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.
As the doors to Gaslight Grill's back room swing open, the sounds of Dixeland jazz and the aromas of sizzling Angus steaks waltz forward together to greet guests. Lynn Zimmer and the Jazz Band play rollicking tunes from the 30s and 40s on Wednesday?Sunday nights as diners tap their fingers across the surfaces of menus filled with hand-cut steaks, pistachio-crusted salmon, and jumbo prawns drizzled in beurre blanc. More than 200 wines complement meats from land and sea, and a nimble barkeep dishes out mixed drinks and jetpack fuel for the ride home. It might be difficult to say goodbye, however, to a stately dining room lined with plush booths and illuminated by twin chandeliers.
Tucked inside the lobby of the Overland Park Marriott Hotel, Nikko Japanese Steakhouse's chefs gracefully twirl their gleaming steel utensils and flip vegetables through the air while cooking filet mignon, teriyaki salmon, and scallops at each tabletop griddle. Traditional teppanyaki cooking is the foundation of the menu, which features seared morsels of steak and fresh seafood cooked before your very eyes instead of inside a magician's hat. Away from the sizzling action, the sleek sushi bar houses deft chefs slicing fresh sashimi and rolling ingredients into flavorful combinations, such as the spider roll's soft-shell crab, smelt roe, and avocado. Behind a second bar, the servers replace sushi with shakers of freshly squeezed fruit-juice cocktails and hot and cold pours of sake. Nikko Japanese Steakhouse also recently completed a renovation.
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.
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.
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.