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Ignite Wood Fire Grill Sparks the Appetite with Ambiance

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A few months ago, when I noticed Ignite Wood Fire Grill going in at 87th Street, I was intrigued. I’ve long lamented the lack of interesting dining options in western suburbia, and complained about the long drives required to get to great food. When I finally got a chance to visit the new Ignite Wood Fire Grill in Lenexa, I was hopeful. I wanted to love it.

A couple of features draw me into a restaurant right away. One is the patio. There is nothing I love more than sitting outside with my people, a tingly drink and an appetizer or two. The second is service. When I eat out, I look for service that makes me feel taken care of, but not overly attended. Friendly, but not forced.

Ignite did not disappoint. It has both and much more. There are unique spaces within the restaurant to give guests options for the type of energy and ambiance that they are looking for. You may choose from the chef’s counter, the main dining room, the oval bar, the private and semi-private dining areas, the lanai bar and the patio. Well-executed art installations and stylish finishes define the spaces while the high ceiling and large windows keep it feeling spacious and bright.

Ignite offers creative and contemporary Midwestern fare with Latin-American influences appearing throughout the menu. That’s right; you can get steak, seafood and enchiladas all under the same roof. Executive Chef Bradley Gilmore has developed a menu that reflects his passion for Latin-American cuisine while bringing us the familiar favorites of our region. “I wanted the menu to be comfortable, but exciting,” he said. “Our vision is to be fun and edgy, both on the menu and in the space.”

The concept for Ignite Wood Fire Grill grew from the imagination of Scott Anderson and his wife, Kemberlyn Anderson, the owner of Ignite. The couple teamed with Dennis Eskie, a local real estate developer, and Bradley to bring Ignite to life. They wanted to introduce Plaza-style indoor/outdoor dining to the Lenexa City Center, a developing community with commercial, residential and lifestyle components. Kemberlyn does the concept design for the company, and she created the interior décor for Ignite; the team commissioned a local artist to give their restaurant a vibrant, industrial look with chandeliers, panels and fixtures made with steel, glass and tile.

Lunch at Ignite reveals a perfect balance between high-end and casual dining. The handhelds and salads are elevated iterations of familiar favorites, but the Midwestern warmth of the wait staff, clad in hipster gingham and jeans, keeps things real. It’s great for a business lunch or gathering of girlfriends, and your kids would be comfortable, too.

Weekends mean brunch, and Ignite’s version is a total departure from what everyone else is doing. From 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, you can enjoy decadent creations such as Sofrito Hash and S’mores Waffles. You won’t find a buffet here, but you will find plenty of mimosas, bellinis and Bloody Marys, all for $7, to go with a tantalizing selection of sweet and savory brunch treats.

Evenings at Ignite are focused on providing a well-executed experience from the kitchen to the dining room and having fun all along the way. They use oak, pecan and cherry wood in the grill. Oak is used to create a high-heat environment, and the pecan and cherry delicately flavor the food without overpowering it by an intense smoky taste. The kitchen is open, and a seat at the chef’s counter will gain you access to a secret menu and tastings throughout your meal, plus a whole lot of fun with the kitchen staff.

For dinner, I love the rotisserie chicken, and recommend ordering it with the loaded mashed potatoes and heirloom carrots. The KC Strip is a bit of a splurge, but the flavor and finish from the wood-fired grill make it worth every penny; pair it with the asparagus and Mexican street corn for a memorable dinner. Seafood is flown in daily, so you can order with confidence that you’re getting the freshest and highest quality available, and that it will be expertly prepared.

The beverage program at Ignite is spearheaded by the charming and knowledgeable Jameson Huckaba, whose passion for beautiful cocktails and elegant wines is apparent in the extensive bar menu. Because they are just getting started, the wine list is still evolving, but it already consists of nearly 50 carefully selected wines in all varietals and price points. They have six rotating taps that feature domestic beers and local microbrews plus a wide selection of bottles.

The hand-crafted cocktail menu is creative and diverse, organized by categories such as Fruit Forward and Fun, Boozy and Sturdy and Soon To Be Classics. My favorite so far has to be Agua de la Vida, which is Hendricks gin, lime and bubbly water. The Watermelon Fresca is a close second, made with watermelon-infused vodka, white wine, citrus and ginger. This can be yours for only $6 during Happy Hour, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Between the trendy, upscale feel of the large oval bar and fresh-air energy of the lanai bar, this is the place to be for Happy Hour. And for a beautiful KC fall patio season, there’s simply not a better option west of the metro. I predict the Ignite patio will be on the list of Kansas City’s Best very soon. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy delicious eats and sips.

Watch the Ignite website and Facebook page for info on upcoming social dinners and special offers. They are new in town, and will be enticing you to visit them at the Lenexa City Center for an upscale restaurant experience that will keep you coming back for more. ■

Ignite Wood Fire Grill is located at 8721 Ryckert Street in Lenexa; visit, or call 913-955-3473 for menu previews and specials.