The NEW EBT Restaurant
Somewhere In Time
“So, what do I have to wear?” moaned Tastebud, muddling over appropriate dining attire.
That subject doesn’t usually surface these days when going out to eat, but it did as we confirmed a dinner date at EBT.
“Nice. Nothing fancy,” I said nonchalantly.
I hadn’t been to the establishment anchoring the corner of 435 and State Line for about a year. When, at that time, reservations were made to ‘dine’ (and I say that with all due respect) in one of the city’s best gilded cages.
That was a treat, I recalled thinking back to my last visit.
How many times do you sit inside a beautifully detailed antique elevator cage from a by-gone era?
“Solidly booked weeks in advance,” I was told by a hostess when I last inquired.
On second thought, flip flops just won’t cut it in a place like this.
EBT—which stands for Emery Bird Thayer—is one of those establishments withstanding the test of time, lodged fashionably for decades inside the UMB Bank building at 435 and State Line.
Extending the palm
While romance oozes around every niche—this is, after all, a Rolls Royce of a place that is meant to feel comfortable—you know it like the family car (only detailed!).
“This is beautiful,” hummed Tastebud, himself a former downtown retailer remembering the glory days.
I nodded in agreement as we walked past stained glass, iron fretwork and stately brick arches embellished with the department store’s original hand-carved friezes.
Elegance never tarnishes, at least not here, I realized as we slipped into a booth beneath a novelty of colorful tented lights.
Momentarily, I flashed back to Saturdays eons ago lunching with my mom on EBT’s mezzanine, all spiffed up in my white gloves and Mary Janes. In those days it was a treat to go downtown and shop the grand dames: Harzfeld’s, Adlers, Pecks, Macy’s and of course, Emery Bird Thayer.
Meanwhile, David, our knowledgeable server, addressed us both realizing he knew Tastebud from his former downtown serving gigs. Small world.
Speaking of oozing, our Brie appetizer, not our server, melted with abandon before us. The warm silky mixture of double cream blended with a tart apricot preserve beautifully contrasted with the hand-folded parchment shell ($12).
Adam Horner, young and fresh, enthusiastically sat down for a chat.
“I’m only 29,” revealed EBT’s general manager. “Really, no one younger than, say, 55 years old remembers the former location. So what I want is for people to reacquaint, bring in the next generation and to realize we’re here, we’re not
pretentious and we want to indulge you.”
He’s right—who doesn’t want to be indulged?
And, with that, our grilled Belgian Endive Caprese salad was presented. Stacked with pillowy rounds of mozzarella and ruby-ripe tomatoes and glossed with truffle oil and a tangy balsamic, this was soul satisfying ($10).
“What’s this?” asked Tastebud tearing off a piece of frill.
“I believe it’s baked Parmesan,” I said with a nibble.
It soon disappeared—as did EBT’s signature toast points, known as crunchies—closely followed by the bread while we waited for the entrees.
David, ever attentive, managed to explain his former stints in the River Quay while placing in front of us our stylishly designed entrees.
With abandon, I dove into the scallops and sautéed shrimp sauced with a beurre blanc. I must not have surfaced for awhile, drowning in the savory lush catch Executive Chef Tate Roberts mastered.
“Boy, you polished that off,” soured Tastebud, obviously hoping for at least a whiff. “Too bad. Since you’re reveling, may I please have a bite?”
I understood his pace. The grilled peppercorn medallions of beef tenderloin were fork-tender. They were enhanced simply, with delish mashed potatoes and jewels of al dente haricot verts ($31).
Three times David thought Tastebud, with fork in the air, was finished.
Finally, we moved along.
“Coffee?” not for me but, curiously, perhaps dessert.
Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée was proffered but the house-made carrot cake won us over ($7).
“Too, too much,” I blustered managing a couple more bites.
But then again, I felt it was a duty to sit and relish the delicious fare plus these genteel surroundings.
“We’re revamped with new menu items both at lunch and dinner,” said Horner. “Chef Tate Roberts is up for the challenge and we welcome the changes.”
You can plunk down your money on a chain that may (or may not) be good or you can be discerning and get a really top-notch meal.
Regardless if it’s an occasion or not, EBT is worth every penny.
There are few restaurants proudly standing that promote timeless appeal. This is one of them.
And general manager Adam Horner, chef Tate and his staff know you’re worth it.
Kansas City, Mo.
Gloria Gale is an Overland Park-based food writer. “On the Menu” is not a restaurant review; it is a summary of dining out in Johnson County and the metropolitan area.
photos: Steve Puppe