The Story Behind Story
For as long as I can remember, the shops at Prairie Village have been a hometown favorite. Not really a mall, nor strip center,
‘The Village’ has been a kind of charming
shopping destination holding its own throughout the years.
The only beef I have, with one or two exceptions, is simply a lack of exceptional places to eat.
Suddenly there’s a reason to spiff up and return for a really great experience.
The romance begins with a beautiful, almost ethereal looking space unexpectedly tucked into the lineup of retail.
It’s here that chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen and his wife, Susan, decided to locate their sleekly cool, modern restaurant called Story.
And I’m glad.
I believe that we have enough casual restaurants where dressing up and thoughtful dining is passé.
Therein lies the heart of the matter. In fact, if you dressed down, you’d likely feel a bit odd in this restaurant. Story is designed for comfort, but with a bit of spit and polish (if in doubt, ask someone over 40 to explain).
But getting back to the heart of the matter: Story is a place where you’re going to feel special. Carl and Susan, along with the help of Overland Park-based BlueBike architects, have crafted a lovely space where people and food are the jewels that shine—that animation alone creates enough of the story.
So let’s get on with it.
Between the two, Carl, a once-upon-a-time English lit major turned self-taught-chef and Susan, a gourmet food storeowner, started designing the concept back in 2009.
Their ‘story’ was straightforward: the Thorne-Thomsens would design an elegant and memorable restaurant featuring locally sourced, fresh ingredients. Imaginative dishes would be carefully rendered leading to the diner’s (hopefully positive) experience.
Tonight, my adventure at Story started smoothly.
Greeted by Susan, Tastebud and I had high expectations.
Serenity prevailed in the pure, white dining space seating just shy of 70. There’s a sneak of a bar and an outdoor patio that host more guests.
Dividing the dining room from the bar area, glass printed panels featuring the landscaped photos of noted photographer, Ray K. Metzker, who just happens to be Carl’s uncle. Incidentally, Metzker’s photos just wrapped up an exhibit at The Nelson-Atkins on June 5.
Comfortably seated, service was prompt and friendly.
In a menu that will change seasonally, Thorne-Thomsen has envisioned a contemporary American menu inspired by classic French, Spanish and Italian technique.
After a glass of bubbling prosecco, my appetizer—which I had deliberately chosen from a mouthwatering list—was a lightly battered, palm-sized soft-shell crab gently seated on roasted tomatoes, cucumbers and pancetta mayo ($12). The crab was so succulent I lingered, knowing full well they’re rarely available.
Though Tastebud was very intent, relishing his ravioli ($14), I managed to sneak a bite. Equally tender as the crab, he wished for a larger portion of the decoratively laced ravioli blanketed in truffled frommage blanc, parsley and morels.
Bread—warm, crusty and made in-house—appeared along with our entrees.
My lamb ‘crepinette,’ easily forked and accompanied by of all things, a petite olive falafel, was sided with artichokes, zucchini and roasted mole ($24).
Tastebud’s Great Lakes rainbow trout decked out with crimini mushrooms, spinach and mashed potatoes joined in a lemony-jalapeno vinaigrette made him totally uncommunicative ($24).
So be it—all the better to listen to comments from the filled room.
“Would it be rude to ask for more bread?” Tastebud inquired. Before long, another basket appeared.
Susan stopped by and insisted we try dessert fashioned by Dominique Perez, former pastry chef at the same place Chef Carl started—Michael Smith and Extra Virgin.
Our ‘ending’ was a decadent chocolate mousse that I will make a beeline for upon return to Story. A praline-like Feuilletine crust, port cherries and a dip of coffee ice cream was more than indulgent ($8).
Slowly we ebbed away from the meal, closing with a sigh and smile.
It was special—just as anticipated.
I’m hoping you’ll find your chapter at Story as appealing as we did.
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.
3931 W. 69th Terrace