Archive for Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kansas City Connection: A castle for brunch in Shawnee

April 20, 2014

Last week I wrote about several good choices for Sunday brunch, but it wasn’t until a week later that I discovered what has to be one of the most elegant and atmospheric dining halls in the area.

Renee Kelly’s Harvest, at 12401 Johnson Drive in Shawnee, is located in a century-old castle designed by Remigius Caenen, a Belgian immigrant who wanted to build an estate that reminded him of the old country. After the castle was sold by the family generations later, it became a nightclub, a haunted house and a private dining facility before enterprising young chef Renee Kelly opened it up as a farm-to-table restaurant in 2012.

Today the renovated castle-restaurant is refined but welcoming, free of the cramped seating, bustling servers and kitchen clatter that can mar the dining experience at other breakfast spots. It might have just been my latent enthusiasm for Arthurian legend stirring back to life, but I felt an undeniable thrill at being told that my party would be seated in the western turret.

The brunch itself was delicious. The French toast and pancakes were moist and flavorful, served with a spiced pecan maple syrup. The “Pretty Darn Good Breakfast” — two poached eggs on a herb and cheddar biscuit with crispy prosciutto and a pumpkin cream sauce — is a gourmet take on eggs Benedict. Half-priced mimosas (Sundays only) didn’t hurt anything either.

Renee Kelly’s Harvest is open for lunch from Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., for dinner Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and for Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you don’t mind slightly higher prices and not especially epic portions, the fresh, locally sourced ingredients and innovative menu will make a great impression. To see a full menu and find out about special dining events, visit reneekellysharvest.com.

On stage

The rest of the month offers several excellent musical performances ranging from Sondheim to Strauss. From now through May 11, The Kansas City Repertory Theatre is presenting the new pop musical “A Little More Alive” at the downtown Copaken Stage at 13th and Walnut. The musical, directed by Sheryl Kaller and written by Nick Blaemire, follows two estranged brothers who reunite at their mother’s funeral, only to discover that their family history was a little more complex and mysterious than they had realized.

“A Little More Alive” runs daily (twice on Saturdays) except Mondays. Student and children’s tickets cost $10, and adult tickets range from $20 to $40, available at kcrep.org. If you go, be aware that construction for the new “One Light” apartment tower has begun across the street and several of the nearby streets are blocked off.

At the nearby Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the comic operetta “Die Fledermaus” (“The Bat”) debuts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, with additional performances the evenings of April 30 and May 2, as well as a 2 p.m. performance May 4.

The flowing, melodic music of Viennese “Waltz King” Johann Strauss (think “The Blue Danube”), combined with the story of social impropriety, champagne and economic decline, should make for a compelling performance in the hands of the always impressive Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Tickets range from $85 for balcony seats to $155 for seats in the orchestra, available at kcopera.org.

Finally, the Barn Players Community Theatre, at 6219 Martway in Mission, is bringing a little bit of Broadway to Kansas for a fraction of the price. The Barn Players will be presenting Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Follies” for the next two weekends, with 7:30 performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee.

“Follies” played to polarized audiences when it opened in 1971, but has since been regarded as a classic. The cast of 35 also includes several Lawrence performers, including Erica Fox, Sarah Bodle, Jake Leet, Blane Brungart and Sam Hay. Tickets cost $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and $12 for students at thebarnplayers.org.

Kansas City Symphony

The week after next, the Kansas City Symphony is presenting a free concert on Wednesday, April 30, at 6 p.m. that includes Mozart’s Wind Serenade in C minor and the Dvorak Wind Serenade in D minor. Bars in the Kauffman Center lobby open at 5 p.m. if you want to enjoy a glass of white wine or champagne before the show.

The last free concert filled up a week in advance, so if this concert sounds appealing, don’t delay reserving your free ticket at kcsymphony.org.

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