Rural Missouri - August 2019 - 13

by Zach Smith |
Photos by Heather Berry |


ungry folks in the Lead Belt know the Fort
Davidson Cafe, or "The FDC" as it's affectionately known by owners Chuck and
Diane Correll and son and head chef Darren Garmer. A service station-turned-eatery, Fort
Davidson Cafe has been a familiar roadside stop
to diners since the 1960s. When the Corrells purchased it in November 2016, they saw an opportunity to share Darren's culinary talent and showcase
the region's appeal as a tourist destination.
"It's the cornerstone property, and if you're comLQJ GRZQ +LJKZD\  LW·V WKH ÀUVW WKLQJ \RX VHH
when you enter Arcadia Valley," Chuck says. "What
excited us most was what this place could become
- architecturally and food-wise."
That vision was striving for an emphasis on the
local, from the Saturday Night Patio Jams with live
performances by local musicians to the restaurant's
"Missouri Store" entrance stocked with Crown Valley Wines, quilts, walking sticks, jewelry and pottery
made by local artisans. Photographs and murals
pay tribute to some of Missouri's most well-known
natural jewels such as Elephant Rocks, Johnson's
Shut-Ins, Taum Sauk Mountain and The FDC's
namesake located across the street at the Battle of
Pilot Knob State Historic Site. But inside the restaurant are a different set of adventures awaiting
hungry diners in the form of salads, burgers, sandwiches, pastas and steaks. The secret ingredients
are the sauces, dressings, spices and even the croutons - all made in house by Darren.
If you're fresh off the trail and looking for a snack,
you may not make it farther than the appetizer
menu. Staples such as fried pickles or mushrooms
are listed alongside hearty fried cheese curds and
crab rangoons. St. Louis-style toasted ravioli come
sprinkled with Parmesan and served with marinara
sauce. For the table there's heaping piles of fried
onion strings, family-size batches of hand-cut fries
or baskets of House Chips.
Chuck, Diane and Darren pride the restaurant

on the lighter side of its menu for making fresh,
never-bagged salads made from a mixture of green
leaf and iceberg lettuce and spinach. Each is served
with seasoned croutons and dressing. One of the
most popular options is The FDC's take on the
down-home staple of wilted lettuce, The Wilt salad.
The lettuce mix is topped with onion, bacon, egg
and a bacon dressing. Another popular dish is the
ever-rotating Seasonal Salad, which typically features the lettuce mix, red onion, feta cheese, grilled
and seasoned chicken and balsamic vinaigrette. A
different fruit is added to each depending on the
season, with strawberries and blueberries being the
popular choices in summer and fall, respectively.
"We have a lot of fried here, so that gives people a
healthy alternative," Chuck says of the dish which
arrives in a large red bowl. "It gets your attention.
We're probably one of the few places where people
actually do take home salad."
Entree choices range from the "Forget About It"
Roast Beef sandwich to Chicken-Fried Pork Cutlet
on a bed of homemade mashed potatoes to the Hamburger Steak served with grilled onions and peppers. A trio of pastas - including the Cajun Pasta
with andouille sausage - and fried chicken round
out the hot and tasty offerings. Chuck estimates 80
to 90 percent of the menu is new to the location.
"We wanted to diversify and part of that derives
from that's the danger of having a chef - they want
to create, right?" he adds with a laugh. "Before you
know it, we have a two-page menu with everything
on it."
Adventuresome diners will want to check out the
a tribute to the Arcadia Valley High School Tigers
and features a large, hand-pattied beef burger
served on a sesame seed bun and cheese curds with
pepper jack cheese, bacon, a fried egg and Sriracha
sauce. If that's not enough to tide you over, sink into
the Monster Triple Play Burger. A 7-ounce burger is
served on a sesame seed bun and topped with 4
ounces of shaved roast beef plus melted cheese and
hand-cut fries.
The signature item The FDC is becoming known

for in the region seems the least likely of candiGDWHV³ÀVKVRIWWDFRV´,NQRZ³ÀVKWDFRVLQWKH
middle of Missouri," Chuck says with a grin, "but
in Darren's blend of spices - paying homage to
Tex-Mex and Cajun cooking - and bronzed on the
grill. Meanwhile, pepper jack, cheddar and a cornMDODSHQR UHOLVK DUH DGGHG WR WZR LQFK ÁRXU WRU
tillas warming nearby. Darren adds thick coleslaw
of cabbage, kale and shaved Brussels sprouts and
serves the duo of tacos with ranchero sauce - a
concoction of ranch dressing and salsa that adds
yet another dimension to the intriguing combinaWLRQRIWH[WXUHDQGÁDYRU)LVKDOVRFDQEHVXEVWL
tuted for grilled shrimp or chicken.
jalapeno relish," Darren says. "It blends together
really well."
also Ahab's Revenge - an aptly named whale of a
from Companion Bakery in St. Louis dressed in lettuce, onions, pickles and tartar sauce.
"The tagline for that one is, 'eat it before it eats
you,' " Chuck adds.
Few diners leave The FDC without picking up dessert, whether it's a slice of New York-style cheesecake, any number of homemade cookies, chocolate brownies or a brownie sundae topped with ice
cream from Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream in
Webster Groves. But the hands-down favorites are
slices of homemade chocolate or coconut cream pie,
which Darren makes as a pudding and pours into
homemade pie crusts. Throw on a little whipped
cream and toasted coconut shavings, and you may
"We like to offer a good variety so that when people come here they have a choice," Chuck says. "If
you like, you aren't trying."



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Rural Missouri - August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2019

Rural Missouri - August 2019 - Intro
Rural Missouri - August 2019 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - August 2019 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - August 2019 - Contents
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Rural Missouri - August 2019 - Cover3
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