The only thing worse for a new restaurant than not getting enough attention is getting excessive hype. The kind of florid overstatement (“The most anticipated restaurant opening of the year,” “The most eagerly awaited restaurant of 2017”) that builds sky-high expectations that might inevitably lead to disappointment.
Chef Michael Corvino and his wife Christina were familiar with that story. The owners of the brand new Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room had read the legendary story about New York restaurateur Danny Meyer opening his Gramercy Tavern. “The restaurant opened its doors on the same day it was profiled in New York magazine,” says Christina Corvino. “It was a madhouse.”
“We won’t be the first—or the last—‘highly anticipated restaurant’ in Kansas City,” says Michael Corvino. “We were ready for it. Local diners are more educated about restaurants than ever. But we still did a lot of front-of-house training, and we brought in a lot of key players to work for us, including Keith Goldman (former general manager at The American) as our GM and some kitchen crew from The American as well. It’s a really tight team and when we opened, we were ready.”
And please don’t call it Corvino’s, like it was a neighborhood joint selling chicken spiedini. That’s not what this venue is at all.
“We called it Corvino Supper Club because that’s what it is,” says Christina Corvino. “We’re open Tuesday through Saturday, and we have live music every night from 6 to 9 p.m. Jazz, Cuban, classical. We’re not a jazz club with food. We’re a supper club.”
And yes, expectations are high.
Light The Fire
I can probably count—on the fingers of one hand—the number of Kansas City restaurants that open exactly on the date that they promised they would. But chef Bradley Gilmore, the corporate chef for the Lenexa-based Riley Drive Entertainment, feels confident that his latest culinary project for the company, Ignite Wood Fire Grill in Lenexa City Center, will be in business by the end of April.
Gilmore, a veteran of the PB&J Restaurants and Bread & Butter Concepts (he created the first Gram & Dun menu) says Ignite will boast a large exhibition kitchen and a wood-fired grill fragrant from burning pecan, cherry and Missouri oak. A chef’s counter can seat as many as 15 patrons.
The menu price point, Gilmore says, will range from $12 to $38. Entrees will include rotisserie chicken, steaks and crab legs with a wide array of side dishes like Yukon Gold potatoes, red beans and rice, Mexican street corn on the cob and shrimp and grits.
“We’ll have quite a few shareable dishes too,” says Gilmore, “like a 4-inch thick pork porterhouse and a cowboy ribeye.”
And desserts? Gilmore says: “I’m thinking a lot about cobblers.”
That’s just one of the reasons that husband-and-wife restaurateurs Phillip and Norma Thayer moved their three-year-old Valley Broasters out of the eastern suburb late last year and into a former Long John Silver building at 4800 Bannister Road.
Now called Manila Bay Ihaw Ihaw—ihaw means grilled—the venue still serves both broasted chicken (a crispy fried bird flash-fried in a pressure cooker) and traditional Filipino dishes. In fact, a lot more of the latter now that Norma Thayer has access to a bigger kitchen.
The Thayers are also offering buffet suppers on Friday and Sunday afternoons to give adventurous diners a chance to sample the full range of Filipino cuisine.
“We do the buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on those days,” says Norma Thayer. “It costs $12.95 on Friday and $15 on Sundays. We have more variety on Sunday, but both buffets include a beverage and dessert.”
There’s no other restaurant in Kansas City that offers both Midwestern broasted chicken and favorites from the Philippines like lumpia—Shanghai spring rolls—crispy pata, and kare-kare, a fragrant stew of oxtail, bok choy and eggplant in a savory peanut sauce.