The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 29, 2013

Dave Woods: Museum plates please palate

By Dave Woods
Digital market development manager

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — I love a good meal. Even more, I love and appreciate a great meal. My bathroom scale can attest to that.

I don't care if it's breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. I just love strapping on the feed bag and leaving a restaurant full and satisfied.

I'm not alone. I caught up with a couple of like-minded foodies recently as they left Cafe Sebastienne at The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art during a weekend visit to Kansas City that included museum tours and travel adventures.

I loved my museum cafe culinary experience. The two women I chased down after finishing their meals said they enjoyed their time -- and brunch -- at Cafe Sebastienne, too.

"I loved the food and the ambiance," Jocelyn Mourning, 30, told me, as we stood in the museum lobby.

I saw her party laughing and sharing plates during brunch. They seemed like the perfect folks to ask about the cafe's Sunday brunch experience. I didn't want to interrupt their meal or seem like a crazy culinary stalker, so I waited for them to finish their meals and then ambushed them in the museum lobby. They were happy to share their brunch-time thoughts. Like me, it was their first Cafe Sebasteinne experience.

"We were just discussing how it was going to be raining today," Jocelyn, an amateur painter and nonprofit worker, said. "I was a little excited to get a sunny experience while we were inside. It was delicious. I eat out a lot and am obsessed with breakfast, so I was excited to get to have a brie omelet, which was delicious. I got to taste (Erin's) crab cake benedict, which was great. I would get that one next time."

After brunch the pair and their companions planned to tour the museum's new exhibits. I did, too.

"I love to paint and this is a great exhibit and a great meal," Jocelyn said.

Erin Brower, 31, shared her friend's enthusiasm about the museum restaurant's offerings.

"I loved it, too," Erin, a child advocate who works in Jefferson City, said.

"I had the crab cake benedict," Erin said. "You can't get any better than crab cakes, Hollandaise sauce and the works. It was really good. This is defiantly a tourist attraction. If you come to K.C., you have to visit the museum and eat here."

They are, in my opinion, correct.

My meal at Cafe Sebastienne was outstanding. I opted for corned beef hash topped with a pair of poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. It was a perfect combination. My traveling companion chose the Crouqe Madame, a breakfast sandwich topped with a pair of fried eggs and served with a light green salad on the side. We split the entrees and opted for breakfast drinks, too. Bloody Marys, screwdrivers and glasses of wine flowed around the dining room. Great stuff for early on a sunny morning.

I admit, I'm a restaurant service snob. Not in a bad way, I hope. The service at the cafe was outstanding. The entire restaurant is beautifully decorated. Inside seating offers walls completely covered in contemporary art. Outside, in the glass covered courtyard, it was more simply decorated. We opted for courtyard seating.

Everyone seemed happy the day turned out well and the food was artfully presented. The contrast between the industrial concrete structure and the slick, brushed-metal tables and chairs was a great complement to the colorful dishes being delivered to the tables packed with hungry diners.

The prices seemed more than reasonable. Museum admission is free and the menu offered a variety of price points. As the brunch crowd began to thin, I didn't really want to leave. I was full and a little lethargic. I suppose following a great meal, that's not a bad deal. Check paid and museum tour ahead, I pushed back my chair, stretched a little and waddled off to visit the museum's non-edible exhibits.

Well, maybe just one more bite.

Dave Woods is market development manager for The Joplin Globe.