No. 5 Bistro honors its deep Sedalia roots

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of Missouri Life magazine.

Downtown Sedalia evokes nostalgia for a bygone era when cattle drives made their way to the town’s rail depot and on to the Chicago Stockyards. The town boomed after the Civil War, and businesses that catered to cowboys and railroad workers began to take root. 

Those times are long gone, but buildings from the era remain, including the one that houses No. 5 Bistro. Reid Swearingen, restaurateur and fourth generation owner of the J. A. Lamy Manufacturing building, says the company was established in 1866 and went on to become a post-World War II manufacturer for Levi Strauss & Co. blue jeans.

From left, Reid Swearingen and Scott Benbrook manage the No. 5 Bistro, located in the historic building that Reid’s family has owned for four generations. Photos—Daniel Pliska

Reid and co-manager Scott Benbrook retained much of the original woodwork in the repurposed building. Its three stories now house the restaurant and retail shops on the main level, and offices and apartments above. No. 5 Bistro features an open kitchen with a long tabletop counter and tables, plus two other rooms—the full bar and lounge, and a meeting room.

The No. 5 menu changes seasonally and is created by Reid, Scott, and Tyler Vincent, who runs the kitchen. When I visited, the menu featured an eclectic mix of popular midwestern fare along with spinoff dishes with deep southern influences.

After touring the building and restaurant, I was treated to five dishes. Four of them were from the restaurant’s current menu, and one was a prototype dish under consideration for the summer/fall menu.

I particularly enjoyed a brunch favorite that featured two poached eggs on creole spiced crabcakes and thin slices of tomatoes, topped with a rich hollandaise sauce. Hollandaise, which is one of the five mother sauces in classical French cuisine, is an emulsified egg yolk and butter sauce seasoned and flavored with lemon. It can be tricky to make since it breaks easily, but this sauce was a definite success. It was buttery and flavorful and paired well with the spicy crab cakes.

I also appreciated No. 5 Bistro’s take on Salmon Florentine. The grilled Chilean salmon filet was served on a bed of sautéed spinach and mushrooms in a white wine cream broth. Next, I tried the pan-fried red snapper served as an open-faced sandwich. It had a nice, even seasoning and tasted slightly of lime. It was decorated with a lacy flourish of herb mayo and served on a slice of grilled bread heaped with baby greens and split grape tomatoes. Red snapper is one of my favorite fishes with its mild flavor and meaty yet flaky texture, and it’s not a fish that I would expect to find in the heart of beef country in Sedalia.

Classic pan-fried red snapper is reimagined as a hearty, open-faced sandwich.

The last dish that I sampled was split grilled quail served on mashed potatoes with a natural poultry gravy. It was presented on a pool of parsley oil dotted with cherry reduction and topped with wilted spinach and sorrel leaves. It was a trial dish that they were thinking of including on an upcoming menu.

Always a popular game bird for hunters, farm-raised quail is not often seen on restaurant menus due to its small size, which can easily be dry if not cooked properly.

Scott was proud to tell me that they serve Show Me Beef. I am quite familiar with the brand of beef that is raised, processed, and distributed in the state, making it a fully integrated supply chain product from Missouri.

I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch visit to the restaurant and was enthralled by the building’s history. If you choose to make the trip to the restaurant, you will see many pictures on the walls featuring hard-working people who made world-famous jeans during a time of early manufacturing, much of which was done using small machines on long wooden tables.

Whether you’re on the trail for some history of the American West or seeking some well-prepared fare, you’re bound to be satisfied. Explore No. 5 Bistro’s current menu at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel Pliska is a certified executive chef and author. He teaches culinary arts at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield.