I scored a great deal on a gift certificate for Benton’s Prime Steakhouse from Restaurant.com, and the husband and I used our back-to-back birthday extravaganza this past weekend as an excuse to use it up! I wanted to visit this summer, so we would have daylight late into the evening and enjoy the city views from the restaurant. My sweet mother- and father-in-law offered to watch Baby E, and we headed to the Westin Crown Center for a date night out.
I had read the menu at Benton’s previously and know they recently changed their name to Benton’s Prime (from simply Benton’s) to better reflect their offering of Prime steaks. Given my Nebraska roots, I was also excited because the menu featured beef from Morgan Ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills, including Wagyu (Kobe) beef. So I planned on eating some Nebraska beef!
First stop, free covered parking at the Westin Crown Center. Perfect for temps anywhere between 7 and 107 degrees. (After all, this IS Kansas City.) When the elevator reached the 20th (and final) floor, we were stunned with our first city view. Visitors to Benton’s bar will enjoy this view late into the night.
Our table was on the restaurant’s South side, and we were surprised to find lovely views there as well. In fact, the restaurant kitchen is in the center of the building extending to the West (covering only a portion of the West wall), so there are spectacular views from each direction. Reservations should probably be made if you’re picky. We made ours well in advance and thought it was the best, looking over the Liberty Memorial.
Our first impressions were fantastic. With fully-windowed walls, the restaurant is bright and airy, with simple furnishings. Even better, the service was impeccable. Every visitor to our table was charming and courteous, even the Water Boy. First up was complimentary Prosecco (It is always good to be the birthday boy and girl…), and a basket of rolls offered with both honey butter and peppadew butter. I barely got some of the honey butter…Brandon found it first. I reviewed the wine list and after getting over my shock at being able to order a single glass of Opus One (Napa Valley, 2001), I decided to keep the $35 and order something more reasonable. I selected a glass of Penfolds, “Thomas Hylands” (South Eastern Australia, 2008) to try something new and it was very good. In fact, it was very, very good with my steak (until after the asparagus but that is my own fault).
We ordered the Flash Seared Crab Cake as our first course and found it perfectly meaty, served elegantly over pickled cucumber and pineapple, and topped with a togarashi-coconut sphere. The sphere scared Brandon and he knocked it off of the crab cake. It bounced, and that really was enough for him to see to decide he wouldn’t be trying it. I broke it open and dipped a few bites in the lightly sweet and spicy creamy sauce.
I was a little disappointed that the menu had changed since my first online perusal, and beef from Morgan Ranch did not appear to still be served. If I am remembering correctly, most of the steaks were from Imperial Valley in California. Not a bad thing, just sad for this Nebraska girl. I didn’t ask our server, but should have.
Determined to actually order Prime beef, I skipped my usual filet (8 oz. at Benton’s) in favor of a 12 oz. Prime Sirloin Steak. I came for flavor! I ordered it medium, with a side of Butter Poached Asparagus. It was cooked perfectly and seasoned even better. This was one amazing steak. I know it’s huge, but I ate it all. I’m tough like that. Given that the asparagus could have fed a family of 4, I left most of it behind. They were crisp tender and went well with my steak, but a girl has to prioritize.
Brandon ordered the 16 oz. Prime Kansas City Strip, and smartly selected the Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, which were our favorite side. Yukon Gold potatoes are just so creamy anyway, and I suspect a good deal of butter and cream (maybe even buttermilk?) was used in the creation of this dish.
Dessert was also complimentary (perhaps because of the importance of our birthdays in the culinary world) and there were many good choices on the menu. We debated the Crème Brulee Trio (three seasonal flavors) and I was excited to see the Mascarpone Cheese Cake (with vanilla and rose scented Anglaise and cherry compote), as well as Baba au Rum (Light raisin studded cake, soaked with rum, served with berries, and finished with a Meyer lemon sabayon sauce), which I’ve never seen anywhere except on the Barefoot Contessa. But, we were sold on the Bananas Foster on Vanilla Bean Ice Cream for two after watching it prepared at other tables on its traveling station. Just like the White Chocolate Bread Pudding at Hereford House, which is flambéed tableside with a shot of rum, the restaurant only needs to sell one to get every table to order. The masses were right…the Bananas Foster was amazing. In preparing it, the server used a heavy hand with the nutmeg and cinnamon and I really like how it turned out…spicy and rich. The perfect end to an amazing meal.
We couldn’t help but steal a few more views in each window prior to departing.
And then out. What a great date. Why don’t we visit Crown Center (and Benton’s Prime) more often?