I got invited to be part of this thing put on by the Kansas City Pitch. It’s called the Bite Club.
The Bite Club is a small herd of social media enthusiasts that The Pitch recruited to go to restaurants as a group, eat, talk to the chef, and then share their experiences. My first evening out with the Bite Club was wonderful. I sat with some truly fantastic people, and I hope to spend more evenings out with them as part of this exciting adventure in foodie-ness. Our first event took place at Room 39, an adorable, classy hole in the wall on Westport’s historic 39th Street.
I took a seat amongst other excited Bite Clubbers, and before long our gracious host, owner and head chef Ted Habiger, joined us. (You can follow Chef Ted on Instagram at @TedHabiger.) Having spent years working in agriculture, and having my own history of eating disorders, I understand how food evoke strong emotions. His passionate was very evident as he began telling us his story, and it helped set the mood for an evening of enthusiastic eating.
Chef Ted cares about the restaurant experience. He cares about where his food comes from. He can tell you the name of each and every farmer, mushroom hunter, and ingredient wrangler he works with. He can explain to you the choice between a hard wood tabletop and a tablecloth. (Room 39 hosts clothed tables, if you’re wondering.) Every detail was thought-out, and all to the benefit of a superb dining experience.
The first course was the charcuterie. Room 39’s charcuterie did not disappoint. It featured shredded duck leg that was so rich and decadent it made you feel a little guilty. There was an herby, garlicky lamb paté that brought the flavor. There was course mustard, which I skipped because it’s mustard. I adored the peach-jalapeño jelly. And, I had my first ever foie gras. While I wasn’t in love with the texture, the taste was amazing. There were other options, but I play favorites.
The second plate was a watermelon salad. It featured two varieties of watermelon, fresh feta cheese, roasted sweet corn, arugula, and pine nuts. The fruit was the perfect ripeness, the cheese added a good savory contrast to the sweet, and overall it was a good blend of textures and flavors.
Perhaps my favorite course of the nice was #3. It was gnocchi, but rather than stuffed with potatoes it was filled with a rich, creamy goat cheese. The sauce was a creamy concoction, using nettles to create an almost-pesto experience but thicker and richer. This cheese-filled pasta was to die for. We each received three pieces of gnocchi and I think unanimously we all agreed that three was not enough. I could have eaten several servings of that stuff and still wanted more. Long story short: if you EVER go to Room 39, for the love of all that is good and gracious in this world, get the gnocchi.
We had four options for entrée, each sounding beyond amazing. As a red meat enthusiast, I had to try the steak. I ordered it rare (as all steaks should be ordered), and it came to me in meaty perfection. It was served with some of the best mashed potatoes of my life, a tangy chimchurri sauce, and some on-the-eat sweetcorn with a smoky sauce on it.
Guys, I’ve eaten a lot of beef in my life. This was the best steak of my life. I thought to myself, “I should take pictures of the interior of the steak to show its quality,” but I ate the steak so fast once I cut into it that I couldn’t grab a picture of its perfect red inside. And no picture would ever do justice to the texture. Chef Ted explained that this beef was raised over about a 2-year period (as opposed to customary “growing” time which tend to be more in the ballpark of 1 year), with most of it spent on grass up until the final 60 days. Those last two months, the cattle ate a typical feedlot finishing diet, with corn and other feedstuffs such as hay and other grains mixed into a daily ration.
(The agriculture nerd in me feels the need to say that I love all of the beautiful beef out there, whether it’s produced in 1 year or 2, or finished on grass or corn.)
Dessert was an adventure — each table was given 6 different desserts, one portion of each. Everyone at our table managed to have a little of each, and it seemed like each was better than the last. Just when I’d thought the blueberry sauce on the berry dish was the best dessert I’d ever eaten, the sweetcorn ice cream slapped me in the face and demanded my adoration. It’s hard to say there was one best dessert, because all of them were fabulous. There was truly an option for anyone’s taste there.
So, if you’re looking for places to eat in Kansas City, consider Room 39. Come with an open mind and a flexible budget — the food and experience is well worth the price, and the menu is deep with options and creativity. There are many exquisite options for fine dining in Kansas City, but Room 39 will now be sitting at the top of my list.