Back for the Burger at the Tavern Kitchen & Bar

Feb 17, 2011 at 8:00 am
Back for the Burger at the Tavern Kitchen & Bar
Jennifer Silverberg
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.

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.