At the Shack PubGrub (3818 Laclede Avenue; 314-533-7000), the "green eggs'n'ham" boardwalk fries come out fresh from the fryer crispy and completely smothered in creamed spinach, diced ham with just-barely caramelized corners, fresh-chopped green onions and a cheery yellow sunny-side-up fried egg. We don't know who that Dr. Seuss "Sam" guy is, but he'd be crazy to not crave these after giving them a try.
Fall calls for a specific kind of comfort. Sure, soup and cider count (the Shack offers both; the latter of the hard variety), but beyond that lies the desire for a big mess between bread with a side of freshly fried carbs. The Shack opened about a month ago with the intention of appeasing nearby college crowds and beyond with a moderately priced, high-quality menu of all that and more.
The concept, which fills the space formerly occupied by drinking destination Pierre Laclede's, comes from the same team that spearheaded the Tavern Kitchen & Bar as well as two locations of the Corner Pub and Grill.
The interior of the Shack retains the building's original rustic charm, accentuated by vintage tap handles and decor hung on walls beside tables made from restored wooden doors, but the food itself isn't overly fancy. Meals come out on shiny metal sheet trays in paper boats or wrapped in foil, illustrating the company's slogan, "polishing the greasy spoon."
"We don't even have a freezer," says owner/operator Brant Baldanza. "Everything is brought in every day or every other day. We make everything fresh, and we brine, roast, bake and smoke all our meats. Everything is homemade."
The mix-and-match menu, with plates designed by chef Justin Haifley (also of the Tavern), allows diners to pick and choose items rather than having to order the typical sandwich with a side. For instance, go for a single baja-fish or pork-belly taco with a wedge salad, or try a build-your-own "shack-wich" stuffed with hand-cut fries, coleslaw, tomato and melted provolone with an order of heavily topped boardwalk fries to share.
Chili, nachos, chicken wings, burgers made with beef ground in-house, chicken sandwiches and, coming soon to the menu, pizza provide even more options for indulging. Combos also exist to help lighten the load...well, on wallets, at least. And with twenty beers on tap along with a selection of tall boys, wine and fruit-based cocktails to choose from, leaving might not be so easy.
The Shack PubGrub's operating hours are 11 a.m. till "close," with weekend evenings lasting until at least 1:30 a.m. Special weekly offers from 6 to 9 p.m. include $1 burgers on Mondays and $1 tacos on Tuesdays. Happy hour lasts from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with half-off appetizers, wells, beers and wines.