Two different restaurants operating out of one shared kitchen is a business model we don’t often see here in Kansas City, but it is found in larger cities where restaurant rent and equipment costs often demand it. Many local operators are starting to think outside the box and have begun taking a fresh look at how to best utilize all their spaces, staff, and ingredients to run a more successful and profitable business coming out of the pandemic.
It was that kind of creative thinking that brought Bryan and Hailey Sparks, the new chef/owners of the well-loved Waldo breakfast and lunch spot, The Classic Cookie, together with their friend and fellow chef, Jade Zivalic. Zivalic is opening the delicious new dinner concept, Wild Rose Bistro, inside The Classic Cookie every Thursday through Saturday evenings, 4:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
The two concepts share an owner, staff, and a kitchen, and they are finding sweet success by serving up cookies, coffee, and crab-cake eggs benedict or a chicken salad sandwich by day and beef tartar, eggplant piccata, maple-glazed Ōra King salmon, and whole-duck cassoulet at night.
As the executive chef for Wild Rose Bistro, Zivalic is a relative newcomer to Kansas City’s culinary scene, but her refined plating techniques and fresh, clean flavors reveal fine-dining training and technique. Yet, it is her own uniquely unfussy way of taking farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients to create her ever-changing menu of globally inspired small plates and simple and soothing entrées that really makes eating here a wholly relaxing yet surprising adventure. It also makes the menu at Wild Rose Bistro stand out among the mostly neighborhood bar and grill restaurants serving standard pub fare all around her in Waldo.
Having grown up in El Segundo, California, in a large family of great cooks, Zivalic was raised eating her mother’s Filipino dishes and then branched out from there. With access to a variety of cuisines in L.A., she grew her palate eating dishes infused with fresh herbs, earthy spices, and fiery chilies. When her family moved to Arkansas, she followed a few years later and attended two years of culinary school at the Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, before being offered the garde manger position at MOD, an upscale, fine-dining restaurant in Bentonville, Arkansas.
She eventually made her way to Kansas City and landed at North Italia in Leawood, where she met Hailey, and the two became fast friends. After Hailey and Bryan bought The Classic Cookie last year and decided they were ready to open for dinner service, it was Zivalic they called to run the kitchen.
The restaurant has only 30 seats inside, along with a handful of bistro tables and chairs outside. The couple has done a wonderful job updating The Classic Cookie with a fresh coat of white paint, blonde wood tables, black chairs, and plenty of verdant green plants hanging overhead. By day, sunlight streams through the front windows making the place feel light, bright, and airy, and at night the lights are dimmed, and music is added to set the mood. Suddenly, the space feels quite cozy and intimate.
As I unfurled my napkin, my waitress explained that the menu had multiple small plates that were meant for sharing and she suggested at least two per person. The entrées were bigger and heartier, and there was an additional drink menu with mocktails and two super sloppy, but incredibly delicious, cookie-based desserts listed.
At the time of my visit in September, Wild Rose Bistro did not have their liquor license in place. Sparks assures that it is in the works and may be in place by the time you read this. If not, they do allow guests to B.Y.O.B. with no additional corkage fee. They have also partnered with Underdog Wine Co. owners, Ryan and Jenny Sciara, who have recommended bottles to pair with your meal at a discounted price if you mention you are headed to Wild Rose for dinner.
The bread service came highly recommended and arrived with a nicely sized sourdough loaf cut into four thick slices and served with at least half of a stick’s worth of various compound butters, including a miso and seaweed one that my butter knife clearly preferred as it kept going back to it for its briny salt and rich umami.
That was followed by several small plates, which might have been my favorite part of the meal due to the variety of flavors represented across all the dishes when served together.
There was the Two Birds Farm roasted cauliflower on black garlic hummus, with sliced sweet dates and crunchy toasted hazelnuts, sunflower, and sesame seeds, along with a punch of fresh mint.
The chilled crab cucumber caviar was a clean plate that let the fresh crab shine; it came topped with pickled diced cucumbers and a spoonful of orange trout roe on top.
Finally, the compressed watermelon salad came shingled with slices of raw scallops in-between perched in a sauce of fresh tomato water that had a touch of chili oil mixed in. Every bite was like tasting the last gasp of summer—hot, sweet, and dreamy.
The entrées were less complex in spice and heat, rather they were simple and completely satisfying. The pork chop was thick, cooked to a light pink and sliced in chunky strips over two large and impossibly fluffy corn-filled johnny cakes with braised greens on the side. The pork was lightly brushed with a hint of maple syrup which brought day and night crashing together delightfully on one plate.
Given the relaxed atmosphere, neighborhood bistro vibe and fresh, creative cuisine coming out of the kitchen at Wild Rose Bistro, I think this particular flower will grow long, strong and healthy roots in Waldo.