St. Louis, Missouri, is not known as a food destination city, per se, but it is known for, among other things, very meaty and fatty St. Louis spare ribs and St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake, which became a legend after a local baker mixed a cake in the wrong proportions. Or so they say. St. Louis also has its own style of pizza that sounds even worse than Chicago-style pizza, if that’s possible. In St. Louis, mozzarella is replaced by something called “Provel,” a white processed cheese formed by a fusion of Provelone, Swiss, and white cheddar. One of these days, I will stop being a snob and I’ll try it.
Weber Grill at the St. Louis Galleria opened about seven months ago, and even though it is tucked into a forgotten corner of the mall and hidden by construction, you can see it from a mile away because of the bright red outsized Weber grill that sits on top like a gigantic fire hydrant with a dog whistle. I have zero knowledge about BBQ, so I cannot speak to its authenticity, a subject that I understand is hotly debated at every roadside BBQ joint, but the meat and fish here were delicious. Just for context, however, remember that our dining experiences in St. Louis have been limited to chain restaurants in the mall: Enough said? But no; it really is good!
This is the fifth of the Weber Grill Restaurant franchise (three in Illinois, one in Indiana), and I would be very happy indeed if they opened a location on the Upper West Side! As they themselves say:
Sit back, relax, and let Weber do the grilling tonight. Join us at the Weber Grill Restaurant where there’s no mosquitoes, tiki torches, or chance of rain. Just delicious grilled food from the folks who really know barbecue—Weber.
Most of what we ate at Weber Grill was really excellent. Mr. Darcy loved the pretzel rolls that they bring to the table, which inspired me to make them at home. I found two recipes, one from Fleischmann’s Yeast, and the other from King Arthur Flour. I opted in favor of the KAF, because it had fewer ingredients, but they both looked good, and they both involved giving the dough a bath — so much fun!
My Caesar salad with grilled salmon was perfect, but the “grilled rustic flat bread” was supermarket pita with some herbs thrown on it while someone whispered, “Grill.” Mr. Darcy’s baby back ribs and crab cakes were both delicious, but the “roasted garlic mashed potatoes” had no garlic, much less roasted garlic. The lemon grilled shrimp appetizer was very nice, but the four grilled shrimp came upon a huge pile of greasy fried onions, and the lemon aioli dipping sauce was devoid of both lemon and garlic. Just plain mayo. I do not care for coleslaw, and the blue cheese and pecan coleslaw did not change my mind, much as I love both blue cheese and pecans.
The staff was very pleasant and the service was quite good. Our iced tea and water were constantly being refreshed. Oddly, the check was presented without our being asked if we wanted dessert. I really wanted to try the St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. Sniff. Oh well. Maybe next time.
The room is attractive with several separate seating areas. It is child-friendly, and the noise level is comfortable even when the restaurant is crowded. The booths are unusually comfortable. This was the first booth in living memory that didn’t make me feel like I was sitting in a high chair. Sweet!
The restaurant was busy the night we went, but I understand that Saturday nights are impossibly crowded and very hard to get into. Make reservations.
Weber Grill offers grilling classes in a large and well-appointed classroom-kitchen, and I have convinced Mr. Darcy that we should take a class the next time we are in STL. I went to the website hoping to sign up for e-mail notifications, but found nothing. It would be good if they would provide e-mail information about their class schedule.
Speaking of cooking classes, Kitchen Conservatory, just up the street from the St.Louis Galleria, offers over 800 cooking classes a year, and the schedule for the year is right there on line. Right now. The classes are very reasonably priced and clearly delineated as “demonstration” or “hands on.”
Kitchen Conservatory has been here for 30 years and is an independent, locally-owned enterprise. It is housed in what looks like a small house from the street. Once inside, however, it feels huge. There are quite a few clearly designated and easy to navigate selling areas with an astronomical amount of top quality kitchen equipment. Everything you can imagine is displayed attractively — over 6000 items — from huge Le Creuset Dutch Ovens to tiny little piglet cookie cutters. You can also shop on line. There is an informative blog, and they even offer an Ask The Chef feature to e-mail your cooking and baking questions. I haven’t tried it yet, but if it’s anything like King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Hotline, we are in luck!
There are two kitchen-classrooms: one appears to be for demonstration classes while the other looks to be for participation classes. Definitely on the agenda for our next trip.
Waiting for me back home was Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful new baking book Dorie’s Cookies. First out of the box, so to speak, were My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies — to which I added espresso, of course — for Mr. Darcy. Clearly a winner, this is a hefty volume and I will be reporting back on it. Frequently!