The American Restaurant (or The Best Lamb I Ever Had)

Chef Debbie GoldFine dining is very much alive in Kansas City, MO at The American Restaurant.  Located right next to Crown Center, The American is making a name for Kansas City upscale/fine dining cuisine and serves wonderful contemporary American food.

The American and Chef Debbie Gold

Returning to helm the kitchen at The American is Chef Debbie Gold, an easy going, likeable chef who was more than happy to talk cooking.  I got to talk to Chef for a few minutes about her career, the restaurant and all topics food.  Like all of the KC chefs I’ve talked to, I was very impressed with Chef Gold’s passion for food.  For instance, the question “What’s your favorite Spring vegetable?” could not be answered with a single vegetable.

Chef Gold on Molecular Gastronomy

On the topic of trends, she mentioned molecular gastronomy at which point she made a statement I found deeply profound.  It seems Chef Gold is not a huge proponent of molecular gastronomy because, as she put it “We’ve worked so hard to get the chemicals out of our food when we grow it, why would we put it in in the end when we cook it?”  As much of a fan of Chef Richard Blais, the gastronomic wizard from Top Chef, I found myself suddenly calling into question the whole practice.

Why’s She Not Yelling?

Still, what stands out most to me about Chef Gold, other than her food, which we’ll get to in a moment, was just how happy her brigade seemed to be.  I live and die on Gordon Ramsey reruns so I am used to the idea of the chef as screaming slave driver.  A Gordon Ramsey kitchen seems devoid of humor and fun.  From the moment I walked into the kitchen, I could tell her staff was having a good time.  Yes, there was dinner going on, but everyone was all smiles and there was a enthusiasm  in everyone’s work.

Strangely enough, there was no fear Chef Gold was going to break into a tirade of F bombs and screaming.  By the end of the tour, i wanted to work for her.

Lamb Belly and Duck Breast

So, the thing that stands out most about Chef Gold including her food was her food.  She treated me to some of her roast lamb belly (the meat near the stomach, not the stomach itself!) served on top of a green peas with a little splash of what I think was a tomato ginger relish.  This dish reflects both the high and the low point of the meal.

That lamb belly was… supercalifragilisticexpedaladocious.  I seriously can’t think of another word for it.  Granted, I don’t eat a lot of lamb, but the lamb belly I had there was unbelievable.  The best I ever had.  I could cut it with my fork.  It was flavorful, perfectly seasoned with simple salt and pepper, and cooked, I think, just on it’s own fat.  Amazing.  The tomato relish was also wonderful.  It was strong, so there wasn’t much, but it mixed with the lamb and the peas.

Which brings us to the low point.  The peas.  I was not a fan of the peas.  They were a little too al dente for my taste and could have used a little…something else.  It wasn’t bad enough to detract from the lamb, but not perfect.

I also had the La Belle duck breast served on a sunchoke puree with ramps.  The sauce was a Grand Marnier gastrique.  This dish was a total success.  The duck was rich, but tender.  The sunchokes were mild, but worked perfectly with the duck and the broad beans were terrific.  Had I only had this meal, I would have been very happy.  However, after the lamb… well… I can say the duck’s major failing was that it wasn’t a second plate of lamb belly.

All in all, I had a great talk with Chef and a great meal.  The next time you are looking for a fine meal, a place for an anniversary, or just a tremendous view of the city, stop by The American Restaurant.  Ask for the lamb and tell them BlogWellDone sent you.  Enjoy!!

Thanks to the Kansas City Star for the picture.


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