Thursday, March 17, 2011

the bleeding deacon

if you said "bar food" and asked us what we would expect, as vegetarians, we would expect beer for dinner.  some nights that doesn't sound like such a bad idea, but if you're looking for some bites to go with that brew, you might want to give the bleeding deacon a try.

tower grove

it's got all the charm you would expect from a hole-in-the-wall pub, decked out in posters, twinkle lights, and various tchotchkes undoubtedly rescued from secondhand stores around the city.  the deacon's faithful laymen are a varied group, which is part of this place's appeal.  on both occasions we've visited, it was a full, lively house.  we like how lived-in the deacon feels; it's the right kind of dingy that reminds you of being in your old college friend's apartment, but unlike his place, you feel relatively safe about eating here.

hipster PYTs in vintagey dresses, taking your orders and carefully not caring too much (but still making sure you're fed, which is all we ask).

the bleeding deacon is known for serving up familiar favorites with a twist and for offering an interesting yet unfussy menu.  we can attest to this: it looks like they've put some thought into these dishes. however, on both occasions, the execution left something to be desired.

naturally, we began our meal with the lemon-thyme hummus.  the pita was warm, grilled, all we ask for if we have to eat pita--no complaints there.  the consistency had a creamy loveliness that would have been totally killer if not for the fact that the flavor flatlined.  where was the thyme?  what a shame.  at least the chickpeas were delicious.  the diced tomato and spring onion slices were a pleasant addition, but the paprika tasted stale.  looks good, anyway.

as you know by now, we're suckers for frites, so we jumped on an order of the truffle frites [edit: (though we originally reported that the frites were called "parmesan truffle frites" because ours came with a generous topping of parmesan, according to a message we received from the owner, these frites were not supposed to come with cheese and should just be called "truffle frites")].  nevertheless, we do like fries, so they were consumed.  still, why one would choose to season with truffle oil and then shy away from it is baffling to us.  we were a little disappointed.  the paleness of these fries is unfortunately not just a result of poor lighting: they were slightly undercooked and therefore a bit colorless.  but again, they were still good enough to eat.

for entrees, we started with a...sandwich.  kind of.  we can't find a menu online, the site is down, and there is no mention of this thing anywhere.  it was described as a sort of veggie philly cheesesteak with portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and onions. [edit: again, though we received what our waitress referred to as "vegan cheese," the owner informed us that the sandwich was not supposed to come with any kind of cheese.] it was impossible to eat as a sandwich, the vegan cheese was nearly undetectable, and there were about ten slices of actual vegetables stuffed into a shallow well dug in the end of a rock-hard baguette.  we were honestly confused when the server brought it to us, and it makes just as little sense to us now.  it pains us to say it, but it was the worst "sandwich" we've ever seen.

creole cuisine anywhere is rarely veg-friendly, so we were really curious to try the housemade boudin veggie burger.  we love to see housemade burgers and we make a point to try them whenever restaurants are good enough to offer them.  what makes this one "boudin" is, apparently, just the spices and the rice.  since cajun-style boudin sausage is usually white, the use of white beans here is particularly clever.  we really want to love this burger--and maybe this happened to be an "off" night--but we just don't.  the only discernible spice we could taste was sage, and the one-inch-thick onion slice overpowered anything else there might have been in the patty.  the texture was nice, and it's a surprisingly sturdy burger, but served on a chalky kaiser roll with more stale spices, this just isn't something we'll crave.  to be sure, though, this burger is a brilliant idea, and there's a lot of potential here.

we weren't unhappy when we left the bleeding deacon, just unsatisfied--you know about what to expect at a pub, and we never lost sight of that.  this may be bar food by definition, but that doesn't mean it has to be sub-par, and we definitely didn't expect that they wouldn't deliver what they advertised.  we give the bleeding deacon major props for keeping things interesting for vegetarians, but the inconsistencies in flavor prevent us from truly endorsing them.


vegetarian-friendly score:
b (it's definitely cool that they have a vegetarian section, but it isn't exactly accurate.  as we reported earlier, the bleeding deacon doesn't have a vegetarian fryer, yet they announce on their menu that the frites are vegetarian.  we wish restaurants would understand that food cannot be labeled "vegetarian" if it shares the same fryer as meat.)

Bleeding Deacon on Urbanspoon


  1. So glad to find this blog. I'm a vegetarian St. Louis blogger and had no idea this was a resource.

  2. welcome--we're glad to have you! thanks for the feedback, too. we definitely appreciate it. let us know if there's anything different you'd like to see, and please help spread the word! and good luck at the marathon!
    --lois & clark

  3. You guys are doing a great job. I'm an omnivore, but I'm very interested in vegetarian options and I'm really glad to see the the STL restaurant scene is catering to those needs AND that there's someone writing about it.
    I don't think you've reviewed it yet, but Modesto (Spanish Tapas on The Hill) has a long list of vegetarian options that I think you guys would love. My girlfriend and I go at least once a month. Try to get there for happy hour - all night on Tues, or til 7 on weekdays, and Wed has half price bottle of wine night.

    Thanks Again,


  4. andy,
    thanks for your request. we've been there once, before we started the blog. it was actually the first tapas joint we visited--& now that you mention it, you're right about their veg options. thanks to your recommendation, we'll be back there soon.
    we appreciate your positive feedback, and are so glad to hear that you're finding this useful!
    if you and your girlfriend think of any other places you'd like to see reviewed, let us know!
    --lois & clark