Stella Blues: Drink Now, Eat Later

Feb 24, 2011 at 8:00 am

Stella Blues (3269 Morgan Ford Road; 314-762-0144) reopened two weeks ago, and the bar remains true to the old place: a laidback hangout with a great patio. If the prior incarnation of Stella Blues wasn't a revelation, it offered a great patio and the kind of clean-cut crowd that gets mouthy two pitchers in and punchy after four.

What the menu lacks in creativity, it more than compensates for in fat content: TJ's Pizza, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and a variety of Frialator-ready treats like poppers, mozz sticks, skins and T-ravs. There are a couple of less artery-hardening side options, including a fruit salad and cottage cheese, if you're bent on forgoing the fried.

As delightful as bar food can be, the enjoyment factor seems exceptionally closely calibrated to one's blood alcohol level. They don't say "the more, the merrier" for nothing. Thus it became apparent the minute our sampler platter arrived that a solitary Jameson warming the belly had laid a woefully insufficient foundation for what now was headed its way.

Look tasty? Have another drink! (Why do you think they call it "bar food"?)
Look tasty? Have another drink! (Why do you think they call it "bar food"?)

Not only that, but the hot wings -- which are available not only as an appetizer, but in five- and ten-pound quantities -- were dry and lacking the flavor that a bath in wing sauce should have imbued in them. Potato skins were on the bland side as well -- a rare instance when bacon has failed to elevate a dish. (And can we no longer rely on cheese to cover a multitude of sins?)

The "Stella Burger" was brought forth on a lightly grilled kaiser roll, with melted Provel blanketing its topping of sautéed mushrooms and onions. The patty would have been perfect had it been ordered medium-well, with nary a faint pink tinge. Unfortunately, it was to have been cooked medium. The salad that came alongside was done in by an all-too-common fatal flaw: a little green booger that once had been a nice crunchy piece of lettuce but that had rotted at the bottom of the salad bag, unnoticed -- and, let's face it, probably un-looked-for -- until it was encountered by the unfortunate soul who ordered it.

Fast-forward a few hours and a few whiskeys, the by now congealing contents of our Stella Blues to-go box (Styrofoam, deduct ten points) were twice as compelling. So it ain't the finest fare out there -- with proper preparation on the part of the diner, it doesn't matter if it's fast food or Farmhaus.