In Case You Missed It…

The Midwestern Meat and Drink at 900 Spruce, Downtown STL, offers a Crispy Pig Head for $45. Must order 48 hours in advance.

There’s a joint opening soon on Cherokee that will offer all you can drink booze (not high end stuff of course) for $10/hour, according to an item recently shared on a local food media site. Don’t know all the details but sounds like a mess in the making.

Sad note for all of us named Dave or David: The Jim’n’Nick’s BBQ chain out of Birmingham no longer lists the Hamburger Dave as their featured burger. They now list 3 or 4 different burgers. I’m a J’n’N fan.

The UCP Wing Ding happens Tuesday, August 27 at Queeny Park. It’s a great opportunity to eat a ton of wings for a great cause. Click HERE for info. (I’ll be a judge for the event. Can’t hardly wait!)

The Post-Dispatch restaurant review last week was particularly negative. But the reviewer thought enough of the place to post a review, so there’s a bit of validation. (Sometimes reviewers don’t even bother, figuring a bad restaurant will bite the dust soon enough anyway.) The restaurant can process the criticisms and, if they think they’re valid, act on them. At the very least, P-D readers are now aware of the restaurant and its location.

—David Craig

 

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True Story

A friend and his wife went to dinner on a recent weekend evening to celebrate their anniversary. The food, wine and service at this suburban St. Louis County nice-but-casual restaurant were great. They paid with a card they use only occasionally.

A few hours later they received an alert from the card company about a purchase amounting to several hundred dollars from a national specialty goods retail chain. Which my friend nor his wife did not make.

My friend’s wife suggested he call the restaurant. He called Monday and mentioned what had happened and made clear he was not accusing anybody of anything. He just thought it was something he should mention to the people running the place. The person who answered said she would have the manager call him back.

On Tuesday, the manager did call back and immediately went on the defensive, telling my friend that all his people were top notch citizens and nothing like this had ever happened at his place. My friend repeated that he was not accusing anybody of anything, that he (my friend) just thought that he (the manager) might want to know about what had happened. Again, the manager seemed offended that my friend would offer this information. When the call ended, my friend was just a bit upset at the manager’s attitude.

My friend told me that he will not be returning to the restaurant.

Declarations

That’s the title of Peggy Noonan’s column in the Saturday Wall Street Journal but I’m gonna borrow it for this post. A few thoughts…

  1. Go ahead and ask the price of those off-menu specials your server is touting. Even if he/she says, “I’m not sure. I’ll have to check.” Let her/him check. It might save you from gulping when the check comes.
  2. Fresh corn on the cob! One of the highlights of summer. Do you put salt and/or butter on yours? Don’t. It’s just as delicious without that stuff. (Or should be, depending on where you’re getting yours.)
  3. Been a pulled pork partisan at BBQ joints for the past several years. But had some very good brisket recently and will be drifting back over thataway in the near future. As long as it’s not too dry.
  4. We ate at an Italian joint in Moab, Utah. We ate at a Mexican joint in Gatlinburg. Regretted both. In resort towns, it’s probably best to stick with the people pleaser types of places.
  5. The most generous tipper I know is my daughter. She works in the industry.
  6. I’ve enjoyed some wonderful pizza in my life. But I wonder if I’m the only person who thinks that pizza, in general, is overrated. And, in many cases, way overpriced.
  7. I’d wager that most beer drinkers don’t give a darn whether there’s corn syrup in the brew. Is that something that concerns you?
  8. I picked up the book American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us To Love Spam, Bananas and Jell-O at St. Louis County Library. Lots of mid-century promotions for various foodstuffs. Trying to decide if a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich is something I might want to try. Suggested in a Hellmann’s ad.
  9. Here is a list of some of the FRIED things you can get at the Illinois State Fair this year: Twinkies, Oreos, Snickers, Milky Way, Keylime Pie, Pecan Pie, Cheesecake, Pickles, Peaches with Ice Cream, Green Tomatoes, Brownie Bomb, Funny Bones, Bacon Wrapped Oreos, Dough-E-Oreos, More Than a S’More, Red Velvet Oreos, Apple Pie Fries. (From the State Fair website. Fair runs August 8-18 in Springfield.)
  10. For the record, I have no problem with Oktoberfest beers being for sale already in grocery stores. I mean, why not?

 

 

Back to the Blog

Haven’t posted anything here in a couple of years.

From July 2016 thru August 2018 we spent most of our time in Birmingham. My dad passed away and we worked on the family home, cleaning things out and getting it ready to sell.

Now we are back in St. Louis. I am retired. Not that I’ll never work for money again but I haven’t for a while now. Since I am no longer doing a radio show and catering to advertisers nor am I currently doing PR, social and other marketing work for any food and beverage clients, I can be a bit more candid with my comments on this site.

Like, for instance, I can mention that the St. Louis magazine A-List party last week was a mess. The food was good and sometimes great. It was wonderful to see some folks I hadn’t seen in a long time. But the timing and the logistics were awful. The Sheldon was a bad venue for this event.

We arrived just before 6:00 p.m. and were told that the food would not be served until 6:45 p.m. because of an awards ceremony. We had not purchased tickets to attend an awards ceremony. We wanted to sample the food offerings. At about 6:20 a woman who was an event official told some of us who were waiting in a long line for drinks that she was going to close the bar so people would go to this awards ceremony. As she surveyed the long lines of thirsty people, she wisely reconsidered.

The food was served on three different levels at the Sheldon. Inconvenient but not something we couldn’t handle. Until we got to the third level. A band was playing. They were good. But they were too loud for that smallish room. It made conversation impossible.

The list of restaurants at the A-List party was impressive. Many of the best new joints in St. Louis. Most of the places offered good representations of their cuisine. A few phoned it in but I won’t name names. We got plenty to eat. And I had a couple of Goose Island beers that were tasty.

I understand that events like this party generate good revenue and visibility for the magazine. In my radio and PR work I have helped plan and execute events. My wife and I chaired a few school trivia nights with hundreds of attendees. So I know that events are not easy to pull off. Still, this one was a mess. (I used a less polite term on Facebook. A term that begins with “cluster.”) Let’s hope next year’s party will be better.

More to come.

—David Craig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taste Of Maplewood 2017

The list of participants offering food and/or drink at Saturday’s Taste of Maplewood Street Festival is stunning!

Maplewood street #1

Here’s a sampling:

Maya Cafe

Bolyard’s Meats and Provisions

Strange Donuts

Vom Fass

Foundation Grounds

The Blue Duck

The Muddled Pig

Reed’s American Table

Boogaloo

Mauhaus

Mauhaus Cat Cafe

Kakao

Tapped

Gus’s Fried Chicken

The Post Sports Bar

Boardwalk Waffles and Ice Cream

Saratoga Lanes

Prioritized Pastries

Larder and Cupboard

Among others. The event begins at noon on Saturday, May 20 and runs til 9:00 p.m. There is musical entertainment throughout the day.

Everything happens on Sutton, south of Manchester in Maplewood.

How about some candied bacon on a stick?

Bacon stick

Empanada?

empanada

Click HERE for more info including where to park.

I am honored to be a judge for the competition among vendors for best sweet tooth item, best savory dish, best cocktail and best overall item. Also judging are Mike Arnold who posts on Instagram and Twitter as @GusGusFunBus and Pat McGonigle, personable newsguy for Newschannel 5 (KSDK).

This is a fun event and it’s not just for people in the Maplewood/Mid-County area. Everybody is welcome.

Maplewood street #2

 

 

 

 

 

If You’re Gonna Sell Beer…

Various beers

If yours is a dining establishment that offers beer, make sure your servers know what the story is.

That means they should know what beers you have, which ones are on draft and which ones are in bottles. Even if your waiter/waitress is underage and another employee has to physically deliver the beer to your table, the server should have the proper info.

If your list is longer than just a handful, print it out. If it changes frequently, have your servers write it down. Also, if you’re out of a particular beer, your server should not have to go to the bar then come back to the table to tell a diner, “We’re out of….”

Even if your servers personally detest beer, they should have some idea of the nature of various beers. And with brewers offering multiple brews, they should have some familiarity with the styles and names.

I recently went to a restaurant which offers 7 or 8 beers on draft. Bud, Bud Light and a few craft beers. I checked at the bar before I sat down at a booth and knew which one I wanted. When I told the waitress the brew I desired, she asked, “Large or small?” I inquired, “What sizes are those?” She replied, “I don’t know. I just know the large is a dollar more.” Sigh.

Even if your restaurant is known for wine and/or cocktails, some of us may prefer a beer. If you’re going to sell beer to diners, please care enough to get it right. Thanks!

National Pizza Day!

pizza1

Happy National Pizza Day! Some pizza memories…

When I was a kid we got carryout from Pasquale’s in the Norwood section of Birmingham. One night when I was 9 or so, my dad let me go in and order and pay and bring the pizza to the car. In those days, Pasquale’s put the pizza in a paper bag to be carried home horizontally. I, however, carried it vertically.

The pizza toppings all slid to the bottom of the bag into a greasy lump. Happily, my dad only chuckled at my mistake and the pizza was easily repaired when we got home.

My first gig after college was at KSTT radio in Davenport, Iowa. We had a station basketball team that would face off against area high school faculties. After each game, we would go to Pizza Hut where we had trade and would order lots of pizza and beer. I pigged out often on Pizza Supreme and Budweiser. Good times!

hut

I became a fan of deep-dish pizza when visiting Chicago in the 70s. In the 80s, Chicago deep-dish joint Pizzeria Uno went national. I enjoyed their pizzas in Philly and Dallas and later in St. Louis. Nowadays, my favorite deep-dish pizza comes from St. Louis’s own Pi Pizza. (Love Pi’s cornbread crust, too!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When we moved to St. Louis in 1988, a neighbor sent over an Imo’s pizza as a welcoming gift. I recall we were all curious—especially my son Mark—about this thin crust pizza with the strange tasting cheese.

imo logo hori eps.cmyk

In time, we came to embrace Imo’s and Mark went on the cook and deliver for them. He worked at a number of pizza joints around Ballwin and learned every subdivision shortcut and cut-thru in west county.

He excelled at “hot selling.” If a pizza joint had no lunchtime orders, he would cook a few pizzas and drop by area businesses such as banks or car dealers. He’d say, “Hey, we made too many pizzas today. Would you guys like to buy a couple? Five bucks apiece!” Sold.

When I was a country DJ at WIL, I learned that singer Vince Gill was a huge Imo’s fan. He makes a habit of delivering an Imo’s shoutout from stage anytime he performs in St. Louis. Around 1994 or so, I took him and his band and crew several Imo’s pizzas when he was performing at Six Flags. His gratitude was overwhelming.

vincegill

In the early aughts, I saw a Travel Channel show about Best Places In the U.S. To Pig Out. Among the suggestions was Poynter’s Pizza in Richmond Heights with their enormous Poyntersaurus pizza. There’s an eating challenge connected to the Poyntersaurus—if two people can finish it in thirty minutes without bathroom visits, the pizza is free. We talked about them on WIL and—voila!—they dropped off a Poyntersaurus. Although I’d never try the challenge, I can attest that their pizza is good.

A few years later when I was doing the morning show at KLOU, my producer Aaron and I were chatting casually about favorite pizzas and the phone lines lit up. I learned then the level of passion that people have for pizza. Of course the Imo’s lovers chimed in, but many other independent local pizza joints were also mentioned including Pantera’s, Fortel’s, Elicia’s and Black Thorn Pub.

In 2012, I had my first visit to Slice in Birmingham and had their Soul Pie (pictured below), which is topped with turnip greens, black-eyed peas, Conecuh sausage, red onion, bacon and pepper jack and cheddar cheeses. Not for everyone, but I love it.

Slice

In 2013, I took my grandkids to PW Pizza on Chouteau. It immediately became their favorite and is a go-to spot whenever I take them out to lunch or dinner. I like the Pulled Piggy pizza (shown below) with pork, sweet BBQ sauce and slaw. A great beer selection at PW, too! (Named for owners Paul and Wendy Hamilton.)

pulled-piggy-pizza

I have long thought that pizza joints should jump into the breakfast market but that hasn’t happened. Although last night’s pizza leftovers continue to be a breakfast staple for many. Remember when ESPN-2 had a morning show called Cold Pizza? QuikTrip markets introduced breakfast pizza a couple of years back and it’s decent.

Pizza love continues to grow around St. Louis with numerous new joints popping up everywhere, especially over the last five years or so. It’s understandable. People like pizza. And the raw material costs versus the menu prices can be favorable to operators. Plus, all the new pizza ideas keep the pizza world ever evolving.

My National Pizza Day suggestion: Avoid the “commodity level” pizza as much as you can. Enjoy the good stuff.