Not all that long ago, a few friends told me about a new restaurant that opened in Leawood located about 135th and Nall called Seventy Seven South. I hadn’t heard of it at that point, but after hearing several more good things about the place we decided to check it out for ourselves. On a gorgeous spring evening we made our way to a place I had never even heard of back when it was located at 77th and Troost, but after checking around have come to discover it was quite the hotspot back in its heyday. Apparently back during the disco days of the seventies, 77 South was a hip hangout where people went to see and be seen. After a 30 year hiatus 77 South has been revived and is touted as an upscale vintage ‘70’s lounge.
Walking in the door the first thing I noticed was an old school Pac-Man machine near the hostess stand. Other than that, however, the decor did not scream vintage 70’s to me. In fact, since I didn’t know what the theme of the restaurant was supposed to be, I wouldn’t have pegged it as disco era at all. I have no complaints though, as the interior was classy and cool nonetheless, even if it did miss the stated theme a bit.
We were seated and I started looking over the menu. Our server came over and took our drink and appetizer order. He seemed a little uncertain of himself and when another server came over to open our bottle of wine, he let us know that it was in fact our waiter’s first day on his own. The senior server told us to wave him down if we needed anything at all. I appreciated this as someone going above and beyond the call of duty. We ordered the stuffed mushroom caps as our appetizer, then for our entrees we got the Jambalaya and Seafood Ravioli. The appetizer arrived at the table only about 10 seconds before our entrees came out and I was forced to send them back to the kitchen. We chalked this up to the server not quite having the hang of firing multiple courses, and how timing that is an art-form in itself.
After this minor road bump we turned to the crab stuffed mushroom caps. My first reaction was a bit of confusion as the menu proclaimed them to be jumbo mushroom caps and what we got were instead what I would generously describe as average sized white button mushrooms. Pushing that aside I took my first bite and any disappointment was washed away. Wonderfully seasoned and full of flavor, these mushroom caps proved to be a great starter to the meal. The white wine Mornay sauce was delicious, and while many Mornay sauces can tend to be bland this one had a very good depth of flavor. I was also pleased at the amount of crab in the stuffing. It was a good balance of flavor in a very tasty dish.
After finishing our appetizer our main course came out, and I was pleasantly surprised to note they had not just taken the dishes back and put them under a food warmer while we ate the appetizer. Instead the kitchen had obviously prepared our meals again from start. This got them a number of bonus points in my book for providing a better than average customer experience. It’s so frustrating when someone on the staff screws up and the solution seems to be to keep it warm and hope the diner won’t notice. Now that we do have our food it’s time to get to it and see if this place lives up to the favorable word coming from friends who’ve dined here before me.
At first glance my Jambalaya is a good sized portion, very attractively presented with great color and visual appeal. The bell peppers, red onions, and tomatoes really gave the dish pop. Unfortunately the first bite is where some of its great potential started to slide downhill. The chicken was very dry, the shrimp was a little overcooked, and personally I would have liked a little more sauce with the dish. All in all it was just a tad dry for my liking. The accompanying jalapeno hush puppies however were tremendous. Crispy on the outside, moist and flavorful in the middle, they were the shining spot of the dish. At the end of the day this was a good effort at jambalaya that fell just barely short. I’ll probably keep to ordering this at true Cajun places and not expect the same quality of an American style restaurant.
Moving on to the seafood ravioli, this is where the kitchen started shining. Again, we were met with a generous portion size and attractive plate presentation. The first bite I took is the point at which I realized I’d ordered the wrong entrée. The tomato cream sauce was just heavenly as it coated the accompanying ravioli. First the ravioli stuffing was incredible as it incorporated lobster, shrimp, scallops, and ricotta cheese. Well-seasoned and wonderfully savory, this stuffing perfectly filled the homemade pasta sheets. The salt water the ravioli’s were boiled in was just right, which many of you know is one of my big gripes about most pasta I eat out at restaurants. So many places don’t season their water properly and it leaves you with flat tasting pasta that leaves you longing for a little something more. After the pasta was cooked, it was tossed in the sauce, then topped with various Italian cheeses, and baked. At this point the flavors of the cheese and sauce melded together in perfect harmony to complete the dish. This is something I’d order over and over again.
At the end of the meal as we were walking out the band was just starting to play to a busy and full lounge area, the atmosphere had a buzz to it and I could see why thirty years later 77 South is starting to make a name for itself again as one of the places to be in KC.
3.5 Cows out of 5
4 Cows out of 5