In recent years, several popular Kansas City restaurants have opened second locations in Leawood’s Mission Farms development. Among them: Room 39, Blanc Burgers + Bottles, Blue Koi and, most recently, Pizzabella. In December, two of Kansas City’s most famous restaurateurs, Megan and Colby Garrelts, did the same thing. Sort of.
But Rye’s price point and menu are more approachable: A three-course meal with wine pairings at Bluestem costs $85 per person, before tax and tip. At Rye, you can wash down fried chicken and lemon meringue pie with Miller High Life — the champagne of beers — for around $25.
Rye’s prices are relatively low, but the ingredients, preparation and presentation are held to a high standard. For instance, the restaurant’s popular fried chicken is made with fresh, all-natural, free range poultry. The perfectly seasoned chicken is crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It’s served on brown paper in a rustic wood platter with cider-spiked gravy and a squat mason jar full of homemade pickles.
On the side, you can get whipped sweet potatoes made sweeter with pecan streusel, roasted mushrooms from a local farm and super-creamy macaroni and cheese flecked with crispy hunks of bacon. This is food Grandma would have made — if she had aced culinary school.
Megan Garrelts says she and husband Colby modeled Rye’s dishes after food they ate growing up. So Megan, a pastry chef, put her favorite recipes for cookies, floats and pie on the menu. And Colby, a six-time nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: Midwest” award, reworked barbecue classics such as smoked ribs and pulled pork.
Rye’s menu is all about embracing and celebrating down-to-earth dishes. That philosophy also applies to the decor. The pendant lamps above the bar are made from bell jars, the weathered planks on some of the tabletops once belonged to a barn, and Megan bought the mirrors on the walls from local antique stores.
Behind the bar, a long line of taps advertise Kansas City’s own Boulevard next to Coors and Miller. There are also beers from lesser known breweries such as Mother’s Brewing Co. in Springfield and 23rd Street Brewery in Lawrence. On a recent Saturday night, the bar stools were packed with customers who couldn’t get a table, and even those with reservations had a 10 to 15 minute wait.
The buzz around Rye has spread beyond Kansas City: The restaurant is less than three months old, but it’s already been featured on the national food websites Eater and Tasting Table, and Colby Garrelts’ recipe for Oxtail Soup is in the March issue of Bon Appetit.
So although Rye shares owners with Bluestem, it’s cooking up a reputation all its own.
Sarah Gish, enterprise reporter for Ink magazine, writes about dining for 913 every first and third week of the month. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @sarah_gish.