Reservation For One: A Thyme for Everything

Photos by Aaron Leimkuehler

For some parts of Kansas City, the Grandview Triangle might as well be the Bermuda Triangle. There’s the fear of being stuck in traffic or getting lost to never return. So, the area east of the I-435 loop remains hidden in plain sight.

But this intrepid adventurer left her home in Overland Park during the height of rush hour traffic and washed up on distant shores in under 30 minutes.

Here in charming downtown Lee’s Summit, there’s a delicious meal where many might not think to go.

It’s a Wednesday evening, and people are streaming into a cookware shop. They’re bringing insulated containers of wine.

At the cash register, eager people say the magic word and are admitted into a back room.

Is this some kind of speakeasy? A private party?

No, says owner Marilyn James of A Thyme for Everything. It’s a tapas cooking class, this one a small-plates dinner with built-in live entertainment. By day, the second retail space displays kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, and giftware; a few nights a week, this back room transforms into a restaurant where every table has a good view of the chef and you can bring your own wine.

Guests are offered a Reidel-style glass and a wine opener, along with a handout of all the recipes. Soon corks are popped on Francis Coppola pinot grigio, Temptation zinfandel, and other tapas-friendly wines.

Tonight’s instructor, Lana Bellah, a personal chef and caterer, starts us off with bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola. The savory bite starts off as a sugary date, followed by smoky bacon, and then pungent blue cheese.

Next up, the Mediterranean skewers display every hostess’ secret of success—make-ahead ability. “You cannot over-prepare,” emphasizes Bellah. She threads colorful cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, green and black olives, and other goodies onto skewers, then drizzles each with reduced balsamic vinegar.

Aromas fill the air as Bellah starts on the shrimp and grits, small-plate portions flavored with Cajun spices and sundried tomatoes. She makes and cools the grits first, then cuts them with a cookie cutter. The buttery, spicy, succulent shrimp go on top. It’s the hit of the class, although the mini crab cakes (made in a mini-muffin tin) with Sriracha aioli are a close second.

The toothsome desserts might look like chocolate truffles, but they’re actually green tea-flavored matcha balls made with dates, cashew butter, dried fruit, chia seeds, and a secret herb combination.

The verdict? We ate well and drank well. And we learned something.

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