska and individual key lime pies, as well as blue cotton candy in a copper mug, a treat that brought out big smiles.

"So my vision here at the Savoy was to create a mid-century throwback. I wanted to evoke a certain emotion and bring back some fond memories for people," West said. "I also wanted to bring back some old classics that you may not have seen recently ... a lot of French influence, a lot of Americana nostalgia. We just wanted to have fun with it."

West has been in the restaurant industry for nearly two decades, including stints at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colo. Locally he worked for the former 40 Sardines and Bluestem, but was most recently executive chef of Stock Hill Kansas City Steakhouse just south of the Country Club Plaza.

Scott Tipton is food and beverage director for the Savoy at 21c Kansas City. He had previously been with several Kansas City operations — Gram & Dun, Kill Devil Club, Julep, Manifesto and the R Bar.

Hours will be 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The lounge will be open 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The bar menu will be served until midnight daily. Expanded hours will be announced later with the opening of the hotel.

Redevelopers 21c Museum Hotels, based in Louisville, Ky., was founded in 2006. They purchased the Savoy in late 2014 and have been renovating it since mid-2015.

It is taking hotel reservations that start Aug. 5.

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