Novel – 815 W 17 St, Kansas City, MO 64108
So I finally caved. Instead of picking a place based on the meal (breakfast is my favorite) or the beer/whiskey menu (I mean duh right?), I picked a fancy shmancy dinner only place call Novel. My foodie pal Melissa helped strongly suggesting Novel over and over and over again for weeks on end. Granted my review will be on the menu they had at the time and not what you may see if you go due to them changing and tweaking occasionally. Instead of wearing a tshirt to eat, I figured it might be best to actually put on a polo collared shirt and go. (yes I wore jeans and yes I was in the minority……as in the only dude there wearing jeans).
We pull up, I park the jeep and had to cock my head to the side. This place didn’t look like a restaurant but more of a down homey house that you’d expect your grandmother to walk out of greet you to after a long trip over the river and through the woods. We walk up and in and to the right was a nice little bar. It had a kind of lighting that made me feel like I was in an old saloon and I took note that it was kinda cool to see that as you walk in.
We had a reservation and was shown to our seats. Upon viewing the menu I knew two things……One I was going to be really fat and happy after the meal and two my bank account was going to be lean and angry. (Mostly due to me buying a lot of stuff, the prices are comparable to any restaurant you’re going to go to in Westport or Midtown) Melissa ordered herself a Mexican Radio (Mescal, Cherry, Aztec Chocolate bitters) and I got myself a Fire Bird (Togarashi, Vodka, Lemon, Honey). If you like Mescal then the Mexican Radio is totally for you. I enjoyed the Fire Bird and true to it’s name it made me cough a touch with a little heat of the Togarashi which is basically a Japanese Chili Pepper. (Thanks Google!) I saw the appetizer menu and decided to go all out. I got an order of Pig Head’s Pie and Crispy Egg and Melissa got a small salad that looked like it had some strawberries in it and an order of Hamachi Crudo. Now that may look like A LOT of appetizers but they came out in Tapas sized portions. So we still had plenty of room for dinner. The Pig Head’s Pie was quite nice but the tamarind ketchup was what really had me raising an eyebrow and nodding my head in approval. The Crispy Egg was interesting and honestly is what it says it is. It’s an egg with a crispy outside. If that’s your thing, god bless ya, but I’m not sure I’d order it again. Melissa enjoyed her salad and the Hamachi Crudo was very tasty and texturally the most diverse and interesting appetizer we had. I then ordered my second cocktail and made it a Clothesline (Strawberry, Bourbon, Prosecco, Caramelized orange bitters). WOW, I could have had 10 more of those and called an Uber, but I restrained myself. Melissa got a KC Mojito (Rum, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime, Mint). That drink was another reason to have Uber on my phone, but again it wasn’t my drink and as I learned in my early 20’s drinking the gals drink that is sitting at dinner with you is apparently really uncool.
While we were enjoying the drinks and convo we made a game time decision to order some wine. Now I’m not a big wine guy and the menu had quite a selection so I left it in Melissa’s capable hands. She did give me 3 options to choose from. I have been told just because a bottle is expensive doesn’t mean it’s good wine. So I chose a 2011 Brovia an Italian Red Wine instead of a French and Australian that were my other options. The wine was just pure deliciousness. Again, not a wine guy, and if you’re not a wine person, I would still recommend this wine. Hopefully your local wine place has it. Our dinner came out and it was very pretty as I like to say. I had ordered the Wild King Salmon (which even came with some Trout Roe) and Melissa had the Duroc Pork Chop. Now her Pork Chop was not like the kind I see at the store, this thing was massive and holy cow did they prepare it absolutely perfectly. Juicy, tender and the taste was amazing. My Salmon could be described the exact same way. As a side I did end up ordering Fingerling Potatoes to go with my fish. It didn’t look all that tasty but my friends, looks can be deceiving. I actually made sure I finished it off and took some of the Salmon home. Since I was ready to fall asleep from the booze and wine and food I figured I may need to get a little pick me up. I ordered a nice little Correct small batch coffee with a French press. It was quite delicious and to ensure it had a buddy to go with him, I ordered the chocolate cake. It wasn’t the type of chocolate cake you find in your local grocery store and was out of this world amazing and melted in my mouth.
The Ambience of the place was very much down home. The bathroom even had a bathtub in it. Had I had the 10 Clothesline drinks that I wanted, I could have seen myself just jumping on in. I’m actually joking, kind of……I mean heck it’s there and far be it from me to only wash my hands right? Most of the folks in there were on dates but a small number like myself were there with friends enjoying a fine evening. The noise level was not annoying at all. I could clearly hear Melissa the entire time and I could not hear anyone else’s conversation. There may have been a few table neighbors that heard me happy sight a few times when I took bites of my food but oh well.
The service was spot on. Water glass was never more than 2/3’s empty and we were checked on by the General Manager to ensure our food and service was great. Normally this sort of thing makes me roll my eyes cause you can tell the manager is stopping by and not all that generally interested and is just checking a box off of this is something I have to do. I could tell the GM was actually interested in what we had to say. Maybe it’s due to it being a smaller chef cooked restaurant as opposed to some corporate franchise place that you find in JOCO. The waiter we had was speedy, friendly and invested in ensuring we had a great evening.
I would say out of all the restaurants I’ve reviewed to date, this was by far my favorite. The oval ambiance, service and the food put it over the top. You need to go to Novel and just experience it. Go with a loved one, or heck go with some weirdo on the street, both would appreciate it.