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

RJ’s Bob-B-Que – Lamb Ribs, Pig Tails, Bison, and More!

During a recent road trip to Kansas, I was slowed by an ice storm on my way back.  While passing through Kansas City, I decided to get fuel for both the car and myself before getting back on the treacherous roads.  Since it was Kansas City, the choice was clear.  It’s time to try a new BBQ restaurant.  This time, I tried RJ’s Bob-B-Que.

When you pull up to RJ’s, you will find that it is a shack on a side street.  Once you are inside, it’s a small shack.  The walls are decorated with lots of ribbons and awards from competitions and there are oldies playing in the background. They have so much love for John Wayne that an entire wall is dedicated exclusively to the face of “The Duke!”

Enough about the decor, I was there to check out their “Bob-B-que”.  Their menu will set them apart from most barbecue joints, with interesting features such as lamb ribs and pig tails.  As you all know by now, I’m a very adventurous eater, so I was excited.  I ordered the pig tails, brisket soup, and lamb ribs.

I must admit that any place serving pig tails is going to struggle to impress me after what I’m used to from the Libertine.  They are battered and fried, which reminded me of calamari.  Definitely use the Sriracha that they put on the edge of the bowl to give them some kick.  I prefer them to have a crisper outside; these were much chewier.

pig tailsNext up was the brisket soup.  This reminded me of a creamy minestrone but with brisket.  On a cold day like the one I was experiencing this was a great way to warm back up; a very solid choice.

One of their highly acclaimed dishes is the lamb ribs.  I am a huge pork fan so it was a stretch for me to try this rather than going with what I love.  There is a pretty clear difference between pork and lamb ribs.  These were very tender and yes, “fall off the bone,” but they were also very fatty.  For some reason I couldn’t stop eating the cheesy corn bake.  It is nothing fancy, but it reminds me of something someone would bring to a family gathering.

lamb ribs

RJ’s is not your typical Kansas City barbecue place.  They feature some unique menu items like pig tails, lamb ribs, bison, and many other palatable offerings.  It would not be a place to which I would make a special trip.  There is just too much other barbecue to sample and some old favorites that are too hard to pass up.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  It’s a shack so it’s definitely a 2. You are getting barbecue in a dive, but the service is quick and friendly.  There are plenty of TV’s showing sports, plus it is family friendly.  I think I could do without the golden oldies.  :)

RJ's Bob-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Pastrami Joynt – New York vs California Style?

Finally back at it again with some new blog posts!  Expect to see something about  a bourbon that was just released in Missouri as well as another Kansas City BBQ place soon…  However; today is about another lunch adventure in St. Peters:  the Pastrami Joynt.

The Pastrami Joynt claims to be “a different kind of deli”. They have sandwiches of all types with most being $7.50.  When you order you pick the bread, cheese, and dressing.  They also offer lettuce, onion, and tomatoes as optional included toppings.  I decided to start with the namesake and ordered pastrami.  Being somewhat of a purist, I went with rye bread and mustard but did opt for the lettuce, onion and tomatoes.

Pastrami whole

Pastrami Joynt serves the thin sliced California style pastrami rather than the thicker hand cut style you expect in New York, but they do at least give you a good amount of meat.

Pastrami half

I prefer the New York style with juice dripping down your arms but this will satisfy any life threatening pastrami cravings.

Pastrami Joynt is a small place in a strip mall off of Mexico Rd.  This is a no frills place with the main decorations being two small TV’s. You order at the counter and pay after you eat.  There was only one person working both the kitchen and the register.  That slows things down and makes it awkward to pay when you are having to wait in line again.  Would I try it again?  Maybe for take out or a call ahead order.

 Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  Small strip mall place with a friendly person manning the counter (and kitchen).  Most of their business seems to be takeout. They offer reasonable lunch options if you are tired of chain sandwich shops like Subway.  They offer drinks in cans and bottles and have a list of standard sides.  I have not located a website but you can have a sneak peek of their menu that I scanned:  Pastrami Joynt

Pastrami Joynt 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

Gobble Stop Smokehouse, Creve Coeur, MO – Where’s the Beef? Nevermind, It’s Not Needed!

Can you believe it, time for another BBQ post! Gobble Stop Smokehouse in Creve Coeur opened in 2012 and I was confident it was going to fail.  Why?  They serve only turkey and chicken.  How can you have a BBQ place without any pork or beef offerings?!?!?  Since they found a way to survive, I figured I better finally give it a try.  Once I did, this place quickly earned a spot in my regular rotation of dining options.

The dish I order the most frequently is the smoked wings.  Take a peek at this:

gooblestop wings

The wings have a perfect smoky flavor without being dried out. They serve them with a sweet sauce that they will put on for you or you can have it on the side.  They do have a spicier sauce available if you request it.  After eating these wings I don’t see a need to ever eat a breaded and fried wing again. One time I was so excited I didn’t wait to get home, I just opened the box outside at one of their tables and went to work!.

I have tried a handful of the sides and all were satisfactory.  There really hasn’t been one that will steal the show from one of the turkey or chicken main dishes.  I typically stick with the baked beans or their creamy potato salad (pictured above).

St. Louis does get some love for its BBQ, but in my opinion not enough.  When you can have a restaurant that only does chicken and turkey and it survives, we are unique.   Is it enough to make me swear off pork?  I wouldn’t go that far!.  It is good enough for me to not miss it, and I clearly must not be the only one that thinks so.  I have had days where I’ve had to move to a third or fourth option because my old standbys are already sold out. Some of the other dishes I like are half smoked chicken, pulled chicken, and the turkey ribs.  This is my favorite place to eat in Creve Coeur.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  2.  Gobble Stop is located in an older strip mall at Fee Fee and Olive.  It’s a strip mall that I have driven passed daily for 2 years and didn’t see any reason to stop until now.  The inside is clean and small.  The owner usually is the person taking your order.  I see a bright future for this restaurant but I hope they don’t move to a different location!

Gobble Stop Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Shaved Duck – St. Louis, MO – If it Looks Like a Duck and Tastes Like a Duck…

One of the many things I love about St. Louis is how it’s made up of many neighborhoods with each having it’s own unique personality.  Typically each of those neighborhoods has a restaurant or bar that is deeply rooted into the fabric of that small community.  One such restaurant in Tower Grove is the Shaved Duck.

I originally found the Shaved Duck while searching for a restaurant in St. Louis that had duck fat fries.  Unfortunately duck fat fries are no longer on the menu but there is plenty of unique items to choose from.  During my most recent visit I tasted the Big Jimmy Sampler and the smoked duck entrée.

big jimmy

The Big Jimmy Sampler is St. Louis style spare ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, and pulled chicken.  Unlike a lot of BBQ places where you smell the smoke when you walk in, at the Shaved Duck I only noticed it when the food landed at my table.  The ribs were good but not as tender as you might get at Pappy’s (they have a bit more chew to them).  The pulled pork, pulled chicken, and brisket were all on the dry side.  All of them have good flavor, but I typically prefer my BBQ to be more juicy.  The Habanero BBQ sauce though was killer. I would put it on everything.

The highlight of my most recent visit was the smoked duck breast.

smoked duck

It had a subtle smoke flavor.  The cherry juniper jam was the perfect way to top the duck.  It is an idea that I have stolen and made my own when preparing duck at home.  I will definitely order this dish again.  My only complaint was that it was gone so quickly!

The Shaved Duck is a neighborhood favorite in Tower Grove.  I am typically a fan of more tender and juicy BBQ but there is still plenty of food I enjoy at this restaurant.  Besides the smoked duck, I love the walnut and sugar encrusted bacon, the smoked chicken wings, and the confit pot pie.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  I love the neighborhood feel of this place.  It’s a very small and intimate place.  If you are going on a weeknight, try to arrive before 7 so you can avoid waiting outside.  It has a great selection of beers featuring several local breweries.  There is live music on a regular basis, but it’s not so loud that you can’t enjoy a conversation at your table.

The Shaved Duck 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!

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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

The Table, St. Louis, MO – Come Together and Eat!

I have a confession to make… I have never been to Home Wine Kitchen.  GASP!!!  It has been on my radar since I first sampled their food at last year’s Art of Food event.  I did however, make a trip to check out their new sister restaurant, Table.

One quick look at their menu, and I knew I was going to make a trip there soon.  I love trying unique foods and they clearly had plenty to offer.

After a long day’s work as well as fighting traffic, a cocktail was in order.  I started with the Basil Sidecar.  This was a perfect cocktail for a warm day.  It was light and refreshing.

basil sidecar

Remember the “Porkapalooza” blog posts from the fall of 2012?  This dinner started as a throwback to those days with orders of the braised pork belly and fried pig ears.

The pork belly had some sweetness from the maple syrup and a little tang from the orange juice.  It did not have the crispy rind you find at some places.  The texture was mainly creamy from the fat with just a bit of chew.  It was a satisfactory dish.  After the steamed pork buns I tried at Booker and Dax the bar for pork belly has been raised a bit.

Pork belly

The fried pig ears were a surprise. The dish was simple:  fried pig ears with crispy arugula topped with a fried egg.  This is a salt lovers dream dish.  The first time I had it I wished the egg was served sunny side up.  And on my 2nd visit I had my wish.  i love to use “liquid chicken” as a sauce.  The crunch of the pig ears was perfect.

fried pig ears part 2

As I often do, I will ask for a recommendation when trying a place for the first time.  The waitress said that the “fish and chips” was very popular.  The fish is actually grouper cheek.  When it arrived I first thought the batter looked very heavy.  It was much flakier and lighter than you would think.  This was key since the grouper is very mild.  It pairs well with their house-made tartar sauce.

fish and chips

Growing up I always loved my mom’s corn fritters.  I still ask her to make them for my birthday or any other special occasion.  Table has a version of their own, a little more dense than the version my mom makes. It’s a sweet corn fritter served with maple syrup… and it is surprisingly good! This will definitely satisfy those cravings for corn fritters when I cannot make the trip to see my mom.

corn fritters

 

Lastly, let me introduce you to a new favorite cocktail of mine — the Benton Park Bourbon.  It’s Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon juice, ginger beer, Angostura bitters, and caramelized local honey.  It’s well-balanced but let’s you know that you are still drinking bourbon.  It was the last drink I tried the first time I visited and the only drink I have ordered each time I have returned.

DSC00587

Table is an exciting restaurant located on Cherokee Street.  In the past month I have already visited it 4 times!  The two items that keep me coming back:  Benton Park Bourbon and Fried Pig Ears.  There is something here for everyone, not everything has to be on the adventurous side.

Dive 2 Five Scale: 3.  The decor reminds me of early Restoration Hardware.  The space is very open.  The seating is at long communal tables so it gives you a chance to make new friends.  They had a complimentary valet the first night I went but I have not seen it since.  I would suggest 3 dishes per person as they are on the small size.  I have not tried anything from the “Feast” section of the menu; it’s supposed to be larger portions.

Table on Urbanspoon

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.

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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