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

Daddy Ray Burgers, O’Fallon, MO – St. Charles Shack Attack

What’s up with food prepared in shacks in St. Charles County?  I found some excellent fried chicken at Chicken Coop last November and this year I stumbled upon Daddy Ray’s Burgers on the day of their one year anniversary.
Since it was my first time, I ordered their namesake:  the Big Daddy Bacon Cheddar Burger.  It doesn’t come with lettuce, tomato, or pickle but you can ask for them.  It does, however, come with their pub cheddar which I’ll admit I was leery of.  Remember my experience at the now shuttered Fatted Calf?  I also ordered the garlic Parmesan fries as my side.  After only a quick 5 minute wait I had my food.

Daddy Ray burger

This is a meat lovers burger.  It’s a 1/2 pound burger topped with crispy bacon that is clearly a diet crasher.

After Two Big Bites

As you can see, the middle isn’t pink but they still keep it juicy.  The pub cheddar was creamy and added a nice contrast to the beef and bacon.  It was nothing like what I had at the Fatted Calf.

fries

The fries are thin and crispy.  They loaded them up with Parmesan and just enough garlic so you would notice it, but not so much that you would offend all your co-workers after lunch.

I usually bring my lunch to work so I can save my calories for dinner or the weekend; however, I’m starting to find reasons to change that.  Daddy Ray’s Burgers is one of those places.  They make a mean hamburger without a lot of fluff. Wanna go eat a burger without anyone watching? Daddy Ray’s gives you that option.  My only recommendation would be for them to ask you how you like your burger cooked.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 1.  Although Daddy Ray’s is a bit nicer than the Chicken Coop, I had to stay consistent with my earlier shack rating.  Daddy Ray’s is in a small building in O’Fallon along Veteran’s Memorial Parkway.  I bet a lot of people have driven passed it without noticing. Their business is completely take-out or outside dining.  They do let you call ahead and you can pick up your order behind the building. This is appreciated now that it is getting colder and you may not want to get out to order at their window.  As an added bonus, they have a loyalty program that after 9 burgers you get $5 off.

Daddy Ray Burgers on Urbanspoon

Black Thorn, St. Louis, MO – Bring on the Cheese Please!

Notice a disturbing trend on my blog lately?  Where are all the dive bars?  I had noticed that too and chose Black Thorn Pub to help balance things out.

Looks like a great neighborhood dive

Great dive bar style curb appeal.

Black Thorn pub is a true dive bar.  It’s slightly dirty and run down, but all in an inviting way.  There is nothing pretentious about this place at all!  Black Thorn specializes in pizzas; they offer thin and pan crusts as well as a Chicago style pie.  As a Black Thorn virgin, I decided to try the style I have heard the most about: Chicago!  I chose three of my standard toppings: pepperoni, mushrooms, and onion.

Once I had ordered with the bartender, I took a spot at the corner of the bar with an adult beverage to pass the time.  Trust me, you may need a few to pass the time; it took well over an hour to get our pizza.  Not a big deal for me since I was in no hurry and had good company.  Even if I had gone alone, the people watching at the Black Thorn is top-notch and the other patrons were friendly.  There was a Pat Benatar look-a-like at the bar…what more do you need?

Once the pizza arrived, I was ready for it…or at least I thought I was.  This is one heavy pizza.  I ate half of a medium (four slices) and had to throw in the towel.  I could have squeezed in a fifth but would have been miserable.  Take my advice: just eat two to three slices.

Look at the cheese in the crust

Very hefty pizza

How was it? It had a smokey tomato paste based sauce with a lot of seasoning.  It seemed to have a bunch of oregano and was topped with a ton of cheese, including some in the crust.  I wouldn’t call it a true Chicago style pizza, but that’s not a favorite style of mine anyway.

I tip my hat to Black Thorn for providing balance back to my blog.  They have a unique pizza that I can’t wait to try again.  I also found that it reheated well the next day, which is important considering you’d need to bring along a healthy group of friends to finish an entire pie. The only reasons NOT to go here:

  1. You are in a hurry.  Still not a deal breaker, call ahead!  Like I stated above, there is great people watching.  They also have shuffleboard and 80’s arcade games.
  2. You don’t like dive bars (then why are you on my blog?!?!?)
  3. You don’t like pizza (what’s wrong with you?)
View from the bar

View from the bar

Dive 2 Five Scale: 1.  Based on my exploration of St. Louis thus far, this would be my top recommendation of a true dive bar.  What makes it a true dive bar?  If you are sitting at the bar, you may see large stacks of PBR cases waiting to become the next “dead soldiers“.  The bathroom has humorous graffiti everywhere.  They serve you on foam plates but with real silverware.  The building is a mixture of brick and 70’s style wood paneling.  I think you get the point.  Go there for the dive bar experience and enjoy the pizza!

Black Thorn Pub on Urbanspoon

Friendly’s Sports Bar & Grill – St. Louis, MO – For that Fried Chicken Craving

Ever have one of those cravings that you just can’t shake?  That was fried chicken for me recently.  I decided to see if there was something on my restaurant “to do” list that could help satisfy that hankering.  I noticed the positive reviews of the fried chicken at Friendly’s Sports Bar & Grill.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but 2013 has been a little hectic.  Crazy weather, crazy work…crazy everything.  This was one of those nights that beer alone would not take the edge off.  I was pleasantly surprised by the vodka selection at Friendly’s and decided to try something new.  I have been hearing about a new vodka called, Salute American, and decided to give it a try.  After all, they donate $1 from each bottle purchase to the veterans charity, Project Blueberry.  That way I can lift my spirits while honoring those that have proudly served our country. 🙂

Even though I’m normally a martini guy, this was not really a martini bar.  I decided to keep it simple and ordered a vodka cranberry.

salute

Since I was asking about the vodka, the bartender also provided a small sample to try it straight.  It was relatively smooth and had a surprising sweet aftertaste.  It’s a vodka that would go well with lots of juices.  I now have a bottle at home to use for a limencello martini like the “former spy” I had at 715.

On to the main event…dinner.  I started with fried pickles.  Friendly’s serves the more common pickle chip variety.  They were fresh out of the fryer but not as crispy as you would expect but still had good flavor.

fried pickles

Now for their famous fried chicken.

fried chicken

Sorry for the blurry picture, it doesn’t do the chicken justice. 🙁  I had to let the chicken cool because it was brought to the table smokin’ hot.  The batter was perfectly crispy.  I love dark meat because white meat can be dry.  This was not an issue at Friendly’s.  I can now see why all the reviews say that you must order the chicken.  Clearly they do not skimp on the chicken, so make sure you bring an appetite!

Friendly’s is a neighborhood bar that serves great fried chicken.  For me it’s a bit of a drive, but it was worth it to say I have sampled it.  So leave the attitude at home and join some locals when you get that craving.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  This was a 1 for all the right reasons. It’s a sports bar that has expanded to take over other portions of the building.  It has a unique history that you should check out on their website.  You can catch one of the games on their many TV’s or maybe on some horses while playing video poker.  The waitresses are very helpful and willing to provide recommendations if it’s your first time there.  Just make sure you bring cash or you will need to use their ATM.

Friendly's Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Chicken Coop, St. Peters, MO – Fried Chicken. Yes Please!

Lunch-less at work in St. Peters, what do you do?  I always have a list of places that I want to try for when that happens.  One that has been on my list for a while:  the Chicken Coop in St. Peters.

Why has it been on the list for a while?  I have actually tried to go a couple other times but had not figured out their hours.  The Chicken Coop is a small shack on Mexico Road by an old school car wash.  It has a drive-thru window and a walk-up window.  There are a couple picnic tables on one side, however, most people either eat in their cars or take it with them.

The food is cooked once you order it.  So if you are in a hurry, call ahead.  Otherwise you will end up waiting about 15 minutes for them to prepare your meal.

The prices are very reasonable.  The menu has several appetizers, multiple chicken options, catfish, and a good choice of sides.  One appetizer that caught my eye was the creamy corn nuggets.  For my meal, I went for the 2 piece chicken meal.  This is the chicken coop after all, how could I not get chicken?!?!?  The two sides I choose were mashed potatoes and mac n cheese.

Once I picked up my order and got back into my car, it was obvious I was going to dig in right there.  The smell of the food quickly filled the car with awesomeness.  I’m not good with the whole patience thing.

First the corn nuggets:

They were smoking hot!  I should have expected that since the food was just cooked.   They were very crispy on the outside and had a great sweet flavor.  Order these if you go there, you won’t be disappointed.

Next, the two piece meal:

If you are paying attention you will notice that I actually received 3 pieces of chicken.  They were out of rolls so this was the wing was their substitute.  The chicken was light on seasoning and there was not an excessive amount of breading.  It was still juicy all the way through.  This was true even on the large breast piece, so they know what they are doing.  First-rate chicken all the way!

The mashed potatoes and mac n cheese are clearly the side kicks.  The mashed potatoes are pretty standard as you would get at most chicken restaurants.  The mac n cheese had some peppers in them to add a little spice.  Neither knocked my socks off.

This turned out to be a great choice for lunch.  I need to continue to try other sides, but the chicken and corn nuggets were great.  I have heard that this building had been several other things during its’ existence.  I hope it stays the Chicken Coop for many more.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  Folks, I’m going a 1 here.  It’s a small take out shack next to a run down car wash. The best seat in the house will be in your car if you want to control the climate.   If you want to stay “off the grid”, don’t worry, they are cash only.  The prices are great, especially for the quality of food you get.

Chicken Coop on Urbanspoon

Dad’s Junction Cafe, New Florence, MO – Gun Raffle, Keno, and a Big Breakfast

Another weekend, another road trip across Missouri on I-70.  This time on the return trip from KC it was time for a late breakfast.  After some research on Urbanspoon and other sites, I decided to give Dad’s Junction Cafe a chance.   You wouldn’t know the name from the outside:

When you walk in you quickly notice that this is an establishment that still allows smoking. There is a non-smoking section but it’s only one quarter of the place.  The ceiling fans don’t help much as they seem to spread it around.  It is a pretty big space so you can find something away from those that do smoke.

I ordered the “Diet Plate”.  Who uses this as a diet?  Check it out:

This should be the “you will need to diet” plate.

It consisted of two biscuits topped with 2 sausage patties and 2 eggs of your choice.  This was served in a ring of hash browns.  The whole thing was then smothered in gravy and topped with cheddar cheese and crumbled ham.   This was just massive.  The biscuit was on the dry side but that’s ok when covered in gravy.  The egg was cooked over easy as I had requested.  The sausage was a little spicy.  The gravy was not over-peppered.  This meal had a lot going on.  It was very filling and used good ingredients.

My wife had the Exit-175 breakfast.  This was two large pancakes, 2 eggs any style, and choice of meat.  As you can see, she chose scramble eggs and bacon.

Look at those pancakes!

I did sample the bacon which was very crispy.  The pancakes were my favorite thing I tried.  They were nice and fluffy.

So for 2 meals and 2 drinks, the damage was only $18.96.  Both of us were completely stuffed.  I’m sure we will stop here again.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  Folks we have our first 1.  This is a true dive.  Let me count the ways:

  1. You can get your gambling fix by playing Keno while you eat.
  2. They have an actual beehive that they found outside their building now located inside as a decoration.
  3. You can buy tickets for a gun raffle when you go to the counter to pay.
  4. The utensils are wrapped in a paper bag.
  5. Smoke em’ if you got em’.
  6. I don’t know if this is true or not but check out the popular tip on Foursquare.
  7. Booneslick road…need I say more?

The staff were all very friendly.  The service was quick and efficient.  If you are too pretentious to step foot in a truck stop, you probably should skip this place.  However if you want good home made food, this is a great place right off I-70.  I wouldn’t make a special trip out of St. Louis to try it, but it will be on my list of quality food along the interstate.

Dad's Junction Cafe on Urbanspoon