Guess who’s coming to dinner?
You can’t be too sure when dining at a haunted restaurant.
By D’ann Dreiling
The Savoy Hotel and Grill at 214 West 9th Street was the crown jewel of downtown Kansas City when it was built in 1888. The place to be seen by Kansas City socialites was also frequented by such guests as J. D. Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, Will Rogers and Harry Truman. It is the oldest restaurant in the city and has recently been given new life with a 48 million dollar renovation under the ownership of the 21c Museum Hotels. The designers incorporated many historic architectural elements of the original hotel and chose to name their dining room, “The Savoy”.
While dining in this elegant restaurant and admiring the delicious offerings on the menu, don’t be startled if the menu flutters slightly. It might be Betsy Ward from room 505 joining you for dinner. Betsy died mysteriously in the late 1880’s in the bathtub of this room and never checked out of the hotel. Her ghost is said to open doors, turn on faucets and showers, and join dining guests. After all, “ghouls just wanna have fun”.
If excitement as well as fine dining is your goal, check out “88“, the dining room at the Elms Hotel and Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, where paranormal reigns. After burning down twice, the hotel was reconstructed of Missouri limestone and reopened in 1912. During prohibition, the hotel flourished as a speakeasy and attracted such gangsters as Al Capone, who is said to have tipped the wait staff with one hundred dollar bills. This gangster stored liquor in the hotel basement and sold it to his buddies. After one of Capone’s all night drinking and gambling parties, one of his guests was shot and killed. His spirit lives there still with many other phantoms of the past. Both guests and staff have reported numerous sightings and unexplained noises. Best not to dine here if you look anything like Al Capone. Someone is looking for you.
Now if you prefer casual dining with a ghost, check out Succotash at 2601 Holmes. This brunchette will have your spirits soaring with its delicious breakfast and lunch menu. It’s resident ghost, Radar, is said to have remained in the building after the former tenant, Dutch Hill Bar and Grill, closed. A regular at the bar, Radar always sat on the same bar stool with a drink in one hand and a cigarillo in the other. Owner Beth Barden doesn’t mind his presence. “I know he’s here when the scent of a freshly struck match and the sweet smell of tobacco comes wafting through the air. He flickers the lights occasionally just for reassurance.”
Succotash, like all restaurants, has struggled with the Covid. Barden has made sure her employees are taken care of during this crisis, as well as anyone in the neighborhood who is in need. Barden believes “ the first step in solving civil unrest is making sure people are fed. I may be cash poor, but I am food rich”.
Succotash has a pay it forward program where customers make donations for front line health care workers, and Succotash prepares the food and delivers it to local hospitals.
For phone orders call 816 421 2807, on line orders, succotashkcmo.com.
Succotash has provided us with one of their fabulous recipes.
Here’s the dish…
Baked Pumpkin Brulee French Toast
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 extra large loaf of thickly sliced egg bread
- butter for pan
Butter a 10 inch springform pan and wrap the outside with foil to create an outer layer to protect the pan from a water bath.
Mix the milk, cream and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat to warm the cream- do not boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it sit for about 20 minutes to give the vanilla a chance to flavor the milk mixture. Pour the milk mixture into a large bowl and take out the vanilla bean. Open the bean, scrape the seeds out and return them to the milk mixture. The rest of the bean can be saved for future use.
Lightly beat the whole eggs and yolks together and add the sugar. whisk these together until they are pale and fluffy. Stir this combination into the cooled milk mixture (don’t rush this step or you will get scrambled eggs). Whisk in the pumpkin and add the ginger to finish (if you like you may also add a dash of salt for balance).
Pour a bit of the custard mixture into the bottom of the springform pan. Layer bread and custard until the pan is full (bread can be arranged into a pinwheel for best presentation).
Let the mixture soak for about 45 minutes before baking. If the mixture seems to be rising up it can be weighted with a plate to keep it in place.
Preheat the oven to 325. place the french toast pan inside of a roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with hot tap water until it reaches about halfway up the french toast pan. Bake for about 1.5 hours until the center is firm but not hard (think quiche).
Let the french toast sit for about 20 minutes and slide a knife around the edge to unmold.