Tag: Burger (Page 2 of 2)

St. Louis Food Firsts: Pork Steak & Cheese Spread Burger

Moving to a new state is stressful but it is also fun.

One of the things I like best about moving is learning about the local food traditions which vary state to state and region to region. Missouri is only two states down from Minnesota. Still, we’re finding that St. Louis has plenty of foods we’ve never tried before.

For one thing, there’s Provel. We both learned that we like it raw and shredded into salads, but we’re less sure how we feel about it melted. Jake’s tried more versions of St. Louis style-pizza than I have. In some cases, he’s liked it, and in others, not so much. We’ve literally never encountered Provel outside of Missouri, so imagine our surprise when we visited a local Italian restaurant and found it topping the chicken parmesan and baked ziti. The jury’s out on melted Provel. We’ve got plenty of time to decide.

This week we entertained several out-of town-guests who treated us to dinner at two restaurants we haven’t visited yet. These meals provided the perfect opportunity to try two foods I haven’t encountered outside of St. Louis:

Burger With Cheddar Cheese Spread
Burgers topped with cheddar cheese spread might be a thing elsewhere, but I haven’t encountered them yet. A while ago, I ran across this Chowhound thread in which a man asked for help finding a burger with cheddar cheese spread in St. Louis. Based upon the responses and a quick internet search, it seems like this type of burger is offered at many local restaurants.

PicMonkey Collage

I spotted it on the menu at Schlafly Brewery in Maplewood, MO. If you’re in the camp that likes goopy cheese sauces, cheese balls, and cheese spreads, you’ll like this style of burger. There’s really nothing not to like. The fact that the cheese spread’s temperature was cooler than the burger struck me as interesting, since I’m used to the cheese being melted onto the burger. But eventually the warm burger patty made the cheese more melty.

Finally, there are two more things I really like about Schlafly: The brewery offers small 10 oz. glasses of beer & did NOT overcook the burger.

Pork Steaks
According to this Feast Magazine article, the pork steak is a slice from the pork shoulder or Boston butt. This cut was made very popular in the 1950’s by the second-generation owners of one of our major grocery store chains, Schnucks. I’ve only seen people cook pork shoulder low and slow in a braise or crock-pot. Supposedly, pork steaks take well to grilling. It seems like they’re typically baked or smoked before receiving a char on the grill. At Hendricks, this was the case.

My North Iowa Blogger friends visited St. Louis this week to promote North Iowa’s new flight service to and from St. Louis via Air Choice One. The city of St. Charles provided a warm welcome and treated us to a meal at Hendricks BBQ. Pork Steak was the Wednesday special and so I ordered it.


Keep in mind that this is the very first pork steak I have ever tried. The meat wasn’t as spoon tender as the menu described, but, honestly, I preferred it not to be. I dislike ribs that are cooked so long that their meat slides from the bones. I prefer the meat to still retain some chew. This pork steak’s flavor and texture reminded me of pork ribs. I especially liked the melting fatty bits around the edges. Jake got to enjoy the leftovers and agrees that we need to eat more pork steaks.

So far, we’ve tried Provel, toasted ravioli, pork steaks, gooey butter cake and cheese spread burgers. We’ve had Mr. Wizard’s frozen custard, but not Ted Drewes’. I still need to try an Imo’s pizza and neither of us has ordered a St. Paul Sandwich, Syberg’s-style wings, or slinger (yet). What unique-to-St. Louis foods should we try next? 

Everything I’ve Ever Wanted To Say About Burgers

Disclaimer: Sorry Mom and Dad.

If you really want to bother me, overcook my burger.

The prelude to disappointment is when a restaurant asks you how you want your burger cooked and then it arrives well done, anyway. I always ask for medium rare and just hope it arrives a little south of hockey puck.

Growing-up, we ate burgers weekly and I avoided burgers into my mid-20’s because I assumed I hated them. I remember helping my mom divide one pound of beef into four balls and packing them into disks. We seasoned them with salt and pepper and placed them on the grill until they were charred on the outside and well done on the inside. It’s not that they tasted horrible; I just didn’t understand why anyone would go out of their way to eat a hamburger.

My perfect burger is simply a burger that isn’t messed up. There are burgers for every mood and occasion, but when I’m really craving a burger, I want a classic one. O’Connell’s Pub delivered our perfect burger this weekend. It was like my mom grilled us a burger on our deck and didn’t mess it up. Now, I’m left with intense burger feelings.

Use delicious beef! But not too lean.

Don’t overcook it.

Keep it loosely packed.

Season the beef, but cook it however you like.

Grill it or griddle it, I really don’t care as long as it’s medium rare and you do all of the things I just mentioned.

Take the time to toast the bun because, let’s be real, it only takes a second and makes a huge difference.

Hold the foccacia or ramen noodle or Texas toast bun and keep your wacky sauces for another time. 

Simple garnishes like raw onion and tomato are just fine and there’s no shame in the ketchup game. Crisp iceberg lettuce is OK, too. A good burger’s like good pizza. Too many toppings can be overkill. More guacamole, peanut butter, and chicken fried bacon burgers for everyone else!

Good burgers don’t have to be expensive. If your burger costs at least $12 and then I have to pay extra to upgrade the potato chips to french fries, I’m gonna get cranky. Especially if it’s overcooked. And double especially if it has canned mushrooms.

Much of a burger’s goodness is about the person who cooks it. Last month, I enjoyed a good burger at the Hilton Garden Inn by the Lambert airport. The chef cooked it to a perfect medium rare and served it with crispy, house-cut french fries. I’ve received far less burgers for a higher price and at fancier restaurants.

A simple burger cooked well is a beautiful thing.

The Every Bar In Mason City Quest: Mulligan’s

This past weekend, we visited Mulligan’s Bar & Grill on our third stop along our Every Bar In Mason City Quest.

Every Bar in Mason City Graphic

Mulligan’s is a bar & restaurant located on the edge of town near the bowling alley Mystic Lanes. We had spent the day running errands and worked up an appetite by dinner, so we chose a bar we knew offered a full menu. We made ourselves comfortable on stools perched along the shiny wooden bar. Jake ordered his typical tap IPA while I asked the bartender, “What cocktail do you recommend? What’s popular?” At the last bar we visited, I learned that asking a bartender for the establishment’s “quintessential drink” is totally weird, so I hoped this was a better way of phrasing the question.

She described a toasted marshmallow liquor and recommended adding it root beer or ginger ale. I replied that I was game and chose ginger ale.

butterbeer watermarked

This is not a cocktail I’d typically order, but the rule of the quest is bartender’s choice, whether it’s a sweet mashup or bitey shot. Fortunately, I found that the cocktail tasted delightfully like butterscotch. Jake is a man who prefers his bitter IPAs and even he enjoyed this drink.

I awkwardly tried to make conversation by comparing it to Harry Potter Butter Beer and was met with bewilderment. Jake gently reminded me that I am now two for two on initiating awkward conversations with bartenders as we start this quest. He feels more comfortable gracefully blending into his surroundings and I make this impossible by asking for “quintessential drinks” and talking about Butter Beer.

Life lesson: It’s not necessarily normal to weave Harry Potter lore into every day conversation; i.e. I am not normal.

Speaking of normal, ranch dressing is completely normal in North Iowa and you’ll find it served with most fried appetizers. Jake tolerates ranch, but I like it so much, I won’t publicly admit to how many foods I eat it with. “We have the best ranch,” our bartender earnestly stated. Between my salad and our jalapeno poppers appetizer, I had lots of opportunities to try it for myself.

I divide ranch dressing into two categories: Good ranch & bad ranch. Good ranch is homemade, meaning anything ranging from completely homemade to mixed from a Ranch packet, while bad ranch is that sour, pre-bottled, shelf-stable stuff. Mulligans serves good ranch.

Jalapeno wm

Between the two of us, Jake made the best entrée choice. The ground beef in his patty melt was moist and had a freshly pattied texture & our dinner salads were crisp. We have to confess that while we ate our meals, we experienced entrée envy each time a server passed by with someone else’s very delicious looking steak. Our friends later confirmed that Mulligan’s is one of their favorite places to order steak.

The dinner menu is concise and lists specials for each day. On this particular evening, we passed on the Saturday specials of prime rib and crab legs, but would return to try them on another occasion. Other daily specials that caught my eye included broasted chicken and fried fish.

In conclusion, we found a warm atmosphere, friendly bartenders, a new favorite cocktail, and good ranch at Mulligan’s. Plus, lots of TV’s to watch sporting events, which Jake appreciated.

In other exciting news, Webster City heard about how Franklin County hosted the North Iowa Bloggers for a Harvest Blogger Tour weekend this fall and invited us to join them for a day of eating, shopping & touring soon. We’re also visiting West Fork Wharf in Sheffield, another reader suggestion.

The Every Bar In Mason City Quest
Burke’s Bar & Grill
Candy Bar Nite Club
Homer’s Sports Bar & Grill
Kozy Korner
Mason City Brewing
Mulligan’s Bar & Grill (11/24/2014)
Patrick’s Bar
Sidewinder Bar
Spike’s Tap & Grill
Sportsmans Lounge
VFW Post 733
Willow Run Lounge (11/01/2014)
Wise Guys Sports Pub (11/08/2014)

Restaurant/Hotel Bars
1910 Lounge
Chop Eleven
LD’s Filling Station
Pastime Gardens
The Quarry Tapas Bar
Rib Crib
River City Bar & Grille at the Clarion Inn
Whiskey Creek
Wok ‘n Roll

Reader Suggested Bars Throughout North Iowa
Bernie’s Bar, Forest City
Elly’s Lakefront Tap, Clear Lake
Lake Time Brewery, Clear Lake
Signatures Sports Bar & Grill, Northwood
Tanks Bar & Grill, Rudd
West Fork Wharf, Sheffield

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