Thursday, December 17, 2009

Robert & Kelly Go to St. Louis (Part 1)

A city blessed so abundantly with White Castles. Can't they spare us just one?

Kelly and I had been feeling the need to get out of town for awhile, so when we had our first open weekend in forever, we decided to take a road trip to St. Louis. I figured we could stop at White Castle, tour a brewery, stop at White Castle, check out the Gateway Arch, stop at White Castle and so forth.

After careful negotiation it was decided that we would stop at White Castle exactly once. Rather, among other things, we'd get some crepes downtown and visit The Hill for Italian food. So we dropped off the kiddo, gassed up the car, grabbed a couple of QuikTrip taquitos -- and we were off.

Pi Pizzeria
Kelly found this place while doing some online recon before we left KC, and noting that it's a favorite of the Obamas, we made Pi Pizzeria our Friday night destination.

The hostess told us it would be an hour before we were seated, so we stepped up to the bar to get beers. Seeing as how we were in St. Louis, we each chose a selection from Schlafly -- Kelly got the Pale Ale, and I opted for the Saison. While I was standing at the bar, I heard Schlafly pronounced three distinctly different ways: Shay-flee, Shaf-lee, and Shuh-laugh-lee.

Since it was a nice night, we sat down at one of the tables outside on the sidewalk. There we started to notice that everybody in St. Louis looks vaguely familiar. Not like people we used to know or anything -- just people we'd seen around in various locales. Like those random people you've got a few of the same classes with in college but never talk to, or are always at the same shows you're at.

The pizza was totally worth the wait. We ordered the Chicago-style deep-dish South Side Classico pie, subbing in green olives and black olives for green pepper and onions. Made with cornmeal, the crust was super-chewy on the bottom, but had a nice crunch at the top of the edges.

You can't tell how delicious it was from this picture. We were at a table near the back of the restaurant, so in deference to our fellow diners I turned my camera's flash off, and the resulting photo came out so bad you can barely even tell it's pizza. People try to pass off pictures of Bigfoot that are clearer than this.

There's a sign at Pi that says Provel and has a circle and a slash drawn through it. I know I'm in the minority of people that like St. Louis-style pizza, but I was surprised to find out that apparently even the people in St. Louis don't seem to care for it all that much.

Benton Park Cafe
Saturday morning, I checked out Urbanspoon to find someplace to go for breakfast, and was immediately intrigued by Benton Park Cafe for two reasons. First, beer biscuits. Second, breakfast pizza. Plus, it's totally within walking distance of the Anheuser-Busch brewery, which we were planning to tour that afternoon.

We looked over the menu in greater detail once we got there, and despite some good looking omelettes, we stuck with ordering the Classic Pizza and beer biscuits and gravy. I will mention that Benton Park Cafe also offers a knife and fork pancake sandwich called McGrittl This, and I'm fairly certain that name isn't legally sound.

I'm glad to confirm that both our breakfast choices were winners. The beer bread flavor of the biscuits was excellent, and the gravy was unexpectedly spicy. The Classic Pizza comes topped with egg, mushroom, onion, tomato, bacon and cheese -- and it marked the second killer crust we got in St. Louis.

Kelly was such a fan of the crust that she started trying to figure out the recipe. She asked what was in it, and while all our server could tell us was that garlic salt somehow factored in and the crust is stuffed with cheese, Kelly did some online sleuthing and found this once we got back to KC.

Didn't even occur to us that the pizza would be a full-size pie, thus easily serving two, but it was and along with the biscuits and gravy we had way too much food. That said, no edges of the pizza's crust were left behind.

When our server dropped off our bill, she also asked me if I wanted a to-go cup for my coffee. Attention all breakfast places: This practice is now mandatory, and your compliance is appreciated.

Next Time on Lunch Blog: On to the Anheuser-Busch brewery. There were college kids there, so it must be educational.
Pi Pizzeria: 6144 Delmar Boulevard | St. Louis MO 63112
Pi on Urbanspoon

Benton Park Cafe: 1900 Arsenal Street | St. Louis MO 63118
Benton Park Cafe & Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon