A House With Three Doors

On a visit to Arrow Rock two years ago, Diane Benedetti saw a house with many doors. Vacant for seven years, the house sported a distinctive front facade that instantly intrigued her. On Aug. 1, 2011, Benedetti purchased the 1890s home with her daughter, Dana Ripper, and her daughter’s partner, Ethan Duke. The trio planned to open a wine bar in the 120-year-old space.Two years and countless hours of renovations later, Chez Trappeur opened its three front doors in June. The three doors lead to three distinct spaces: a bistro, a wine-tasting room and a bar.

The Bistro
Step through the lower right door of the house and enter Chez Trappeur (The Trapper’s House). The bistro’s French concept takes inspiration from Arrow Rock’s historic ties to European cuisine. More than a century ago, fur traders brought French fare to the region; now, the heritage of continental French cooking lives on with Chez Trappeur’s modern, traditional, French-inspired menu.

“Our menu is heritage, because we have a French-style menu, but we’re working with local ingredients,” Benedetti says. “Our menu includes French classics like crepes and quiches, and the different ways we do a filet mignon with special toppings have their origins in France. We refer to our menu as heritage — it’s the heritage of Arrow Rock, the Santa Fe Trail and fur trading down the Missouri River.”

The historically themed menu features locally sourced ingredients and a modern commitment to farm-to-table cuisine. Benedetti and her business partners Ripper and Duke are committed to serving quality ingredients — organic when possible and the freshest available, a commitment they share with their Columbia chef Tim Johnson.

“Our menu is continental French, but it’s refined for the local palate,” Benedetti says. “Some of the French foods can be so super heavy in creams and sauces; we tend to stay away from this. Chef Tim Johnson makes everything by hand to order. It’s got a little bit more of a fusion to it. That’s the best way to put it.”

Diners at the bistro can enjoy accessible French fare such as premium, hand-carved filet mignon with mushroom wine sauce, salmon croquettes served with seasonal sautéed vegetables, and pork tenderloin with apricot wine glaze.

The Tasting Room
Step through the house’s middle door, and you’ll descend downstairs into Chez Trappeur’s underground cellar and tasting room. Ripper is a wine lover, and her passion for great wine influenced Chez Trappeur’s wine cellar selections.

“People around this area seem to really enjoy some fine wine,” Benedetti says. “When we first opened, everybody said, ‘Oh, you’re only going to need to have sweet, inexpensive wines.’ That’s not true. So many people are interested in wine in this area. We have wine tastings where they can come and enjoy something different. Introducing people to something different, something that they normally wouldn’t find in this locale — that’s one of our goals.”

Chez Trappeur’s cellar houses a variety of acclaimed regional blends. Diners also can enjoy a selection of mature French, Italian, Spanish and California wines imported for adventurous guests.

“We go through distributors here for some of them, but the older French and Italian wines we have to resource in a different way because some of those are a bit more mature and are harder to find,” Benedetti says. “Finding those wines is what Dana spends a lot of her time doing. She’s really starting to build up the cellar.”

The Bar
Step through the left door and you’ll find Chez’s bar and lounge. Featuring an oversized bar top from the 1890s imported from Pennsylvania, the bar offers wine by the glass, domestic and microbrewed beer, house-made iced tea, juices, coffee and hot tea. The relaxing space is an inviting, plush lounge with modern comforts such as free Wi-Fi that encourage guests to stay a while.

“What used to be the front room of the old house, we’ve turned into our lounge, which is really super cushy couches, sofas and loveseats,” Benedetti says. “It’s a place where people can come, and if they don’t want to eat, they can just sit and relax and have a glass of wine and talk with friends.”

In the bistro, the tasting room and the lounge, Benedetti and the staff at Chez Trappeur Bar & Bistro encourage their guests to simply relax and slow down.

“Here, there’s no rush,” Benedetti says. “People don’t come here just to eat, they really come to dine. And that’s what we want them to do; we want to serve them great food and fine wine in a nice, relaxed setting. No rush — everybody can take their time and feel at home.”

The Trapper’s Logo
There’s a story behind Chez Trappeur’s logo and its mascot, Jacques.

“Here, we take our wine and our food very seriously,” says owner Diane Benedetti. “Our beaver, whose name is Jacques — he’s like us. He’s at the Trapper’s House, drinking the trapper’s wine, while this silly trapper is out in the woods, trudging all over the place, looking for him. So the experience at the bistro should be fun. It should be amusing. Everyone should be happy and not take things too seriously; except our wine and our food have to be very good.”

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