Booker and Dax, New York, NY – Mixology on a Whole New Level and Pork Bun Heaven

Another successful trip to NYC.  Lots of shopping, sight-seeing, drinks, and of course GOOD FOOD!. After listening to Dave Arnold talk last year at the High Tech Happy Hour as part of the NYCWFF, a trip to Booker and Dax  was added to my “must do” list.

Booker and Dax is a small bar attached to Momofuku Ssäm.  The main attraction here are the cocktails.  I suggest you find a seat at the bar so you can enjoy the attention to detail that goes into each creation.  It is unlike anything I have experienced anywhere else.  What makes these drinks special?  They use techniques you won’t see at your standard bar.  Things like liquid nitrogen to chill the glass, clarifying juice in a centrifuge, etc, are all common place.  It’s like having a bar in a chemistry lab.

Gin and Juice on left, Corsair garnished with a Miller High Life on right

Gin and Juice on left, Corsair garnished with a Miller High Life on right

Since Booker and Dax is attached to Momofuku Ssäm, their bar snacks are also something to behold.  While enjoying my drinks I saw several recommendations for the steamed pork buns on Foursquare.  Check out this slice of heaven:

pork buns

There really isn’t much to them, but this is officially my favorite thing I have eaten.  (Note I was reaching the bottom of drink 3 when I tried them 🙂 ).  They contained nice sized pieces of pork belly, cucumbers, scallions, and hoisin.  The pork belly doesn’t have the rind, so it is extremely fatty and decadent.  It melts in your mouth!  The cucumbers add crunch and helped neutralize the fat.   They were so good I had to order a second batch.

Booker and Dax is a great place to enjoy one-of-a-kind cocktails.  They have a small snack menu, but the steamed pork buns alone are worth the trip.  If you are a science geek like me, get there early before it gets busy.  Then get the bartenders talking about their experience using the centrifuge as well as how some of the cocktail ideas evolved.  It is guaranteed to be a great evening of drinks and food.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  It’s a small space that really focuses on the drinks.  The music variety was intriguing.  I heard AC DC, U2, Blondie, and even Hall and Oates Maneater all in one hour.  If you are in NYC, you should add it to your “must-do” list as well.  This will be something I hit up on all future trips.

Booker & Dax on Urbanspoon

Dishcrawl STL – Recap of First Event and a Chance for Discounted Tickets!

Hello again St. Louis food fanatics!  If you follow local food events, you have likely heard the buzz about one that took place on April 24th.  It was the first ever Dishcrawl event and it featured 4 restaurants in the Washington Ave area.  That night consisted of visits to:

Samples at the Dubliner

Samples at the Dubliner

  • The Dubliner – St. Louis first true gastropub.  This first location “separated the men from the boys” so to speak.  With Liver Pate and Cheek to Cheek to sample, it was time to get your game face on.
  • Mosaic – The chef provided samples from their new spring menu.  It was great to be able to sample the new items before the general public.  I was a huge fan of the jalapeno fried chicken served on baked lentils.
  • Robust – They supplied us with some of the favorites from their standard menu. The Spanish meatball reminded me of my experience at Giada’s Meatball Madness in NYC.
  • The downtown movie theater with chocolates from Kakao.  We were lucky enough to have more than one of each 🙂  If you have not tried these chocolates, you are truly missing out.  I typically try to pick some up at the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market.

What’s to like about this event?

  • When you first sign up, you have no idea where you will be going or what you will be eating.  
  • You will be surrounded with other adventurous eaters.
  • You can’t beat the price. $45 for great food from 4 different restaurants

What’s not to like about the event?

  • Nothing I can think of!

Things to know:

  • Your ticket includes only the food you will eat at the four places.  Beverages are extra.  
  • We typically had 5 minutes or so to walk between places.  It wasn’t a sprint so don’t worry.  Yes, you will be walking, so wear appropriate footwear
  • Seating ranged from individual tables of two at the Dubliner to one large communal table at Robust.  It’s a great opportunity to make new friends.

Is your interest peaked yet?  If so, sign up for Dive Bars 2 Five Stars first contest for your chance to win a ticket to the next event on 5/29.  It will be in the Lafayette Square area.

Details

To sign up all you have to do is email me and tell me your favorite restaurant in the St. Louis area and your favorite item on that restaurant’s menu.  The first 5 people to respond will receive a discount off of the next event at Lafayette Square.  You can contact me by email:  sam@divebars2fivestars.com.  Four of the 5 will receive $5 off and one randomly chosen winner will get 50% off!  Sounds simple, eh?  Ready….set….GO!

PM BBQ, Chesterfield, MO – Why Did The Chicken Cross the Road?

It’s been a while since my last BBQ post, so I am overdue for one of my favorite foods.  When I think of BBQ, my mind conjures up images of “fall off the bone” ribs or juicy beef brisket. When I think of PM BBQ, I can only think of one thing… chicken.

Your first thought could be that I have lost my mind.  While I’m sure there are arguments to be made that could support that stance, this is not one of them.  Every time I visit PM BBQ, I order the half chicken meal.

half chicken

It looks like a small fryer that is smoked with a dry rub applied.  The skin turns is gorgeous  golden brown color and has a slight peppery flavor.  The meat itself stays juicy all the way through and has a hint of smoke.  This is a meal where you just tear into it in with your hands.  Don’t worry there are plenty of paper towels on each table.

They have a wide variety of sides. I always order the sweet corn spoonbread.  Trust me on this one.  The other sides are good, but this is head-and-shoulders above the rest.

Now that my son is older, the trick has become finding places where he will eat restaurant food.  This has been hit-or-miss so far and unsuccessful attempts can result in having to feed him something more when I get home.  In that respect, PM BBQ has vaulted itself to the top of my son’s list.  I ordered him the kid’s turkey meal with mac n’ cheese.

kids turkey meal

He loved it!  He finished all the mac n’ cheese and most of the turkey.  The ease of finding a meal that he enjoys is definitely worth mentioning.  The fact that it is served on a Frisbee with paper on top was a nice touch.

PM BBQ is yet another great BBQ place in the St. Louis metro area.  If you are in the Chesterfield valley, I would highly recommend it.  PM BBQ provides an alternate answer for the classic riddle, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”  Clearly any chicken whose fate lands it in PM BBQ is honored in this fantastic dish.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  Great kid friendly place in Chesterfield.  Like most BBQ places in STL, you order at a counter and the food is brought out to you.  They have some beer to help wash down their tasty BBQ.

PM BBQ on Urbanspoon

Carl’s Drive In,St. Louis, MO – Burgers with an Edge

Recently I read a list of the top 10 burger places in the US and it inspired me to pay homage to the one closest to where I call home, Carl’s Drive In.

Carl’s is a tiny place with only 16 bar stools.  They serve burgers smashed on the grill so they have delightfully crispy edges.  For good reason, the terms “burger” and “crispy” typically don’t end up in a sentence together.  This burger is the exception to that rule.  I’m instantly whisked away to burger nirvana at the first crispy bite.  They are pretty small patties, I typically order a triple cheese.  Anything less a double should be considered a kid’s meal.

DSC00503

When you go, you must pair their burger with Carl’s homemade root beer.  They serve it in an ice-cold frosty mug.  The root beer alone will have you coming back.  They serve standard “out-of-the-bag” fries that are on the thick side.  The fries are still an adequate side and do not detract the focus from the burger.

Carl’s Drive In is a place that I get a craving for every month or two.  There isn’t another place like it. This place is on my must do list for anyone that visits.  I agree that it deserves a spot in any top 10 burger lists due to its’ uniqueness and their ability to crank out top-notch burgers.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  2.  The typical complaints for this place are:

  • It’s too small and I have to stand.
  • The wait staff can be a little “gruff” or “direct”.
  • It’s cash only.

Personally I think those are very petty reasons to miss out on a St. Louis institution.  I have never had to stand to eat.  They are extremely efficient in rotating people through the 16 bar stools.  Most people that go there have been several times so they do expect that most people know what they want when they are asked.  Do your homework, arrive ready, and enjoy the one-of-a-kind experience.

Carl's Drive in on Urbanspoon