Add some sepia tone and photo grain, and a snapshot of Hereford House could make it pass for an old Western saloon. But the photo would actually be of a modern steak house that churns out aged steaks, seafood, and ribs—the same fare that put Kansas City meat markets on the map at the turn of the century. In the dinner menu, most everything walks across the grill before being served. The steak oscar entree eschews the barriers that separate land from sea by teaming up a 6-ounce filet mignon with jumbo lump crab pilfered from crustacean birthday parties and pan-seared to perfection. Juicy tenderloin medallions come smothered in red-wine demi glace, and oven-roasted cuts of salmon arrive in pools of garlic herb butter.
801 Chophouse establishes itself as a special-occasion restaurant, where every table might well hold a ring in a hidden box or a couple celebrating an anniversary. There are the white tablecloths popping against dark leather booths, the racks of wine tended by a certified sommelier, and, of course, the chops and steaks, all USDA Prime. On the other hand, it's quite conceivable that someone might gladly eat at 801 Chophouse every week and for any occasion—the menu, drink selection, and Wine Spectator-awarded wine list could accommodate months of exploration, and an ever-changing "fresh sheet" overflows with the jet-fresh seafood selections of the day.
On any given night, the wait staff moves across wooden floors beneath high ceilings and 1920s-inspired decor, trays loaded with nine creative potato preparations, filet mignon, and dry-aged pork chops. Meanwhile, the cattle of a pastoral mural gaze out over the dining room's cherry-wood finishes, waiting patiently to graze on uneaten garnishes.
Set beneath a tiled mosaic and a carved stone arch, the door to Starker's points the way to a 40-seat dining room decorated in French country style. A 40-page wine list on each white linen tablecloth describes the more than 1,600 labels in the sommelier's cache, whose breadth garnered a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. Vintages poured into Riedel glassware pair with seasonally rotating entrees, such as seared scallops, duck breasts, and grilled strip steak. Greens, heirloom beans, brussels sprouts au gratin, and other harvests from local farms round out each meal. Starker's also hosts special events, such as rehearsal dinners and catered jury deliberations, in a private dining room that seats up to 80 guests.
For many steakhouses, the art of preparing a tantalizing cut of meat begins in a professional kitchen. But Plaza III The Steakhouse reaches back further, choosing cuts of meat from its own facilities where it ages corn-fed beef inside specialized lockers. Once the cuts reach the restaurant, they are displayed tableside or via limousine motorcade for prospective diners before the chefs char grill chosen selections. To complete the flavor profile, patrons need only peruse a wine list of more than 700 bottles.
This meticulous process of cultivation and presentation embodies the award-winning steakhouse's sophisticated approach to mealtime. Its menu spans ribs, chops, and seafood in addition to Prime aged steaks, and appetizers such as the hand-chopped tenderloin tartare—a dish lauded by Gayot as a "classic rendition … sprinkled with caviar."
Visitors bask in elegant dining rooms on two floors, which host live jazz and a dancing area on Saturday evenings. Parties of up to 64 guests can set up their fetes in private rooms, enjoying bacchanalias in the wine cellar and other intimate spaces such as the western-themed American Royal Room, which accommodates midsized gatherings.
Start your delicious tumble down JJ's dinner menu staircase with an order of JJ's famous Paco shrimp ($13), large, meaty crustaceans bacon-twirled and deep-fried, then served with a Dijon mustard and white-wine sauce for dipping. Other enticing appetizers include seared ahi tuna ($13), wild-mushroom brioche toast ($12), and warm goat cheese with toasty crostinis ($10). Standout main courses include JJ's Pride, a 12 oz. center-cut filet rubbed with porcini mushrooms and sided with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, and a veal demi-glace ($38), and wild boar ragu served with fettuccine ($24). When your belt is on the last hole you added with a screwdriver, ask your server to wheel the dessert tray under your nose. JJ's is also open for lunch, giving office drones a faster and easier midday escape than the tunnel they're digging beneath Accounts Payable with a plastic coffee spoon.
Featuring charming, saloon-style décor doused in lustrous wood furnishings and accented with Western touches such as raucous brawls accompanied by frenetic piano music, Dan’s Longbranch Steakhouse lures patrons into its indoor dining area and spacious outdoor patio with friendly service and plenty of horse parking. The menu is stocked with tantalizing offerings that can be enjoyed after a long day at work or as a pit stop on the Oregon Trail. Starter bites like onion straws ($6.99) and frickles (fried pickles, $6.99) tame the taste buds before lassoing them with Dan's celebrated steaks. The richly marbled 10-ounce rib eye ($15.99), tender 10-ounce filet mignon ($24.99), 12-ounce Kansas City strip steak ($21.99), and more are all grain fed, aged, cut thick, and served with toast and a famous monster twice-baked potato or side. If you prefer slightly less red meat (which in the Old West was considered being a vegetarian), sandwiches such as the Cowboy Philly Steak ($8.99) and Walt’s Pork Tenderloin ($7.99), or burgers like the super-hot Smokin' Gun Burger with pepperjack and jalapeños ($7.99), make tasty, hand-grabbable selections. While waiting for their meat 'n' eat, diners can shoot some pool while fantasizing about traveling the West as a laconic pool shark accompanied by a cartoon-shark sidekick who plays drums.