Find Hemingway-inspired drinks & fried brussel sprouts at The Pressed Penny Tavern
It’s been a few months since The Press Penny Tavern opened at 1511 Westport Road on Black Friday 2017. I wanted to get to know the place, which is an homage to famed writer (and former employee of The Kansas City Star) Ernest Hemingway, so I sat down with owner Gordon Roberts.
I stopped by for happy hour and we chatted over a Hemingway classic daiquiri, the potent and perfectly citrusy Papa Doble for $9, and a plate of crispy fried brussel sprouts with nice crunchy prosciutto bits (only $7 for happy hour).
I wanted the rundown on this West Plaza opening, formerly the space of The Standard Pour, and especially about the Hemingway influence.
The name, I’m told, comes from an argument Hemingway had with his wife over the expense of a recent pool installation at their home. He had told her that the extravagant pool had taken all but his last penny, and she ought to just take that as well. Hemingway’s wife had the famous penny immortalized by cementing it into the pool.
The next course arrived, butternut squash gnocchi with maple butter and pepita salsa. The sweet crunch from the pepitas (pumpkin seeds) played well with the pillowy gnocchi. We continued our chat over a Boulevard dry-hopped porter, which is $1 off during happy hour! As our candid conversation continued, I dove in with the questions.
Q: Tell me a bit about the inspiration for the restaurant.
While most notably a famous author, Hemingway was also a famous drinker. He inspired and influenced many restaurants and bars, and is responsible for the creation of some truly incredible cocktails. Hemingway also lived in several places that are important to me and have influenced my career in the industry.
Q: How would you describe the food? Is it American, European, or something in between?
The majority of the menu is traditional American, but the goal isn’t to offer a specific style of food, but to feature small and shareable plates. We have some fantastic entrees, sandwiches, and salads. Also, we serve brunch every day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Q: What are your favorite dishes and drinks from the menu?
Our fried brussel sprouts small plate, Nashville chicken sandwich, and our pork entree and salmon entree are my favorite items from the food menu. My favorite drinks are the Papa Doble daiquiri and the Blood and Sand.
With simple but smart renovations to the space, such as lower tables for more intimate seating, more casual TV placement, and a built-in nook dedicated entirely to Hemingway, including a typewriter and many of his classic novels on display, the space feels refreshed. Much of the art in the building comes from Roberts' private collection, and places that he has traveled.
Mondays, The Pressed Penny Tavern offers 10 percent off to anyone in the service industry. Tuesdays all local spirits are $1 off, and Wednesday all wine bottles are half-off and whiskey is 15 percent off (they have more than 60 options to choose from).
As the weather warms up, Roberts plans to update the back patio space and add cafe style tables to the sidewalk out front. I plan to sit at The Pressed Penny Tavern patio with a book in one hand and a daiquiri in the other all spring long!
Jakob Polaco is a chef, writer and a recipient of Ink Magazine’s 30 Under 30 award. Jakob has received several accolades for his work in food and travel. Follow along at his website https://www.spicevagrant.com.