Monday, March 31, 2014

Concord Grill

11427 Concord Village Ave.
Affton, Mo.
On the Interwebs
On Facebook

It is impossible to answer the question "Why this place?" without discussing my car. My new(er) car.
For the last epoch or two I've been driving small, cheap, disposable cars. I don't invest much into them and as soon as they became too much cost/trouble, I get rid of them and get another one. My commute (80 miles per day) is brutal on cars, especially small, cheap, disposable ones.
This, the third year of my unimpressive Chevy coupe's term of service, was to be its last. I'd put sixty-plus thousand miles on it in that time, and recently had to pour lots of hard earned ducats into it just to get it to pass the safety and emissions inspections. So for the last couple of months, I've been thinking about a replacement. This is new. In the past I never really thought about cars until it was too late. Then I'd just go grab whatever was available on the lots for the price I had budgeted. That's harder to do than you might think, I'm somewhat of a tightwad. Sure, I sometimes imagine myself tooling around in a pricey, flashy engineering and aesthetic marvel, but when it comes to contemplating the $$$, I run away, shrieking.
As I was researching this time though, a process that largely consisted of noticing other cars, on the road or in the parking lot, I found myself most pleased with only two or three options. Not just appearance, that's just paint and metal bending, but to a great degree, reliability, ruggedness and MPG's. I spend a lot of money on gas doing this commute. I also decided to up my budget a little, that opened up a new line of possibilities. One of those came available, at a reasonable price at a reputable dealership (another requirement) and I went for it. This process was expedited by the fact that Adam was finally in the market, had saved some money, and was looking for a small, cheap and perhaps disposable car.  So I sold him my Chevy. He offered a little more than I would have earned on a trade-in, but less than reputable dealerships would even have something in their inventory to match.
A win/win.
So what was the question?
Oh yeah.
Knowing all week that I would be going to a particular dealership, probably on Saturday, and knowing that buying a car can easily turn into an all-day event, I looked at online maps around the dealership and located places to eat that we'd not been to before.
Sure enough, though I had concluded the business aspects of the deal earlier in the day, they needed to prep it for delivery and that would take a while. So I told them "I'll stop in  later." and drove home in what would be probably the last highway run for me and my unimpressive Chevy. No sappy emotionalism, my relationship to cars is roughly the same as my relationship with computers. I like them just fine, to the point of not even thinking about them when they work, but seriously hate them when they are broken. Kind of like marriage.
This review is about the place I'd found within a mile or so of the dealership.
Another aside:
As I was researching the Concord Grill, I came across the following from their web page:
"We have grown from 6 burgers to 40.  My goal is to have 50 different burgers including our burger of the month and we are very close to that.  If you ever have an idea for a burger please email me and we will give it a try!"
I couldn't resist. I looked over the online menu at the huge selection of sometimes bizarre burgers and tried to think of something that they hadn't thought of, also making sure that I would actually eat the thing if necessary. Thus, after minutes of thought, I came up with one:
Shrimp Alfredo Burger.
So I sent an email to Deb, the owner, as she requested. I also mentioned that I'd never actually been to her place but likely would soon.
I received this reply later that evening:
"Well, that does sound interesting.  We could run that for a special and see how it sells.  Thanks for the idea and we hope you come see us soon."
And you believe that one mere, mortal man cannot make a real difference in this crazy old world.
The Place:  (finally)
On Concord Village Avenue, just a hop and a skip west of  Highway 21, (Tesson Ferry) just off Lindbergh.
I'd picked up my new(er) black beauty, the German engineered and Mexican assembled VW Jetta, and led Angel and Adam, in the family truckster, to the place. The front lot was full, it's not a very large place. There were exactly two parking spaces available in the back though. Popular place.
Sure enough it was nearly full as we entered. It was also a little loud, like sports-bar loud. An older building, low ceilings, probably under a thousand square feet. (just guessing).
The lighting was dim, like a bar, and in the back, there was, sure enough, a nice oak-topped bar. The walls were nearly covered in beer-logo mirrors, most I'd heard of, a few I hadn't. There was an empty four-top near the bar, we were led to that one.
The table was, as all the tables were, covered with an inexpensive green vinyl tablecloth, the chairs were simple as well. There was absolutely nothing on the table but the silverware(knife and fork only), wrapped in dark blue hand towels, and one each, salt and pepper shaker. No candles, condiments, flowers, dessert cards, nothing. I liked this. I'd just that morning had a modest breakfast at The Farmer's Kitchen in Hillsboro, sat at a two-top, and had trouble moving the various containers and cards out of the way to make room for my meal and my book. I've noticed the same thing at the other breakfast House's, Waffle and Huddle. Too much clutter for me.
We were greeted by our server, a nice young man whose name I regrettably did not get, but the receipt says he is 'Server ID  17.' He handed us menus and asked about drinks. Tea, Dr Pepper (no ice) and Pepsi.
Sure enough the burgers by themselves filled an entire page. I didn't expect my creation to be listed, or even offered, it had only been two days since I'd sent the email. At best the Concord Grill's research and development labs were still working on a functional prototype.
I was not disappointed though, there were plenty of fine sounding burgers listed, along with a few that made me gag a little at the very thought.
Everyone at the table wanted a burger, sure, why not. The place boasted about the 'Best Burgers in Town', right there in the menu. That's a hell of a claim. Challenge, accepted. I'd already, from my earlier research, decided on a couple that would be good. Angel and Adam took a little more time, but also decided that we needed to try the toasted (fried) ravioli, because, as their menu said:

The Food:
Server 17 returned, we were ready:
Me: Concord Burger. Cheddar cheese sauce and bacon topped with onion straws.
Angel: Smothered Burger. Grilled onions, mushrooms and beef gravy. (Because, Gravy!)
Adam; and this surprised and impressed me a little:
Hawaiian Burger. Sweet and sour sauce, bacon and pineapple.
Hmm. Whatever floats your Mālia, I guess. (A Hawaiian boat)
The drinks had arrived and I was surprised. A place that serves scores of different beers usually can't be expected to make a good glass of tea. This wasn't really bad at all. A +3 at least.
  The ravioli came soon. It didn't look as elegant as some we've had recently, a little flatter, probably frozen rather than house-made and the sauce was pretty basic as well. But it was good enough. Maybe the rangoons next time.
As we munched on the fried pasta we pulled out our electronic devices as we tend to do a lot. Well, Adam and I pulled ours out, Angel had left hers in the car, and the car was way out back. So we laughed at her mistake and then ignored her plight.
I did pause and look around a little, She'd interrupted my important work by saying "This is a diverse crowd."
Sure enough it was. A table of loud, working class guys, a table of three generations of a family, a few elderly couples, even a college aged couple, dressed like Seattle in the mid 90's, quietly eating salads.
And the place was full, it stayed full. Several new arrivals were greeted by name by some other table full. this meant this was probably a neighborhood joint, a lot of the people knew each other. The din was palpable, especially the beer-drinkers at that one table, but somehow it didn't seem too bad. The laughter and conversations was sort of familial, like you'd expect in a neighborhood pub. Because of this we didn't mind it too much.
The burgers arrived, and boy they looked good.
Thick style burgers served up on kaiser buns. Along side the burgers was an entire slice of onion, a little shard of lettuce and a few home-style pickle slices. To me and entire slice of onion is a but much, so I broke up a couple of the outer rings and discarded the rest. The fries were big and crispy, seasoned with what appeared to be salt and pepper, though I thought I detected a little something else, garlic maybe.
I assembled my burger, then squished it to make it small enough to fit into my mouth, they were indeed thick burgers. Oh yeah, they'd asked how we wanted them cooked, I took mine medium rare. Sure enough a nice pink center.
When I squished it, hot, melty cheese erupted out the sides, Mmmm, melty cheese.
It tasted great. This was good quality meat, cooked expertly. The burger was a bit messy, and I loved that. the heavier than normal bun held up just fine.
 Angel examined hers and looked a little disappointed. Not enough gravy for her tastes. "I wish they'd served it with a dipping dish with more gravy, that's the only complaint I have though." She said. Have I mentioned that Angel likes gravy? I'm sure I've brought that up somewhere before.
Adam's looked like a Hawaiian burger, a big slice of grilled pineapple topping it off. I was happy to hear that there was no Spam on it though, Hawaiians love Spam.
 They were too big for us though. We're sort of small as far as people go. We're certainly smarter and more sensible that most people, but just a slightly smaller size.
It wasn't until later as I started this review that I noticed the burger page offered a smaller version of any burger for $1 less. That would have been about perfect. No problem though, we just ate as much as we could.
A truly, truly enjoyable meal. every aspect of it, the food, the service, the cheerful, familial ambiance, everything was exceptional. Sure, as I said earlier, it was a little noisy, but that didn't seem to matter much. Even halfway through gorging ourselves we were talking about 'the next time'. Already thinking about what else we'd like to try there, maybe even some of the desserts, like the Twinkies, (I assume, fried) topped with Reese's Peanut Butter and Chocolate or honey and powdered sugar.... er, maybe not. But still the burgers were excellent, perhaps the best thick burger I've had around town.
Oh, and about that. This place is located in Affton, which is one of the scores of towns that make up suburban St. Louis County. (St. Louis itself is not in St. Louis county, it is its own county.) So the claim of the biggest and best burgers in town, (Affton, pop. 20,000) is certainly possible. As for the entirety of the Metro St. Louis area, I'm not so sure, I haven't even tried most of the burgers offered in that vast landscape. But I think the claim is certainly solid for Affton itself.
The closest Metro rival in my mind, in the admittedly meager number of places I've eaten, would be the Train Wreck up north in Westport Plaza. The burger I get there is very, very similar to the one I'd had at the Concord Grill.  So a comparison is only fair. I'd say the Concord burger was at least as good, every bit as good. At worst, a tie. As for biggest, well like I said, I can't finish a huge burger, so that really doesn't score many points for me.
An exceptional meal though, Server 17 took good care of us and was on the spot with servings, refills and the check.
The bill came in at forty eight bucks, about normal for a big burger pub, that covered the ten buck (average) burgers, the fries and the appetizer. Certainly a lot of food for the money, though next time we'll probably go with the smaller burgers, especially if they offer a 'Shrimp Alfredo Burger'. Mmmm.
(I'll send Deb an email asking her to let me know when/if it is ever offered. It seems only fair that I get a chance to rate my own idea.)

Concord Grill on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Something you may not have noticed on the menu.. You can have any of the burgers made with grilled chicken, for the same price.