On this site I keep a list of restaurants around the country that I would like to visit someday. Many of these restaurants are located in major metropolitan areas – LA, NYC, Chicago, etc. However, there are several that reside within cities that I would not often have cause to travel to. One of these destinations, directly south of my Twin Cities home, is Kansas City. Fortunately for me, work called me to visit Kansas City recently; a visit where I fully capitalized on the opportunity to dine at the American Restaurant.
With such celebrated former executive chefs as Celina Tio and Debbie Gold, the American Restaurant is an icon of Midwest fine dining. Garnering local and national accolades, including nods from the James Beard Awards, the long and successful history of the restaurant is a draw unto itself. Although remarked upon as dated by some, the interior look and feel of The American Restaurant is nostalgic, its high sweeping ceilings and view of the city impressive.
Following the departure of Debbie Gold, a long search for The American Restaurant’s next executive chef would find Chef Michael Corvino. Taking the helm of The American Restaurant in mid-July, Chef Corvino has worked quickly to put his stamp of Eastern influenced cuisine on the menu. I’ve had the fortune of dining at The American Restaurant twice in recent months, and the following is a selection of some of my favorite dishes so far:
A tender, sweet example of well-executed scallop sits atop an intensely flavored blend of farro. The savoriness and spice of chorizo coats the palate, with relief coming from the slight sour tinge of yogurt.
Tender morsels of lamb are dotted with floral and spice in this plate. The mixture of blossoms and color are reminiscent of falling fall foliage, apropos of the season. The flavors of game in the lamb are balanced with a spicy romesco, which adds a warmth to each bite.
A lean cut of strip loin brings forth an intensity of beefy flavor, which is matched smartly with smokiness from the garlic bearnaise. Elements of chili bring with them a steady heat. The potatoes, prepared in Wagyu fat, round out the plate with fattiness.
My palate tends to favor lighter desserts with bright flavors, a preference that was satisfied with this plate. The citrus and sour bite of lemon cake and curd cleanse the palate after the multitude of savory courses before them. Rhubarb compote and gelato balance the puckering sourness with cool temperature and sweetness.
In this course, slices of sweet lobster float among other components in a sea of avocado. Cantaloupe brings a fresh, juicy sweet quality to each forkful. The creaminess of whipped avocado is countered by the bite of long peppers and the vinegary notes of the coral vinaigrette.
Perfectly crispy skin cracks and gives way to the substantial flavor of duck. Charred cabbage brings weight and bitterness, which marries well with the flavor of game. Smoked mushrooms are woodsy in both taste and floral quality. Huckleberry and rhubarb reign in the savory and bitter play of the other elements, creating balance with tart and sweet.
Bittersweet were my experiences at The American Restaurant. On one hand, I had not enjoyed the restaurant under any of its previous celebrated chefs; On the other, I have experienced delectable flavors from its newest culinary captain. Chef Michael Corvino, in a short period of time, has managed to deliver a tasting experience that lives up to my expectations of the storied restaurant. I will have the opportunity to dine in Kansas City again this winter, and a repeat visit to The American Restaurant is certainly in order.
The American Restaurant
200 E 25th Street Ste. 400
Kansas City, MO 64108