To send us off on our journey along the Oregon Trail we had what I would describe as honestly one of the best meals I have had in a long time…. absolutely! The Rieger Hotel and Grill in Kansas City, Missouri was the plan for the evening’s meal and it turned into a perfect plan.
The ‘Rieger Hotel’ was built in 1915 by local businessman Alexander Rieger and stands in Kansas City’s Crossroads Art District. Upon entering the restaurant you can see much of the original charm, look down you can see the original tiled floors of a time 100 years ago. Those days were pre prohibition and liquor and whiskey was a huge thing, giving it the nickname of ‘The wettest block in the world’. Prohibition obviously put a stop to that, but it is known that the proximity of the hotel to the train station meant that it was a perfect place for Al Capone to frequent and thus quickly escape from if he was in the City. There is a great eloquent reminder above the gents urinals that still has all the original decor too.
Whilst awaiting the food it was of course an opportunity to partake in one of the famous cocktails here I had heard about. Loads of choice, where to begin?! Well I plumped for the Pendergast, containing Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine and Angostura Bitters. Wow.. Tastebuds whirling and as you can imagine a start to merriness.
Over to the back of the restaurant you get a super view of the open plan kitchen with some very very hard work taking place producing delicious meals. The head chef Howard Hanna was at the centre of it all, who also happens to be the owner of the place. I spent a few minutes watching him, then went over to say hi and learn more. What a genius, I could see meals going out every few seconds but he was the embodiment of calmness! A class act with such high standards. I tip my hat to him and all of his team.
Howard is rightly proud that the wonderful meals are made using local produce, the menu has a list of all the farmers on the back, a neat touch. He has traveled the world as a chef, dining and working.. and learning. All the experience and personality coming together in Kansas City to make this place that people flock to. A place that can suit every budget from rich fine dining to snacks at the bar area.
As I have said this place produces some spectacular and delicious meals. We had a hard time deciding so we took advice from the General Manager, Tony Glamcevski. He certainly knew what he was doing! Dish after dish came to the table for us to try and we had to admit between us in the end there was no out and out favourites because each one was utterly gorgeous. Starters like The roasted beet salad or chilled artichoke soup. Appetizers of Grilled bacon and ramp risotto or smoked trout. Entrees with a perfect crispy lamb shoulder, seared catfish or smoked pork loin to name only a few.
Then… the desserts! Anyone for old fashioned chocolate bombe? Buttermilk panna cotta, with black pepper, rhubarb and strawberry? Need I go on? mmmm.
Now then, underneath, in the basement is another surprise. A bar by the name of Manifesto. Styled in the history of the building as a speakeasy! 48 seats in a candle lit bar below that serves drinks the true way. Time taken to make them properly without the queues of an open bar. Served to you as if you are a VIP. You can make your reservation by text or phone and enjoy stepping back in time. No camera flashes allowed, no cell lights just great social drinks and true classic cocktails in a unique setting.
When I head back to Kansas City… I know where I will definitely be stopping off at some point to eat and drink again. The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange