Best of 417 Awards 2007
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.
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Best 5 Local Restaurants
- Bijan’s Sea & Grille
- Ocean Zen
- Flame Steakhouse
- Gallery Bistro
- 5. Haruno
While the list may seem to contain the usual suspects, the Best 5 Local Restaurants underwent real realignment since last year’s readers’ poll, as the local restaurant scene has gone from competitive to tooth-and-nail. Gone from the No. 2 slot: Clary’s Restaurant. Gone from the number 3 spot: Agrario. These are shocking reversals in both cases, as both were runners-up to Bijan’s in the “Best of the Best: Money No Object” vote in 2005 (which is how we asked readers to vote before coming up with the top-five concept). Agrario was even voted Best New Restaurant (Springfield) in 2004. Things change a lot in three years: In place of Clary’s classical cuisine, the contemporary fusion tastes of Ocean Zen have won the No. 2 spot. Flame Steakhouse—owned by the Jalili family, proprietors of the Mediterranean-themed Bijan’s—attracted private grumbles from some readers when it first opened in 2005 (even as most readers voted it one of the Best Three New Restaurants in 2006’s poll), has surged ahead to No. 3, replacing Agrario. Particularly over the past year, Flame has become known as the chic steak place in the region.
Bijan’s Sea & Grille
Gallery Bistro is home of a delicious mix of all kinds of cuisines, owing to chef-owner Peter Tinson’s background growing up in Canada and Thailand before moving to southwest Missouri. A great appetizer example is his lump crab– stuffed artichoke bottoms ($8.95), finished with tomatoes and mushrooms lightly sautéed in a lemon-garlic butter sauce. Note that both runners-up are Jalili restaurants; at either Bijan’s or Touch, appetizers are so good, they can make a meal.
Panera Bread (chain)
Beth’s Bake Shoppe
Supreme Bakery, home of the Danish kringle, takes the title again. Could we get one of those? With a cup of coffee. Yes? There. That’s better. Mmmmm. Panera’s recent addition of new pastries with fruit (such as the mini-strawberry tarts for $1.99) is a good thing. In the past, comparing the mega-offerings at a St. Louis Panera to the more meager SoMO Paneras made us wish for more pastry goodness. Not so much now; the field is a little more even. In the past, runner-up Beth’s Bake Shoppe has been honored for its pies; The Bakehouse is known for having great bread. Did you know it supplies the bread for Sullivan’s Steakhouse at Branson Landing?
The Red Room (Flame Steakhouse)
Patton Alley Pub
It’s not the sort of place where you belly up to the bar and order a brewski, nor will you make much progress if you request any sort of beverage involving Jägermeister (as a group of celebratory young GO Magazine staffers once tried), but there is a vibrant little bar culture at Gallery Bistro. Try the Hot & Dirty martini ($7.50), with Absolut Peppar, queen olive juice served with a dash of tabasco and gorgonzola-stuffed olives. Martinis are also at the top of the list at The Red Room, a space which was once used to stand in for a New York City nightspot during the shooting of a feature film. Patton Alley Pub, home of Montgomery the Moose, is the beer-drinker’s bar.
Best Bar Food
Patton Alley Pub
Patton Alley Pub (which also won in 2006) really has elevated bar food from cheese fries-’n’-chicken strips to something better. Our picks include the wasabi wings ($5.50) and the meatloaf ($7.50), as well as the excellent Reuben ($6). At Gallery Bistro, gourmet appetizers do the trick. Galloway Station is home of the renowned chicken wrap ($7.50), easily split between two people.
Buckingham Smokehouse & BBQ
Rib Crib (chain)
Unchanged since the 2006 poll. Next time you visit Buckingham, try Dave’s Favorite Pit Combo ($22.50); Rib Crib’s Rib Crib Combo ($14.99) is delish. Crosstown Barbecue and Pappy’s Place are northside Springfield classics. Pappy’s Place is thought to be the oldest continually operating restaurant in town.
Best Beer Menu
Patton Alley Pub
Fox & Hound (chain)
Springfield Brewing Company
They must be doing something right, as this list is unchanged from 2006’s poll. Patton Alley Pub has 34 varieties of beer on sale. Tip: Try one of the eight Belgian brews as a splurge ($5–$9). MudLounge and Fox & Hound have similar beer menus to Patton Alley Pub; the former feels like Williamsburg, Brooklyn; the latter feels like an English hunting lodge (with much better restrooms). The Springfield Brewing Company features the region’s best-known microbrews. Try the seasonal Doppel Bock beer.
Best 5 New Local Restaurants
1. Hickok’s Steakhouse & Brewery
2. Fire & Ice
3. Doe’s Eat Place
5. Big Whiskey’s
It was a big year of new restaurants in 2006, yet some heavy hitters don’t appear on this list. Some, like the glittering new steakhouses Sullivan’s and J. Buck’s, opened too late in the year to be considered in the readers’ poll. Others, such as some of the new mid-range chains that opened in Springfield and Branson Landing—didn’t attract voters’ attention.
So which eateries did get your attention?
Hickok’s opened with a bang (pardon the pun): By marrying a folksy country-Western theme to a so-chic-it-hurts downtown location, and throwing in serviceable steaks and delicious microbrews into the mix, Agrario owner Eric Zackrison knows how to bring in customers. Fire & Ice, with Wing Leong at the helm, has a difficult northside location, but that hasn’t stopped the restaurant from becoming a talked-about place that serves everything from a delicious gourmet meatloaf (you read that correctly) to duck napoleon.
Doe’s Eat Place makes the best porterhouse steak in the United States, says Men’s Journal. Looks like the readers of 417 Magazine are a little more finicky, but Doe’s has become the quirky, non-trendy, gigantic-steak destination in Springfield.
Umi serves solid Japanese cuisine; while it is not as cutting-edge as the offerings at Haruno or Ocean Zen, it is delicious. The restaurant is well-served by an atmosphere that mingles the rustic, the contemporary, the Asian and the Western sensibilities.
We’d wager that Big Whiskey’s made it onto this list because its menu is broader than the average bar. How often can you get a good grilled cheese at your favorite brewski hangout?
Best Branson Restaurant
Candlestick Inn Restaurant
Landry’s Seafood House (Chain)
Outback Steak and Oyster Bar
Candlestick Inn Restaurant was declared the best in Branson by 417 Magazine readers in 2006 and 2005; Landry’s Seafood House makes its first appearance as the chain winner. Tip: Ask for a table overlooking the woods near the restaurant; it’s a great view. (When it’s cold, ask for a seat near the fireplace.) Among the runners-up, Outback Steak and Oyster Bar beat the other Branson steakhouses for this honor—but they are mostly too new to have been considered in this year’s poll. The elegant Chateau Grille attracts clients such as Yakov Smirnoff and Darren Romeo.
Gailey’s Breakfast Café
Ziggie’s and Scrambler’s are perennial runners-up in this perennial category of votes; their all-American diner approach is probably what’s most popular among readers. And yet opinions change. The last time 417 Magazine asked readers to vote for Best Breakfast, in 2005, Anton’s Coffee Shop and the Village Inn won. Since then, readers (at least ones living in Springfield), have decided they’re eager to wait 30 minutes for a Sunday-morning rush hour table at the tiny Gailey’s Breakfast Café, on Walnut Street across from Gallery Bistro. Once they sit, Gailey’s guests can partake of old-school eats with new twists, such as a proper English breakfast with sweet potato hash browns. Hardee’s, our chain winner, seems more like a workaday, drive-through-breakfast stopover on the way to the office. Who can’t pass up a loaded breakfast burrito?