There’s more to January than Kansas University basketball. Yes, it’s true. There’s also Kansas City Restaurant Week — 10 glorious, gluttonous days in January when many of the metro’s best restaurants (as well as a few mediocre ones) serve three-course prix-fixe dinners for only $30, and lunches for $15.
Now in its fourth year, Kansas City Restaurant Week draws diners out during a typically slow, cold month for the hospitality industry, and also gives back to the community. This year, 10 percent of each meal will be donated to three local charities, including Harvesters, a local food bank.
Because of the wide variety of places that participate — more than 120 this year — you can end up spending $30 on a dinner that would normally cost you $30, or you can be smart about it and spend $30 on a dinner that would normally cost at least twice that.
The fun begins this Friday and runs through Sunday, Jan. 27. But if you want to dine at any of the places listed below, I recommend making your reservations today. Here are just a few highlights among the more than 120 participating restaurants.
The American Restaurant
Sure, the inside of The American Restaurant (200 E. 25th St., Kansas City, Mo., 816-545-8000) at Crown Center looks like the set of “The Golden Girls” if it’d taken place in a casino. But that’s part of the charm. The other part is its executive chef, Debbie Gold, a James Beard Award winner and “Top Chef” Master, whose three-course tasting menu that usually starts at around $60 can be had for $30 per person during Restaurant Week.
If you like your steak rare, your seafood plentiful and your drinks strong, try 801 Chophouse (11616 Ash St., Leawood, 913-322-1801) — especially if you owe your in-laws dinner. This is an old-school dining experience, complete with white tablecloths. You’ll almost feel bad paying only $30 for three courses here. Almost. (Note: The Power & Light District location in downtown Kansas City is not participating.)
Le Fou Frog
Le Fou Frog (400 E. Fifth St., Kansas City, Mo., 816-474-6060) in the River Market is as French as you can get — in Kansas City anyway. And I’m not just talking about the food. Someone from the staff serenades the dining room on most, if not all, nights. I just don’t know how I’m going to choose between its Restaurant Week starters: Salade de Chevre Chaud avec Figue (warm goat cheese with a fig compote, served over mixed field greens and tossed in a citrus vinaigrette), Pate Francais (chicken liver pate with grilled country bread) or Bouche a la Reine aux Escargots (puff pastry stuffed with garlic-butter-sauteed escargot).
While the Starker’s (201 W. 47th St., Kansas City, Mo., 816-753-3565) Restaurant Week menu doesn’t feature its $90 Dry Aged Piedmontese Tomahawk Ribeye Chop, you can get a Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin with Peppercorn Sauce with Gruyere Potatoes and Sautéed Greens as your main course. Plus, both the lunch and dinner menus offer this Plaza restaurant’s famous Bookbinder Soup with Steamed Fish in Rich Sherry Broth as a starter.
— By day, Kansas City native Emily Farris is a cookbook publicist. The rest of the time, she can be found eating food or writing about it. Find her recent ramblings at feedmekc.com.