The Anvil, Ste. Genevieve, MO – Best Onion Rings Ever?

On average I trek down I-55 / Highway 67 to visit family in Farmington twice a month.  On those trips I’m not above eating fast food, but prefer supporting family establishments whenever possible.  Every once in a while, I get this craving that only The Anvil Saloon & Restaurant can satisfy.   It stretches out the trip slightly, but it provides me some quality onion rings.

The Anvil Saloon & Restaurant has a cool history.  The building was built in 1850 and started as a hardware store. In 1855 it was purchased by a family that turned it into a saloon.  The bar was actually removed from a steamboat to lighten it’s load when it became stuck on a sandbar. It was transported by oxcart; I bet that drew a crowd as well as some thirsty individuals.  When I go, I always prefer sitting downstairs and looking at the old pictures and enjoying all the exposed brick.  However, if you are afraid of clowns, you may be creeped out.  There are tons of clown pictures and art adorning the walls.

Why go out of my way to stop at the Anvil?  The onion rings of course!  The have light breading and are just fantastic.  Beware, the small order is enough to fill up several bellies.  I don’t even attempt to order a large unless my party size is 6 or more.  I have found they are also a great snack to enjoy at the bar while enjoying some unpretentious cold beer.

onion rings

On more recent visits, I have found that I keep ordering the French onion soup.  I didn’t even realize it until I was reviewing pictures for this post.  It has sneaked up on me that I really enjoy the dish.  It’s rich and very flavorful.  Notice that layer of cheese!

French Onion SoupFor my entrée, I almost always order some version of their fried chicken.  The half allows you to sample both light and dark meat.  It is also easily split if you didn’t take my advice and ordered too many onion rings.  It’s moist and the skin is very crispy.  It’s not over thought at all; just a solid rendition of a family favorite.  Be warned, it’s served piping hot.

Half fried chicken

Last but not least, let me share with you one of their more “unique” side dishes:  liver dumplins.  Huh?  liver dumplins, why would anyone do that?  This was a dish that my dad always liked and came from the German influence on the town.  To be honest, if you are a liver lover you will likely be disappointed by this dish.  The dumplins have very little flavor so you mainly taste the brown gravy.  I called them just dumplins and even my four-year old tried them.  Is it bad to lie to kids to get them to try new things? 🙂

Liver Dumplins

The Anvil Saloon & Restaurant is Ste. Genevieve to me and is one of my family favorites.  I can still picture my dad saying he wasn’t hungry and munching on onion rings non-stop while enjoying cheap beer.  It has a special place in my heart and I hope to be enjoying it for years to come.  You can’t go wrong with the onion rings and fried chicken.  I wish just once, I would be hungry enough to try their homemade pies.  The onion rings wipe me out every time.

Dive 2 Five Scale: 3.  It’s an old building and that really adds to the charm.  I love to notice the small details that show it’s age and think about all the history. There is still a spittoon by the front door and you can see how the front step has worn from traffic over the years.   It’s very family friendly and a fun experience.

 

 

Tenderloin Grill, Kansas City, MO – You Sniff Me, I’ll Sniff You Back

My weekends have involved lots of trips through Kansas City and opportunities to try new restaurants.  My most recent trip took me to a restaurant surrounded by taquerias and South American food; Tenderloin Grill is located just minutes from KC’s popular Power and Light district.  The family has been serving sandwiches the same way since they started out of a wagon in 1932.  Their slogan is “the times have changed but we haven’t.”

Tenderloin Grill is known for their hand-battered pork tenders as well as their pig snoots. They are both sandwiches that are dressed the same way: mustard, in-house hot sauce, horseradish, onion, and tomato.  They will ask if you want their standard dress, so there is an option to leave things off.  I had to give both a try.

First, let’s talk about the pork tender sandwich.  It is lightly breaded to add some flavor but not overpower the pork.  Obviously it’s going to be on the greasy side; it’s a fried chunk of pork for Pete’s sake!  If you order the standard dress for the sandwich, be prepared for some heat.  The hot sauce they make in house is flavorful and lives up to being called “hot”.  Pair that with the horseradish and your sinuses are going to have that familiar nose-tingling burn.  Thanks allyl isothiocyanate.

pork tender

If staring at two pig nostrils doesn’t bother you, why not try a snoot sandwich?  Unlike their crispy cousins served in St. Louis, these are pressure cooked and then boiled. The snoot had more meat on it than you would think. If you have texture issues, this may not be for you. It lands somewhere between tender pot roast and jello on the texture scale.  This was the first sandwich I have ever eaten that sniffed me back!  For me, this sandwich was more of a gimmick.  Trying it allowed me to renew my man card for the year.

pig snoot
All of their sandwiches come with hand cut fries.  Those that remained crispy were fantastic, however, about half the bag was soggy. 🙁  If they had a little bit more consistency, they would be a great side for sure.

Tenderloin Grill turned out to be a unique stop as I drove through KC.  The pork tender sandwich was great and now I can say I have had pig snoots both St. Louis and Kansas City styles.  It’s a fun little diner that believes in doing things the old school way is the only way.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  2.  It’s definitely more on the “divey” side of things in a good way.  It has that diner feel and is very simple.  You can watch the food being cooked right behind the counter.  You will use a lot of napkins because these sandwiches leak mustard and hot sauce everywhere.  Maybe it should be BYOB (bring your own bib).

Southern – Midtown St, Louis, MO – Nashville Hot Fried Chicken

Guess who’s back, back again….  It’s been far too long, but it’s finally time for a new Dive Bars 2 Five Stars review!  What’s a better way to kick things back off than by talking about the Southern’s Nashville Hot Fried Chicken.

Southern

Before we get to that, let’s talk about the restaurant.  The Southern is a fast casual southern style restaurant.  The decor reflects what you would expect: wood, metal, country, and lots of paper towels.  It’s very simple and just ensures you are focused on the food.  When you arrive, you are greeted by this Mutha Clucka:

mutha clucka

What an amazing and confusing olfactory experience as you enter!  You have the smell of fried chicken from the Southern mixed with the aroma of Mike Emerson’s famous BBQ from next door.  If you weren’t hungry already, you are now drooling on yourself wishing there was a line where you could order both.  Just like Pappy’s, you wait in a line to order.  Pro tip:  get there when they open.  Fifteen minutes after they open, the line will already be to the door.

I started my meal with none other than deviled eggs.  I have ordered them at Old Standard, Juniper, and now the Southern.  The Pimento cheese is a nice twist to the norm and gives them a great flavor, they are fantastic.  If I was going to be nit picky, I would say add some crunch to them for a change in texture.

deviled eggs

Now to the star of the show!  I ordered the 2 piece dark, hot chicken plate.  The chicken is not over breaded.  Call me a wimp, but I only ordered the medium.  The medium has plenty of heat but allows you to enjoy all the flavors without the need to prove your manliness.  The heat builds over time, so wait for it.  It also hung around for at least 30 minutes after I was done.  They have different levels to choose from so the “hot heads” can get their fix.  Don’t ignore the bread under the chicken!  It soaks up the grease and is transformed into quite a treat for those that are members of the “clean plate club”.

chicken

My two sides were the mashed potatoes and the pickled beets.  Oftentimes the sides are a let down, however, I loved the seasoning of the mashed potatoes with the pan gravy.  Even though I hated the smell of my mom pickling beets when I was a kid, I have found that I actually do like them.  These were a great rendition of that family staple.

As I have said before, fried chicken is a polarizing topic.  Many people think that the style that their mom made sets the standard and can’t be beat.  While I can understand that logic, sometimes a new and different take can break through those stereotypes.  The Southern does just that with their hot fried chicken.  Combined with a neighbor like Pappy’s, and you have the perfect 1-2 punch.

Dive 2 Five Star Scale:  3.  Family friendly place that is very active.  The line gets long quickly.  Go right when they open if you want to avoid a wait.  The line does move quickly and the food comes out very fast.  I was amused by their music selection, especially Ice Ice Baby as an attempt to sooth all the burning taste buds.

Old Standard Fried Chicken – Fried Chicken and a Funny Song

Those who know me well know that I am obsessed with unique and strange music, as well as food.  Whenever I am going to eat or cook fried chicken, there is one song that gets stuck in my head every time:  Fried Chicken by MU330.  Now that I have that stuck in your head, you are in the right frame of mind to read about my experiences at Old Standard.

Old Standard

Old Standard is a tiny spot close to Ben Poremba’s other establishments Elaia and Olio.  It’s a very inviting space that serves some of my favorite comfort foods.  

Bar

Although this restaurant really focuses in on fried chicken, they have put together a great support cast of starts, breads / biscuits, and side dishes. 

I love the deviled eggs.  These have to be the fanciest deviled eggs I have ever eaten.  

deviled eggs

The toppings and combinations are really what made this dish memorable.  I especially loved the thinly sliced celery, it was a great combination of flavors and textures.  

They also have you covered when it comes to bread and biscuits.  The best thing about ordering bread and biscuits here is that you get to try them all.

bread

I could have eaten my beer coaster if I put enough of the lemon honey butter on it.  It was by far my favorite.

Now for the moment you have all been waiting for, the fried chicken.

fried chicken 2

I have been there a few times and each time I ordered a half chicken. The crispy skin is great and the chicken isn’t dry, so all in all, it’s a very solid offering of fried chicken.  However, I definitely wouldn’t say it’s the best in St. Louis. Despite that, it may be my favorite one to visit because of the great sides, drinks, and atmosphere.

Old Standard is another new and exciting restaurant proving that the St. Louis food scene has no signs of slowing down.  It’s a place I have tried several times and will continue to enjoy.  The best fried chicken in St. Louis could be a great topic of debate; I just hope that I can be on the blind panel that gets to choose the winner!

Dive to Five Scale:  3.  Who doesn’t like fried chicken?  Old standard has everything you need to satisfy your fried chicken craving. There are unique sodas for the kids as well as great boozy cocktails and local beers for the adults.  One tip is to use the No Wait app to save your spot in line!

Here is a random pick of PBR from one of my visits because that’s how I roll:

PBR

As a bonus, check this great offer to get pre-sale tickets to RFT’s Iron Fork event!

Steve’s Hot Dogs on the Hill – St. Louis, MO – We’ve Got the Urge…Do You Have It?

I’ll admit I was a little nervous about visiting Steve’s Hot Dogs on the Hill.  Music by Steve Ewing and the Urge whisk me back to my youth.  I have seen the Urge perform countless times on many different stages and have fond memories (for those I can still remember).  My nervousness stemmed from having my bubble burst about a St. Louis icon.  Steve Ewing has always been a kind person that takes his time out to talk to anyone.  I always appreciated seeing how much he enjoyed performing no matter the crowd size.  Enough about this bromance I have for Steve Ewing; let’s talk about some hot dogs.

Steve’s Hot Dogs on the Hill is a small shop with limited seating.  Steve’s features Nathan’s hot dogs, and clearly the focus is on hot dogs with a variety of different topping combinations.  But what exactly makes a good hot dog?  For me, it’s all about having that “snap” when you bite into the dog.

During my first visit I tried two different dogs, the Gorilla Mac & Cheese Dog and Steve’s Famous Chili-Cheese Dog.

mac n cheese

The mac n cheese was creamy, and for me the combination of cheese and hotdogs is a match made in heaven. I love to make queso and I almost always have hot dogs the next day so I can put that leftover queso to good use.  This was the top dog of the visit for sure.  Did I forget to mention they used bacon as a topping?  Who doesn’t love bacon???

chili dog 2

Next up was Steve’s Famous Chili-Cheese dog.  The song remains the same for the hot dog and the bun.  Although this was not my favorite of the evening, it was still a great dog.  You can haveraw or sautéed onions.  I went sautéed, as raw tends to overpower the taste. I was very happy thatthe bun could stand up to the chili without turning into a mushy mess.

Steve’s Hot Dogs on the Hill has been very successful.  So much so, that they have now opened asecond location in Tower Grove.  After my first visit, I can understand why.  Anyone have a recommendation on what dog tops the Gorilla Mac &  Cheese?

Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  Clearly,  this is a kid friendly place.  That staff is always hustling but will take the time to help you with your selections.  There is street parking and limited drink selections, but the hot dog selections more than make up for it.

Juniper, Central West End – Finger Lickin’ Good

If you are a health nut that removes the chicken skin before cooking, go find another post to read.  Besides that, hang your head in shame for missing out on something glorious.  If you are the type of person that savours every crispy bite of the skin when you make fried chicken, let me tell you about a dish you must try:  the “Nashville Hot” Fried Chicken Skins at Juniper.

chicken skins

These chicken skins are fantastic!  It’s the best part about eating fried chicken.  They are salty and slightly spicy, and the strawberry buttermilk adds sweetness.  I could eat these all night.  In my opinion they are one of the best bar snacks PERIOD.

I realize this is a short post, but this was something that more people should be talking about.  I tried these on my third trip to Juniper and this will ensure that I visit more frequently.  I may need to get baseline readings on my cholesterol, because I’m sure it’s going to be climbing with this new addiction.

juniper

Dive 2 Five Scale: 3.  Juniper is slightly off the beaten path in the CWE.  It has a lively atmosphere even though it is not on the busier Euclid Ave.  I have been a fan of the chef since my first trips to Entre Underground events and he continues to provide great fare to his patrons.

SoHa Bar and Grill, St. Louis, MO – Great Beer Selection but the Burger Needs Some Work

Admittedly, I have not spent a lot of time near the Hill.  I found myself near there and stopped in at SoHa for a quick dinner.  My first impression of SoHa was very positive.  I love a place that features bar seating.  I found a great spot at the bar right next to the fireplace.  With as ridiculous as this winter has been, it seems like I’m always on the search for a place to warm up.

As I was admiring the draft beer selection, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between the bartender and another patron.  To make a long story short, one of the wings he ordered was not cooked.  I was a little bummed because they did smell good and who doesn’t appreciate wings at a bar?  They were now off my list for the night.  On a side note, they did make good on the mistake by bringing him out additional properly cooked wings.

I was starving so I went with a pretty big meal.  I decided to start with the fried goat cheese medallions and finish with “the Lipithor”.   The burger actually arrived first, but the fried goat cheese arrived 30 seconds later.

Fried goat cheese medallions:

soha fried goat cheeseNot a bad way to start.  They aren’t too breaded; they melt in your mouth.  They are very rich and pair well with the provided sweet onion dressing.  I definitely recommend these.

Next up, the Lipithor:

soha burgerLook at that 15 oz beast!  There were several people commenting as they saw this burger being delivered.  There’s bacon, pulled pork, cole slaw, cheddar cheese, and Swiss cheese.  It looked amazing, but unfortunately fell short of expectations.  First off, I ordered it medium and it was overcooked.  There was no pink at all in the burger patties and they were just plain dry.  That’s rough for such a large burger.  The pulled pork really didn’t have flavor.  The bacon was the only highlight here.  Maybe I should have ordered the Notorious BLT.

If you look to the left of the burger, you will see my side: mac n cheese.  What can be said about it?  It looked a little soupy and was topped with Doritos.  Surprisingly it was great.  Even after struggling through eating the entire burger, I didn’t waste any of the macaroni.  Now I understand why some people just come there and order this side at the bar.

SoHa is different breed.  My excitement level was all over the map during my experience.  I would recommend the goat cheese medallions and the mac n cheese but stay away from the burgers.  The beer selection is great and I seriously considered getting a growler to go.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.   Good selection of beer and good placement of TV screens.  Not a bad place to watch a game.  It’s a pretty small space and the parking is even smaller.  On a Monday evening it was just above 50% capacity and there were no parking spots to be found.  I’m sure if I lived closer I would enjoy the draft beer selection on a regular basis but likely would be limited on what food items I ordered.

SOHA Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

King Edwards – Kick Start My Heart

Time for another lunch excursion!  Can you believe this will be my third post about fried chicken?  It may earn itself a category on the blog soon.  To satisfy that constant craving most recently, I tried King Edwards Chicken and Fish in St. Charles.

This is a very small space; there are only about six tables. You can tell this place has not changed much over the years, they still have the old style Pepsi menu with the letters you can rearrange.  For seven bucks you can get the lunch special:  four pieces of fried chicken with a side and a drink.

Photo

As you can see it’s very simple: chicken in a basket on a bed of fries.  This chicken is unique because of the batter.  It is heavy and almost like a shell.  It isn’t a typical cornmeal batter and reminds me of something you would find on fried fish.  This meal comes with your month long supply of vitamin G (grease) and stays with you the rest of the day. I wish I could say I didn’t like it, but unfortunately I did.

King Edward’s is a fast and friendly restaurant in St. Charles that specializes in all things fried.  Most of their business is carry out orders, but you can dine in if you choose.  The fried chicken is different than what you would get at most other restaurants or fried chicken chains.  The batter is the difference.  Who serves your favorite fried chicken in St. Louis?

Dive 2 Five Scale:  1.  Technically, it’s not a dive bar because there is no booze; but it is definitely a dive.  It’s in an old strip mall, there are several tropical photos on the wall.  Every table has a roll of paper towels, so feel free to get messy.  It’s kind of dirty, very simple, and very greasy.  I don’t recommend touching the M&M’s and skittles from the candy machine, that’s not why you would go there anyway.

King Edwards Chicken on Urbanspoon

Melt – St. Louis, MO – Waffles Aren’t Just for Breakfast Anymore

Looking for something completely different?  Melt on Cherokee street could be just what you are looking for.  Melt specializes in waffles, but not your frozen Eggo waffles.  They serve both sweet and savory types of waffles.

From my preliminary research, I was set on getting the Wake ‘N Bake.  The Wake ‘N Bake has bacon or sausage cooked into the waffle.  It’s topped with cheese and an egg, cooked to order.  The server stated that it was a “safe choice” for a first visit.  She also shared that repeat customers quickly start to trust them and move on to something more adventurous.  DAMN…I think she was trying to pull my man-card.  I quickly changed my order to the Little Piggy.  Not only that, but I had her throw an egg on top!  The challenge was on!

DSC00610

The Little Piggy is a waffle topped with pulled pork, homemade coleslaw, and cheddar cheese.   While the BBQ sauce was sweet, the green onion really shined on the dish.  One piece of advice; just because there is syrup on the table it doesn’t belong on all waffles!  Luckily that was only a one bite mistake so it didn’t ruin my meal.

Melt has an exciting selection of waffles.  The combinations range from fruit or chocolate on some of the sweet waffles to chicken, pork, or brisket on some of the savory varieties.  I look forward to exploring the menu more on future visits.  How brave will you be?

Dive 2 Five Scale: 2.  Time for me to step on my soapbox.  Cherokee Street is a great area in St. Louis.  I recently was discussing this restaurant and I instantly received an eye-roll when I mentioned its’ location.  I don’t understand people who limit their options by singling out an area for one reason or another.  What a waste!  Stepping off soapbox…

When I walked in, I can honestly say the eclectic atmosphere and mismatched furniture was overwhelming. There was a lot to take in, including pinball and shuffleboard! However, once I was settled at the table, the atmosphere was very laid back with a knowledgeable and helpful staff. If this is your first visit to Cherokee Street, take some time and explore! STL Style  and Firecracker Press are just two of the fun stores that have a lot of St. Louis pride.

Melt on Urbanspoon

Olivette Diner – St. Louis, MO – Don’t Forget to Bring Cash

If you stumbled across this post while searching for a recommendation of a healthy breakfast dish, go ahead and hit the back button.  This post is about the bananas foster waffles at the Olivette Diner.  This is as close to eating dessert for breakfast as I have tried.

So what is the bananas foster waffle breakfast?  It’s hot waffles topped with bananas, vanilla ice cream, and Olivette Diner’s homemade banana, brown sugar, and cinnamon sauce.

bananas foster waffle

Wow.  The first bite was intense.  It’s sweet and extremely decadent.  If you can resist the urge to tear through it quickly, let that ice cream melt some.   I must say it was big enough that I almost couldn’t finish it…almost 🙂

I will definitely be back to try this meal again.  The booth I sat in faced pictures of the backside of people sitting on the diner stools.  There were some big butts and I cannot lie. With an calorie packed breakfast like these waffles, I could see how you could end up like that.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  2.  This is your typical greasy spoon awesome American diner.  They were efficient and the food was quick.  Make sure you bring cash or a check, they don’t take anything else.

Olivette Diner on Urbanspoon