Best Caesar Salad - 2005
John D. McGurk's Irish Pub and Restaurant
Like a jazz standard or a symphony, the Caesar salad is a template -- romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, croutons, dressing -- and execution is everything. One misstep, one substandard ingredient, and the gestalt is ruined. McGurk's is a St. Louis institution best known for its St. Pat's Day throwdown and its excellent beer selection. What's often overshadowed is the pub's consistently great food and low, low prices. On paper, McGurk's Caesar salad (which was not named for Julius in Rome but Caesar in Tijuana) is unremarkable, just the romaine, Parmesan, croutons and dressing. But day in and day out, their creation is the ideal: the romaine fresh, the shredded Parmesan soft and delicate, the croutons made from ace Irish soda bread, and the dressing, with just a hint of anchovy, permeating the blend without overwhelming. Combined with a pint of Bass and a basket of that fresh, warm soda bread, this Caesar is tops in town.