by | Jul 19, 2021

Comfortable food in a homey location

The inside of the restaurant is filled with one-of-a-kind items. Tobacco sticks from the owners’ father line the ceiling just next to the grain bin with a unique dining table inside. A 1940s wheat reel from a local farm spins beneath the original tin roof to keep diners cool inside the 19th-century building. The doors came out of an old hotel down the street. “We’re always kind of adding and changing as we go,” says Nathan Asbury, co-owner of 1820, The Family Restaurant in Keytesville. “Everything is repurposed with a purpose.”

All of this to take in and you haven’t even gotten to the best part: dinner.

Nathan and his wife, Michelle, opened 1820, The Family Restaurant in January 2020 in the Chariton County seat. The restaurant focuses on a small-but-delicious menu that isn’t light on flavor or portions. The restaurant serves up fresh steaks, chops and salmon, asking guests to place their order when they make reservations to ensure food isn’t wasted after the last of their four weekly seatings.

The Asburys’ restaurant pays homage not just to Keytesville, but all of Chariton County. They do this with their distinctive decor and old photos and maps of the county. The work they’ve put into their building has not diminished the quality of food Nathan is sending out of 1820’s kitchen.

“I wanted to do something a little more high end or upscale that was different and served homestyle,” he says. “We wanted you to feel like you were at Grandma’s or Mom’s house and sitting around as a family.”

The menu features eight entree options at two different price points. All meals include salad, dinner rolls, vegetable, potato and dessert that are all served family style.

“That is all you can eat as well,” the cook says with a smile. “If you can get through more than one dessert, have at it.”

It’s no surprise that in the meat-and-potatoes country of north-central Missouri, a quartet of steaks take top billing at 1820. Choices include a 14- to 16-ounce prime rib, KC strip or rib-eye steak and an 8-ounce filet mignon.

The Asburys source all of their beef from Show Me Beef, a network of Missouri family farms and ranches. “We get them in on a Thursday to use them on Friday or Saturday,” Nathan says. “We hand cut all of our steaks as well. We just wanted it to be as fresh as we could get it.”

The prime rib is finished off with raw horseradish or a homemade creamy horseradish. The other three steaks are finished with a homemade garlic butter and topped with bacon-wrapped portobello. “A friend of mine used to always make these little mushrooms on the grill and I thought they were excellent,” he says. “When I met Michelle and we started having barbecues or events, I’d always make these. They’ve just been a big hit and now our customers love them.”

Another showstopper for customers when they get their entrees is Nathan’s final touch before food leaves the kitchen. The steaks receive a custom-made “1820” brand that makes sure diners know where they are.

Looking for something a little lighter? Opt for the salmon, another signature 1820 dish. Nathan starts out with a 9-ounce Alaskan salmon which is seared in a cast-iron skillet with seasonings before a trio of lemon slices are added. He won’t divulge the next step on his cooking process, but says it is what gives his salmon its unique taste. The whole dish is finished in the oven and the salmon is served on top of the lemon slices. The dish is Michelle’s favorite. “It’s almost got a sweeter taste to it with the way he cooks it,” she says. “Sometimes salmon can taste a little fishy, but this doesn’t.”

Another popular entree is the bacon-wrapped chicken breast. The large chicken breast develops a little color on the grill. It is then wrapped in bacon and topped with a pineapple ring and cherry and finished in the oven. “You can’t go wrong with bacon,” Nathan says. “It has a sweetness and unique combination of flavors from the pineapple and cherry. That helps crisp the bacon too.”

The restaurant is only open on Friday and Saturday nights, with seatings at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Reservations are required and you’ll be asked to place your entree order when making a reservation.

Opening a rural restaurant at the beginning of a pandemic might not have been what the Asburys had planned on, but they say the support has been unwavering.

“We had just opened and were figuring out the bugs when COVID hit,” Nathan says. “We switched to curbside dinners and had lots of support. The first one was pulled pork and we had 430 people go through. Then we made chicken wings, chicken Alfredo and ribs.”

The community backing doesn’t go unnoticed and Nathan and Michelle know they picked the perfect spot for their restaurant highlighting Chariton County.

“Our town is just very, very relaxed,” he says. “We had people come help us with our drive-thru carryout just to help out. That’s just the kind of town and county we have here.”

1820, The Family Restaurant

Specialties: Hand-cut local steaks, including prime rib, rib-eye and filet mignon, Alaskan salmon, bacon-wrapped chicken breast along with sides and dessert served family style.

Price: Entrees are $23.50 or $37.50. Children’s menu is $9.99.

Details: Open Friday and Saturday, with seatings at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Closed Sunday through Thursday. Reservations required with entree order. Cash, check and credit cards accepted. Wi-Fi available. Located at 414 W. Bridge St. in Keytesville. Contact at 660-412-1820, or follow them on Facebook.

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