Marina Grog & Galley | Kansas City, MO
Fine Lakeside Dining
Lake Lotawana is a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. The town shares its name with the beautiful lake it centers on, said to be named for a Native American princess. Lotawana means “sparkling water,” and on the shores of this sparkling water is a fine dining establishment – Marina Grog & Galley. The original building was constructed in 1934 as a gas station. It became a working marina, beginning in the early 1940s. In 1993, Jack and Mary Schwindler turned the old marina into a restaurant, recognizing the lucrative opportunities that lakefront dining holds. Jack Schwindler was actually the first baby born in Lake Lotawana, which was incorporated as a city in 1958.
Lance McFarland is executive chef. He signed on at Marina Grog & Galley 12 years ago to earn money while attending business school in Kansas City. “I came here and never wanted to leave. I worked my way up through the ranks,” McFarland said. “The Marina is a really special place to all of us.”
While the menu offers a classic selection of prime, dry-aged steaks and other meat specialties, fish and shellfish make up much of the bill of fare. Fresh fish is flown in two or three times a week – Snapper, Mahi Mahi and Ahi Tuna from Hawaii and Salmon from New Zealand. One of Chef McFarland’s favorite fish entrées is Parmesan-Encrusted Snapper with Jumbo Blue Crab, served with a brown-butter lemon caper sauce. Another is Hawaiian Luau Lobster, which is temptingly served in half a roasted pineapple. Scallops and shrimp are also in the mix, and the dish is served with a pineapple-lobster cream sauce. Cold Water Lobster and Alaskan King Crab get their share of attention from guests.
Some starter choices include Lobster and Crab Macaroni and Cheese; Escargot baked in garlic butter, served with mini baguettes for sopping; Scallops wrapped in applewood smoked bacon with a guava honey and orange-soy glaze; Maryland Blue Crab Cakes with creamy dill caper sauce; and New England Clam Chowder.
In the bar, a “happy hour” menu is offered, including Hawaiian Fish Tacos (blackened Mahi and Snapper with slaw, pico de gallo, avocado and chipotle cream); Fish and Chips (beer-battered Walleye served with fries); and Seafood Nachos (shrimp, scallops and blue crab top tortilla chips, smothered with garlic cream sauce and a mix of Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheese).
Three 500-gallon saltwater fish tanks add to the indoor ambience. The exterior nautical architecture is lined with strings of white lights. After dark, the entire marina is reflected in the lake, giving it a near magical glow – the perfect spot for romantic dinners in the moonlight.
Marina Grog & Galley seats 250, counting indoor and outdoor dining areas. High-end wines are sold by the glass from a 200-variety wine cellar.
It’s obvious that the 31-year-old McFarland has found his professional niche. “Every day brings a new challenge; it’s part of the industry,” he said. “When you enjoy the people you work with, and you all have the same goal of making your guests happy, that’s what really counts. You can’t rest on your laurels. There’s too much at stake.”