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.

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

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

Mission Taco Joint, St. Louis, MO – Late Night Dining in the Loop

Adam and Jason Tilford opened their new restaurant, Mission Taco Joint, on Thursday.  It’s located in the Delmar Loop and serves burritos, tacos, and tortas.  Being a fan of Milagro, I made a point of stopping in for the opening.

A lot of people think it is uncool to review a restaurant on opening night.  I tend to agree, but I also know a lack of available information on new places can deter people from taking a chance.  So hopefully this post will help give a little information on a new place from some already successful restaurateurs.

I started with the wild mushroom huarache.  This was a crisped corn masa boat topped with refried black beans, mushrooms, huitlacoche, goat cheese, arugula, and Mexican crema. If you love mushrooms like I do, you need to try this dish.

DSC00469 For my main course, I ordered three different tacos and a side of street corn.  A breakdown of the tacos: tacos

  • Roasted duck (left) – shredded chile roasted duck, crispy pork belly, avocado serrano sauce.
  • Yucatan chicken (middle) – achiote marinate chicken, pickled onion, fiery arbol salsa, and queso fresco.
  • Cochinita pibil (right) – achiote marinated pork shoulder that was slow roasted in a banana leaf with pickled onion and ancho BBQ sauce

My favorite was the duck but closely followed by the pork shoulder.  If smokey flavors are your thing, then go for the chicken.

Last but not least… the street corn.  When I go to Milagro, I always order this side.  I can never bring myself to order anything else.  Street corn is a drug and I’m addicted to it. street corn Mission Taco Joint offers some well thought out versions of typically simple Mexican food items.  It reminds me of the great tacos I used to enjoy when I lived in the Southwest.  Only thing missing for me would be cow’s tongue as a meat option for one of the tacos.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  They have a huge bar area with a nice selection of cocktails and craft beers.  Mission Taco Joint can satisfy that late night craving when in the loop.  For an opening night, they had the place over staffed to make sure things went smoothly.  Riverfront Times has some scans of the menu as part of their article.

Mission Taco Joint on Urbanspoon