Brown and Loe – Rivermarket, Kansas City, MO.

The black and white marble tile is what I noticed first. Followed by the striking bar made of dark wood that runs the length of the restaurant. This historic building was bought and refinished by Kansas City legend, Harry X, who first opened Harry’s Country Club in Kansas City, just up the street and around the corner from Brown & Loe. I love this place not for just the reasons I’ll share soon, but for the ambiance. The tall ceilings, crown molding, and marbled columns give it an old world charm that I can’t get enough of. Dark browns, whites and greys, polished chrome give it an elevated 50s soda shop feel but without the kitsch.

When I first started coming here it was for their Happy Hour. My girlfriend Lauren and I would sit at the bar, order the rose on tap with a dozen oysters. Doesn’t get better than that.

Brunch has become my new favorite time to visit Brown & Loe. I come alone on the weekends to write so I sit at the far end of the bar. The bartender knows my order and starts me off with a cup of their delicious coffee, cream & sugar. I have the same coffee mugs at home, off-white porcelain, tall with a thick rim. My Mimosa comes in a long-stemmed champagne flute and they’re heavy on the champagne, just as I like them to be.

The menu here has always been approachable but with a classy twist. You can order oysters (which are some of the best in the city) with a side of fries. Their smoked salmon and potato latkes are a favorite though, with creme fraiche and chives are something you must try. The food is well-balanced and light but filling. The dish I come here for? The Hot Chicken & Waffles. I am a C&W snob and I’ve had them all over the states – from Harlem to New Orleans but Brown & Loe has crushed the game. With white barbecue sauce gravy and just the right amount of spice with a sweet and thick vanilla waffle that’s just crispy enough to leave the soft center to soak in the juice from the chicken – it’s what I crave on some level everyday but on Saturday, I cannot resist. Leafy greens serve as a welcome reprieve from the dish, offering a tangy lemon bite of acid to break up the flavors. It fills me up but is not heavy at all and leaves me satiated.

The staff is phenomenal and professional. Offering up a smile, though, these days it’s from behind a mask. Visiting my favorite haunt is wonderful but surely not the same. Gone is my bar spot as the seating has been taken away. The patio serves the guests well as it is shaded but a hot Kansas City summer can make even that unbearable at times. Their tables are distanced and when I visited, they weren’t at their full capacity. The staff wear masks at all times and after a diner has left, the seats and tables are wiped down dutifully and carefully.

As I sit here, at a table where my barstool should be, I see a group of people, diners included, just doing their best- trying to make life feel normal in a world that will never be that way again. A bite of comfort food and knowing there aren’t dishes to do after, might just be all I need to feel ok, even if for a moment.

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