Rural Missouri - March 2011 - (Page 12)

O U T W by Heather Berry alk into Abigail’s and your sense of sight, sound and smell are immediately heightened. Exposed brick walls and worn wood floors set the scene as contemporary country music plays softly in the background and the scent of freshbaked gooey butter cake lets you know you are definitely in for a treat in this cozy setting. And cozy it is. Owners Todd and Susan Schapira can only fit about 40 people into their restaurant — and that’s just how they want it. “We like that our place is relaxed and informal. We like things at an easygoing pace and hope our guests enjoy that, too,” says Susan. “We enjoy people who come here to savor the food and don’t want to eat and run,” adds Todd, as he deftly works in the open galley kitchen. Most days, the couple does everything — take orders, set and clear tables, prepare meals and serve the food. On Sundays, their two children, Abigail (who’s 15 and the restaurant’s namesake), and 13-year-old son, T.J., enjoy helping out, too. If the evenings are heavily booked, they’ve been known to call in reinforcements for the front of the house, but for the most part, this is a family affair. The restaurant has been part of Rocheport’s Missouri River-country, Katy Trail charm for nearly 15 years. Formerly housed in the old Mt. Nebo Baptist church, Abigail’s has called a turn-of-the century bank building home for the past 10 years. “It was a shell when we bought it,” says Susan. “The floor was shot, the back wall was gone and there was no heating or cooling. But we knew its potential and that drove us.” Neither Boone Electric Cooperative member attended culinary school, but it’s obvious their food experience and creativity serves them well. Todd gained much of his chef experience while working at nearby Columbia eateries such as Trattoria Strada Nova, Los Banditos, Katy Station as well as Rocheport’s Les Bourgeois. Susan also has worked in restaurants, and together, the couple brings nearly 50 years of food service experience to Abigail’s. Susan looks around the unpretentious restaurant and smiles. A tandem kayak she and Todd used in the Missouri River 340 endurance race one year hangs above the kitchen area. Comical big-lipped fish dangle from the ceiling while a large, concrete crab, chef figurines and other brica-brac sit on the rustic counter for a touch of whimsy. “When we opened, we really just enjoyed creating good food and also wanted a business where our children, who were little then, could be with us Abigail’s A deliciously unique bistro in Rocheport O F T H E W A Y E A T S while we worked,” says Susan. “We’ve gained quite a following now,” she adds. “We have people from other states who stop as they pass through Missouri on the way to other destinations. That’s amazing.” The couple describes their décor and food as “eclectic.” Since there are no printed menus, patrons choose their lunch or dinner options from a large dry-erase board that displays the options for the day. “We have a revolving menu — and nothing we list on the board has an official name,” says Todd, “Just a detailed description, so you know what you’re getting.” Todd says while the menu varies each day, they do always have some version of beef, pork, chicken, seafood and pasta listed on the menu. The aromas wafting over the counter are all you need to help make a decision. You might begin your meal with one of Abigail’s popular soups, such as creamy onion potato, French onion, crab chowder or tomato basil, the most popular. Add a gourmet salad and it might be all you need to fill up, as the salads are more like entrées than a precursor to a main dish. Today’s salad option is a wild rice and apple pancake on a bed of mixed greens, dried cherries and toasted pecans, topped with a warm wedge of Brie cheese and drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette. Not in the mood for a salad? Other lunch options could include a freshbaked pretzel bun with ham, Swiss cheese, pineapple and stone ground honey mustard, or linguine tossed with a sweet lemon pecan sauce and Asiago cheese. Want spice? Try a chicken, bacon, cheddar, mango lime chipotle quesadilla or Mexican lasagna. Dinner might offer selections such as a pork porterhouse with honey mustard, fennel/pepper slaw and candied pecans; panko-crusted sea bass with a house aioli, black bean and corn salsa; or chicken and prosciutto tortellini with broccoli, red onion and fresh mozzarella. Todd says steak fans can usually find a tasty top sirloin or tender filet on the menu, too. While the couple doesn’t bake their own bread, they do hope you’ll try their made-from-scratch desserts for a delicious ending to any meal. Susan says the three-layer chocolate mocha cake with mocha cream cheese frosting, the chocolate raspberry brownie pie and the toasted coconut pie are by far their patrons’ favorites. Other options might include pecan toffee pie, lemon blender pie or gooey butter cake, depending on the whim of who is baking that day. As she writes the lunch menu on the board, she smiles. “I guess you could say our menu includes normal recipes that have been ‘Abigailed’ in a gourmet way.” Todd and Susan Schapira, owners of Abigail’s in Rocheport, say many of their customers drive miles out of their way to enjoy a gourmet meal at the little bistro. Abigail’s Specialties: A wide variety of homemade soups, salads, pastas, seafood, beef, chicken, pork and steak entrées. Desserts are made from scratch. • Rocheport Price: Lunch, $4.50 to $11; dinner, $10 to $23. VISA, MasterCard, Discover and checks accepted. Details: Open Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch; dinner service begins at 5 p.m. Reservations recommended for evenings. Wine and beer served. Non-smoking. Seats 40. Call ahead for the day’s menu options. Directions: From Columbia, take Interstate 70 west to exit 115/Highway BB; turn right. When road dead ends, turn left. Restaurant is on the right at 206 Central St. Contact: 573-698-3000; WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP 12 http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - March 2011

Rural Missouri - March 2011
Docent of the Walking Cane Dulcimer
Out of the Way Eats
Mail Bag
The No-Dig (And Less Sweat) Gardening Alternative
Grow a Delicious Landscape
A Recycled Craft
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
The Gainesville Gunner
Around Missouri
Top Apps for Rural Missourians

Rural Missouri - March 2011