Scott came to KC to take me to my various doctor’s appointments then we both went back to Council Bluffs for a few days – taking separate cars.
On our way to Iowa, we stopped in Mound City, Missouri for a break and I suggested we eat something before embarking on the next stretch of highway.
I asked the convenience store clerk where a good place to eat was and she told me about this new place that “all the hunters like.” It was ‘just down the road a bit’.
We went one way…couldn’t find it…then turned around and came back.
Then we went another way…but still finding nothing, turned around and came back again.
Rolling down our windows, our cars side by side, we decided to try the last possible way it could be.
So we drove.
We were out in the middle of NOWHERE when we decided to give up for last time and turn around.
…on muddy side roads…
And yep, I got stuck.
I put it in drive, gave it some gas, and mud spewed everywhere.
(Don’t dig yourself in, Greta. I thought to myself)
Put it in reverse. Gas. More mud.
I tried to rock myself out.
To no avail. I wasn’t going anywhere.
Finally, Scott had to get out of his car, wade through the mud, and give me a push.
Both of us back on the road, Scott called me on the phone. “I didn’t see a sign for the restaurant anywhere. Did you?”
“Nope. But did you see we went through the town, Bigelow – and it had a population of 38 people!!”
The irony of the town’s name as it related to its population was amusing to me.
Heading back toward that thriving metropolis of Bigelow, Scott noticed something: “That’s the second car that’s turned down that road. That’s GOT to be the restaurant road.”
So we followed it and sure enough, there was the restaurant: “The Sportsman’s Lodge.”
I carefully got out of my mud-covered car
It was housed in an old schoolhouse, built in 1916.
After the schoolhouse was no longer used, it was turned into a hunter’s lodge with 38 rooms from 1960 to 1999.
After that, it fell into disrepair.
The inside of the restaurant had many signs of its former days, including big chalkboards everywhere
We ordered our food and while we waited, the owner, Bill Hutting, came by our table to talk. Bill is also from the Kansas City area – Shawnee, Kansas. He told us the chef for the restaurant was a former chef at the Bristol and then later at the Plaza III. (my mouth began watering.) I asked how long they’d been there to which he answered, “15 days.” This was TRULY a ‘new restaurant’.
Bill explained that the hunting lodge was a big deal during its day. Located off the Squaw Creek, it was a popular place to hunt with the likes of Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams staying there. Even war aviator, Jimmy Doolittle was a hunter who used the Bigelow hunters lodge as a stopover.
And then our food was brought to us. This is where the descriptive words have to stop because there are no words to explain how unbelievably good our food was. We ordered a KC Strip and Monterey Chicken. The chicken was moist and tender. The steak’s taste was equaled only to its aroma. Truly…best meal we’ve both had in a long time!!!
Bill also told us that the meat is prepared over charcoal, not gas. And boy could you tell!! I will be craving this place often! I mean, with a crowd like the picture below, you just KNOW you’re in the right spot for good food!
As we were leaving, Bill invited us to look around upstairs at their cigar bar with the big-screen tv. The parts of the lodge they had to demolish, they reused the wood for the upstairs bar.
Before walking upstairs to check out the rest of the building, with its stuffed wildlife on the walls and paintings of peasant and hunting dogs, I asked Bill, “What brought you to Bigelow from Kansas City?”
“Craig’s List”, he answered. He said he’d just returned home from a fishing trip in Alaska and decided he wanted a ‘mancave’. He found The Sportman’s Lodge (whole tagline is: “Eat, Drink, and Lie”) on Craig’s List ten years ago and has been renovating it ever since!
I can’t wait to return to this restaurant and would HIGHLY encourage you to take a daytrip there yourself when you’re in the mood for some well-grilled meat and good conversation.
And if you’d like, you can even stay in one of their overnight cabins
Thanks for adventuring with me, Scott. We found another great place in the world!!!