During the pandemic, restaurants have been resourceful and creative with the way they have managed to pivot their business models to survive and service their customers.
However, no new service offered has come close to giving guests as big a dose of nostalgia as executive chef Joe West’s heat-and-eat gourmet TV dinners, available for to-go only from The Savoy at 21c Hotel.
The hotel recently reopened its dining room for dinner and carryout service. West’s new dinner-only dine-in menu reflects his Kansas City upbringing, Japanese heritage and his take on the culture of the Midwest.
“I’m excited to be back in the kitchen with my team,” West said in a statement. “We’ve worked hard on our operations procedures so that our guests can dine with confidence, and the menu is one of our best yet. This feels like a new beginning and I can’t wait to welcome our guests back.”
Although The Savoy's full dinner menu is available for curbside pickup, it is West's TV dinners – which change from week to week – that have been creating the most buzz.
“Although the original TV dinners were a little before my time, as a kid I enjoyed my fair share of Kid Cuisine meals, which were frozen, trayed meals that could be reheated in the microwave,” West said. “It was always a treat when I got to eat those.”
West posts weekly videos on his own social media pages to announce each week's TV dinner, the provenance of the dish and any special cooking instructions. Fans of his TV dinner have enjoyed trays with beef cheek bourguignon with onion butter mashed potatoes, honey-glazed carrots and peach cobbler, or smoked pork butt with brown sugar fish sauce and lime glaze, squash and corn and apple cobbler. Last week's TV dinner featured Salisbury steak mushroom gravy, pickled vegetable succotash, scalloped potatoes and chocolate babka bread pudding with a side of crème anglaise.
“When the kitchen staff and I came up with this idea, we were concerned we would not be able to source the old school TV tray containers but believe it or not, they are still out there and available,” West said.
The meals themselves are pre-cooked in the restaurant kitchen and then portioned in the three-compartment tin tray and frozen, which means if you find one you like you can stock up on a few to have them on hand. There is a spot on each tray for an entrée, vegetable side dish and small dessert. The meals come with detailed reheating instructions written on the lid that make preparation a snap in a home oven.
Orders for carryout, including the TV dinners, which cost $18 per tray, can be placed by calling the restaurant at 816.443.4260.
The Savoy is now open Sunday through Thursday from 5:30pm to 10pm and Friday through Saturday from 5:30 to 11pm. Reservations are recommended due to reduced capacity, but walk-ins are accepted.
The Savoy at 21c Hotel, 219 W. Ninth St, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.443.4260, thesavoykc.com