As you approach the front entrance of FlyOver, you’ll be greeted by stacks of firewood. The white oak, hickory and apple wood logs fuel the wood-fired oven that anchors one end of the open kitchen. The restaurant burns through a full cord about every three weeks.
Owner and head chef Adam Wells-Morgan has long been a fan of wood-fired cooking. “I was a Boy Scout … I love cooking outside and using an open fire and wood flames.” He says there’s nothing like the flavor it imparts.
Although FlyOver may be new to Columbia’s food and craft cocktail scene, its two owners are not. Native Columbians, Wells-Morgan and co-owner and head bartender Dan Dethrow grew up working in restaurants here.
Wells-Morgan worked at Columbia’s former Trattoria Strada Nova at the age of 17, and within two years became the head cook at its sister breakfast restaurant, Cucina Sorella. He then trained as a chef at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Upon returning to Columbia, he worked at Village Wine & Cheese and helped establish the country club at Old Hawthorne. Dethrow, son of former Booches owner Jerry Dethrow, pretty much grew up at the beloved burger spot. After a stint bartending in England he, too, returned home, working with Wells-Morgan at Village Wine & Cheese as head bartender and also at Teller’s.
FlyOver’s tongue-in-cheek name turns a dismissive taunt on its head, proclaiming “We’re not just places to fly over on your way someplace else!” There’s great food to be had in the Midwest, specifically mid-Missouri, too.
The restaurant offers an intimate, yet modern, speakeasy vibe. Wooden pews line one wall with tables and chairs nestled up to them. With stand-alone tables, the restaurant seats 31. A bar opens onto the open kitchen. Liquor is displayed at the far end on rustic wooden shelves hung on a copper tintype wall. Its menu showcases Midwest beers and wines and craft cocktails that feature infusions and syrups made with regional ingredients.
The menu says “no ‘appetizers’ or ‘entrees’ – just food,” and recommends ordering several dishes to pass around. The “small plates” approach allows people to enjoy the conviviality that comes with sharing food. All prices include tax. The inventive offerings change regularly on the restaurant and bar side.
The changing food menu showcases seasonal, regional ingredients — along with fare that comes out of the wood-fired oven: pizzas, pork shoulder, duck breast, beef and lamb meatballs, wood-fired cherry tomatoes for the wedge salad and more. There’s wood-fired pretzel bread with warm Boursin fondue topped with walnuts, dried cherries, and thyme infused honey; campanelle pasta with chicken, sundried tomatoes and pesto cream sauce, and a 10-ounce sous-vide bistro tenderloin with sautéed greens, Parmesan fries and Worchester butter.
FlyOver has already attracted a devoted following, Dethrow says.
FlyOver is only open for dinner and doesn’t take reservations. Its limited space and hours have meant lines at times. But Dethrow offers a tip: “Usually after about 8:30 or 9 o’clock it slows down a little.”