Just by Kansas City's Kauffman Center is Webster Hall. It's an old school building, an 1885 Richardson Romanesque charmer of a place, surprisingly airy and light despite its advanced age. The first floor is a multi-room boutique with everything from art clothing to cookbooks. (Some online reviews describing it as an antique store. It's definitely far from that.)
Upstairs is the restaurant, via a wide stairway or an elevator. It's a series of rooms, the street-facing ones clearly big enough to use as a venue for private functions, a bar, and an open tile kitchen with yet another well-windowed room, perfect for a Saturday lunch, which is what my pals and I did.
Mussels steamed in white wine with fresh thyme and caramelized onions was a hit, the broth having clearly been reduced to make it even more flavorful.
A banh mi sandwich with what the menu termed house seasoned pork turned out to be a warm sandwich, an uncommon variation, but it was delicious nevertheless. Pickled julienne carrots gave piquancy, red cabbage added more crunch and there was a little heat from the mayonnaise. Definitely moreish, as the British would say.
Cassoulet crowned the meal. Perhaps not a traditional lunch dish, the hearty stew of white beans, duck and sausage was one of the best variations of it I've found. Long arguments in France rage about what ingredients are traditional and what aren't, including the presence or absence of tomatoes, but this one, which did have tomato, finished in an individual dish with bread crumbs atop it, the old-style presentation, was a winner. The salad alongside included crisp slices of raw fennel, one of those mysterious things with an elusive taste that make most of us think more about what we're eating.
A luxurious, relaxed Saturday lunch, its only blemish a young, eager server who kept snatching plates the minute they were empty. (This happened a lot in Kansas City this trip. I know, it's a controversial subject. But still....)
1644 Wyandotte St., Kansas City, MO
Lunch Mon.-Sat., Dinner Wed.-Sat., Brunch Sun.
Credit cards: Yes