Last Saturday evening, four of us went to the Whiskey Warehouse in Alma, Missouri, to celebrate a milestone birthday of one of our party. We wanted to make an occasion of the evening, but had no idea what to expect from this restaurant that opened in October 2012. We were delighted with the experience from the moment we walked in the door.
Alma, Missouri, is a town of 400 people located 50 miles east of Kansas City. The restaurant is in an old whiskey warehouse (hence the name) that was built in the latter half of the 19th century. In its original incarnation, the facility supplied whiskey and beer to the six saloons in Alma, which at the time was one of the “wettest” towns in Missouri. The building continued to function as a whiskey warehouse until Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920.
The current owners of Whiskey Warehouse, Don and Jean Stoll, have kept the basic structure of the old warehouse, exposed the brick walls inside, and hung works from regional artists on the restaurant walls. Don also has his art studio on the upstairs level of the building. It is a pleasant and eclectic mix of old and new.
After we were seated, Don wandered from table to table describing the building’s history, as well as his own background in the area. He and my dinner companions (from nearby Marshall, Missouri) soon discovered common friends and relatives, and I learned something of Alma’s history and residents. Many of the original settlers were German immigrants who opposed slavery in the pre-Civil War a time when much of mid-Missouri was pro-slavery.
Soon our food arrived, starting with a coconut shrimp appetizer, a choice of three salads (all were excellent), and home-baked bread with honey-cinnamon butter. Then we received the entrée of prime rib, accompanied by twice-baked potatoes and asparagus, all of which would rival food served in the best restaurants in Kansas City. Dessert was a sumptuous turtle cheesecake (chocolate and caramel), except for the birthday celebrant, who received a molten chocolate cake that she devoured.
Chef Philip started cooking with his Italian grandmother, and began is training at age twelve. His experience before moving to the Whiskey Warehouse included serving as sous chef at the Camp Mitchell Retreat Center in Morrilton, Arkansas, where he served gourmet meals to guests at the center. His wife Leslie handles pastries and desserts.
Both Chef Philip and Leslie were on hand for us to thank last Saturday night, which we did profusely. I had the best meal I have had in months (perhaps since my experience at Catalpa in Arrow Rock, Missouri, last spring.)
If you want a special experience and are willing to drive an hour from Kansas City to get it, or if you want to plan an evening out on your way back to Kansas City from Columbia, I highly recommend making reservations at the Whiskey Warehouse.
The restaurant is only open on Friday and Saturday nights for dinner. You must have a reservation, and there is just one setting each night. The menu changes weekly, and you can find their future menus on their website’s Reservations page. The next few weeks feature Italian, Mardi Gras and Valentine’s menus. Act now to schedule your February reservation.