Have you ever had a meal that was so exceptional you know you’ll never forget it? One that felt custom designed to your tastes and culinary desires? Steve and I had such a meal Saturday night at Michael Smith Restaurant in Kansas City. Owned by James Beard Award winning chef Michael Smith, the restaurant has a limited, but very finely-tuned menu. Steve and I ate there last summer and knew it was the perfect place to celebrate our anniversary.
We had reservations, but our table wasn’t quite ready so we went next door to the tapas/wine bar (also owned by Michael Smith) called Extra Virgin. The atmosphere was very loud and cheery and it would have been fun except we wanted a quiet, slower dinner. Next time, though. We ordered drinks and had just received them when the hostess told us our table was ready. I think we were seated about 5 minutes past our 7:30 reservation. Impressive, especially on a busy Saturday night.
We scanned the menu and knew we’d have a hard time figuring out what to eat. Everything looked great! As we were debating what to order, Steve noticed the Chef’s Tasting Menu options near the bottom of the menu. Four, five and six course tastings were available as well as wine pairings to go with each course. Our waiter, Tyler, suggested the four course as it would be substantial without being overly indulgent. We could not choose what each course would be, and we would each be served something different, but we could tell them any dietary restrictions or preferences. I told Tyler I was open, but would not eat duck. Steve didn’t care either way.
The first choice was the starter. Tyler brought the wine and I received a white Spanish wine which I don’t believe was on the menu (and I have no idea what it was). Steve received a rosé. My starter was Pacific yellowtail ceviche with taggiasca olives, potato chips, scallion and chive oil. It was divine and something I would have chosen. Steve got the venison carpaccio with arugula, heart of palm, pomegranate vinaigrette and croutons. We tasted each other’s selection and declared that we had been served the right one. Score round one for the chef!
Round two was the fish entrée. I received the pastrami rubbed yellowfin tuna with carrot-farro risotto, roasted root vegetables and green peppercorn salad. The portion was very small, but perfect, and the flavors complimented the white wine I was served along with it. At this point, I have no idea what wine I was drinking, even though the portions were small. I mean, all of the wines had three names and I just couldn’t keep up with them. All I know is I was enjoying them very much! Steve received the pan roasted wild striped bass served with rosemary peanut potatoes, sauteed spinach, calamari and red wine guanciale reduction. He was drinking a pinot noir that was so amazing we had Tyler write it down. Again, the selections made for us were perfect as I’d already had the bass the last time I’d eaten there and wanted to try something new. We were having so much fun talking about what we were eating and trying to guess what would be served next!
The third course was the meat course and this is where we really began to wonder if these people had zoned into our brain waves or something. Steve had discussed ordering the eye of the ribeye and I rarely eat red meat, so this was going to be interesting. Another red wine was served to Steve and I received my first red of the evening, which I believe was a blend. The food came and I was served the pan roasted eye of the ribeye with celeriac pierogi, black trumpet mushroom and cippolini onion. Steve received the grilled rack of lamb with chorizo and semolina dumplings, crispy brussels sprouts and huckleberry gastrique. I took one bite of my ribeye and swooned. It was amazing! Steve dug into his lamb and had the same reaction. A few bites later, we decided to try each other’s selection. We both declared our dishes the best. I about gagged when I tasted the lamb with the huckleberries. Ick! And Steve wasn’t as impressed with the ribeye as he thought he would be. We chatted with Tyler and asked how the selections were made. He said he puts in the order with the chef, the chef tells him what will be made, and Tyler would decided which customer would receive which dish. The guy was good.
On to dessert. When the glass of Moscato was placed in from of me, I laughed because I despise sweet wines and I really hate sparking ones. Still, I was game for the adventure. Steve received a sweet riesling and felt the same way. When the dessert arrived, Tyler announced that we were probably expecting the chocolate selection to be served to me, but that wasn’t what he had chosen. And he was spot on. I don’t go for chocolate desserts. Instead, he served me a lemon bread pudding with blackberry glaze, jicama and grapefruit. I love any citrus desserts and was delighted in my selection. And it was perfect with the Moscato! Who knew?!
The meal lasted over two hours and we had a blast. We left feeling full, but not stuffed or uncomfortable. The portions were large enough to enjoy but small enough not to send us over the edge. All in all, a great way to celebrate our anniversary with a meal we will not forget!