Yes, there is Kansas Cuisine…and it is simply good home style cooking! It is what I grew up with and in my opinion, there is nothing better than Midwest cooking. I lived just 13 miles from the Brookville Hotel which to this day serves the same type of family style dinners….only one thing on the menu, Fried Chicken! Believe me, the menu doesn’t need anything else. In fact, there is no menu.
Reservations are advised…..
The chicken earned the James Beard Award-winning Fried Chicken Award! His comment: Brookville Chicken is some of the best-tasting, authentic Fried Chicken anyone will ever eat!
I believe that is why to this day, Fried Chicken is my most favorite meal…especially with the fixins’ that have always been prepared with Brookville dinners.
The Brookville Hotel was built in 1870 in the small town of Brookville, Kansas in what was expected to be a divisional railroad center. The little town suffered greatly when the Union Pacific Railroad relocated its round house to Junction City, Kansas,… which is about 60 miles East of Brookville. People started leaving this small hamlet in droves when the railroad pulled out, however, the hotel and restaurant managed to stay in business. There were cowboys driving cattle who were still using the old cattle trails (Chisholm Trail) and the hospitality of cozy hotel rooms and good food were not to be ignored.
In 1894, Gus and Mae Magnuson purchased the hotel. It was Mae’s cooking that established the hotel’s reputation for great food, but it was their daughter Helen, who originated the famous family-style chicken dinners in 1915.
In 1933, Helen became the owner of the hotel and although she still fried chicken in the kitchen, she also began to actively manage the restaurant. Her dining room received rave reviews during World War II from a continuous parade of soldiers stationed in nearby Camp Phillips as well as the Smoky Hill Air Force Base, located about 13 miles to the southeast. Brookville Hotel began their climb to become the best fried chicken restaurant, with meals served family style. As late as 1959, Helen offered a steak and a shrimp choice on her menu, but the sides all remained the same….eventually, the menu became solely mouth-watering fried chicken dinners. In 2000, the restaurant moved to a location just off the highway at Abilene, Kansas. About 40 miles East of Brookville on Interstate 70. Everything was brand new, but it remains an exact replica of the original Brookville Hotel including the name!
The chicken platters are served with family sized bowls of creamy mashed potatoes and a cream gravy made from the drippings from one of the skillets that previously held crispy, golden brown chicken pieces. Other sides include Creamed Style Corn and Sweet-Sour Cole Slaw. Relish plates hold pickled peaches with whole cloves stuck through the succulent skins, bread and butter pickles, cinnamon apple rings and cottage cheese. Homemade baking powder biscuits and fresh strawberry preserves round out the meal.
As your meal progresses and your Blue Willow chicken platter is down to about 3 or 4 pieces, a friendly server dressed in blue gingham with a starched white apron replaces the platter with another “full” platter of chicken. Once you are finished with your meal, your server clears all the bowls, plates and silver and replaces them with small scoops of velvety-rich homemade vanilla ice cream.
Now you didn’t think I was going to tempt you with all this country goodness without any recipes did you?
This has made me hungry….
But I am always hungry…for Fried Chicken!
Fried Chicken Recipe: After cutting up the chicken, the chicken is dipped in canned milk and then tossed into a flour mixture of salt and pepper and fried in a deep, cast-iron skillet (using lard) and the chicken is turned once during the 30 minutes of cooking time. The result is a moist, crispy-skinned chicken.
I am so hungry now and I am here in Florida! 🙁
The Fried Chicken is in Kansas…and I know we are not in Kansas anymore Toto!
and the Cole Slaw and Creamed Corn…are In Kansas…:(
I am clicking my heels together and nothing is happening…
Wait! they aren’t ruby-red!
As you can tell, I really miss being able to drive the short distance to the Brookville Hotel and the eating of that wonderful Fried Chicken until I am stuffed.
Too much of a good thing isn’t good for the jigglies!
And I do have more jigglies than I should have! ;(
However, a splurge every now and then is not that bad…
To get a printable recipe of the above Brookville Hotel Recipes, please go to my ‘Recipes’ and you will find the recipes under “sides”, “desserts” and “Breads”.
Judith Mccrea says
I grew up eating at the Brookville Hotel. We drove there from Augusta Kansas. Later, my husband and I spent the first night of our honeymoon there on our way to Colorado. I visited the new restaurant about 10 years ago but I was horrified to find that the mashed potatoes were made from instant flakes! This was confirmed by the waitress. I felt so let down that I wrote a letter. If I find that the potatoes now are made the old fashioned way, I would make a trip from Lawrence since I teach at KU. I am a serious foodie and home cook. The Brookville Hotel restaurant means a lot to me.
Judith, I hear ya…first you are a gal after my own heart as I grew up with the Brookville Hotel and it is probably my reason for my favorite meal being fried chicken.
Secondly, i am a true Jayhawk basketball fan and never miss a game ….on TV now, that I live in Florida. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!
My family still live in Salina and Leavenworth and so it goes without saying that each visit to see them includes a stop at the Brookville Hotel and the Cozy In hamburger joint in Salina. Have you ever had a cozi? You either love them or hate them because of the onion smell one gets on their clothes when visiting the “small” restaurant.
I agree that at one time, I felt the potatoes at the Hotel were not real…but the last few times we have gone there…I believe they are the real deal….if not, they are certainly NOT the flake kind. Their gravy and corn and cole slaw is still amazing.
If you have any favorite recipes you would like to share…send it on and I will post it and give you credit. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
thank you so much for stopping by.
Bruce Baldwin says
Thanks a ton for the post. I lost my postcards years ago.
I am a Buckeye from Ohio. Moved to KC in ’85.
Used to travel to Salina on business.
I used to love to go to The Brookville for the dinner in Brookville.
They had a merry go round across the street in front of the Restaurant.
I remember a very hot summer evening watching out the picture window from the restaurant. Two children had just eaten @ the Brookville and were on the merry go round having a great time going as fast as they could.
When the go round stopped their stomachs did not. They puked for about a minute, much to the amusement of other diners also watching.
A couple diners were not amused.
They did move because Brookville wanted the restaurant to pay for a new sewer system. The chicken rendering and fat clogged the city sewers.
The Brookville Hotel moved instead.
I have eaten at the Abilene location a number of times. It just isn’t the same. It is still worth going for the chicken. I think they now use instant potatoes.
It was such a classic experience, down to the Blue Willow China & relish plate.
Took the family there while on vacation traveling through KS. The kids were only allowed to go on merry go round PRIOR to dinner.
Still is the best chicken & coleslaw – on the planet.
It was the Best Chicken Dinner – on the planet.
I sure do miss those trips to that bucolic beauty in KS.
Thx for letting me relive my memories.
Thanks for your comments Bruce….your memories of the Brookville Hotel in Brookville are accurate.
Even though I live in Florida now…if I am visiting family, I try to stop in at the new location in Abilene and to this day, fried chicken dinners are still my favorite….not sure about the mashed potatoes but I did notice a difference in texture the last time I ate them….the gravy is sooo good too! Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comments.
The Twin ( Tracy ) says
There are only two places that I will eat fried chicken from. And in this order: At my Mom’s and at The Brookville Hotel. Other that that, it has to be boneless chicken. And yes, my Mom’s is better. Love ya, Mom.
Thanks Son…I always did love you best…:) 🙂 😉
A lot of people driving across South-Western Kanas will make a side trip to Abilene just to have their fried chicken.
However, my grandmother made the best fried chicken. lol
thanks Sandy…I appreciate your thoughts and as much as I love Brookville chicken…I think mine is pretty darn good. I do use a cast iron skillet and lard…just like they do. However, I stand over mine and turn frequently unlike their once in 30 minutes. I do not use canned milk but sometimes if I have time, I use buttermilk. 😉