It’s not every day that you’ll find a fine art gallery, restaurant, bar, gorgeous courtyard and stunning antiques in one location.
But at Vivilore in Independence, Mo., you’ll find all of that, delicious food, and an interesting dose of history.
Located in the Englewood art district, this restaurant is refreshingly unusual.
Independence is just outside Kansas City, so on our last trip to K.C., we made a quick detour to the restaurant which was voted best patio in Kansas City.
I was not disappointed. In fact, I was stunned at how beautiful it was.
Vivalore is owned by brother and sister by Whit Ross and Cindy Foster, two Independence natives who spent two years renovating this building.
They had no experience in the restaurant industry when they decided to open Vivilore. He had worked in catering; she was a pilot for 23 years.
They bought the historic brick building in 2010 and opened in 2012. They expected renovations to take six months, but it was two solid years because it was an historic building. The building used to be the Sermon-Anderson interior design/antique business. Before it closed, the business partners provided window treatments for Harry Truman’s home. One of the owner’s fathers was a close friend of Truman.
The building is 7,000 square feet and started as a private house built in the 1920s.
“It was a rather small house, but they started adding on the back, the front, they raised the roof, made it into a rather large house. In 1951, they built the front part of Vivilore which is the street side,” said Foster.
Because of the history of the building and its expansions, the restaurant feels like a home, but an elegant one. There are magnificent murals on the wall; antique plates; oil paintings; chandeliers, stained glass windows.
Ross has a flare for interior design, gardening and arts and he is responsible for the elegant table settings, white linens, collection of vases and overall theme of the restaurant.
Art and antiques adorn the walls and all the art is for sale, said Foster.
As beautiful as the interior was, we chose to sit outside the courtyard.
Ross and his mother tend to the gardens daily and their hard work shows. This courtyard is lush and feels like a spa escape: there are statues, various annuals, shrubs, birch trees, a fountain, and a large Weeping Willow tree provides shade. It was a colorful backdrop to an excellent meal.
My husband and I like to sample so we ordered two appetizers, one main course and one dessert, all to share.
We started with the Beef Tenderloin Tips ($14), which was Angus beef with peppers and onions and a garlic-sherry demi-glaze. These were the most tender beef skewers I’ve ever had. The meat melted in my mouth. We toyed with the idea of ordering a second, but we decided against it as we had dinner plans, too.
Next, we had the Smoked Salmon Bruschetta ($12) with pickled onions, herbed cream cheese, capers and goat cheese. It was so refreshing on a hot day and the goat cheese elevated a traditional salmon dish. This is one of the best sellers, Foster said.
The Lobster Roll $14 was our main course and very good, but I used to live on the East Coast so I don’t think it quite compared to some of those but I am a tough critic when it comes to those rolls.
We had a flourless chocolate cake for dessert that was rich, intense and incredible.
We didn’t stop into the art gallery, but it’s housed upstairs in the restaurant. Foster said they didn’t plan to open an art gallery initially, but five years ago this are became designated as an arts district so they opened a gallery upstairs with its own curator.
Vivilore is a wonderful experience and well worth the quick detour from Kansas City.
Want to go?
Vivilore, 10815 E. Winner Road, Independence, Mo. Hours: 11a.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday – Saturday. For reservations call: 816-836-2222. Online: http://www.vivilore.com/