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REVIEW: A Flint Hills experience to savor

Staff writer

I’ve often considered myself a foodie. I enjoy going to a restaurant and trying new dishes or just enjoying my favorites off the menu.

Recently, I came across a recommendation for a new place called The Cliff. The Cliff is in the pavilion at the Clover Cliff Ranch Bed and Breakfast just off of US-50 west of Elmdale.

Owners Warren and Susie Harshman, along with chefs Jacob Holmes and Kendra Levy, are teaming up to establish a fine-dining experience nestled in the Flint Hills.

I decided to make a reservation for two and experienced a delicious four-course meal.

Walking into the beautiful pavilion, my friend and I were greeted by a friendly server who was quickly walking to the kitchen and she would be just a moment.

The atmosphere was relaxing with warm soft lights, soft music, and people were visiting and raving about the food.

Kitchen staff was bustling, dishes were clanking and Chef Holmes was busy over the stove, putting final touches on plates getting ready to be served.

Being quickly seated, our friendly waitress came to introduce herself and take our orders.

This evening, our four-course meal started out with an appetizer of tenderloin steak pieces, sautéed in butter with garlic and herbs, with tobacco onions spooned over the top.

The steak points were very tender, and the onions complimented the pieces well.

After we savored the appetizer, our second course was served, a delightful Cliff house salad.

Delicious bourbon Dijon vinaigrette topped a serving of field greens with hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, baby bell peppers, bacon bits, and blue-cheese crumbles.

Making our way to the entrees, I had chosen shrimp and grits, which were topped with Brussels sprouts and bell peppers in a buerre noisette sauce.

My friend selected smoked prime rib, which was smoked to perfection, served with fried Brussels sprouts and cauliflower risotto.

For dessert, the fourth course was hard to choose. It was either a lavender vanilla bean crème brulee or cannoli cheesecake.

With a chocolate cookie crust, almonds, and chocolate chips, the cheesecake was heavenly.

Chef Holmes brought out a crème brulee for us to try after I expressed my regret of missing out on what a lot of people said was to die for.

Oh yes, it was, with light notes of lavender along with a warm toasty top and a cold vanilla custard on the bottom.

Plans for The Cliff’s grand opening Nov. 25 are under way. Soft openings the weeks before have been helping staff work out problems along the way.

“Our goal is to be a destination, where you can enjoy the Flint Hills, the view, the ambiance of the Flint Hills, the sunsets,” Susie Harshman said.

People have traveled from surrounding areas as well as from Wichita and El Dorado to enjoy the soft openings.

Plans at this time are to be open on Thursday evenings, with fine dining options on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Chef Holmes’s menu plans will focus on bison, which is raised on the ranch, and beef. Menus are being developed by Chef Levy.

“This is not an old restaurant; this is an experience,” Holmes said. “We want people to come here, and it may take a little bit for food, but it’s part of the experience. You get to sit here and watch the buffalo and experience the sunset. You’re not rushed.”

We enjoyed our visit with the Harshmans and Holmes. They definitely created a unique experience in the Flint Hills. Service was excellent, the ambiance was excellent, and the meal was fabulous. I can’t wait until my next dining experience at The Cliff.

Make a reservation before going and plan to spend no less than $100 for two people.

Last modified Nov. 9, 2023

 

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