From the shiny disco ball above the entryway, to the eye-catching wall of wine and spirits, to the beautiful open kitchen that allows you to see the kitchen staff hard at work, taking great care to prepare everything on the menu, you’ll notice everything was curated intentionally, even down to the delicate mismatched vintage China plates.
This award winning, locally-owned and operated downtown restaurant is known for its inventive cocktails, extensive wine list and delicious handmade food from Executive Chef Kelly Conwell.
“I went to school at Johnson County Community College and then studied abroad in Germany for a year, going to school and working,” says Conwell. “When I got back, I got my first sous chef position at The Raphael Hotel, where I was an apprentice before I left for Germany. All the changes that have happened in my culinary career have been organic, not necessarily looking for a change, but someone mentions an opportunity, someone reaches out, and things kind of fall into place. I never thought I wanted to get into pastry. I knew I loved savory cooking and think I wanted to rebel against it…it sounds silly now.”
From there, Chef Conwell became a pastry sous chef at Bluestem, a pastry chef at Jax Fish House, executive pastry chef at Stock Hill, and chef at YaYa’s.
“Matt Hyde, the owner of 715, popped into my Instagram DM’s asking if I would ever be interested in working in Lawrence. My first thought was no, but I learned from mentors that it never hurts to have a conversation—if you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know about new opportunities. So, we met at a coffee shop, and Matt and 715 partner Katrina Weiss and I hit it off. We talked for hours. Then, my husband and I went to Lawrence and had dinner, and everything was just so perfect. The space was beautiful, the food was amazing, the staff was awesome. I think the biggest factor was that I would get to be doing my food again—making specials and getting back into desserts was a big pivot from what I was doing, and I missed it.”
The menu at 715 is constantly changing.
“We have a ton of regulars, so switching the menu up is important to me. They can come in and get the OG things they love, like the Penne Rage or spaghetti, or look on the right side of our menu for specials. I have an amazing talented staff that comes up with dishes that we tweak and create together, putting new spins on oldies but goodies since we opened in 2009.”
Some of 715’s most popular menu items include the crab ravioli made with mascarpone and ricotta filled pasta, butter-poached crab, cognac cream and herbs, and their goat cheese croquettes made with truffle honey, aged balsamic aioli and herbs. Also, the lasagna Bolognese made of braised pork and beef, béchamel, tomato and parmesan is nothing short of life changing. Try the Lumache alla vodka snail-shaped pasta made with tomato vodka sauce, fresh basil, parmesan, and add shrimp—it’s the one pasta Chef Conwell put on the menu and is her personal favorite.
“We try to use as much local product as possible. Two Sisters Farm provides us with our awesome lettuces, spicy greens, arugula, basil and baby kale. Scott, who we get our produce from, has an awesome selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables. He has a great relationship with other farmers and vendors and will send me lists of things that they have a little of, or an immense amount of, during the peak season. I tell him to send me boxes, and we use them for all our specials—that’s what’s so cool and great about printing menus every day.”
Save room for dessert inspired by Conwell—certain words will jump off the menu and make you smile, like the Not So Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies and the Sprinkle B*tch coconut cake made with pineapple cream filling, white chocolate buttercream, toasted coconut and sprinkles, which can be ordered breakup style, à la Mode. Don’t miss the warm dark chocolate soufflé cake made with dark cherries, toffee, Madagascar vanilla ice cream and white chocolate. Trust me, order it all.
“The overarching idea that we try to focus on is the honest belief that going out to eat is special. Decisions we make about the menu content, menu design, music, lighting, even things like the way the flatware feels in your hand...all of this matters. How do we like to be treated when we are guests somewhere? It doesn't matter if you work in the back of house or front of house, we all want to feel special when we go out and provide that same attention to all of our guests.”
715 is located at 715 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence. For more information, visit 715mass.com.
715 is both uniquely fresh yet oddly familiar—it’s almost like eating at your favorite restaurant, but for the very first time.