In the midst of St. Louis’s ever changing and evolving restaurant scene, it is becoming more difficult for me to decide which are my favorite places to go. There are a few things I look for when searching for a new restaurant or finding somewhere I can hang or where I can be a long term patron; the staff, overall morale, and quality and consistency in the product. In other words, I’m looking at the overall dining experience. After all, that’s why I go out to eat; for the experience!
Though not for everyone, hands down, my favorite place for fun, reasonably priced, casual dining, has to be the The Crow’s Nest on Manchester in Maplewood. The set up at the Crow’s Nest is reminiscent of an old tavern with late 70’s/80’s eclectic punk decor. It makes me feel right at home. The Crow’s Nest is definitely a dive bar, but in a good way.
That said, you wouldn’t think that some of the best food that I’ve have had in St. Louis comes out of that kitchen, but it does…every time. With an extraordinarily passionate staff, affordable prices, and one of the best a la carte brunch menus that I’ve ever had, The Crows Nest keeps me coming back on a weekly basis. Their menu covers everything from salads with homemade dressing, to deep fried deviled eggs, to the best meatloaf in town. I’ve grown to know the entire kitchen staff, and I have never heard one of them complain. An anomaly in the restaurant biz! Everyone gives you the feeling that they are excited to come to work. It sounds like half the staff started working there because they were once patrons of the place, and everyone from the front to the back of the house staff are very approachable and hospitable.
I think that one of the coolest aspects of The Crow’s Nest is that their menus are inside of actual vintage record sleeves, and they probably have the most obscure collection of music on their jukebox in all of St. Louis, just another reason that I love hanging out there. Though there is a focus on music, it’s not a place that is too loud to hear yourself think, or talk to the person next to you.
Even though I am not much of a beer drinker these days, I still pay attention to what’s available. Their elaborately decorated chalkboard listing of beer is constantly changing, but the old standards are always there. If you are in the culinary industry, this is a very industry friendly place to hang out. However, if you are just a foodie in town looking for a new experience, this is definitely a place to try. Their sandwich board on the sidewalk says come in and see why Yelpers hate us. Love that! For killer food and a fun spot to hang out, check out The Crow’s Nest in downtown Maplewood.