Keeping Kansas City in the Loop
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Catcher in the Rye

It took awhile for culinary couple Colby and Megan Garrelts to open the doors on their new baby, Rye, in Mission Farms.

But once the space — formerly occupied by a few upstarts — was ready, the welcome sign appeared. 

The talented duo, already vetted for their expertise at first-born Bluestem, is proudly ushering those coming into the warm ambiance of Rye, a room bespoke with Midwestern hospitality.

The vestiges of another time surround diners in this big house.

General manager Jeremy Lamb says, “Colby and Megan designed appointments that harken back to simpler times.”

A copper-topped chef table, hand-hewed beams, Edison-bulb fixtures, marble bar and a concrete floor striated in a wash of India Ink — everything adds up to a relaxing, convivial atmosphere where no one’s a stranger. 

“Actually we’ve been jammed,” says Lamb, unabashedly referring to scads of folks who’ve been frequenting since a late-2012 opening.

 

This Way Please

If you go early, snag a spot in the back where a lively kitchen crew dances to a fast-paced rhythm. It’s a nice glimpse into choreography Colby has thoughtfully orchestrated.

And so, with dinner in mind, Chowhound and I commenced.

Whipped goat cheese and a side of mac and cheese came first ($6 each). Both tasty intros.

I looked forward to the entrée: buttered hot shrimp with Anson Mills grits, cheddar and pulled pork ($22). Colby managed to put a spin on the whole affair with a slight kick. I liked the heat and the melding of tastes.

The Garrelts want you to notice that they’ve conjured up a truly hardy menu that delves into dishes that stick to the ribs.

Fried chicken, burnt ends, mashed potatoes or potato dumplings, chili — no frills here. It’s ubiquitously American food that never goes out of style.

But when a James Beard Award-winning chef takes his turn with these standards, the results are nothing short of … well, award-winning.

Chowhound managed to all but lick the plate of his toasty smoked brisket burnt ends ($22). With a sly smile, I didn’t need to ask him what he thought.

That evening, I glanced around and the merry crowd was in high spirits. The bar, backing into the dinning room, beckoned those to swig and swirl.

They take the zing right to the adjacent dining room that undeniably has a din.

It reminds me of a highfalutin saloon minus a showdown. But a saloon doesn’t dote on dessert.

Megan, a fine pastry chef, does however. She should be crowned the Sweet Queen. We tried her apple raisin crisp with a dollop of nutmeg ale ice cream ($6). That alone was enough to get me back for the next visit.

 

Day Trippers

Seeking to be warm and coddled, Tastebud and I managed to once again snag a seat by the kitchen for a late mid-week lunch.

The place bustled — mostly filled with chatter from ladies who lunch — so we fit in nicely.

Phil, our server, was gracious and happy to oblige with first picks: “I’ll try the poached egg frisée salad ($6),” I said.

“And I’ll start with the soup ($5),” said Tastebud.

Normally, a salad’s a salad but this was exceptional. The egg, all ooey-gooey, was perfect, slicking up the greens with a silky coating.

Tastebud was warming her cockles with a cup of steaming, beefy soup. I never heard a peep until she told Phil she was taking home half.

So it’s two-for-two with no strikeouts at this point.

Since I hadn’t run across a decent pork tenderloin since Wimpy’s on Troost closed decades ago, “I’ll try it,” I said, adding, “with a side of mushrooms.”

“How’s the chicken?” I asked.

“There’s little better, unless it’s sided with mashed potatoes and gravy,” said Phil.

And so it was — all the real deal.

I was thrilled with my tenderloin considering its tough reputation. But this wasn’t. Enrobed in a puffy bun, melted with cheese and layered with a mustard mayo, the meat was tenderly pounded ($9).

Crunching along, Tastebud was a happy sidekick.

“I don’t usually pop for fried chicken unless it’s Stroud’s,” she admitted. “But this is great. I understand it’s brined first.” ($10)

I like this Tastebud, not just because she’ll throw in a nugget of info, but because she always wants dessert.

“You pick,” she nodded my way, and with little hesitation I ordered the Kansas Pecan Pie ($6).

“We should toast Megan,” I said, then reconsidered we add Colby.

“Here, here.”

Rye
10551 Mission Road
Leawood, Kan.
(913) 642-5800
ryekc.com

Gloria Gale is an Overland Park-based food writer. “On the Menu” is not a restaurant review, it is a summary of dining out in the metro area.

photos: Bonjwing Lee

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