Dinner and a Show: Eating at the Chef’s Table in Kansas City
By Jenny Vergara
As local chefs have let us into their world by constructing open kitchens, food-lovers are looking to book the culinary equivalent of “dinner-and-a-show” with front row kitchen seats at the coveted chef’s table or chef’s counter, which many local restaurants in Kansas City now offer.
Whether you are looking to enjoy a multi-course, prix fixe, fine-dining feast or have a more casual conversation with a chef as she or he makes your dinner, consider snagging a seat at any of these local Kansas City chef table experiences.
Image via Facebook.com/jarochosouth
Owner and Executive Chef Carlos Falcon’s second seafood-driven restaurant, Jarocho South, allowed for a shiny new chef’s counter with 10 seats situated right in front of his busy kitchen. It is the perfect location for you to book an chef’s choice dining experience with this talented, chef originally hailing from Veracruz, Mexico. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance with drink pairings available upon request.
Although the entire dining room at Bluestem could be considered a chef’s table experience, Chefs Colby and Megan Garrelts have a built-in chef’s counter at their more casual spot, Rye. Room for six at the gorgeous copper bar grants you a set, four-course menu of the chef’s choosing, starting with appetizers and a cocktail demonstration. Due to limited space and popular appeal, the experience needs to be booked in advance.
Image via Facebook.com/tableocho.kc
Craig Adcock and his wife, Teresa, owners of Table Ocho, have transformed their commercial kitchen—which makes Jude Rum Cakes by day—into a group dining experience at night. Table Ocho is about serving quality cuisine with excellent wine to no more than eight people at a time. With various dinner themes to choose from, guests simply purchase seats online (sold first come, first served) to enjoy the five-course dinners. Diners can purchase wine bottles from the restaurant’s unique wine list or bring their own wine for an additional corkage fee.
The kitchen bar at The Rieger wraps tantalizingly around the entire front of the kitchen, giving guests full access to Executive Chef/Owner Howard Hanna and his culinary team. Place your order and watch it prepared right before your eyes, with Hanna delivering dishes, explaining what’s on your plate and sometimes even offering a small sample of another dish. Call or email to make your reservation, or if you walk-in, simply ask if you can be seated at the kitchen table.
Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room
Chef Michael and Christina Corvino’s sultry new Supper Club in the Crossroads Arts District has proved a fantastic space for the couple, drawing crowds interested in their delicious and affordable shared plate menu and live music. However, it is the private 18-seat Tasting Room that is their true showcase. The intimate space is separated from the Supper Club, but enjoys full views of the open kitchen where Corvino and his team plate each dish right in front of diners. Sommelier Ross Jackson chooses interesting drink pairings, or you may select from their curated wine list. Plan on a 2.5-hour experience when dining in The Tasting Room.
When executive chef Brandon Winn took over the kitchen at Webster House in 2016, he immediately set about highlighting his locally sourced ingredients. One look at the menu in the iconic, schoolhouse-turned-retail- and -restaurant-space tells you his passion for seasonal ingredients has won guests over. Reserve a seat at the marble-topped chef’s counter located right in front of the kitchen, watch as your food is prepared and speak to the chef about the farmers he uses or his favorite way to prepare a certain seasonal vegetable you love.
Brewery Emperial is a 65-seat brewery and restaurant that offers a rotating selection of six beers from master brewer Keith Thompson. Meanwhile, Chef Ted Habiger in turn offers a tasty menu from the kitchen, which touts a custom-built, wood-fired grill and a handsome chef’s tasting bar where you can sit and watch the kitchen in action. Order any of the grilled menu items and watch as the kitchen tames the flames for meals such as the grilled Caesar salad or the popular wood-fired half chicken served on a board with tortillas, limes and salsa.
Photo Credit: Chris Mullins
In 2017, Bob Asher and Josh Mobley, co-captains of the groovy nautical themed bar called The Ship, set sail on their voyage into the world of food service. The popular West Bottoms bar features a brand-new galley kitchen and chef’s counter located at the front, facing Union Avenue, so guests can now enter through the front door and enjoy lunch or dinner. Meet the captain of the kitchen: friend, local musician and chef Ernie Locke. The menu is tasty and casual, but it is the personal touch of chatting with the chef and other guests will keep you coming back.