by CJ Janovy
By CHARLES FERRUZZA
Thank goodness for little miracles: The fabulous Cheese Steak sandwich on the lunch menu at the short-lived Sarah’s restaurant at 1815 Grand survived the transition to its new incarnation, Twist Urban Eatery. Sarah’s opened in November but I waited until a few weeks ago to check it out. I had a very nice lunch in chef Sarah Walker’s namesake bistro and was so impressed that I decided to eat dinner there a couple of nights later. When I arrived for an evening meal, though, the big windows were papered over. Sarah’s was gone, obviously, and there were notices taped up announcing a new concept was moving into the space: Twist.
“Sarah decided to move on,” says her former business partner, Lana Todd (pictured at right), the new owner of Twist. I didn’t ask for more details because, frankly, it was none of my damn business. Todd had been an investor in Sarah’s because she was a friend of Walker’s and admired her culinary skills – Walker’s resume includes stints at the former Café Allegro, Joe D’s and the Capital Grille – and the venture sounded like a great idea. There was certainly room for a fresh new restaurant concept that offered breakfast, lunch, dinner – and art shows!
But many of the customers driving to the chain restaurants in the Power & Light District seemed to ignore the vivid orange awning in front of Sarah’s and I heard complaints about the price points. Sarah’s wasn’t a moderately priced dining experience in the evening: entrees ranged from $17 to $28 and the wine list included some lovely but costly vintages.
After briefly closing down the restaurant, Todd took over the operation herself, promoting Walker’s chef de cuisine Jonah Thompson to executive chef and boosting staffer Anna Miller to the chef de cuisine position. The interior is the same bright, airy and attractive space. Todd hired a curator, Billy Smith, to arrange for new art shows every month and starting in June, the restaurant will offer live musical performances on First Friday nights.
By day, the petite Todd is a business planer for IBM. She also teaches Pilates and yoga, which she attributes to keeping her feel energized and lively as she juggles two full-time jobs. The new Twist menu has a more moderate price structure: $12 for lemon fettuccine Alfredo, $11 for fish and chips and $17 for a Kansas City Strip.
And that same great Philly-style cheese steak sandwich, made with Cheez Whiz, baby.
As for Walker, she’s certainly talented and will show up, somewhere, again soon.