A fast run to Kansas City recently brought me one of the best brunches I've had in a while on the recommendation of an old pal with whom I've shared many a meal over the decades. It was at Cafe Sebastienne in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, a few blocks north of the Plaza neighborhood and very close to the Nelson-Atkins Museum as well.
There's an area that feels very outdoors even though they've put a transparent roof over it, a nice antidote to the dreary days lately, just the thing to sink into chairs, beg for coffee and inspect the menus. When that's settled and the coffee has kicked in, it's time to inspect the art work around the cafe. (The photo shows the other dining room of the restaurant.)
The menu mostly sounds fairly simple. It's the ingredients and combinations that set it apart. French toast is made with brioche, thick-cut and custardy, with berries in their own juice and a generous dollop of whipped cream. The maple syrup is superfluous, but the bacon, from Berger's, in California, MO, is definitely not.
To be perfectly honest, I have never been a fan of biscuits and gravy. Even though I was raised in a small town in Missouri, it never appeared on the family table, and my mother's indicting announcement of "Too much starch!" still rings in my ears when I see things like this. Most of the time the gravy seems too insipid, and frequently the sausage flavoring appears an afterthought. That is definitely not the situation at Sebastienne. They use Italian sausage in the gravy and, in a word, it rocks. The biscuits are tender rather than rocky leftovers, and it's a fine, fine dish that blew me away. Roasted new potatoes and scrambled eggs accompany them.
But perhaps my favorite of the three was merguez sausage, grilled and set with a few green leaves on a freshly made flatbread. It came with some tomato chutney, some excellent cheese grits, something we should be seeing on more brunch menus, and more of the scrambled eggs.
Nice service, and since we got there when it opened at 11, un-rushed. Good coffee, but with a drive back to St. Louis facing me, no assessment of the minosas.
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
4420 Warwick Blvd, Kansas City MO