|Kansas City's Newest Restaurant, Novel located |
in the charming Westside neighborhood
|Ryan Brazeal (center) and staff at work in the new kitchen.|
This is a homecoming for Brazeal who graduated from the culinary program at Johnson County Community College in 2003. Not long afterward he moved to New York City to hone his cooking chops at several well known restaurants - winding up his stint as sous chef at David Chang's Momofuku (Chang recently tweeted a message of support for Brazeal to his nearly 75,000 Twitter followers - nice).
|A Little Help From My Friends|
Former boss David Chang tweets support
for Ryan Brazeal's maiden voyage.
|The upstairs dining area glows with natural light.|
The patio is quite nice, almost a courtyard really, and with some more local foot traffic as the neighborhood culinary/retail scene grows I can imagine it being one of the best seats on the block - not unlike Julian in Brookside or Gram & Dun on the Plaza. I did sneak upstairs with my camera to see where I might have sat had I stayed indoors and found a warm, naturally lit dining area with wide-plank horizontal wood walls and well-worn wood floors that are probably dying to give up their decades of secrets.
On to the food. The entire menu consists of five starters and six entrees. This is neither good nor bad - just a statement of fact. We were a party of four and haven't forgotten our childhood sharing skills so a representative sampling of most of the menu was in store.
|Tomato Salad |
(pickled strawberry, yuzu-ginger vinaigrette, herbs)
|My plating technique, not Novel's. All four of our|
shared starters are represented here. Note the
deliciously runny yolk of the Crispy Egg.
Our other starters included the Fluke Crudo and the Crispy Egg (photos and descriptions below) - both of which were unique and quite tasty. I am especially fond of runny egg yolks and that's the treasure that awaits you when you cut into the crispy egg (see photo above).
As mentioned earlier, there are exactly six entree choices on this menu. We ordered four of them and it was smiles all around. Here they are with my tasting notes:
- Ricotta Gnocchi (zucchini, tomato butter, olive) - this is the only vegetarian choice on the entree menu. Perfectly cooked and delicate tasting gnocchi accented with the summery richness of tomato butter.
- Grilled Arctic Char (trout roe, fingerling potato, smoked cream, lemon) - a standout dish. If you're not familiar with Arctic Char, think salmon. Same family, same look, same taste. As good as the fish is the real stars of this plate are the potatoes and the crème fraiche - both of which are cold-smoked in-house with hickory. The smokiness never overpowers and the flavors and textures meld to a very tasty forkful of food.
- Chicken Brick (sourdough, summer squash, upland cress, mustard seed) - a riff on roasted chicken with stuffing this very sharable dish (it comes conveniently cut in four pieces) was nearly perfect. Each piece of chicken includes both white and dark meat and while the dark meat was tender, moist and flavorful the white pieces were slightly on the dry side.
- Country Rib Chop (spicy pork belly ragu, rice späetzle, baby bok choy) - this was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the evening and should be encouraging to the real carnivores out there. This baby would not be out of place at one of KC's better steakhouses. It's 12 ounces of heritage-breed Duroc pork, dry aged for 14 days and brined for two hours in a salt/sugar solution. On it's own this would be a winner but it's also surrounded with bits of spicy/sweet dry cured pork belly. Heaven.
The wine list offers some familiar as well as less obvious choices - all at per glass and bottle prices that are well within reach. In addition to cocktails we enjoyed a nice bottle of Red Car Rosé, and several glasses of both the Mas des Bressades Grenache/Syrah and the Scaia Corvina. Though tempted to have another Old Hat I finished the evening with a nice Sauterne and a satisfied smile.
Photos below and while pictures last longer I suggest you get to Novel to taste some of this goodness yourself.
|Baby Iceberg Wedge |
Lamb bacon, summer peas, anchovy aioli
Salted avocado, lime, jicama
Tripe, chipotle, bacon hushpuppies
|Ricotta Gnocchi |
Zucchini, tomato butter, olive
Sourdough, summer squash, upland cress, mustard seed
|Grilled Arctic Char |
Trout roe, fingerling potato, smoked cream, lemon
|Country Rib Chop|
Spicy pork belly ragu, rice späetzle, baby bok choy
|Peach Cake |
Ricotta, Crispy Oats, Blueberry
Bourbon caramel, peanuts
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