Pubs seem to come in one of two varieties -- those filled with kitsch and bland fish and chips, or those filled with authentic food, drink and conversation. The Scottish Arms (8 South Sarah Street, Central West End; 314-535-0551) is one of the latter. A new summer menu is dotted with words like "bubble, squeak, bangers and mash," and kilt-clad waiters serve diners at dark wood tables lit only with a sputtering candle.
In the midst of the Scottish pub fare is the lamb burger with goat cheese and fennel jam. It's an American standard with a Great Britain twist. The eight-ounce lamb burger is tender and meaty, with the perfect grilled char and none of the heavy grease that drips out of other burgers. It comes served on a crispy toasted bun and is accompanied by skinny fries and a slab of pickle.
At the Scottish Arms the goodies don't come on the side, they come on top. You can top a burger with almost anything these days, but the goat cheese and fennel jam combo is an unusual treat. Heavenly goat cheese adds creaminess and provides a nice contrast to the crusty outside of the burger. The fennel jam features crisp strips of fennel bulb for a pop of flavor and texture. It gives the burger a bit of sweetness in a completely new way from your standard ketchup.
Add a dose of tender sautéed mushrooms or onions, and this burger is complete. The kilts may be a bit kitschy, but the folks at the Scottish Arms can craft a solid burger with a blend of toppings you won't find at any other pub.
Beginning last year, RFT restaurant critic Ian Froeb counted down -- in no particular order -- 100 of his favorite dishes in St. Louis. Now Gut Check has taken up where he left off. Check back frequently as we detail our 100 favorites, and don't hesitate to send us yours, too, either via the comments thread or at email@example.com.
#70: Turkey Melt and Field Greens Salad at Schlafly Bottleworks #71: The Vegetarian Platter at Ranoush #72: Vegetarian Meatballs at Lucas Park Grille #73: Sizzling Rice Soup at Hunan and Peking Garden #74: Straw and Hay Pasta at Trattoria Marcella #75: Spaghetti Pomodoro at Babbo's Spaghetteria #76: Shrimp Fajitas at El Matador #77: Vegetable Quesadilla at Chava's #78: Companion Rustic Olive Bread #79: Salt and Pepper Shrimp from Wei Hong
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