This Saturday, February 26 and Sunday, February 27, the rousing ramp-up (or debauched downward spiral, depending on your perspective) to Mardi Gras continues with the Taste of Soulard, sponsored by Southern Comfort. For $25, patrons receive a booklet of 7 tickets, redeemable from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for food and drink at more than 30 businesses in the Soulard neighborhood.
Gut Check recommends taking advantage of the free trolley service offered on Saturday to maximize time and preserve energy for food and beverage consumption. (And no, you can't use all seven tickets on hurricanes: it's one ticket for a Southern Comfort-based drink and six for food.)
With so many options, hard choices will have to be made. Gut Check is here to help you strategize, with translations of dishes that are, shall we say, less traditional than po' boys, jambalaya or red beans and rice.
The Market Grill (728 Lafayette Avenue; 314-436-7664) offers Gumbo Sliders with Remoulade Sauce: "Everything you'd find in gumbo, but in burger form!" Jason Tucker, manager and sous chef, came up with this no-spoon-necessary twist on classic Cajun: peppers, onions, celery, okra, rice, chicken and sausage -- all the typical gumbo ingredients -- combined in patty form with a breadcrumb binder, grilled and served on a slider bun.
DB's Sports Bar (1615 South Broadway; 314-588-2141) will serve up its Old Man Sitting by the Fireplace Sandwich. This enigmatically named menu staple comprises corned beef and beef brisket piled high on marble rye bread with Provel cheese, served with creamy horseradish.
Over at The Shanti (825 Allen Avenue; 314-241-4771), where they specialize in liquid sustenance, the bartenders will be throwing Cherry Lifesavers all day. Though the bar's staff wouldn't divulge the secret recipe to this "delicious" house shot they've "been pouring for years," the beverage involves Southern Comfort and is served in both mixed-drink and shot form.
With its signature Hot Tequila Wings, neighborhood party haven Hammerstone's (2028 South Ninth Street; 314-773-5565) combines the best of Mardi Gras: spicy food and alcohol. Cory Hammerstone tells Gut Check that the restaurant has used its recipe -- made with Crystal hot sauce from Louisiana's Baumer Foods -- since Hamerstone's first kitchen manager came up with it more than fifteen years ago.
Another dish that toes the fine line between meat, alcohol and good taste is the Twin Midgets Budweiser Braised Bratwurst. That's the offering from south county-based River City Casino's Burger Brothers (777 River City Casino Boulevard, south St. Louis County; 314-388-7777), which will set up temporary shop in Soulard this weekend. Gut Check has a call in to Burger Brothers for clarification on the role of Twin Midgets in the preparation of this brat.