Wine Dinners at Willow Spring

I have spoken often of the charming shop and bistro Willow Spring Mercantile in Excelsior Springs, MO . I am always in great awe of owner Daphne's boundless energy and these days she and her husband Jim are truly outdoing themselves with their new wine dinners. Their first was a big hit and this past Friday we were fortunate to be able to attend their latest sold-out event.

Willow Spring was packed to the hilt for this local wine-loving dinner. One large party filled the downstairs dining room and we were seated upstairs in the main retail area. We enjoyed the company of friends: Betty and Linda, Keith's compatriots from the Hall of Waters and John and April, our pals from the Elms. Soon, the local wines began flowing and the four-course dinner began arriving on vintage-style plates.

The first course was a tasty appetizer of Jumbo Shrimp wrapped in Prosciutto that was paired with a choice of Strother Ridge Winery's (out of Lee's Summit) Chardonel or Pirtle Winery's (out of Weston) Weston Bend Rose. I went with the drier Chardonel, which paired nicely with the shrimp. The next course was an Italian salad featuring to-die-for goat cheese croutons and that was paired with Strother Ridge's Traminette. The main dish was apparently a famous one for owner Jim. Daphne informed us that this has been a traditional holiday meal for her family. Jim was making Italian specialty Chicken Spiedini and while being quite excited to sample it; I find the dish to be a bit intimidating. It seems as if so many Italian families and restaurants have signature spiedini dishes, including local favorites Garozzo's and Mary Ann's Trattoria. I have to say that Jim certainly put his own stamp on the spiedini: it was as good as any I've ever had and in fact, was one of the best: succulent and perfectly cooked and accompanied by a flavorful citrus-tinged fettuccine with sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus cooked in a savory, lemony broth and warm breadsticks. This course was paired with a Smokestack White from West Winery out of Macon. The piece de resistance was the amazing Chocolate Wine Cake with chocolate ganache, both made with a local Norton red. This dessert was paired with a choice of a blackberry wine from Crown Valley Winery of St. Genevieve or a Norton from Cooper Oaks Winery in Higbee. The cake was a decadent ending to a truly delightful meal.

During the course of the evening, Keith was seeming a bit wistful. He commented on how far Daphne and Jim had come; indicating the impressive array of local wines that were displayed behind the counter. He was remembering when it was only a few bottles displayed. Keith is bursting with pride for "our little Daphne" and indeed we all are. She and Jim, while raising a family, have worked incredibly hard to grow this charmer of a shop into a must-visit downtown destination and it's wonderful to behold. These wine dinners are clearly rocketing to success also and I can't recommend them enough.

Watch their website at for details and dates of upcoming events or call 816-630-SHOP for more details.


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