Classic pub fare joins forces with brews for fun times at 026 Pub and Biergarten. The eatery's menu includes German and Irish classics, such as the nightly specials of bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage, pork schnitzel, and sausage and sauerkraut. However, the pub also serves plenty of traditional American food, including more than a dozen burgers, chicken wings sold by the pound, and seven different hot dogs, each piled high with toppings. In addition, guests can enjoy wine, spirits, and beers, such as Guinness and German lagers, out in the beer garden.
To help visitors navigate its staggering list of more than 200 international wines, Robust Wine Bar & Caf? implements the Robust Factor?a system that categorizes quaffs by aspects such as flavor profile strength, dryness or sweetness, and tannins. These bottles are then grouped into eight categories ranging from "bubbles" and "crisp" to "sweet," and yes, "robust." It's this attention to detail that's helped earn the European eatery accolades such as a Sauce Magazine Reader's Poll award for Favorite Wine Bar in 2012 and a pair of OpenTable Diner's Choice awards.
And yet Robust's owners realize that wine, much like an actor playing Spartacus, isn't always meant to stand alone. Each of the cafe's three St. Louis-area locations pairs its bottles with a spread of charcuterie and shareable plates. Artisan cheeses from the Midwest and the Mediterranean are served alongside morsels of Spanish chorizo and dry-aged, salt-cured beef. Meanwhile, chefs craft internationally inspired bites such as house-cured salmon semi-crudo, herbed pork tenderloin, and shrimp and grits. On some nights, glasses clink and forks scrape plates in tune with live music performances?one of the many types of events hosted at the neighborhood retreat.
Llywelyn's menu introduces an impressive assortment of traditional pub classics to salads, flatbreads, wraps, and ambitiously portioned sandwiches. Start with an order of Welsh potato chips ($3.95); flaky, fried Irish pies ($7.95); beer-battered fried pub pickles ($7.25); or the much-talked-about chicken chili ($4.95 for a bowl). Then wrap mouth muscles around fish and chips ($10.25): two beer-battered and fried cod fillets served with house-made tartar sauce. From meaty chunks of lamb, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and green beans swimming in Guinness-Jameson stock ($9.95) to shepherd's pie ($10.95), the selections side well with a sudsy sip. The beer menu includes an exhaustive library of selections by the draft or bottle. Llywelyn's also offers a menu of kid-friendly fare.
Framed memorabilia, celebrity caricatures, and TVs line the walls at Weber's, a neighborhood pub that takes pride in its chow and sociable setting for taking in the game. Topping the expansive menu is the pork tenderloin ($8.99), made of tender-cut, juicy meat that's flame-broiled and lovingly basted in your choice of Cajun or Jamaican spice sauce. Spice up lackluster stickball championships with the hot, meaty chicken wings ($8.99 regular, $11.49 platter), or start your own stickball game with cheese-stuffed Bosco sticks ($6.99). Sandwich artists can build a burger (starting at $7.99) or nosh the Mardi Gras burger ($8.99), which bedecks a charbroiled ground chuck patty in shrimp sauce, Cajun spice, and a rhinestone jumpsuit. Your Groupon is also good for drinks; Weber's offers an array of beers on tap and by the bottle.
In his 2010 review, Riverfront Times reporter Ian Froeb revealed the origin of Ernesto's Winebar?s distinctive name. Instead of honoring a chef or long-lost relative, the name pays homage to the owners' love for Ernest Hemingway's simplistic style. Chef Stephanie Hay has risen to the challenge, translating the clean complexity of The Sun Also Rises or the masculine energy of Green Hills of Africa into a menu of tapas and hearty entrees. Diverse flavor profiles mimic Papa Hemingway?s wanderlust, corralling global flavors including chili lime, wasabi tobiko, and even red pepper sauce to create festive tapas such as the truffle-infused grilled cheese, which was named the best grilled cheese of 2010 by Riverfront Times.
The cheese-and-charcuterie menu details hearty repasts from all corners of the globe, with plates of smoky blue cheese from Oregon and salchich?n white pork from Spain joining notes of green peppercorn, tomatillo, and even brown sugar for nods to Latin America and the Mediterranean. Ernesto's has also gone to great lengths to locate wine varietals from France, Germany, and Spain for pairing with large steaks and seafood entrees delicately saut?ed in a wide array of wine sauces.
Ernesto's butter-hued walls appear to melt in the light from wall sconces and flickering red candles. Above lush hardwood paneling, several framed photographs offer a glimpse of Hemingway at his most virile??aggressively writing at his desk, and using a large steak as a body pillow. For a touch of warmth during fall weather, patrons can also retreat outdoors, where a mammoth brick fireplace casts rich glow on Ernesto's sleek cobblestone patio.
The modern flourishes on Copia's menu are globally-inspired but grounded by an American culinary tradition. Brought to you by chef Zach Fiorimondo and property director Derrick Collquett, dishes such as chilies and champagne-goat-cheese cream take off from Midwestern classics, such as slow-roasted rotisserie chicken, house-smoked trout, and pork-rib chops.
Aided by a wine market whose bottles pour into the dining room at retail price, the downtown eatery aims to shuttle city dwellers directly into wine country with 18,000 square feet of exposed brick walls, wood-beam ceilings, and white tablecloths. Elsewhere within the rambling complex, natural light pours into an atrium garden, a glass waterfall neatly partitions off the bar to prevent diners from impulsively ordering every dish and drink they see, and stainless-steel vats age several of Copia's own wines. Much missed after a fire shuttered its initial incarnation, Copia was roundly welcomed back onto the St. Louis scene in 2010: among other praise, St. Louis Magazine called its calamari "as crispy-crunchy delectable as any seafood you?ll find in a New England clam shack" and its smoked ribs "the best upscale version of barbecue in the area."