Kansas City’s Test Kitchen

You know you’ve really, fully enjoyed yourself when you get home from a dinner to find no less than three food stains on your cute little BCBG cocktail dress, my friends.

Sunday night we had the distinct pleasure of enjoying a meal prepared by Andrew Longres, for KC’s The Test Kitchen.  If you haven’t heard of it – The Test Kitchen is an underground supper club of sorts.  Held once a month in a secret (ever changing) location, anyone who signs up for membership is thrown into a monthly lottery, where names are pulled and 20 lucky diners will have a meal created for them by a local high profile chef.  Some people have been on the list for years and haven’t had their name drawn.  We were lucky to get our “golden ticket” e-mail one week ago: we were in for the November dinner, held yesterday.

And how lucky to be in for this meal – while there are dozens of highly talented chefs in the Kansas City area, I was excited to find Andrew Longres was to be the chef of the evening.  He just finished a period staging (i.e. apprenticing) under Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, so I knew the meal would be amazing.  Rumor mill has it that he also recently accepted a position at The French Laundry, so now would be the time to sample his creations, before he takes all of his talent to the west coast.*

I was equally excited to find out that two couples we know randomly got into this same dinner.  Sah-weeeeet.  Even better, friends to share in the fun!

So anyway, on to the evening – we showed up at our top-secret location, #8 Gallery in the Crossroads District, at 6p sharp.  Once checked off the list and invited in, we ditched our coats, grabbed a cocktail (yummy Caribbean rum and ginger ale cocktails were the cocktail of the evening), and checked out the great artwork.  And mingled (um, kinda.  My friend Leslie didn’t get the nickname Rockstar for nothing – while we stuck to her, she chatted up a few other couples standing nearby, giving us a few new buddies to talk to at dinner).

Last night’s dinner was aptly titled “Teasing the Senses”.  Lots of molecular gastronomy to be found, a very playful meal.  Without further ado – The Menu.  And please excuse the poor quality of my photos, the light was not exactly meant for photography (although lovely for fine dining).  Luckily the prep table was directly behind us…

Amuse:  “Gin and Tonic”, cucumber and a gin gel, topped with a cut lime segment.  While Scott demurely ate his in several slices, I hacked mine in half and gobbled it up.  This is why he married me.

Course One: Foie gras torchon, brilliantly microplaned over gingerbread (in granule form and concentrate), butternut squash planks, brioche croutons, and huckleberry sauce.  Loved it.  Loooooved it.

Course Two: “Clam Chowder”, with poached potatoes, celery, and wild preparations: bacon powder, Tabasco caviar, and a healthy serving of thyme foam (like, WHOA FOAM, check out that body on the stuff).  I felt terribly for the poor woman dining across from me, who did not hear the chef and mistook the Tabasco for actual salmon roe, and scooped a big spoonful as her first bite…

Course Three: Yellowfin Tuna, with a yuzu carbonated gel, a sprinkle of burgundy truffle, and julienned green apple.  I have a soft spot for raw tuna and this course did not disappoint.  And the second time that evening that I basically inhaled my plate.

Course Four: “Thanksgiving Inside Out”, turkey wrapped in a thick coating of stuffing, served with thin vertical green bean slices (yeah I’m not sure how he did that either, mandoline?  Wouldn’t you slice off all your digits too though??), wild mushrooms, and a smattering of cranberries.  This course was hearty and I could not finish it, which was a pity as it was all sooooo goooood.

Course Five: “Roasted” Piedmont Strip Loin: yummy yummy, topped with a blue cheese powder (and a Roquefort sauce underneath), and potato croquette.  The ‘roasting’ was the coolest part: the chef walked down the length of the table once we were all served, and poured liquid nitrogen into metal “vases” of assorted herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme); the smoke poured everywhere and the smell was out of this world.  I officially L.O.V.E. this guy.

Leslie’s wine also got a healthy helping of smoke.

Course Six: Dessert.  Cubes of earl grey tea cake, a cube of orange curd, and a shard of almond brittle.  Served alongside was a half-sphere of what appeared to be a pink jelly, but once pierced oozed out concentrated tea, which soaked into the cake and flavored the dish perfectly.

We ate, we drank, we talked and laughed and were wowed with every course.  It was a fantastic night.  Word was that this was the “quickest” of all of the dinners, timing the evening at a mere three hours.  And while I was sad to go, I’ll admit that heading home an hour early meant that we were paying the sitter for one less hour, so I wasn’t about to complain. 

Although after walking out that door and eyeing the downtown skyline, it kinda hit me and I was a little sad our evening was over. 

Our compliments to the chef, Andrew Longres – you will be missed in Kansas City.  Our sincere appreciation also goes out to the Founder of The Test Kitchen (and foodie extraordinaire), as well as all the staff that evening and our fellow diners – thank you all for an amazing night.  We hope this is just the first of many underground dinners in our future, and are honored to have had the chance to dine with all of you 🙂

* That little bit of information might have just come directly out of the chef’s mouth himself.  Maybe.  In case it’s not public knowledge yet, I am totally standing to my “it’s a rumor” bit.

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