It took four years and a stunning $50 million renovation by 21c Museum Hotel, but The Savoy Restaurant and Lounge is finally open for dinner and drinks.

The Louisville-based hotel group is responsible for giving new life to the former The Savoy Hotel & Grill building, located on Ninth Street in the historic Financial District in downtown Kansas City.

The newly remodeled hotel – the eighth in the 21c Hotel chain – boasts 120 rooms, including 19 suites, a restaurant and lounge, and a free 6,200-square-foot museum featuring a rotating collection of contemporary art from the 21st century. The museum is open to the public 365 days a year. It is truly the perfect representation of what 21c Hotels does best: Create glamorous hotels where real life meets art.

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The Savoy Lobster and Sides

Lobster and sides.

The new Savoy restaurant and lounge opened on July 3, a few weeks before the hotel. It features a stellar food and beverage team made up of executive chef Joe West, food and beverage director Scott Tipton and popular barman Dominic Petrucci as beverage director.

West’s career has been forged in the fine-dining kitchens he has worked in from Kansas City to Las Vegas and back. His new menu, just like the hotel itself, is on a mission to make the old new again, and his dinner and lounge menu represents just that.

West has taken popular French-inspired dishes and mixed them with American classics that play on Kansas City’s nostalgia for The Savoy Grill. To that end, the menu is full of throwbacks like vichyssoise, avocado crab Louis, Caesar salad, steak tartare, scallops menieure, lobster Newberg, pasta primavera and, of course, prime rib, presented in a fresh new way.

With a gorgeous decorative trim, The Savoy’s new china plates artfully decorate the beautifully presented food coming out of the kitchen. The food looks purposeful on the plate, yet not fussy, and chef West seems to have taken a much lighter hand with the traditional heavy sauces these dishes are known for. They all seem to have been replaced with lighter versions that still deliver all of the classic flavors you expect yet from a fresh, new point of view.

The menu is à la carte so diners can start with a soup, salad or appetizer and then move onto an entrée paired with sides. The roasted Apicius duck served l’orange, for instance, would pair lovely with a side of honey and tangerine glazed carrots, while the deviled lamb chop with mint jelly could go with the potato gnocchi or the greens. The burger and fries or prime rib with loaded baked potato pairings are are a natural fit.

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The Savoy Cocktail

A cocktal at The Savoy.

The desserts dazzle with finesse. From the passion fruit and coconut layer cake to the baked Alaska with French lavender ice cream surrounded by lemon cake and topped with toasted meringue, these are mid-century modern desserts that flip the script with delicious results.

The new dining room of The Savoy seats 125 and stands in stark modern contrast to the original bar and lounge. Taking the original event space as their main dining room, the lightshow overhead features small fins mounted to the ceiling that playfully changes the color of the entire room throughout the meal. There is also a smaller private dining room next door that can be reserved for guests.

Locals will breathe a sigh of relief to see that the historic Savoy Grill lives on in the form of the darkly romantic bar and lounge area for the hotel. Thanks to a federal historic tax credit used by 21c Museum Hotels to help cover the cost of renovations, they were required to leave the original restaurant in place.

Up until the day the old Savoy Grill closed, it was one heralded as one of Kansas City’s oldest restaurants, and 21c Museum Hotels simply polished up what was already amazing about that space. Key features remain, including the wild west-inspired murals painted in 1903 by Edward Holslag, the emerald green tiles and barstools, the gorgeous stained-glass windows and the “Presidents Booth” that was a favorite of Presidents Truman, Ford and Reagan.

New additions to the space include handsome velvet couches and lounge furniture as well as the old barber chairs once used by the barber shop formerly located inside of the old hotel, which were uncovered during the remodel. There is also an art installation called “Super Catcher, Vast Array,” made by multimedia artist Brad Kahlhamer. The silver web of delicate dreamcatchers quietly serves as a reminder of our real American history.

Petrucci and West worked together to create a bar menu that should pack in visitors and locals alike come quitting time. Petrucci’s list of five classic cocktails (described as "heritage" on the menu) are mirrored in a new way on the opposite or "vogue" side of the menu. A Bee’s Knees made with gin, honey, lemon and bitters on the "heritage" side, for instance, becomes the Cat’s Kimono, made with gin, honey, shiso, broiled lemon and turmeric, on the "vogue" side. West delivers crave-worthy dishes at the bar, including bacon-wrapped cherry peppers stuffed with cream cheese, steamed mussels, fish and chips, a burger and steak and frites.

“I decided to offer a separate food menu in the lounge that is different from what I am serving in the dining room,” says West. “There is some overlap between the two menus, but things like the burger, steak and frites and amazing Caesar salad had to be on both menus.”

The Savoy restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 10pm and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 11pm. On Sundays, the dining room is open from 5:30 to 9pm. The lounge is open Sunday through Thursday from 5pm to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 1am.

The Savoy at 21c Hotel, 219 W. Ninth St., Kansas City, Missouri, 816.443.4260, thesavoykc.com

Jenny is Feast's contributing editor for Kansas City. She brakes for chef's coats.

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