A James Beard-nominated chef known for Kansas City's Bluestem stretched across the Missouri River in late 2012 to open Rye, a restaurant celebrating what happens when Midwest ingredients land in phenomenally capable hands. Reclaimed barn wood and blond bricks cover the walls and bar; an open kitchen lets diners watch the chefs at work. Shiny wood floors reflect light from rows of exposed lightbulbs, pendant lamps surrounded with chicken wire, and bulbs draped in hurricane glasses. The patrons during our late weeknight visit appeared to be foodie professionals who wanted to see what chefs Colby and Megan Garrelts are up to in this mixed-use development in suburban Leawood.
A small clipboard on the tables announce Rye's "reserved steak program," or fine cuts of meat from Arrowhead Specialty Meat and Game, including filets, dry-aged ribeye, free-range lamb and double-cut pork chops (prices range from $34 to $48). Because we had stopped for drinks and appetizers elsewhere, we chose to skip a heavy meal and instead try a piece of free-range Amish fried chicken ($4 per piece), a side of cheddar mac and cheese and roasted Brussels sprouts drizzled with lemon-garlic butter and fresh herbs ($7 for each side). The chicken arrived hot, moist and with a just-right coating of breading. We also tried the buttered hot shrimp served atop Anson Mills grits, cheddar, pulled pork (this is Kansas City, after all) for $22 and managed to finish it.The menu lists appetizers, soups, salads, barbecue, fish and burgers, and everything we saw coming out of the kitchen looked tempting. A wine list offers 20 vintages by the glass (from $7) and more than two-dozen bottles from around the world. More than a dozen draft beers include microbrews from Missouri and Kansas.
Somehow, we managed to find room for dessert and tried the MoKan Pie (a spin on pecan pie, made with pecans and walnuts from Kansas and Missouri—it was OK but not mind-blowing and in fact not particularly sweet) and the divine apple butter crisp, which came topped with a nutmeg ice cream made in house ($6 each). We can't wait to go back and sample other dishes.