A Flood of Memories
I don’t go to Annie Gunn’s near as often as I’d like. From my condo, it’s a 32-miles round trip. But this week I could wait no longer. Cyndy picked me up and we drove out to Chesterfield for a late lunch at the much-revered West County restaurant. The roses lining the garden pathway were in full bloom, making for a pleasant walk from the park lot to the restaurant entrance.
After all these years, I still remember Mel and I flying over the Chesterfield Valley in a helicopter to view the area that was submerged during the Great Flood of ’93. Annie Gunn’s restaurant was among the businesses demolished. It took seven months of extensive repairs before the doors were open for business again. Hopefully, higher levees will spare any repeat of that devastating spring.
Annie Gunn’s: Since 1937
We ate on the spacious enclosed porch—a post flood addition. The deep green walls and ceiling, white tablecloths, painted wood chairs along with the brick fireplace made for a homey, relaxed feeling.
Scanning the menu, I was overwhelmed by the many appealing choices—the much-revered chili, maple-glazed shrimp, smoked trout, classic burgers and bread pudding. Their website speaks of wanting to create “irresistible cuisine with sophisticated country life accents.” I like that. I try to do the same with my meals at the farm, but haven’t got the sophistication part down yet.
What’s a Hangtown Fry?
I finally settled on the meatloaf, one of their long-time favorites. Cyndy went with the fish of the day, a Hangtown Oyster Salad. A few bites and she was in nirvana.
But Hangtown? What’s a Hangtown? It’s a dish from the Gold Rush era, an oyster-filled omelet with bacon strips resting like skis across the top. Taking inspiration from the old Western favorite, Chef Lou Rook had made the concoction into a salad, that Cyndy called one of the best she’d ever eaten.
But back to that Hangtown name. The designation was given a small, inland California town in the mid-1800’s after they hung three desperadoes. The dish took the name after one condemned criminal, who wanted to delay his fate, ordered oysters and eggs for his last meal, knowing it would take three day to have them brought overland from Frisco.
The Smokehouse Market
No trip to Annie’s is complete without a stop at the Smokehouse next door, a boutique of fine meats, cheeses, sandwiches, salads, wines, desserts, condiments, and snacks. We came upon, Trixie, the huge brass pig that ornates the sidewalk entrance and took pictures. They’re good of Trixie; bad of us. A sign taped to the whimsical porker called for “the swine who stole my slop bucket” to return it forthwith. Apparently someone had marred the art work by absconding with the feed bucket. (See porcine photo at end of post)
Annie Gunn’s & The Smokehouse Market: 16806 Chesterfield Airport Rd, Chesterfield. Annie’s is open: Tue-Thu 11a to 10:30p; Fri-Sat 11a-11p; Sun 11a-9p. Closed Monday. The Smokehouse is open: Tue-Sat-9a-8p; Sun 9a-6p; Closed Monday.