He Eats / She Eats: Crow’s Nest

Posted on 06 February 2013 by admin

Gretchen and Alex have different culinary perspectives, but both found something to like at The Crow’s Nest.

A vegan and a carnivore walk into a bar…

 

By: Gretchen Daniels
-Copy Editor-

Despite the constant debate and drama that surround St. Louis sports teams — Pujols’ departure, the Ram’s stadium and the Blue’s season — there is a different arena that should be generating discussion: the St. Louis food scene.

When I moved here in 2007 I began navigating my way through gastronomic delights and failures as a vegetarian diner. My diet restrictions were not limiting, but rather allowed me to try foods I had never considered or desired previously. Now I take on a new challenge, and one that will certainly restrict my dining experiences: veganism.

With the introduction of vegetarian restaurants like Gokul and Frida’s deli, I absolutely have options, but what about when dining with my carnivorous friends?

Luckily, tucked away on Maplewood’s main strip among retail shops and various restaurants is The Crow’s Nest. This unassuming restaurant and bar would be easy to pass by without noticing, but it is worth the attention of the culinary-minded.

Early on a Saturday night, Alex and I met to evaluate the dining experience for two drastically different diets.

What one encounters at first sight may give a contrary idea of what this place is truely like. The space seems to have a hard edge; The Cure and David Bowie posters plaster the walls, while The White Stripes and The Runaways emit from the speakers and a motorcycle rests above the bar. Dark wood booths and the narrow arrangement of the building lend to a shadowy appearance — especially when coming inside directly from a sunny sidewalk.

However, the carefree atmosphere invites diners and drinkers to relax and forget about the trials that wait outside these four confining walls; this casual mood extends to the patio when weather permits. If one stops in solo for a meal or drink, entertaining classic movies, such as “Sunset Boulevard,” project on the wall.

On this night, our server was the perfect combination of absent and attentive. There was no pressure to turn the table over, which is a wonderful benefit of dining at a bar. Unable to enjoy the taste of beer, I ordered a Strongbow hard cider, but they offer a range of beers from local microbreweries and the standard staples.

Finally, to the good stuff: the food. For all vegans, or even meat-eaters, who require a sinfully delicious treat, order The Crow’s Nest’s veggie burger. It is a combination of chickpeas, rice, vegetables and spices all fried into a mouthwatering patty topped with traditional fixings. Vegan sauces are available to replace their spicy remoulade that usually comes on the burger.  St. Louis is home to numerous house-made veggies burgers, but this is one of the best.

As the burger begins to disappear, it does begin to fall apart somewhat, but my fork was close by to assure I ate every tasty scrap. To balance my plate, I ordered a salad, sans cheese, for my side.

Even if it is a trek to travel to Maplewood in order to visit The Crow’s Nest, it is worth every mile. This vegan diner is sold.

 

By: Alex Kendall
-Managing Editor-

Coming from a large Italian family, food has always been a center point in my life. During the holidays, tables would be piled with macaroni and meatballs, creamy mashed potatoes, beef, turkey, honey baked ham; plenty for a second or third helping for everyone. On an individual level, outside of my family, I have gone from eating a little bit of everything, to anorexia, to vegetarianism, and now to a monitored, balanced diet.

As someone who cooks most of my food, eating out is a rare opportunity. Therefore, I travel to only a few select restaurants around my neighborhood and eat the same thing each time. To break out from this delicacy-deprived rut, I visited The Crow’s Nest to try some new options.

Not known to many outside the area, The Crow’s Nest lay nestled in a small strip on Manchester Road across from Maplewood Square. Tucked into this little hole in the wall is a bar that every punk rocker and hipster would enjoy: walls adorned with posters from The Who and pinups from the 1980s, pinball and Pacman machines greet you as you enter the door, and even the menus take one back to a simpler time when needles touched vinyl – the first time around.

As someone who is under the age of twenty-one, The Crow’s Nest was an extremely welcoming atmosphere. Whereas most bars are dark, dank and dirty, this place offered an inviting atmosphere to people of any age. This relaxed mood allows one to take a seat at a table either close to the bar or in the vicinity of the black and white movie projecting on the wall. There were plenty of menu options for those looking to satisfy a carnivorous appetite.

My order for the night consisted of a Black Angus cheeseburger, cooked to medium wellness and topped with provel cheese, peppercorn aioli, tobacco onions, lettuce and tomato all on a wheat bun with a side of waffle fries. The food arrived in a timely manner and the plate was dressed with great detail.

With so many burger places and bars around St. Louis, it is hard to find one that really distinguishes itself from the rest. The Crow’s Nest came close to reaching that higher echelon, but just fell short of the mark. The waffle fries were delicious and the burger was juicy and satisfied my appetite, but the lack of complex flavors depleted the experience and left a bland aftertaste.

However, the overall experience of The Crow’s Nest left me feeling quite satisfied. The atmosphere, the employees and the location will bring a diverse crowd in for a bite to eat or a drink with friends after work. Although the burger was not one of the best that I have had, the service and the atmosphere of The Crow’s Nest exceeded my expectation and will have me coming back to try either the fish and chips or a spaghetti dish called “spag and a ball.”

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