Bridge to Nowhere

There were lofty plans for Eats Bridge -- but now it's just a hoosier food court

If your idea of a good time involves sitting on a plastic chair at a table covered by a plastic tablecloth, chewing on a $19 piece of steak (served on a plastic plate with no sides and no garnish) while shirtless, semi-toothless drunken men stumble by, then not only is Eats Bridge the Celebrate 2004 event for you, but I wish you'd had my job the other weekend.

Word is that the original idea for this portion of the summer's Celebrate 2004 calendar -- commemorating, as we all know, the centennial of the 1904 World's Fair and the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark expedition -- was to convert the Eads Bridge over the Mississippi into a one-of-a-kind al fresco fine-dining experience with table service, linen tablecloths and meals prepared on-site by St. Louis' big-name chefs. Instead Eats Bridge has become a hoosier food court, with only five establishments participating: Super Smokers BBQ, America's Center Catering, Candicci's, Syberg's and Under the Sun.

On July 16, Eats Bridge's opening night, Super Smokers -- the sole place that might generate much name-recognition excitement, particularly if you're a barbecue fan -- was out of everything except baked potatoes and dessert a full half-hour before closing time. Super Smokers' menu, which bears scant resemblance to what's served in its stores, also boasts the most insulting prices: In addition to the aforementioned $19 steak, a serving of seafood-stuffed shells with Creole cream sauce runs a ridiculous $18. The other booths offer uninspired arrays of pasta, salads and the like, all in the $5-to-$10 range.

Getting drunk can be accomplished at more reasonable rates, as sixteen-ounce cans of Bud and Bud Light or plastic bottles of Michelob Ultra Light and Mike's Hard Lemonade sell for $5, which may even be a smidge cheaper than Mardi Gras prices. Supermarket wines by the glass are also available and can be enjoyed in Eats Bridge's lovely "wine garden" -- a section of seating cordoned off by plastic trellises on which plastic strands of ivy, um, grow.

Still interested? Eats Bridge, open through August 22, is located just south of Laclede's Landing at the end of Washington Avenue. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. Brunch reservations (available by calling 314-416-8327) are recommended, but don't ask me why.