Right about this time of year, lots of gardening-oriented folks make a 50-or-more-mile trek from the metro area up Missouri Highway 79 to Elsberry, where the delightful Forrest Keeling nursery dispenses all sorts of trees, bushes and other plants to populate spring gardens. Other folks head even farther north, to Pike County, in order to antique or river-rat in towns like Clarksville and Louisiana, and, of course, in the winter months, eagle-watching is high on the agenda up that way.
Not to mention the fact that the hilly Pike County farmland is dotted with numerous "country estates" (and any number of permanent residences) of many of the St. Louis area's rich and famous. Thus last year a former manager of Harry's in downtown St. Louis said, 'Goodbye, city life' and -- dun-da da-da-da -- Pine Point, we are there. This restaurant is located right on Highway 79, with picture windows and a deck overlooking the Mississippi and its Lock and Dam No. 24.
The place, which serves all three meals, shows something of a split personality, with a semicircular diner counter on one side and tables on the other, separated by a display case that holds both homemade pies and upscale bottles of wine. Dinner entrees are in the "traditional American" mode, with steak, prime rib, catfish, spice-rubbed Atlantic salmon, homemade meatloaf and that perennial favorite, liver and onions, along with a choice of three pastas.
Burgers and sammies lead the lunch menu, but if you do make a daytime trip, be sure to try out the huge portion of oversized onion rings. And enjoy the ride. If you really want to make a day of it, head north on the Missouri side, then cut over on a bridge or ferry and spend the other half of the trip exploring the Illinois shore.
PINE POINT RESTAURANT & PUB, Highway 79, Clarksville, Mo., 573-242-3223.