July 2019 Casual Dining Picks

July in St. Louis is like living in a sauna that doesn’t turn off.  If you don’t want to heat up your kitchen and enjoy someone else’s air conditioning, here are some suggestions of some delicious retreats!

Grace Meat + Three

I happened to visit this restaurant out in Tower Grove on National Fried Chicken day, which they were celebrating in style with ½ off fried chicken.  Grace Meat + Three prides itself as a place for people to come together over the cafeteria style meat plus three sides work lunches of yore. You order at the counter and seat yourself, but everything else about the place feels like a sit down restaurant with the staff constantly checking on you.  And can we talk about the decor for a minute? This place is wild with a giant stuffed turkey, a beautiful mural of St. Louis, and other eclectic charms

Now to the most important part:  the food! Fried green tomatoes are one of my favorite foods on the planet, so of course I had to get an order. The tomatoes were fried with the same spiced breading that goes on the fish and I loved the crunch and flavor.  The tomatoes were extremely sour, making for a happy mouth puckering starter!

For my meal I got the Kitchen Sink salad (I know, a salad at a Southern haven of deep friedness, but sometimes I need more veggies!), which was no ordinary boring salad.  On top of the gem lettuce and herbs was a healthy portion of fried chicken strips (see I did have some fried chicken!), deviled egg, and life altering cornbread croutons all topped with a buttermilk lime dressing.

My husband enjoyed the catfish po’boy, but let me give you a warning:  when they ask if you want the spicy version, they really mean spicy! We asked what all seasonings went into it and we were told, among other things, ghost pepper was used. My husband made it through, but OMG!

To cool the palette down, I’m a big fan of the sweet tea to complete the southern experience. However, there are also a lot of specialty sodas, craft beers, cocktails, and wine.  In fact, there is a tie-in to my visit to Still 630, as they serve their Big Jake White Whiskey. All in all, this elevated take on Southern food in the heart of St. Louis is worth checking out and if my word is not good enough, you have food personality Andrew Zimmern’s recommendation as well!

Ferguson Brewing Company

If you followed the news at all in 2014, you already have an impression of Ferguson, Missouri.  Unless your thoughts were of a diverse community with a variety of eclectic shops and dining options, throw your preconceived notions out the window!  One of those dining options is the ultimate pub food offered at Ferguson Brewing Company.

When you first get to the brewery you will meet this guy, who is also featured on the glassware (the explanation for his presence is that he is the mascot and the owner has stone gorillas in front of his house):

The place is a refurbished building with a view of the brewery, chalkboards, and other unique items that definitely let you know you are in a microbrewery. 

Confession time: I am not a beer drinker. I just have never liked the taste. So why do I love going to a microbrewery? I am a huge fan of cheese and Ferguson Brewing Company is home to my favorite beer cheese soup in the world.  It is creamy with huge chunks of vegetables in it and two small pieces of bread smothered dripping with melted cheese on top. I have tried to replicate it at home to no avail. But right now its July, when the soup is not offered and who would want it in this steamy heat anyway?  This last visit, I finally tried some of their other offerings, including the Stuffed Mushrooms and I was quite pleased. The stuffing includes cheese, bacon (Yeah bacon!), and then the whole thing is deep fried and served with horseradish sauce. The humble mushroom was elevated and packed with flavor all the way through.  

I also had been craving Poutine of late and was thrilled to find a pulled pork version on the menu. The crisp fries covered in gravy, fried cheese curds, and salty pulled pork was a fried delight. The portion was so gigantic it lasted me two meals and I was surprised to find it reheated well. Unlike my visit to Grace Meat + Three, I went all fried here. However, there are 6 different salads offered as well as some wraps, if you are trying to eat lighter.  

Ferguson Brewery is a great place to visit a giant stone gorilla, check out a refurbished neighborhood, and enjoy some of the best pub fare in St. Louis!  

The Shack

Somehow a brunch place always graces my lists…. Anyway the Shack had me when I entered to find coffee and creamer while you wait to be seated!    Besides the coffee, as you enter your attention is quickly grabbed by the graffiti covered wood walls! I found a pen for my daughters to write their message on the walls as well, but you might want to bring a Sharpie for more of an impact.

The menu is just fun and made me feel like a giant kid!  There are berry smoothies, milk shakes and adult fun drinks I look forward to  trying, like the White Trash Screwdriver and the Shack-offee.

Some of the menu ideas are sheer genius that I’ve since tried at home, including brioche french toast crusted in corn flakes, a breakfast banana split with yogurt fruit and granola, and my daughter’s choice the King Lives, which is a pancake with banana, chocolate chips, and bacon topped with a peanut butter drizzle. 

As tempting as all of those sound, I am a huge eggs benedict fan, so I had to go with Not Really a Benedict.  Their fresh take on this classic uses a biscuit topped with a fried green tomato (did I mention I love fried green tomatoes?), braised short ribs, eggs, and a horseradish hollandaise.  I was so very happy! I look forward to going back and trying more of their innovations. If you’re in St. Louis there is undoubtedly one of their five locations nearby.

Hopefully, you get a chance to cool off this month and let somebody else heat up their kitchen!

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