Here's the story on Story, a new chef-driven restaurant in Prairie Village.
The restaurant is owned by husband-and-wife team Carl and Susan Thorne-Thomsen, who have impressive backgrounds in gourmet food. He was chef de cuisine at Extra Virgin and Michael Smith in Kansas City, and she owned a gourmet food store in Wichita. Together, they've transformed a former natural clothing store in the Village Shopping Center into a contemporary American restaurant they say would be right at home in New York or L.A.
"But it's not New York," Carl Thorne-Thomsen says. So his emphasis is on meat-and-potatoes dishes elevated with sophisticated ingredients and preparation.
*The food: *Carl Thorne-Thomsen says his goal is to balance casual and elegant. So the lunch menu contains classic American hamburgers ($9) and elegant crostini with beef tartare ($8). We tried the trout ($14), a succulent fillet of flaky fish on a bed of fingerling potatoes and meaty morel mushrooms. A drizzle of subtle jalapeno-lemon vinaigrette and a bloom of shaved radish and asparagus placed atop the trout add fresh flavor.
Dinner is more expensive: Entrees cost between $24 and $28 and include duck breast ($26), Pacific halibut ($28) and roasted strip steak ($27). Our advice: Don't leave without ordering one of pastry chef Dominique Perez's desserts. Her doughnuts ($7) are incredible. The golden nuggets of fried dough are served in a heap with a moat of vanilla cream, salty caramel and passionfruit syrup. That floral syrup stands out beautifully against the dessert's creamy, salty and sweet flavors.
*The drinks: *Carl Thorne-Thomsen hand-selected the wines on the extensive wine list, but the cocktail menu is the exclusive domain of head bartender Kasey Knefelkamp. Knefelkamp, who previously worked at the Cheesecake Factory, is unleashing his creativity with drinks such as the Cucumber Fresca ($10), a martini that subtly mimics the taste of Fresca.
"I wanted to go with things that reminded me of childhood," Knefelkamp explains.
He makes his Cucumber Fresca with organic cucumber liqueur, gin and Cointreau and Pearl plum vodka (Knefelkamp says most people don't realize there's plum flavor in Fresca).
The Cucumber Fresca "is sweet but not too sweet and it finishes light," Knefelkamp says. He's right. The drink is crisp and refreshing, just like the soda. Knefelkamp also makes a Manhattan ($11) with tart rhubarb bitters and a Pineapple Mojito ($9) with fresh mint and pineapple.
*The space: *White walls, espresso wood floors and simple, sleek furniture produce a clean backdrop for the colorful food. A halo of glowing panels suspended from the ceiling adds an ethereal feel and makes the dining room feel like it could be on a spaceship or in a modern art museum.
If it's not too hot, grab a seat on the sunny patio, which overlooks the quaint, tree-lined shopping center. That'd be the perfect place to sip a Cucumber Fresca and order a snack from the midday menu (available 2 to 5 p.m.), which features smoked duck empanadas ($7), fresh baked bread ($8) and a fresh fruit and cheese plate ($12). Read more
*photos by Jennifer Hack, Ink Magazine