You don’t have to travel all the way down the river to New Orleans to get a taste of luscious Louisiana cuisine in Missouri. Bonus: It’s in a renovated historic hotel. 

Photo courtesy of Daniel Pliska.

By Daniel Pliska, who is a certified executive chef and author. He teaches culinary arts at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield.

NOLA meets CoMo.

Since 1939, Glenn’s Cafe has been a favorite dining destination in central Missouri, particularly for fans of New Orleans flavor. Devoted patrons have followed the restaurant on its journey from Columbia’s Business Loop, to downtown, then west to Boonville, and back to downtown Columbia at the corner of Eighth and Cherry Streets in the newly renovated boutique hotel, VOCO The Tiger Hotel. (International Hotels Group gives the VOCO designation to their upscale properties.) The restaurant is known for its traditional and reimagined Creole and Cajun specialties.

On my first visit back to Columbia in a few years, I was happy to be immersed in the upbeat vibe in the downtown district as I gazed across Glenn’s al fresco sidewalk seating for a full view of the Jesse Hall dome.

Chef Cameron Bevan, originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, spoke proudly of his training at The Art Institutes culinary program in Miami, Florida. He returned to his home in the New York area after 10 years, where he continued to build his chops in some of the best kitchens he could get into. His success got him noticed and then recruited by VOCO The Tiger Hotel where he directs both the restaurant and the kitchen operations for the banquet department.

I ordered several dishes from the menu and was delighted by the food’s presentation and flavor. Before the meal began, I was given a glass of champagne which the server told me was offered to all dinner guests. I start- ed my meal with two Southern classics: deviled eggs and Nouvelle Cakes. The four eggs were dramatically presented with the filling piped in high peaks in the oval egg white bases and presented on a rectangular black plate sprinkled with bacon dust. The cakes, made with blue crab, were studded with small, diced bell peppers, shrimp, and crawfish tails and served with a spicy citrus aioli.

In homage to my early training in New Orleans, I was compelled to order a small cup of the seafood gumbo. It arrived at the table in a petite, cast-iron casserole topped with a small scoop of rice garnished with micro greens. It was thickened with chocolate-colored roux and filled with baby shrimp, scallops, oysters, and andouille sausage.

Although I was quickly becoming full, I went on to order Glenn’s version of a bronzed pork chop. The bronzing technique as I know it is normally used on a piece of meat or fish that has been marinated in Worcestershire sauce and then dredged in a seasoned flour before being pan-fried in a cast-iron skillet. Glenn’s version was a bone-in rack chop, grilled and seasoned with a bronzing spice. It was served on Yukon gold smashed potatoes with a side of julienned roasted red bell peppers lathered with butter. Quite a tasty dish.

As the meal closed, I sat with Chef Cameron and tried out one of the s’mores pot de crème for dessert. Rich and chocolaty, it was topped with fluffed marshmallows and chocolate chips and garnished with a house-made graham cracker. It was a perfect ending to a delicious meal.

If your soul longs for the flavors of NOLA, but Louisiana isn’t on the itinerary, a worthy alternative could be Glenn’s Cafe.

Explore the menu and the history of Glenn’s Café at