On Sunday, Sue and I made an impromptu trip to the Lake of the Ozarks and ate, for a second time, at Shorty Pants Lounge. Again, we were favorably impressed by the food. Enough to want to tell you about it!
I’m not very familiar with this restaurant yet, but I can tell you that everything we’ve had there has been not only delicious, but also carefully prepared. The presentations aren’t stellar in a Michelin-star kind of way, but their efforts to make the dishes look good are successful.
You can tell that most of the food here was prepared from scratch onsite. Take, for instance, one of the place’s most remarkable appetizers, the “alligator eggs.” This is their version of the now-ubiquitous jalapeno popper. “Poppers” at most restaurants come premade and frozen, ready for the deep fryer—and boring.
At Shorty Pants, however, the “alligator eggs” must be a painstaking affair for someone in the kitchen. They start with real, fresh jalapenos: They cut off the tops and carefully core the chilis. Then, I understand, they bake them until they are almost completely cooked. After that, I imagine they must let them cool a little—right? Then, they carefully pipe in the cheese mixture—cream cheese in a smooth blend with four others: provolone, mozzarella, parmesan, and feta. Then, they wrap each stuffed chili with a slice of prosciutto.
These appetizers are finished in the oven, just to heat them through, melt the cheese, and make the edges of the ham a little crispy. Five “eggs” come with each order, garnished with mixed greens and served with Shorty Pants’ homemade raspberry-habanero dipping sauce—which adds another, completely welcome, flavor dimension.
Shorty Pants is famous for their barbeque (you can smell the smoke from far away) as well as for their many Cajun/Creole dishes. As far as we can tell, it’s all fresh and delicious.
The menu’s broad categories include appetizers, soups and salads, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, a kids’ menu, desserts, “Bourbon Street Eats” (étouffée, jambalaya, red beans and rice with andouille, voodoo chicken, and more), and “Signature Entrées” of lobster, steak, fish, ribs—that sort of thing. Quantities are generous.
Here’s their andouille sausage po’boy, with a side of their “vegetable medley”; after that, a side of red beans and rice:
There’s a nice big lounge area, plenty of alcohol and other beverages, an upstairs loft for extra seating, and lots of outside lakefront seating on their big porch and patio. In cooler weather, you can still enjoy the outdoors: The covered patio just outside the entryway is set up with comfy chairs, coffee tables, a big screen TV, and a fireplace.
You can get there by car or by boat. They have their own dock and, by all accounts, an excellent marina and gas dock; if you’re out on the water, you can find them at the 21.2 mile marker.
There are two drawbacks, as far as I can see. First, the place is extremely popular, so if you go at dinnertime or bar-partytime on a Friday or Saturday night, expect a wait and then a loud, boisterous atmosphere. But if you go there on an off-night or during non-peak hours, it can be incredibly relaxing and cozy, the servers attentive.
The other drawback is that Shorty Pants can be challenging to find by car—it’s not on any “strip” or “strip mall,” with no glaring billboards to mesmerize you from afar. To get there from Highway 54, turn west on Route KK (like you’re going to Tan-Tar-A); then turn right on Three Seasons Road (after passing most of Dogwood Hills golf course). Follow Three Seasons Road (and signs for Shorty Pants) all the way to the restaurant. As you approach it, you’ll see it’s right on the Lake. The road curves to the right and descends rather steeply to the parking lot.
One final note—if you don’t want to take my word for it, listen to this: Shorty Pants was voted “Best Dining on the Water” in Lake Lifestyles magazine’s 2010 “Best of the Lake.” The reviews on UrbanSpoon are very favorable, too.
Long story “short”? Shorty Pants is highly recommended, and worth seeking out.