Chef Vaughn Good and his partner and wife, Kristine Hull, are moving quickly. It was only this past March that the couple announced the closure of Hank Charcuterie, their celebrated four-year-old restaurant in Lawrence, with plans to open a new venture in Kansas City. Now, just shy of six months from that announcement, they are set to open Fox and Pearl in the house at 815 West 17th Street, the former home of Ryan Brazeal's Novel, in the Westside.
Opening Fox and Pearl on 17th Street wasn’t part of Good and Hull’s original plan, and it is still not where they aim to make Fox and Pearl’s permanent home (that would be at 2143 Summit Street). Yet the opportunity presented itself once the couple talked with their landlord, Adam Jones, about construction delays at their space on Summit Street. Jones owns that building as well as the house on 17th Street, and just over a month ago he offered the use of the house on the hill as a temporary home so that Good and Hull could begin operating their KC business (a particularly attractive offer as the property already had a liquor license). Good and Hull plan to continue operating Fox and Pearl here for the next few months as they complete construction on their permanent location.
Dining at Fox and Pearl on the hill is a wonderfully familiar experience, both for customers who enjoyed dining at Hank Charcuterie as well as those who enjoyed visits to Novel in this space. The house maintains its intimate and warm character, thanks to the much-loved head-to-toe wood paneling and flooring. New plants and colorful photography brighten the space, but it, including the bar, is unmistakably familiar from its former life.
Yet the familiarity with Novel ends there. Alhough it is just a temporary home, chef Good and Hull have endeavored to make this space feel like their own (particularly impressive once you learn they have been here just a month). On walking in, customers are greeted with music from the couple’s record player downstairs. There are fewer tables in this space, making particularly the upstairs dining area feel less cramped. The bar selection is highly curated – rather than holding and maintaining a more extensive collection, a careful selection of wines and spirits plus a handful of small barrels sit behind the bar, with batch and barrel-aged cocktails inside of those barrels waiting for their turns on future drink menus.
The dinner menu, largely seasonal, feels very much in Vaughn Good’s wheelhouse. Hank Charcuterie was known for its house-cured meats and an enviable selection of locally raised proteins, and these items have made their way into the Fox and Pearl rotation as well. In addition to housemade pickles and crackers, Good’s signature charcuterie board, for example, features an impeccable, rich pork rillette, chicken pâté, a duck and pork terrine, smoked duck “ham” and silky porchetta de testa – items that all may perhaps sound intimidating but have deeply satisfying, approachable flavors. Basically, if you like pork, you’re going to be happy. Bone marrow is also on the menu, here served on chewy 1900 Barker bread with Green Dirt Farm’s Dirt Lover cheese, a swipe of housemade strawberry jam and greens from Stirring Soils farm.
If you’ve come hungry, a two-inch thick bone-in pork chop is seared and served with a Moroccan-style chermoula sauce over grilled okra and onions, and is topped with a tangy tomato chutney. A tartine is also on offer, made with smoked pork belly, a leek fonduta and pickled chilies that pop in your mouth, all of which is topped with fried kale and a sunny-side-up egg. A couple of fresh pasta dishes are also available, including housemade gnocchi served with oyster mushrooms, served in a sauce made with Parmesan and Green Dirt Farm Prairie Tomme cheese and preserved lemon. Mezzaluna (half-moon) pasta is served with charred eggplant, smoked tomato and ricotta. These dishes all represent what Good explains is the start of his new venture. He jokes that he’s not reinventing his cuisine along with this move, but he also hopes to grow in his time in Kansas City.
Overall, the marriage of this space and Good's cooking feels natural, and the neighborhood, long a culinary destination, seems an ideal one for Good to begin his KC career. Good and Hull plan to start relatively small, with a dinner service Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 5pm. They will also offer brunch on Saturdays.
Customers can now make reservations through foxandpearlkc.com for service starting Tuesday, September 11.
Fox and Pearl, 815 W. 17 St., Westside, Kansas City, Missouri, foxandpearlkc.com