There’s a dialect of French called “Missouri French.” Also known as PawPaw French, the dialect dates back to pre-Louisiana purchase days when French fur-traders settled in the Mississippi River Valley along Eastern Missouri to mine for lead and zinc. Today, this dialect is very nearly extinct but is responsible for many known names across the state: St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Bonne Terre, Cape Girardeau and others, including the name of our region, the Ozarks. “Ozarks” is suspected to be derived from the French phrase “aux arcs,” which means with arcs, curves or bows—like the mountains and rivers cutting through the landscape in southern Missouri.
Nestled into some of those bends and curves, at the foothills of a few Ozark mountains, is Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale. And now, an elegant French bistro at the resort, The Worman House Bistro, pays homage to the region’s early settlers.
The Worman House was originally built in the early 1920s as a country home for Frisco Railroad executive Harry Worman. The home has been restored to its original state to house the beloved restaurant, which reopened in late spring. Inside it feels like a blend of both French and American hunting lodges. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a seat near the floor-to-ceiling windows that present a sweeping view of Table Rock Lake below. But while the view is breathtaking, the food and dining experience will outdo even the stunning views.