FOOD GLORIA'S FOOD - June 2017 - Kansas City
Vivalore is Independence's Eden Blooming with a Unique and Elegant Experience
By Gloria Gale
I’d heard from my fellow foodies that Vivilore, couched in Independence’s Englewood district, was a find.
Once my curiosity got the better of me I planned a mid-day adventure at summer’s end.
The ivy-laced brick building with a relatively unassuming façade is housed in the former Sermon-Anderson interior design/antique business. It’s now transformed into quite the experience. Be prepared to be blown away.
The interior has been completely renovated by Whit Ross and his sister, Cindy Foster, two Independence natives both deciding to surround guests with vintage pickings, including antiques and retail. It’s an understatement to say the intimate decor is lavishly executed. Even the oversized murals, replicates by John Singer Sargent look appropriate.
The question is whether to shop, eat or be bowled over by the interior or backyard’s tropical paradise.
Weather permitting ensconce in the courtyard gardens, expertly maintained by Ross and Foster.
Almost obscured by the profusion of greenery and flowers, gazing balls, statuary and stonework, my attention was squarely on the plantings and not the menu. That was until a bread basket, piping with whole grains and three little savory spreads appeared.
My attention quickly focused on the mango-pineapple butter.
Chef, Whit Ross who manages to cook in the basement’s tiny kitchen, dishes with such creativity.
Though menus change frequently offerings include, a variety of sandwiches, lobster rolls and Mediterranean chicken salad, New Mexican Pork Chop (with creamy polenta cake), grilled chicken breast with corn pudding and feta salsa. There’s also ribeye, herb crusted beef tenderloin and a wild mushroom cheesecake, seafood and avocado tostadas, barbecue oysters with blue cheese sauce and pickled onions.
Where else are you going to find barbecue oysters within 200 miles?
The results: beautiful food and beautiful gardens.
Example, the salad wasn’t just heirloom tomatoes and downy mozzarella. Ross took it a step further and embellished it with strawberries, blackberries, red onion, sage and vivid sweet pea blossoms.
“My background in cooking, said Ross “and my sister was a pilot. We both wanted to do something different. Since we’re from the Independence neighborhood – Vivilore is the result.”
“What does Vivilore mean, anyway?” I asked.
“It’s actually the title of a 1904 book we found when we were renovating. It means the accumulated knowledge of life and how to live it,” says Cindy noting the book is on the table in the foyer to peruse.
If this is the way Foster and Ross see the world, then navigating guests into sensory delight is obviously uppermost.
Vivilore is one of those place that transports and, yes, worth the drive.
If you have the time, savor a delightful meal at this antique roadshow.
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Kansas City writer, producer, and photostylist Gloria Gale is a sleuth when it comes to discovering interesting features for the media.
As a native she's compiled a burgeoning collection of editorial features on food, travel and lifestyle for national and local magazines, books, individuals, and corporate clients.
Most recently, Gloria profiled area restaurants as a columnist for 435 Magazine and was one of KCUR's Food Critics radio program.
Want to know where to find the best tastes in town? Contact Gloria: firstname.lastname@example.org