April 13, 2011

Room 39 Restaurant - Leawood, KS

Whenever I am near Leawood, I always try to have at least one meal at Room 39. Room 39 is seasonal American food, which means that the menu is constantly changing to accommodate what ingredients are currently in season.

Chefs and co-owners, Ted Habiger and Andy Sloan, say they "believe the best tasting food comes from local farmers who use sustainable harvesting and growing practices ensuring the land is better off than before." It is a noble mission with some tasty results. A constantly changing menu does have some disadvantages. It means that if you particularly loved a dish in the fall, you won't be able to go back and enjoy it again in the spring. But that is easily outweighed by the fun of a new daily menu. Every day at Room 39 is a new experience.

On a recent trip to visit family in Eastern Kansas, I went to Room 39 for lunch with my mother and friend Mona. All three of us were immediately captivated by one particular item on the menu - the gnocchi. It was house made potato gnocchi with bacon, onions, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, and grana padano. Every thing about it was perfect. The gnocchi were like soft little clouds that melted in your mouth and the flavors were all perfectly combined. The bacon and mushrooms gave the dish a smokey, earthy flavor that really resonated with the perfectly cooked brussels sprouts. And I love brussels sprouts - they were cooked all the way through so they were rich and soft, but not so overdone at to be mushy. And the chef had gotten a perfect sear on the outside of each sprout, something I struggle to do in my own kitchen. Finally, the sweetness of the onions and the cheese created a well-rounded dishes with flavors that complimented each other, but one ingredient never over-powered the other. It was a delicious dish and also well plated - there was just enough to be satisfying but not so much piled in the bowl to be overwhelming. I am always impressed when a restaurant manages to know just the right portion to serve.

But one trip to Room 39 is never enough for me, especially when the menu changes daily. So the next day I went back to Room 39 for lunch with my friend John. I was happy to see not all of the menu had changed in 24 hours. One or two dishes were gone and had been replaced by others and of course the soups had changed, but I was glad to know that overall a daily menu does not mean "blink and you'll miss it." This time, I opted for the quiche and salad. The quiche was everything it should be - fluffy and eggy with crunchy bits of bacon and a flaky crust that can be cut with a fork (I hate when you need a knife to saw through a dried out, overcooked quiche crust). The herb salad was fresh with a nice vinaigrette that gave the salad some acidity. They also added some fresh beet which gave it a slight sweetness, but still refreshing.

But the best part of lunch at Room 39 is the dessert. I always order the Affogato - vanilla ice cream with espresso. The vanilla ice cream is delicious by itself (I suspect it is Vanilla Bean by Haagen Dazs) but the espresso just melts it into that perfect combination of sweet and bitter, hot and cold, and gives the perfect ending to a great meal.

This joins other food blog articles posted in Wanderfood Wednesdays on Wanderlust and Lipstick. Check them out!

Total Time Traveled: 20 minutes
Total Distance Traveled: 6 miles
Soundtrack: "Teenage Dream" Katy Perry (What? My mom got me the album!)



  1. Id have to go back again and again. Room 39 sounds perfect.