Clint and I joined his daughter Jen, and her fiance Bill, in St. Louis for the evening. We're all fans of the show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food network, so we set out to an establishment featured on that show: Iron Barley.
On the DDD website, the restaurant is listed under the category "Neighborhood Joints," and this one is just that. Not having seen this particular episode (yet), I admit to being surprised at how small the restaurant was, and how tucked right into the neighborhood it really was. No fanfare, no bright lights, just a couple of interesting signs outside.
When you walk in, there's a cast iron paella pan that greets you:
Although I can't find any evidence of it, I hear that the owner and chef, Tom Coghill, is a Harley rider. I guess that's hearsay, for now, but I have seen photographic evidence that he cuts his ribs with a Sawzall.
I'd never heard of a Sawzall before we began remodeling the house, but I know what one is now. [Pat, pat, pat.] Here's a photo for those of you who are Sawzall ignorant, like I was one year ago:
And Here is the Proof in a Video.
Cutting to the chase, then, I have to tell you: The food at the Iron Barley was amazing. I know you hear that all the time: Amazing, oh the food was amazing. But this food was amazinger than amazing.
Many of the dishes are oak-roasted, and we tried a few of those. Clint had Delmonico steak. It was oak-roasted, with peppers and tomatoes on top. There was a sun-dried tomato barley dish on the side that I dipped into it several times. Jen ordered the Oak Roasted Pork, which came with another smokey barley dish. I dipped into that too; I love dining with people that share their food.
Bill ordered the schnitzel, and I ordered Seafood Risotto, off of the special menu. Most of the dishes had a barley side dish or base. There were 4 different Barley dishes at our table that night, and none tasted remotely like the other.
Here's a gratuitous photo of the "Smashed Potatoes." Are you getting hungry, yet?
To get an idea of just how small this "neighborhood joint" is, here's a photo of the restaurant half of the establishment. 8 tables. You can just see Jen and Bill sitting in the far corner.
I couldn't resist taking a photo from inside of the co-ed restroom. How cute is this?!! It's a mirror made from a horse...thing.
Of course, I had to meander over to the bar side of the restaurant, and snap a photo of it also:
That's it; these 2 rooms make up the restaurant (sans kitchen, I didn't roam the kitchen.)
The musician for the evening reminded me of Tommy Chong's character, Leo, on "That 70's Show." He offered to take my photo with our waiter of the evening, and got this shot:
"Oh, ohmigod, an apparition! An apparition in the photo!" he told me, and then "oh, it's my cigarette smoke."
Here he is:
I have no idea what his name is. I asked him for his business card, and he said "I don't have a business card; every time I get some printed up, I move." Light Bulb Moment: Maybe he could just put his name and cell phone number on a card. At any rate, he sounded pretty good. You should hire him for your next event. Whoever he is.
Bill and I spotted Tom Coghill, and morphed into paparazzi ninjas. Before he could duck back into the kitchen, we were begging for a photo. His initial response was "sure, I'll take your photo; hand me your camera." For a second there, I wasn't sure if he was kidding or not, but he eventually succumbed to the tears welling up in my eyes, which happens any time I don't get what I want when I want it.
It was a fun place with great food, and it has definitely changed our outlook on Barley. Clint and I were shopping for it the day we got home, and are experimenting with it now in our cooking. It's good for you, and, I understand now, a pretty versatile whole grain.
Like Tom. We wanna be like Tom. <-- sing to the "Like Mike" jingle.
In summary, if you're every moseying around St. Louis, I'd recommend you stop in to the Iron Barley for a fantastic dining experience. If you're not up for an all-out gorging extravanza, as we were, you can always just order a hot dog or a fried egg. Not to be overlooked on their menu is The Ballistic Elvis Sammiche, a toasted sammiche consisting of peanut butter, jelly, bacon, banana, and cheese.
Next Blog: New Year's Eve, II: Dessert
5510 Virginia Ave
St Louis, MO 63111
I was searching for a photo of the Ballistic Elvis Sammiche, I found this one on Bill Keaggy's Flickr site.
I e-mailed Mr. Keaggy for permission to use this photo, and he sent back a polite agreement. In the e-mail closing , I notice that the guy has a couple of books out there. Books I'd actually I'd already heard of, and so might you have! Milk, Eggs, Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found.
A hilarious sampling, from milkeggsvodka.com:
So, Mr. Bill Keaggy tells me I can use his photo, and credit his Flickr site, without ever mentioning his books, or trying to sell me one, or asking me to ask you to buy one. Isn't that amazing? I'm going to go buy one right now, and I think you should too.
Since you can't hire that musician.