June 9, 2006
Owners of the Governor’s Meeting House Restaurant and Catering, 10910 W. 60th St., Shawnee, KS, have created a genteel atmosphere in this 1850’s antebellum Federal-style home, originally occupied by Andrew Reeder, Kansas’ first territorial governor.
Cream and khaki floors and wall treatments, graceful curtain swags, ladder-back chairs, rough-hewn beams, linen tablecloths and fresh roses decorated the cozy room. Waiters, wearing tuxedo pants and shirts, were friendly and efficient.
The restaurant would receive four stars for food presentation. Each meal began with a tiny glass plate that cradled a subtle and savory roasted red pepper hummus, two black olives, a small, ultra-fresh pita triangle, and several pieces of celery and carrot.
During our first visit, Mark and I sampled Lightly Warmed Brie-filled Crepe Triangles with Winter Fruit Sauce ($6.50). Mildly sweet walnut and raisin sauce topped delicate crepes that enveloped seductive melted Brie. Fresh peach and plum slices, a juicy watermelon triangle, plump purple grapes, and two wheat crackers surrounded the crepes.
Ellen ordered the “spring version” of Brie appetizer during our second visit, sans fruit sauce. We agreed the peach and plum slices could have been riper.
I enjoyed Crab Cakes with Sweet & Spicy Red Chili Pepper Cream ($7.75). Red, yellow and green pepper bits, and almond slivers accentuated two tall, flaky crab cakes with just the right amount of moistness. The recipe hales from Spago’s chef who traded it for a recipe from the Governor’s Meeting House. However, the red chili pepper cream lacked punch.
Mark and I next split a mammoth Caesar Salad ($5.50). Plenty of dressing and grated Parmesan, several large slices of artichoke hearts, hearts of palm slices, a generous handful of crunchy croutons and a delicious Parmesan crisp topped this gargantuan offering.
Ellen and I also tried a Cup of Roasted Tomato and Jasmine Rice Soup ($4.25). It arrived in a small bowl with a little slab of white cheddar on top and wheat crackers on the side. Warming and satisfying, this upscale combo would taste great with a grilled cheese sandwich.
I then ordered Chicken, Wild Mushroom & Spinach Crepes with Mornay Cheese Sauce ($16.50). Two crepes featured plenty of spinach and mushroom bits, and were topped with a minimally cheesy, surprisingly spicy sauce, which would have added some desirable moisture if also drizzled inside the crepes.
Occasional cauliflower bites and carrot slivers accentuated fresh green beans. A wild rice medley reminiscent of my mother-in-law’s recipe also accompanied the crepes.
Ellen chose Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Peach-Basil-Shallot Chutney ($17.25). Creamy potatoes and vegetables complemented six tender slices of pork. The chutney lacked the typical soupy quality of this popular condiment.
I picked Chipotle Shrimp on Kansas Corn Cake with Fresh Tomato Salsa ($17.75) for my entrée, when Mark and I visited. The butter sauce had a bit of heat but the shrimp seasoning was uneven; and I wanted more salsa. A mildly sweet corn cake, rice and green beans, broccoli flowerets, and bias-cut carrot slices completed the plate.
Mark’s entrée was Buffalo Sausage & Smoked Beef Brisket with Ancho-Honey BBQ ($16.75). The sauce was simultaneously sweet and savory, with a delayed bite. Half a dozen tender brisket slices arrived beside moist and spicy split sausage slices. Mark’s plate also featured vegetables, and creamy mashed potatoes with a touch of garlic.
Mark ordered NY Cheesecake with Fresh Berry Sauce ($4.75). The creamy, fluffy, crust-less offering was accompanied by a sauce chock full of plump, fresh berries. My White Chocolate Raspberry Crème Brule with Pirouette Cookie ($5.50) was rich yet delicate, with a perfect crunchy topper. Although I did find a bit of raspberry, I’d anticipated more.
Ellen and I also ended our meal with cheesecake and crème Brule, but this time the Brule was made with milk chocolate — a highly satisfying twist.
We had the room to ourselves before 9. It’s definitely a place for early diners and Chef Mark Mollentine visited with us briefly. He clearly enjoys his work, and his involvement in the “rebirth” of this Shawnee neighborhood.
The Governor’s Meeting House serves very good food that’s also beautiful, on Thursday through Saturday evenings. Or check them out when scheduling your next reception, brunch, rehearsal dinner, shower or private party.
Lisa Waterman Gray can be contacted at email@example.com.
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