Great expectations greeted Julian when it opened last year. This was, after all, the first restaurant owned and operated by Celina Tio, the James Beard Award-winning chef who had overseen the cuisine in Kansas City's most exclusive kitchen, the American Restaurant. To avoid any perception that her cozy little boîte might be considered too fancy, Tio immediately tagged the restaurant with the earthy slogan "feel good food." Tio's plan was to create traditional American comfort dishes with a fresh spin. She has succeeded, putting her own stylish imprint on macaroni and cheese, pot roast, shepherd's pie, and even chocolate pudding. Julian is a reflection of Tio's own personality and philosophy, and not a restaurant designed to please every diner who walks through the door. For that reason alone, Julian stands apart from the crowd.