2278 Baker Creek Rd., Mansfield
From the outside, Baker Creek Restaurant looks quintessentially Ozarkian, but on the inside, its decor and menu manifest a rustic Asian flair.
The farm-to-table vegan eatery is one of the main attractions at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.’s pioneer village and farm in Mansfield. The seed supplier stakes the claim as America’s largest heirloom seed company, and a visit to the restaurant will show you the flavorful possibilities of what you can make with what you sow.
In the kitchen, Chef Kenneth Walker and Restaurant Manager Martine Walker serve up plant-based dishes. The majority of the menu draws inspiration from Asian cuisine, and they grow about 90% of the produce onsite.
After seeing a small help-wanted ad in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. catalog, the couple relocated to Seymour, Missouri, from Colorado Springs to take on these roles in 2022. They brought with them an extensive background in the food and beverage industry and work with founder Jere Gettle on each refined rotating menu.
On our visit, Martine greeted my husband and me and asked us to sit wherever we liked. She also offered us something to drink, which was our choice between canned Spring Branch Kombucha or hand-crafted soda. The soda-of-the-day featured Japanese sumo oranges grown in one of their greenhouses. Forget any notions you have about typical artificial soda before your first sip because this drink tastes fresh and not too sweet. One key ingredient Kenneth adds is made-from-scratch Oleo Saccharum, a syrup made by letting orange peels sit in sugar. This process extracts the flavorful oils through osmosis.
He plates the entrees on handmade pottery, and a small side salad accompanies the meal. On the day we visited, the salad featured a miso-ginger dressing and black sesame seeds.
For our entrees, I went with the Taiwanese stir-fry with made-in-house noodles, which had an umami-forward flavor. My husband opted for the Indian curry vegetables, which is a drier, less soupy traditional Indian-style version.
We swapped bites of both and had to double-check that they really didn’t contain any chicken because the plant-based alternative is so convincing. While the featured veggies change with the seasons, green onion, chickpeas, sweet potatoes and bok choy were certainly the stars of our dishes.
Before you leave, stroll through the quaint pioneer village. Stop in Baker’s Flour Mill for a made-from-scratch cinnamon roll, which will be hard to resist as soon as the fragrance hits your nose. You can also peruse the vast selection of their signature heirloom seeds at the Baker Creek Seed Store.—Tessa Cooper