I am going to be the first one to admit that I have never been to Justus Drugstore-A Restaurant in Smithville Missouri. However, I have no need to fret because Chef Jonathan Justus and his lovely wife/counterpart, Camille Eklof have opened their premiere 5000-square foot farm-to-table restaurant Black Dirt in South Plaza, Kansas City. I believe it was more than three years in the making for the James Beard-nominated chef, Jonathan Justus to be able to open the doors to this fabulous new hot spot. There is no doubt that this sleek eatery will quickly become Kansas City’s newest sought after dining destination. I took the opportunity to invite our friends, Vlad and Aaron on a much overdue dinner date. Plus it helps if we all order something different so I can take delicious pictures of our entrees (work mode)! The very first fantastical thing that I noticed as we approached the restaurant was their sign. Talk about a statement! I loved the fluorescent green sign with the simple but chic black lettering. The second I walked in I fell in love with the laser cut metal panels in the foyer of this eatery.
As a decorator my focus goes immediately to the overall aesthetic and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. You can tell there was a lot of thought put into the configuration of this modern American bistro. The black and grey palettes that were used to bring out the pops of earthy tones were perfect, hence the name of this gem Black Dirt. There are five splendid seating areas with each having their own focal points. Right down to the placement of the beautiful custom light fixture that was made out of a root ball of a hackberry tree. I have mentioned before that the experience of going to a new restaurant or lounge always begins with the host or hostess. I hope to see a smile and eye contact…check! As I checked into my reservation I had the pleasure of meeting Camille. She was gracious enough to chat with me about their newest venture and a little tour…THANK YOU, Camille! After we get seated we are greeted by our waiter, Tommy. I had previously met him at another restaurant and gave us the same impeccable service. He was very knowledgable with both dinner and cocktail menus.
The whole vibe has been fantastical. I was running into friends, chatting and just enjoying our evening outing. Not too long after ordering, our beautifully presented entrees began to arrive. We started with the Fettuccini– Duck egg pasta, zucchini chitarra, wild mushrooms, crème fraiche, arugula and lemon zest/ Pecan Pear Salad– Ginger pickled carrots, spicy pecan, compressed pear, white wine shallot vinaigrette and apple cracklins’/ Roasted Carrots– Avocado, orange, cilantro, olive oil, lime, coriander and piment d’espelette. All pictured below in the order mentioned.
Our second course was equally beautiful to the eyes and delectable to the tastebuds. Blackened Catfish– Missouri rice risotto, creole sauce and proper collards with house bacon/ Fried Chicken– Herbed breading, mashed potatoes, greens and sage gravy/ Daily Steak was Hanger Steak– Fries, romaine lettuce, horseradish mustard dressing and parsley garlic sauce. All pictured below in order mentioned.
Last but not least, the cherry on top of this palatable dinner is dessert! Although, as far as I am concerned we should all be having dessert before dinner! Ice Cream Trio– Strawberry, amaretto thyme, vanilla and toffee sauce/ Chocolate-Dark Chocolate Layer Cake– Peanut butter buttercream, strawberry compote and buttermilk anglaise/ Coconut Cream Napoleon– Flaky pastry and raspberry coulis. All pictured below in order mentioned.
All in all, Black Dirt is a wonderfully sophisticated but approachable addition to the Kansas City restaurant scene. They serve an American menu that sources its ingredients locally in Missouri. So, Missouri farm fresh food mixed with the execution of a James Beard-nominated chef, creative cocktails, hospitable hostesses, knowledgable and friendly servers and relaxing atmosphere will make this gem a definite go-to for years to come!