Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some Clouds Have A Meaty Lining

I'm trapped in St. Louis.  The government shut in DC, but I caught a flight Monday to do some work here -- and now can't get home until Thursday at the earliest.

I'm going to visit "The Arch."  I'm taking advantage of a luxury hotel willing to accept $110/night.  And, last night, I had the best burger that I ever remember.  For sure, I haven't had better.  I stopped at the Burger Bar in the (depressing) casino attached to my hotel.  It's one of those celebrity-chef restaurants.  I loved Hubert Keller on Top Chef, but I figured that he was only barely aware that people are using his name -- and some really obnoxious text  about "how he lives his life, in grace and charm"-- on the menus of this (depressing) casino.

I might be wrong.  The burger cost $11, but it was absolutely perfect.  Some type of "black angus" beef served perfectly medium, juicy and full of flavor but not greasy in the least.  Topped with cheese and tapanade.  Served with lettuce, onions and tomato.  It tasted like someone was really paying attention.  Probably not Keller on a frigid Tuesday in St. Louis, but someone with talent to best even my home-made with the ground chuck from Laurel Meat Market.  (Skip Burger Bar's thin fries though.  Completely forgettable.  I should have asked for onion rings.)

Along with the brilliant hint of salty tapanade, Keller's secret might just be the size.  Victoria Gastropub is my best burger in Howard County.  Still a favorite, but not as perfect as the Burger Bar.  The meat was even better here, and the burger was a little smaller.  Last summer, I finally accepted that 1/3 pound burgers just cooked better than the jumbo patties that I had made before.  I wonder whether the smaller burger let the Burger Bar's chef cook it just right.

The one downside of the Burger Bar is that the entire casino smells like smoke.  Did everything smell this horrible before states passed the no-smoking laws?  Is it possible that I didn't notice because I thought it was normal to smell death and ash?

And, hey, don't listen to me about the casino.  I hate cigarette smoke.  I know just enough math to think the games are state-sponsored trickery.  I'm intimidated by poker players wearing hoodies and scowls.  So I'm down on casinos generally, and this beauty is dropped in downtown St. Louis -- a town where the rich people moved to the suburbs and left behind stadiums and commercial ruins.  I'm sure that our casino at the Arundel Mills Mall will be a civic treasure.

Burger Bar
at the Lumiere Casino
999 N. 2d Street
St. Louis, MO 63102

Burger Bar on Urbanspoon


Work in progress said...

Sucks that you're stuck, at least you're eating well. Hope you find your way back to hoco in one piece!

betsy said...

fairly envious of you. since I've been out of the house precisely twice in the past 6 days. Peoplewatching at a depressing casino sounds pretty good to me at the moment.

Lee Biars said...

There must be something about burgers in celebrity chef casino restaurants, because my favorite burger is at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant at the Borgata in Atlantic City.

Sandy said...

When we lived in St. Louis I sorely missed good seafood, but the beef was always better than what I knew back east.