It's an imperfect science, though. Even when I give a restaurant a strongly positive review, I can miss something vital. Such was the case at The Tavern Kitchen & Bar (2961 Dougherty Ferry Road, Valley Park; 636-825-0600)
. I visited the Tavern in December
and enjoyed it -- to the point that only a week later I included its pappardelle with stewed tomatoes and Italian sausage
in my list of 2010's best dishes
I didn't try the burger, however. That was a mistake.
The "Tavern Burger" ($12) has been the subject of some buzz in town, and in this month's issue of St. Louis Magazine
, as part of the magazine's celebration of burgers in town
, Andrew Mark Veety
of Church of Burger fame ranked it as the best burger among "Neighborhood Hangouts."
The burger is hand-formed, the ground beef packed very loosely (in my case, at least) but with enough succulence not to feel crumbly. The patty is topped by a slice of Irish cheddar and, as a condiment, a lightly sweet and porky "bacon jam."
This alone would be excellent enough, but there is also a thick slice of tomato -- can't wait to try it in the summer, with a fresher specimen! -- and I first mistook as cole slaw. In fact, this is shredded lettuce in a sauce that tastes like a more sophisticated thousand-island dressing.
Does this sauce push the nostalgia button for the "Secret Sauce" on a certain famous fast-food burger? All the more reason to try it.
One of the trickier aspects of reviewing a restaurant is deciding, over the course of several visits, what to order. I want to get a sense of the chef's range, of course. I usually succumb to a couple personal preferences. And I try to guess a dish or two that the average diner will want to try.