Hickok’s Steakhouse and Brewery

Wild Bill Would Have Loved This Steakhouse in Springfield, Missouri

Thursday, August 28 2008 13:07   Steaks and Seafood


When gamblers Wild Bill Hickok and Dave Tutt squared off against each other to shoot it out on July 21, 1865 in Springfield, Missouri, they had no idea just how momentous their gunfight would become for America's Old West history.

At a distance of about 75 yards between them, Hickok and Tutt faced off from opposite sides of the town square. The story goes that Tutt shot first, but it went wide. Wild Bill then took careful aim and mortally plugged Tutt in the chest.

Not only did it firmly launch the legend of Wild Bill, it became the first recorded shoot-out in American history, and standard drama in most of Hollywood's Westerns.

Thousands of tourists stop by Springfield's famous town square each year to see where Wild Bill killed Tutt, and the city has placed a plaque on the side of a building at Boonville Avenue and Park Central East to commemorate the gunfight. There also are markers located in the street showing where each man stood during the shootout.

All that's well and good, but we found a better way to celebrate America's first shoot-out. We went to Hickok's Steakhouse and Brewery, located just a couple of blocks from where Hickok and Tutt fought, had a great meal, and toasted the legendary event with a great microbrew.

Hickok's Steakhouse and Brewery was started about two years ago by Scott Tillman, a Springfield developer who thought the restaurant idea would be a great fit with the downtown's growth plans.


The restaurant / micro brewery is located in a genuine bit of Springfield history. When you walk into Hickok's Steakhouse you're actually walking into the old Rogers and Baldwin Hardware Store building, built around 1880.

After you walk into Hickok's entrance, you climb up a flight of creaky wood stairs to the second level where the main dining room is located. There are lots of old beams, fired brick walls, and Harper's New Monthly Magazine-style posters and artwork about the Wild West. The wood tables and chairs also add to the feel of dining in the Old West.

We dined early, and pretty much had the place to ourselves. Service was excellent, and the menu offered up plenty of interesting items, including great-sounding appetizers and salads.

The entrees were what caught our attention, however. We were tempted by such dishes as a double-thick pork chop with two side dishes for $14.95, Ozark mountain chicken, which the server said was grilled chicken topped with barbeque sauce and piled high with smoky shaved ham and cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes and green onions (and two side dishes) for $9.95, and a traditional chicken fried steak with white gravy served with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables for $10.95.

There were also apricot chipotle-glazed poached salmon, hand-battered fried catfish, and shrimp entrees, but we had heard that Hickok's specialized in steaks, so we focused on the beef.

Offered up were grilled ribeye, sirloin steak, bacon-wrapped filet mignon (6 oz. for $15.95, 8 oz. for $20.95), Kansas City strip, a 20-oz. Porterhouse, half and full rack pork ribs, and what the server said was dry-rubbed and slow-cooked prime rib (16 oz. cut for $18.95, a 12 oz. for $15.95, and a 10 oz. for $12.95. If you want a cut bigger than 16 ounces, add $1.50 for each additional ounce).

One of us had the prime rib, while the other had a Kansas City. We were not displeased.

The prime rib could almost be cut with a fork, and was very flavorful. The horse radish served alongside brought us almost to tears; really excellent. The Kansas City (medium rare) had nice grill marks and was very tender. Both of us had baked potatoes and they were done to perfection.

The food, however, is only half the story at Hickok's.

When we toasted Wild Bill for his shooting skills (and Tutt's bad luck) we did it with Hickok's micro brews. One of us had a Wild Wheat beer (a Belgian-style wheat beer) while the other had a Black Nell Stout - named after Hickok's horse.

Both were excellent. The stout had plenty of bold flavor without being bitter. The wheat beer was crisp, with lots of nose.

We later spoke with Dave Lamb, Hickok's brewmeister. Lamb's background includes starting his love of brewing in 1979, first with a home brew shop in area, and then going commercial in 1992. He's been at Hickok's two years, and put the brewery together.

Currently they have a 300-gallon batch-size capacity. There are four fermenters and seven serving tanks.

Lamb told us he plans to always have seven to eight beers on tap. Currently the fare includes Copperhead Ale (an India pale ale), Wild Wheat (a Belgian-style wheat beer), Wild Berry wheat (a wheat beer with a blackberry and raspberry combo flavor), Gold Nugget (closest to a lighter ale, made from British malt and British hops), Coroner Brown (a  brown ale like a Newcastle, but darker, nutty-flavor and more robust) Black Nell Stout (a traditional stout, named after Wild Bill's horse), and Calamity Blond (a Belgian-style blond ale with a hint of spiciness).

Lamb told us that the Coroner Brown ale was named after the coroner (a Mr. Brown) who did the report on Tutt's death.

Aside from the regular list of ales and beers, Lamb is also planning an October Fest brew, a holiday ale, and maybe a barley wine. Originated in England, barley wine really is a strong ale that's drunk from a snifter glass. Lamb thinks the ale might come in around 9 to 11 percent alcohol content-the reason for it to be sipped and enjoyed from a snifter glass. He's also thinking of brewing up an ale called Frost Bite for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We really enjoyed Hickok's for both the food and the microbrews, and definitely will be back to sample more of the menu and brewery items. As a final note, we learned that Hickok's has now added bison burgers to the menu. The meat comes from locally-raised buffalo, and we're told organically fed.

Hickok's prices are what we'd call moderate and pretty easy on the wallet. Hickok's can cater up to 300 persons upstairs from the main dining area, and it has a smaller room on dining level for up 30 persons.

All in all, Hickok's Steakhouse and Brewery has become one of our favorite Old West restaurants.

Hickok's Steakhouse
and Brewery

314 S. Patton
Springfield, MO 86004


Web site: www.hickokssteakhouse.com


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