There is a great quote from Julia Child’s own book, “My Life in France”. While discovering all of the amazing things about France, French food and dining in France, it dawned on Julia that “The waiters carried themselves with a quiet joy, as if their entire mission in life was to make their customers feel comfortable and well tended.”
Remember that kind of server? We don’t run into them as often as we wish we would, but they still do exist. A server who understands what the word “service” means, is worth his/her weight in gold. The older gentlemen who were waiters at The Savoy Grill in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, were that kind of servers. Always dressed as a 5 star waiter should be, complete with stiffly starched white coat and black bow tie, they treated you like royalty, and they could tell amazing stories about early Kansas City. While dining on lobster and steak, it was a treat to hear one of them talk about jazz, or architecture, politics or the meat packing business and the garment district. Of course, I wondered on occasion if it was all just “made up stuff”, put together with just the right amount of “true stuff”….but I always went home feeling like I had the time of my life!
The Savoy Grill restaurant is the oldest restaurant in Kansas City, with stained glass windows, high beamed ceilings, lanterns that were once gaslights, and an enormous carved oak bar. Booth No. 4, known as the presidents' booth, has been host to Warren Harding, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Marie Dressler, W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, Lillian Russell, Sara Bernhardt, and John D. Rockefeller
There aren’t too many restaurants that have been operating since 1903! The servers love to tell you the history.
Another great story-teller was the bartender at the Majestic Steak House. He spent close to an hour telling me all about the beautiful hand made, hand carved Missouri Walnut backbar. A back bar is the piece of furniture with mirrors and shelves to hold all of the bottles and glassware. This back bar was made in St Joseph, Missouri, loaded onto a barge and floated down the Missouri River to Kansas City. It remained there for some time, there in the the building that would someday house the Majestic Steak House. A New Orleans gentleman walked in one day and bought it. It was loaded onto another barge and made its way down the river to New Orleans. As I remember the story, it found a home in a “Gentlemen’s Club”. Years went by and when the club was shut down and the building was about to be demolished, someone had the good sense to contact a friend in Kansas City to tell them about the
Onto a barge it went and soon it was on its way back up stream to Kansas City, where, once again, the bar came to rest in its original home.
Built in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the early 20th-century Fitzpatrick Building has housed a saloon and bordello, and during Prohibition, the basement was a Speakeasy and meeting place for many businessmen and local politicians. If rumor has it correct, there was a "cigar club" upstairs, very private. The boys knew how to party.
How I love stories like that one; I sure hope it is true!
Both of these restaurants helped make Kansas City THE place to order a steak.
Want to prepare a perfect Porterhouse at home? Give this a try! This cut of meat has always been my favorite. Granted, they are BIG....but you can share!
Kansas City Beef Porterhouse Steak
3 to 3 1/2 pounds porterhouse steak, about 2-inches thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 scallions, white parts only, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Trim the fat from the steak, leaving a quarter to half inch of fat. Rub the remaining fat with the lemon to keep it from burning and smoking.
Combine the olive oil, garlic, scallions, salt and pepper in a glass or ceramic dish. Put the steak in the dish and turn several times to coat. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or in the refrigerator for as long as 4 hours. Turn the meat once or twice during marinating. If marinating in the refrigerator, remove from refrigerator 1 hour before grilling.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Lightly spray the grill rack with vegetable oil cooking spray. The coals should be moderately hot to hot. Lift the steak from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Grill the steak, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn and grill, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes longer for medium-rare, or until it reaches the desired degree of doneness. Let the meat rest for a few minutes before serving.
PERFECT! Now all you have to do is make a salad and think up some great bit of history to talk about as you dine!