Food News

Just a Bite: June/July

The latest updates in Kansas City’s growing food and drink scene

We All Scream

Last December, Westport businesswoman Murray Nixon quietly closed her beloved namesake ice cream shop in Westport after 32 years—and auctioned off all the equipment.

A trio of new owners: brothers Steve and Dan Engravalle, natives of New Jersey, and Dan’s wife, Debra, purchased much of the equipment at the auction and later negotiated for the lease of the longtime Murray’s location at 4120 Pennsylvania Avenue. On May 13th, they reopened that location as the Westport Ice Cream Bakery, featuring house-made ice creams and Italian ices.

In New Jersey, the popular dairy-free ices are known by the name shalolly—a regional term possibly inspired by the word gelato. That’s also the way the delicacy is offered at the Engravalle’s new shop, in flavors like cherry, orange, fresh lemon, blueberry, coconut and peach.

The Engravalles hired baker Mary Braasch to oversee the preparation of cookies, brownies and biscotti. Debra Engravalle won’t reveal too many secrets about their ice cream recipes, but says they will offer a repertoire as large as Murray’s and have their favorites, including a minty “Frankenstein” flavor that she describes as “green.”

The hours of the Westport Ice Cream Bakery will be daily from noon to 9:30 p.m.

Unlike Murray Nixon, the new owners have no plans to close the shop during winter months: “The store will stay open all year,” Debra Engravalle says.

It’s Pure Gold

Spaces_124-2Rumor has it that the expression “Third times the charm” dates back to Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor from 400 years ago. But the sentiment can be as fresh as last month for James Beard Award-winning chef Debbie Gold, who returns to Kansas City’s most legendary restaurant, The American, for the third time.

Gold first shared culinary duties at The American in the 1990s with her then-husband Michael Smith (now the co-owner of his own restaurants in the Crossroads), then returned to the venue as a solo act in 2008 and left to pursue another venture five years later.

Now that 43-year-old venue is undergoing a modern revival as an event space and pop-up operation, Gold is returning for her own third act in the Warren Platner-designed dining room as executive chef, overseeing the culinary details for private dining and events (including wedding receptions, under the umbrella of “Hallmark Weddings”) ranging in size from 50 to 250 guests.

Long coveted as a reception space for glamorous weddings, this new incarnation of The American—which will, ideally, keep the iconic dining room open for another generation—maintains the theatricality of the space without altering its unique identity.

Remaking a Classic

Spaces_124-3Admittedly, the 41-year-old tea room at the back of the iconic Andre’s Confiserie Suisse at 5108 Main Street had become dated over the years: the chalet-style décor—while still evoking nostalgia—had lost some of its rustic charm.

In July, the lovable restaurant will get an extensive makeover.

The Bollier family, owners of the chocolate shop and tea room—which offers a choice from two hot meals and dessert for $16.52 every Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.—will close the venue for two months to update the room, adding hardwood floors and a coffee area.

During the period that the tea room remains closed, meals will be served in the café at the front of the shop, which was added three years ago and—unlike the tea room—has extended hours, serving from a full menu until 9 p.m.