I’m a sucker for Southern cuisine, and considering our close proximity to the region and how much 417-landers love their comfort food, I’m always surprised by how little of it is served in our highly-saturated restaurant market. Craving sushi? There’s dozens of options. Hankering for Thai food? Take your pick. Heck, there are even several great Indian restaurants—a cuisine that took a long time to gain mainstream acceptance in Springfield. And yet Southern food, with its recognizable flavors and indulgent dishes, is tough to find locally. So when I saw that Missouri Spirits revamped its menu with a Southern-inspired lineup, I knew I had to check it out.
The mastermind behind the menu overhaul is Cat Lix. If you’ve been dining out in Springfield over the last decade, there’s a good chance Lix has cooked for you. I first met Lix when she was cooking at Nicola’s Ristorante back in 2011. I was waitressing there at the time and ate a lot of Lix cooking over the year I worked there. Along with Nicola’s, Lix has worked in the kitchens of MaMa Jean’s Natural Market, Metropolitan Farmer (now closed) and Farmers Gastropub, just to name a few. Most recently, she’s moved to Missouri Spirits, a distillery turned bar in downtown Springfield, where owner Scott Shott’s asked her to create a new menu. Lix is originally from Florida, and Shotts has an affinity for Southern food, so the menu concept was a no-brainer.
Even though deciding on a menu concept was relatively easy, crafting a menu for Missouri Spirits came with its own set of challenges. The kitchen lacks a hood vent, so nothing can be cooked over an open flame. This led Lix to get creative with her dishes, and the resulting menu is full of small plates, sandwiches, dips and salads, all with a Southern flare. They rolled out the new menu at the beginning of March 2018, and I stopped by that same week to sample a few of the dishes.