When an inside joke becomes the namesake of a new restaurant, you know it’s going to deliver - figuratively of course; have you dined in at our newest gem of a restaurant inside Bluhawk? Of course, I have and it’s absolutely outstanding!!
Whether it’s the innovative menu you’re excited for or the elevated aesthetic, owner and chef, Swetha Newcomb, brings both together so beautifully to South Johnson County.
MH: “Why did you choose South KC?”
SN: “With the immense amount of new neighborhoods and people building homes, the opportunity was obvious. Everyone drives downtown because we don’t have access to much out here. We are bringing that wine, cocktail bar, and fine dining experience to everyone out South so they don’t have to drive super far and we are already seeing a huge success. They are happy to have options now!”
On top of being a chef by trade, Swetha’s absolute favorite thing to do is go out to dinner. She loves a good restaurant atmosphere, and nothing beats enjoying a glass of wine amongst cozy, dim lights. Before, nothing like the Of Course ambiance was available in the area. Now, Swetha’s eye for design and divine cuisine is unmatched.
MH: “What differentiates your restaurant experience that patrons will not find anywhere else in KC?”
SN: “You probably won’t find anywhere in the Midwest an “Indian American fusion” restaurant. It’s not just American, but Midwestern cuisine: It’s a lot of American-heavy dishes with subtle Indian influence, and some very heavy Indian dishes with subtle American influence. We take a lot of pride in what we do in the kitchen; we use a lot of Indian sauces and spices, and blends are all house made, including the curry ketchup. We get a lot of world travelers that are here for work, and they say they’ve never found this anywhere else in the world.”
The menu is also a compliment to her upbringing and her mother’s cooking, and the hospitality is even sweeter thanks to Swetha’s absolute passion for what she is doing. “Everything is a lot of what I grew up eating and also the reason I am a chef today.”
With the restaurant just opening, Swetha wanted to ease into the menu with nothing too crazy or super foreign. “You do have to please the demographic: It’s why you’ll see things like the Mac & Cheese and Chicken Tikka Masala,” which is the most common dish when people think of Indian food.
Swetha designed the first summer menu to be a bit more simple, but the fall menu will be more Indian flavor-forward anticipating that after the trust is built, they’ll all be coming back for more and open to trying things they have never even heard of.
MH: “Tell me what inspired the interior design aesthetic.”
SN: “I told my architect I wanted the design to be very earthy tones, homey, and comfortable, but also bring a lot of Indian design into it as well. The divider wall panels are designed with classic Indian architecture in mind. There are lots of clay pots and heavy wood to feel very earthy because that is what relaxes me. I knew this was going to be a very time consuming project, and whatever I did I was going to spend the majority of my day here. So, how can I make it calm and soothing? BUT, the floors had to make a statement. They are the first thing you see.”
MH: “Including your Indian heritage, tell me about how you came up with the menu and how people will feel walking away from their experience?”
SW: “I was born in India and came here when I was one. My parents are hard-working people: Both started companies from the ground up which is where the entrepreneurial blood in me comes from. It only made sense that I would do something like this. I was itching to do this for a long time but was really scared and didn’t know if I could do it. If it wasn’t for my husband constantly pushing me, we would not be here right now.”
Swetha and her husband met in their senior year of college. She had given up on going to culinary school and her hopes and dreams of becoming a chef, she simply didn't think she could make a career out of it, particularly being a female and a minority. She says he could tell she was really unhappy, so he pushed for her to go to school, supported her every step of the way, and she is unbelievably grateful for him. “He’s always been there, helping with (Swetha’s prior business endeavor) private dinners, and attending to every inch of the restaurant. He works all day and helps me every night. I am so grateful for him."
MH: “What are your personal favorite dishes and cocktails you say are a MUST to try?”
SN: Food: “I love the whole fried fish, it’s so, so, so good and simple. It comes with basmati rice, old bay labneh (yogurt), and some escabeche pickled peppers. You get a little bit of everything in a bite; you get the buttery fish, the sweet and salty pickled peppers, and the yogurt is super tangy.”
Drink: “‘The ’Wish You Were Here.’ Jay Sanders (Drastic Measures, Wild Child) wrote the Libations menu and the gin is a favorite. It’s infused with a lot of spices, you get a lot of heavy cardamom flavors. If you are familiar with Indian desserts, the cocktail tastes just like home with the sweetness from the cardamom, a little bit of lemon juice, sugar and milking from the milk soda.”
MH: “What's behind the name ‘Of Course?’"
SN: “During private dinners, I would say “of course” a LOT, and my husband counted and told me I said it about 43 times or so one night. It became an inside joke and as I was driving one day and thinking if I were ever to open a restaurant, what would I name it? And, that is what came to mind. Plus, it’s a play on words for courses of food.”
Follow: @ofcoursekc on IG