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Friday, May 09, 2008

Columbia, MO: Chris McD's

Columbia isn't quite Lincoln. It's only half the size but with a much better downtown and more local restaurants. The abundance of wineries around Columbia probably helps that a lot. Unlike many of the places I write about here, many Lincolnites might find themselves in Columbia on occasion, especially every two years in the fall.

I met an old friend I haven't seen in about 12 years at Chris McD's on Tuesday night for dinner. The restaurant is in the Schnook's strip mall on the east side of Forum Blvd. just off Stadium Blvd about a mile west of the University of Missouri. It would be a nice place to stop for dinner or drinks on the way to or from Faurot Field or the infamous Plaigarena.

My friend had a glass of the featured Malbec to start with while I had a Schlafly Pale Ale. The beer was very fresh and crisp, but not too carbonated. I would have liked it to be a little hoppier though. When I read tonight that Washington University in St. Louis gave an honorary degree to Phyllis Schlafly I found myself wondering if the Schlafly brewery was related to her at all and if my buying that beer had given her a few pennies. The brewery FAQ addresses this question by stating, "Phyllis Schlafly is Tom Schlafly's aunt. She is the widow of Fred Schlafly, Tom's father's brother. She is not involved in the business."

I started with the warm spinach salad with walnuts, Stilton, thinly sliced apples and bacon sherry vinaigrette. It was simple but so delicious. The spinach was slightly sauteed but still had structure. The walnuts were toasted but not obnoxiously candied like you get at so many places. The vinaigrette was subtle but still imparted a slightly smoky bacon flavor over the whole salad that was complemented nicely by the Stilton. My friend had a grilled salmon salad that looked great but isn't on the menu. With our salads we were served fresh, hot wheat and sourdough bread with a small bottle of seasoned olive oil for dipping. The lemon wedges in the oil bottle added a wonderful, but slight, tartness to the oil.

After our salads, we ordered a couple of the small plates which were larger than the tapas-like plates I've gotten at a few other places. We had the Ahi Poke Napoleon and the Pepper-Crusted sliced Sirloin. The Ahi was wonderful, like the ahi tartar I used to like to make. It was marinated in a soy vinaigrette and served on wonton chips stacked on the plate garnished with a sweet soy drizzle. The sirloin came with a great marinated tomato and cucumber relish that would have made a nice salad by itself, and dollops of Gorgonzola cream. The star of the dish was the meat, of course, seared to a perfect medium rare, which is to say, a warm, red center, but not so done to be pink. It was fork tender and went so well with the Gorgonzola cream.

My friend ordered a chocolate mousse for dessert which was pretty good but I don't really know from chocolate mousse since it all seems like fancy puddin' to me. There was a cranberry walnut bread pudding on the dessert tray that looked delicious but I didn't partake.

Chris McD's seems to be kind of a Columbia institution since it's been around for 17 years now. My friend told me Norm Stewart is one of the owners. It's definitely a worth a visit the next time you're in Columbia.


Anonymous Gary said...

In the mood for a blue-collar meal in downtown Columbia? Try Booches for a burger that will blow you away. It's served on a small grill at the front of the bar in a 1920's pool hall. Great atmosphere and cheap burgers served in baskets on wax paper.

8:00 PM  

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