So much of America’s culinary infrastructure is designed to treat eating as an afterthought. Consider the roadside drive-through, the shopping mall food court, or the airport grill. These restaurants arrange themselves around the fringes of interstates and shopping centers, betting that hungry people driving down highways and waiting out layovers will settle for the first familiar neon sign.

Gobblers Roost, a restaurant situated on a dusty rural road in Vernon County, is the antithesis to those industrial eateries.

For one thing, there’s the location. Gobblers Roost is 10 miles outside of Nevada, Missouri, the nearest population center. Unless you happen to live on Old Town Road, getting there will involve a drive. Restaurateurs Kent and Kathy Abele located out there because they have owned the property since the 1980s. The Abeles offer driving directions on their website because, they say, an address fed into “GPS will certainly get you lost.”

Another thing: you won’t be seated unless you have a reservation. Gobblers Roost is open only on Fridays and Saturdays and certain holidays. Diners hoping for a table call in or send an email with their particulars, then receive a message from Kathy with a list of available time slots.

Last is the time factor. Dinner service features a small, prix-fixe menu subject to seasonal change and served in five courses. Don’t make plans to catch a show afterward.

So why—when you can’t throw a rock without breaking the windows of a local Subway franchise and the cavernous dining room of your neighborhood Olive Garden can accommodate you even at peak hours on Friday night—would you zigzag along country roads out of a small town to get fed?

“We were operating on the theory that if you built it, and you made it good enough, people would come,” Kent says. And he was right. Dining experiences like Gobblers Roost are hard to come by, even in large cities. Kathy points to another reason the restaurant draws customers: “It’s hard to find good steak.”

The steaks are Sterling Silver, a premium Cargill brand primarily sourced out of Nebraska. Kent glazes his with a blend of honey, lemon, and Wild Turkey immediately after pulling it from the grill.

A recent Friday night dinner included a course of flaky spanakopita, a Thai-inspired soup with shrimp and water chestnuts, a salad, and of course, steak—a filet, prepared medium rare, to be specific.

“People come here for the steak,” Kent says.

People also leave with the steak. Patrons exit the front door carrying ubiquitous charcoal to-go boxes with whatever’s left of the jaw-dropping large cuts of steak they couldn’t finish. “We cut everything ourselves, of course,” says Kent. “If you told a purveyor you wanted 25-ounce filets he’d look at you like you’d lost [it].”

There’s also warm bread with a round of butter served on a cutting board. Such elegant flourishes elevate the experience without bordering on pretentious.

The meal rounds out with a surprisingly light slice of cheesecake, Kathy’s creation.

The Abeles have an event center for weddings and cattle sales on the property, as well as a cabin right next door, available for rent to diners who’ve made a long drive. If you’re going to make an overnight trip out of a meal, this is the place that warrants it. But if you do drive home afterward, you can bask in the satisfaction that comes with cruising down the road past all those mundane establishments and knowing you experienced something far better.

24327 East Old Town Road • 417-465-2255 •