Kansas City Restaurant Week (January 13-22), presented by US Foods, features more than 180 participating restaurants that showcase the dynamic eating scene around and in KC. These restaurants offer multi-course, customized lunch and dinner menus at two pricing tiers ($15 and $33).
For a guide to dining in Johnson County, we stopped by J. Gilbert’s, Story, and 801 Chophouse, who each offer their own take on premium pork as part of their KCRW menu.
J. Gilbert’s Wood-fired Steaks and Seafood (8901 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park), 913.642.8070
Executive chef Ruben Rosales has led kitchen operations for 22 years at J. Gilbert’s in Overland Park. Rosales continues to take pride in highlighting the restaurant’s dedication to premium meats and seafood for KCRW.
The wood-fired steaks the restaurant touts are prepared on a grill fueled by Texas mesquite. Rosales prefers the distinctive aroma and flavor the wood imparts to the meat over other woods. The mesquite grilled steak sells itself,” Rosales says.
He understands that his dining audience is more sophisticated and his food must meet a high standard.
“Everyone knows more about food than ten years ago,” he says. “It’s a tough crowd. There are so many restaurants in Kansas City. We want people to know they’ll get a good value. We use quality ingredients such as USDA grade prime meat in the top one-percent.”
This year, it’s hard to miss the hefty 14-oz. North Carolina pork chop served with Yukon gold potatoes, white cheddar cheese, French green beans, spiced pecans and shallots. Served with a chutney-like mostarda of golden raisins with cinnamon and other spices, this entree clearly falls into the hearty comfort food category.
Rosales points out that J. Gilbert’s, a sister restaurant to Bristol Seafood Grill, benefits from that connection by receiving fresh seafood shipments twice a week. The freshness is evident in other KCRW dishes, such as seared scallops or planked salmon coated in a bourbon glaze. Both entrees are served with the same sides as the pork chop. The meal also includes a choice of a house salad, Caesar salad, or crab bisque. For a nominal upcharge, guests may add a 6-oz filet to their order.
Story (3931 W 69th Terrace, Prairie Village), 913.236.9955
Chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen and his wife Susan opened Story nearly six years ago in The Village Shops. Year-round, chef Thorne-Thomsen prepares and serves smartly composed dishes with refined flavors. The ingredients work in concert with each other and represent dishes that connect with the seasons.
Case in point: a Restaurant Week dish of pork tenderloin is served with parsnip, sage spaetzle, and braised pork belly. The entree’s robust flavors and ingredients reflect classic Midwest fare with slightly elevated presentation. The tenderloin is complemented by the concentrated flavor and crisp texture of pork belly. Parsnip, a humble root vegetable, and the subtle use of sage play supporting roles that bring the dish together in an effortless manner. This the quiet storyline of Thorne-Thomsen’s cooking. It makes innate sense even if a diner doesn’t care to deconstruct and parse each element. It’s simply rewarding.
Other courses will include soup and salad as a starter, such as Caesar salad or shrimp bisque. Mahi mahi is another entree that will be featured.
Thorne-Thomsen sees Restaurant Week as an opportunity “to show who we are.” The Restaurant Week menu will hold true to the cuisine that has earned Thorne-Thomsen recognition as a 2013 James Beard semifinalist nominee for Best Chef Midwest and accolades from Food and Wine magazine.
“We will do our food and won’t dumb it down,” Thorne-Thomsen says. “We want guests to have the Story experience. We try to make people happy.”
General manager Jeff Thrall, honored by the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association as Manager of the Year for 2015, is another key figure at Story. Thrall ensures that each meal service proceeds smoothly with attentive service. Thrall’s knowledge of wine as a sommelier is valuable as a resource.
Since inception, Story’s wine list has grown from 100 to more than 500 bottles. The list earned Story recognition from Wine Spectator with a “Best of Award of Excellence” designation. Thrall and the servers confidently guide guests through the dynamic wine options available for lunch and dinner service.
801 Chophouse (Park Place, 11616 Ash St, Leawood), 913.322.1801
Chef Jonathan Lopez presents a hefty dinner entree that highlights a double bone Duroc pork chop sourced from Compart Farms in Iowa. The dish, also available with a single pork chop (the double chop is a $10 upcharge), includes roasted vegetable and potato hash with cider jus. A 6 oz. Filet Mignon DeBurgo (8 oz., add $10; 12 oz., add $20) and Irish Organic Salmon round out the entree dinner selections for Restaurant Week. These dishes are also popular items on the restaurant’s menu.
“We specialize in USDA Prime on 100-percent of our menu. Everything down to our hamburger is prime,” general manager Christopher Drake says.
Starter course options are butternut squash bisque, Caesar salad, or chilled iceberg wedge salad. For dessert, New York cheesecake is always tempting, but creme brulee and fresh fruit sorbet are available for a sweet touch to conclude the meal.
“Restaurant Week is a great opportunity for people to experience our restaurant on a budget,” says Drake. “It also helps to raise awareness of local causes.”
Like Story, the restaurant’s extensive wine list has earned the “Best of Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator. Visit 801 Chophouse to dine, drink and savor its elegant dining room for a memorable night on the town.
Kansas City Restaurant Week is sponsoring a series of posts about the menus and food of restaurant week, which runs from January 13 through January 22, 2017. In this week’s post, Pete Dulin covered Johnson County. The Recommended Daily is a Bronze Fork Sponsor of KCRW. The culinary showcase also serves as a fundraiser with 10 percent of KCRW sales going to BoysGrow, Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, Cultivate Kansas City, Kansas City Regional Development Foundation, and the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.