The Royale

Situated right around the corner from the Tin Can, The Royale is another in a series of modern restaurants that believes in kitsch over content. Though their food can be great and their service is usually top-notch, it fills up fast and is often too crowded to get a seat right away.

The menus are converted books, the walls are plastered with stuff, like a hipster Applebees and the waitstaff is invariably tattooed and pierced.

But the real prize is buried in their menu and it goes by the name of The Royale. Original, huh?

What it is : 10oz of Australian Kobe beef and a secret seasoning recipe.

What it tastes like : Imagine riding a meat unicorn to a rainbow of spices.  The beef is the real hero here, juicy and tangy on its own, supplemented by their seasonings.

The veggies were OK, not the freshest, but it’s such a big burg that you’re not really worried about that by the time you sink your teeth in. Additional veggies, like artichoke hearts, red peppers and olives come with an extra cost, but it’s reasonable and the taste is amazing.

The cheese selection was great, but it also cost extra. Though an extra 50 cents for cheddar, bleu cheese, provolone, feta or goat cheese is just fine with me.

People who don’t have $10 to spare on a big ol’ burg can still grab The Kingshighway, an 8oz Angus burger, with the same options as The Royale. It’s still a little high, even for a “boutique” burger, ringing in at $7.

Every burger comes with one side dish, though French Fries are mysteriously absent. Why have a gigantic, delicious burger and not suppliment it with its natural ally? Well, the answer to that is that The Royale serves some interesting choices instead.  You can get sweet potato chips (made at the bar), a salad, black beans, potato salad, tortillas and pico de gayo, as well as a corn salad and a  cucumber salad.

So, all-told, if you can stand the snooty pretentious atmosphere, if you’re ready to try a Kobe beef burger, if you really don’t care for fries with your burger and if you want to pay $4 for a bottle of beer, you could do worse than The Royale.

The Royale burger stands head-and-shoulders above most burgers in the area, mostly because of the Kobe beef and the spices it comes with. The option to put red peppers, artichoke hearts and olives on this big slab of burg makes the difference, as do the inventive side dishes that can help bring out the juicy burger’s taste and compliment it very well.

Missouri Bar & Grill

There’s a certain appeal to walking to get a burger. I can walk from my workplace on Washington right to this bar, Missouri Bar & Grill. Some days I see Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan sitting there, solemnly eating the daily special from the Cafeteria-style lunch menu. (I hear Bill’s got his own Bar & Grill, we will have a review of his burgers coming soon).

But if you stroll into the Bar section of the Bar & Grill, there’s a full menu of greasy-spoon favorites, along with a few surprises – I didn’t think downtown Bar & Grill joints would ever have call for someone ordering a Gyro, but then again, I review burgers for fun, so what do I know?

Back to the subject at hand, Missouri Bar & Grill’s burgers are pitiful. I don’t say that with any kind of malice towards the place, in fact, I have nothing but respect for the downright staunch anti-yuppy atmosphere and unpretentious attitude of everyone from the regulars to the staff.

But it bears repeating. Missouri Bar & Grill’s burgers are awful.

First, for the money, you get next to no meat. A “1/2lb” burger becomes a withered grotesquery once you see it on the bun. Second, the veggies are soggy and nasty, worse than you’d expect. Third, the last one I had tasted like someone had put out their cigar in the meat.

Even at $2.50, you would do well to avoid the burgers at Missouri Bar & Grill. Save yourself the heartache and go for the Cafeteria-style lunch special, which is about $7 and includes a meat, 2 sides and a drink. You end up with a lot of food that’s more satisfying than their burgers, which makes this burger-loving man a sad guy.

If you do go in, say hi to Bill for me.

The Tin Can

No one in this town knows more about being both cheap and good like the fine folks at the Tin Can. There’s two locations in St. Louis, one of which is downtown on Locust and the other is on Morganford, right off Tower Grove Park.

For the purposes of this review, we’re sticking close to my house in Tower Grove and reviewing their ultimate tribute to the King, the Tin Can Ten.

First, a note about the place itself. Tin Can focuses on beer in cans. They have drafts and bottles and wine and mixed drinks, too, but the place is adorned with canned beers. Cans line the walls, can-holders (coozies to some) take up the remaining space and everywhere you look there’s a beer sign, a beer mirror, a beer chair & table set… It’s a loving tribute to cheap canned beer and it makes this North County boy proud to say I know almost all the brands on the list. You have the majestic Strohs, the stout Olympia, brisk Old Style, meaty Hamms and many many many more.

But we’re here to talk about “dat burg”… The Tin Can Ten.

What we have here is two 5oz patties crammed under a bun, with melted cheese (I recommend the Pepper Jack) and sauteed onions.

Heed this warning, this burger might kill you. It’s big. I mean, really big. It’s so big, I had to stop because my jaw hurt. It’s so big, after eating the whole thing my four-beer buzz was gone like it never happened.

The burgers and all the sandwiches at the Tin Can don’t come with sides. In the case of the Tin Can Ten, you won’t need them, although an extra $2 for an order of fries is annoying, whether you need them or not.

On the menu, it gives you the option to wuss out and go with a single 5oz patty. On a seperate trip, we tried this option, to give this review a more full sense of the burg in question. The Tin Can Five is just as good, just as delicious and just as thick as the Ten.

After all that, we get to the negatives. First, the burger is not consistent. From one visit to the next, I was never sure of whether the burg would end up super-greasy or kinda dry. The cheese would come out un-melted on occasion, though this is not a deal-breaker. The onions can make or break the burger, either complimenting the cheese flavor or overpowering it altogether. And the damn thing’s HUGE. I felt ten pounds heavier walking out than I did walking in, though the beer could have added to that effect.

All-told, it’s a solid burg with a few quality-control issues, but one that is worth every penny. Heck, you can even skimp down to the Tin Can Five and save a couple of bucks, which you can use to buy another Old Milwaukee.

Also recommended : Though we try to focus strictly on burgers here at AMAMB, if you’re going to Tin Can, you would be remiss if you didn’t try a few additional things like the Bottom Feeder – a catfish filet sandwich – the Backyard Bomber – a Pork Rib sandwich – and their amazing Chili.

Gotta burg.

You know it the moment it happens. You’re walking down Washington Ave or strolling the Loop, and it hits you like a 1/3 pound kick to the stomach. You’re burgin’. You’ve got “the burg”. Whatever you want to call it, you know that if you don’t get a burger soon, you’ll end up regretting it. 

The phrase “burgin'” comes to us from the comedy writers at SomethingAwful, whose writer Johnny “DocEvil” Titanium put the bug in my brain that burgers are the King of Sandwiches.

My friend Jeremy, who created this fine wordpress blog, called me the other day and left me a cryptic message. I’ll try to recreate it as best I can. 

“Hey man, I was out at Courtesy [Diner] last night and I had a thought, what if we did a website where you review burgers?”

For those of you who don’t know Courtesy Diner, it’s the kind of greasy-spoon diner that is known for its burgers. 

For those who don’t know about us, we are burger fiends. We have a burger problem. We go to meetings. We have burger sponsors. But we’re going off the wagon, buckling into our fat pants and getting out the word about the best burgers in our town. 

We’re working towards implementing a system where others can input their reviews of burgers, tell us about burgin’ around their hometown and a burger scoring system based on basic factors like size, greasiness, veggie freshness, side options, cheese choices and many many more. 

Look forward to a lot of burgin in the near future. 

Welcome to Ask Me About My Burger!