Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oscar Wilde ate here! (Really, he did)

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 3:00 PM

FATCITY_Oscar_Wilde_thumb_550x370.jpg
In 1882, the long-forgotten Vienna Model Bakery, Cafe and Restaurant stood here.


Jonathan Bender's new Fat City profile on chef Michael Foust -- the young entrepreneur operating the Farmhouse restaurant at 300 Delaware in the River Market -- reminded the Fat City historians that back in the late 19th century, when this neighborhood was still an important spot for theaters and saloons (the brothels came along a few years later), the street had some nice places to eat -- even then.

Nice enough for visiting celebrities, like the flamboyant Oscar Wilde.



click to enlarge Oscar Wilde was outrageous in Kansas City -- and hungry!
  • Oscar Wilde was outrageous in Kansas City -- and hungry!
Oscar Wilde's 12-month tour of the United States in 1882 brought him to Kansas City for a sold-out appearance at the Coates Opera House on April 17. His physical appearance to Kansas Citians at that time was as outrageous as, maybe, Lady Gaga's extravagant costumes are to people today. According to Felicia Londre's history of Kansas City theater, The Enchanted Years of the Stage, the locals had never seen a man quite like the notorious Wilde, dressed in "purple velvet breeches with knee buckles, black silk stockings, cutaway coat, white neck scarf with diamonds and long, center-parted hair."

The Kansas City Journal reported that Wilde dined at the Vienna Model Bakery, Cafe and Restaurant at 549 Delaware. That particular building was razed years ago to make room for the highway that slices through downtown Kansas City. But it stood, roughly, near the northeast corner of Delaware and what used to be Sixth Street, just a few blocks away from the Farmhouse.

This is how the Journal described Wilde's stage appearance:

"... he held in his hand a handkerchief and toyed with it as does a bashful maiden. When not holding either his watch charm or handkerchief, his hand played with his coat tail. This he bobbed up and down like a frisky lamb does its caudal appendage when running in a field."

On the subject of frisky lamb: Tonight's lamb special at the Farmhouse is "Lamb Two-Way," with grilled lamb chops, grilled house-made lamb sausage, sweet-potato hash and braised cabbage. No caudal appendages involved.


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