609 N. New Ballas Rd.
Creve Coeur, MO
Though I live in Hillsboro, I work in Maryland Heights, which is a western St. Louis County suburb. It is just under forty miles from my rural compound and vastly more suburban.
Occasionally a small group of us go out to lunch together, places that I’d never go with the family since the drive is too far for a casual Saturday evening outing. A few of my co-workers have in the past asked if I was going to critique the places we lunched at, I’d always said no, I didn’t want to mix business with hobby.
But I’ve changed my mind. We’ve been to some really excellent places, why spare them from the wrath of my formal critique? I may not critique every outing, but I will be reviewing some.
The Hive is a two-story bar and grill, an old, repurposed building, maybe even a house. The stairs are steep and the poor waitresses must develop thighs and calves otherwise restricted to marathon runners and ballet dancers.
There are bars on both floors, but a kitchen on only one.
We walked into the lower level and were greeted by a tall, tanned, toned, bare-midriff’ed bartender who seemed quite proud of her cleavage.
For the purposes of this review I’ll call the co-workers I was with Rob and Doug. I’ve worked with Rob for over five years, we worked at that beer company for three years together, then, six months apart, we both jumped over to where we are now. Doug has been at our current company for around a decade. Both are great guys, hard workers, smart and funny. Doug knows more terrible jokes than any one person I’ve ever come across. Rob, like me, is rather quiet, focused, and not prone to frequent outbreaks of chit-chat.
The place was crowded, a Friday lunch in an area filled with office buildings. Lot’s of khakis, a few ties, and only occasionally a pair of jeans. The place packs them in for afternoon happy hour specials as well.
The Hive is unapologetically a sports bar. Posters and memorabilia everywhere, TV’s mounted on every wall, all flashing one sort of sports or another.
I’d heard that the local professional baseball team is in some sort of playoff, and the mood of the place seemed to be full of talk and excited chatter about stats and players; RBI’s, ERA,s and someone called ‘Pujols.’ (unfortunately pronounced ‘poo-holes’)
The menus were already on the small table as were the requisite drink lists and condiments. Looking around I saw the place was filled with cheap black metal chairs and small, crowded tables covered by mismatched tablecloths. There was barely enough room between them to move around, and no discernable aisles. I supposed that’s why they only hired skinny women to work there.
The menu, a laminated tri-fold, was no-nonsense and un-illustrated. No need for pictures or lengthy explanations really, the food was all straightforward bar and grill fare. I wanted to eat light, I normally eat little or nothing at all for lunch, as doing so often leads to the two-thirty groggies. I scanned the entirety of the menu, the choice was obvious. BLT.
We ordered our drinks, tea for Doug and I, Rob, being cheap, asked for water. I should have as well, as the tea cost two bucks. I suppose that’s because of the quantity, The Hive serves up its non-cocktail drinks in quart-sized plastic pitchers. No glasses are offered, you drink straight from the small pitchers. It’s a gimmick, quaint, cute.
We placed our orders through another slender young lady, clad in short-shorts and a barely large enough top. The Hive is apparently almost Hooter’s-like in it’s hiring of wait staff. Hey, it’s a sports bar, in order to compete you have to do what you must.
Fortunately Rob, Doug and I are all professional, mature and seasoned adults, amused perhaps, but ultimately immune to such obvious and overt displays of feminine wiles. While most of the other men in the bar were observed to be smitten with the ladies, the three of us remained in our perfectly chaste and sober state. We tsk’d the baser behaviors of some of the less mature men in the place, pleased that we were better than that.
I ordered my BLT with whatever default side was offered, chips, as it turns out, and a pickle spear. I’ve said it before, BLT’s constitute a ‘light’ lunch in that a BLT doesn’t weigh very much compared to a sub or burger. It probably also weighed less than some of the salads I’d observed at other tables, they were served in what can only be described as mixing bowls.
Rob asked for the patty melt and chips, Doug went wild and asked for the Bleu Bomb burger, advertised as containing Bleu Cheese and bacon, and upped the ante by ordering the house-made kettle chips.
We waited, the TV’s showed hockey and baseball highlights. Doug and Rob started a conversation about sports, so I found myself drifting away into my own thoughts, nodding my head occasionally as if I were actually engaged in the topic.
I have nothing against sports, I just have very little interest. I often find myself drifting off when around groups of guys.
I took notice instead of the place; dark, rough wood walls, uneven floors and ceilings. The emergency lights were held together with duct tape. Somewhere there were speakers pouring out an almost too-loud phalanx of techno-music with simple, but fast-pounding, metallic bass-beats. I recognized none of the songs or artists since I really don’t keep up with music either.
Our baskets were delivered by the same barely-clad skinny girl, poor thing. The chips delivered to Rob and I were merely from-a-bag ripple chips, not even the expensive ones. Doug’s chips were thicker and darker. He offered a couple up for tasting. Next time I might get those instead as they were much tastier than the cheap chips in my basket.
The toast for my BLT was buttered, a leaf of lettuce, a rough-cut tomato slice, and a decent pile of bacon. It was just standard white bread, but that suited me better than a thick chunk of sourdough or something else heavy and fancy.
Doug’s burger looked like a burger, Rob’s patty melt seemed to be decently sized. Doug’s burger disappeared fast, not surprising though. Doug has raised five children. I imagine it’s a fight for survival at mealtimes. Eat as much as you can as quick as you can or risk going without.
Rob and I were more leisurely, Rob has a kid, maybe two, I forget, and there’s less competition for food. Doug did say that his burger was thoroughly cooked, but not dry and he found that pleasantly surprising.
The BLT fell apart quickly. The generous tomato slice was very juicy and the weak bread just didn’t hold up well. The second half fell completely apart and I ended up pinching out the bacon and tomato with my fingers, leaving a lot of the disintegrating bread behind. I didn’t mind, less bread equals less filling.
We all enjoyed our meals, I didn’t eat most of my chips but only because I’m not accustomed to that many calories and carbs in the middle of a workday. The bill came in, I didn’t see Rob’s or Doug’s, but I assume they were similarly priced. Mine was $8.60 and I added a $2 tip, hoping the poor girl could buy herself some long pants or maybe a shirt that at least covered her tummy. The service was pretty good, barely flirty at all, but professional and efficient. The food was pretty good, and not overly priced or pretentious.
We’ll go back I am sure, it’s not that far from work and it’s much better than those convenience-store hot dogs that Doug usually has for lunch.