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.

 

 

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!

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

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