A favorite of ours in town, without reservation. I reviewed The River Grille several years ago, as the Phantom Gourmet for a local magazine and gave them Five Spoons – my highest praise. A recent visit did not disappoint, as top quality ambience, service and the cuisine are consistent, which says a lot for the owners and General Manager, Brenda Swango, keeping up this high standard since opening fifteen years ago.
The high top tables nestled in and around the bar, make for a cozy appetizer-drinks venue. I once remarked, ‘it is one of the coldest Martini’s served’ and again, my Grey Goose was presented at perfect sub-zero temp with two olives as requested. The River Grille doesn’t pretend to dance in the trendy, Paul Bocuse-esque-nouvelle-cuisine circles out there. There are few true ‘white linen table cloth’ service restaurants in them thar hills of the Ozarks, but this is one worth beating a path to, for elegant atmosphere, the live piano is a nice touch, if only it were Diana Krall behind the keys and exceptional service; Jordan a longtime RG server always surprises by anticipating your every need. Executive Chef, Justus Moll, is no stranger to the culinary world. Among his many accomplishments, he was a runner up on the Iron Chef in 2013. He delivers on many culinary levels, such as last night’s, hot blue crab & shrimp dip, oven roasted duck breast, (almost a contender for the best duck I’ve ever eaten at the Grand Manila Hotel) a perfectly cooked New York Strip accompanied by a ’09 Petite Sirah, finished with a velvety Crème Brûlée, shared by three. Yes there are notable steak houses in KC, Chicago, NY, but you don’t have to travel that far.
We don’t go out often, as self-confessed foodies, who can usually prepare something delectable at home. However, there is always something nice, about being waited on and having your food artfully prepared to delight your taste buds, allowing you to relax and indulge in the senses of delicious food, fine wines ( RG has been the recipient of The Spectator Award for Excellence – probably with one of NWA’s most extensive wine selections) and laughter with good friends. Make an excuse to make a reservation at the River Grille, for a business lunch or pleasurable dinner, a quite, fine dining experience awaits. Oh and no use of cell phones in the restaurant please, now call me old fashioned, but it’s nice to slow down long enough in this fast paced world we live in, to have real conversations and enjoy each other’s company over a damn good meal – Bon Appétit!