Tuesday, September 24, 2013

James Beard Award Winners in the Southland (Pt. 1)

You may know the names Megan & Colby Garrelts from their critically acclaimed (and award winning) restaurant Bluestem; They recently (less than a year ago) decided that only one awesome local restaurant was not enough, enter Rye. Rye is a trendy, locally-sourced, Midwestern focused restaurant with a large number of meat based dishes (i.e. fried chicken, pulled pork, burnt ends, roast beef) that you would expect to see at any restaurant that can truly call themselves "Kansas Citian". You will, however, also find some surprises on the menu too (but I am getting ahead of myself).

Taking its "locally sourced" theme to another level, Rye grows a lot of the herbs that they use right outside of the restaurant in planters that you can see when you drive up. But one thing that you will not find, naturally occuring, in Kansas City is the menu item that I chose to indulge in (the Southern favorite, Shrimp & Grits). It is incredibly hard to find good S&G (no, not "poops" & giggles, Shrimp & Grits) in the Midwest, so I had to give it a try. Fye knocked it out of the park! The grits were nice and creamy, with cheddar cheese and only a few of the tiny pieces of hominy were crunchy (forgivable). The shrimp were seasoned well, with a hint of smoke. The S&G were garnished with a few pieces of very good, smokey, tender, pulled pork (yes, meat as a garnish, it was wonderful). The creaminess of the grits and the smokiness of the shrimp/pork were tied together with the dark, smoky sauce that you see in the picture. Which brings me to my next point: Rye must employ the best restaurant ventilation system ever, because despite the smokiness of the dishes, you will not go back to work smelling of smoke (no need to dry clean those pants). The Leawood neighbors probably appreciate the lack of smoke coming out of the building as well.

Rye has a huge patio, overlooking their herb gardens and a pond, that you can enjoy your meals (or drinks) on while the weather is still warm enough for it.

Speaking of knocking things out of the park: Another fun aspect of my trip to Rye was a Billy Butler sighting. He appeared to be dining with family and friends, so most of the crowd left him alone. Although I did observe that his "Hit it a Ton" BBQ sauce was unmistakably absent, coincidentally (or maybe not) Billy did not "Hit it a Ton" in that night's game. So... let that be a lesson to anyone of you that is not superstitious.

One thing to note about Rye, it is very good food, and as with anywhere that has really good food, they are very popular and you may experience a wait. They even take lunch reservations, and it is not unnecessary to make them either.

Rye on Urbanspoon

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