Kansas City Connection: Dining delights in the West Bottoms

Aside from occasional events at the American Royal, the Stockyards District of the West Bottoms neighborhood are now free of cattle. But there are several talented individuals who have opened a variety of new businesses in the neighborhood.

Among them are Jill Myers and Wes Gartner, the former catering team who opened the restaurant Voltaire, 1617 Genessee St., in 2013. The pair spent a year rehabbing the former R Bar space and turning it into their own European-style bistro known as much for its dimly lit, sophisticated ambiance as its delicious seafood plates, meat dishes, fresh vegetables and craft cocktails. Voltaire also recently added a Sunday brunch option from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Voltaire is open for cocktails after 4 p.m. and starts serving dinner at 6 p.m. until 10. Reservations are recommended by calling at 816-472-1200, and a special six-course price fixe menu is available on New Year’s Eve for $66. Take a peek at their menu at VoltaireKC.com.

Just down the block at 1505 Genessee St., Michael and Kerry Amigoni’s Urban Winery sells a variety of wines grown from their vineyards about 45 minutes east of Kansas City. Their tasting room in a renovated industrial building is a bright, airy space and a perfect spot to sample five different wines for $6, with cheese and meat plates available for purchase.

Amigoni Urban Winery is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Their wine is also available at over 50 different restaurants and retail outlets throughout the city, including the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, where you can down a glass at intermission while enjoying the view of the city. Visit winery.amigoni.com for more information.

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Donna Thomason stars in "I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers" at the Unicorn Theatre.

Plays at the Unicorn

This week is the last chance to see two standout plays at The Unicorn Theatre, on 3828 Main St. On the Levin Stage, “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers” stars Donna Thomason as a veteran talent agent dishing out gossip on Hollywood’s biggest stars and inside showbiz details.

On the Jerome Stage, “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” takes the audience on a surreal but powerful tour of modern-day Baghdad with two marines and an Iraqi translator whose lives are changed after an encounter with a quick-witted tiger.

Both plays run daily (except for Wednesday and Thursday) through Dec. 28. Tickets are $35 each. Visit unicorntheatre.org for more details. Both shows are meant for adult audiences.

‘Make Time’

From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, the Plenum Space Gallery in the Crossroads will be hosting a beer tasting and closing event for artist Rena Detrixhe’s “Make Time,” which features a site-specific installation created by hand-stitching hundreds of panels of material together. Detrixhe, a 2013 Kansas University graduate in expanded media, is one of this year’s Charlotte Street Foundation Studio Residents.

Plenum Space Gallery is located at 504 E. 18th St. (near Locust Street) and features new exhibitions every First Friday.

Haw Contemporary gallery

Bill Haw’s decision last year to purchase and rebrand the Dolphin Gallery as the Haw Contemporary was welcome news for regional artists who have outgrown Crossroads storefronts but are not yet on the radar enough nationally to command their own museum shows.

The current group exhibit, “on behalf of one’s obsessions,” brings together exciting new work including sculptor Susan White’s American flag made of painted honey locust thorns, the dense colored pencil linework of Anne Lindberg, as well as lithographs, paintings and prints from a dozen other artists.

Visit the Haw at 1600 Liberty St. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Christmas lights

And finally, if you’re driving around the Kansas City area this week and want to see some extraordinary home Christmas light displays, venture east of Ward Parkway between 67th and 71st streets, which are full of colorful cascading light strands, or take a loop through Candy Cane Lane (the 7900 block of Outlook Street in Prairie Village), which has been illuminated with colorful light displays and lawn installations for 50 years.

For an even bigger display, head to Longview Lake’s “Christmas in the Park,” a professional installation including over 300,000 bulbs and 175 animated figures. It’s free to drive through, but donations are accepted for local charities. “Christmas in the Park” will be on display until Dec. 31.

— Lucas Wetzel is a writer and editor from Kansas City, Mo. Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you’d like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at kcconnection@ljworld.com.

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