Saturday, April 2, 2011

schlafly bottleworks

we made a shocking discovery the other day: we hadn't posted a full review for one of our favorite restaurants, schlafly bottleworks.  silly us, after posting our inaugural hummus post, where schlafly dominated the field, we never got around to giving them the treatment they deserve with a full write-up.  let's remedy that.


admittedly, it's difficult to begin this post.  we've been coming to bottleworks for years, and we adore them, so it's tough to get some critical distance.  here's the thing, though: there are very good reasons why we love this place, so if we sound a little biased, our assessment is not unfounded.

located just off old route 66/manchester, schlafly makes its presence known with the two large silos in the front, which announce that, yeah, these folks is building some serious beer, yo.  there's a covered patio we like to sit on during the warmer months, but on our most recent visit, we opted for indoors.  one of the reasons we're fond of eating at schlafly is because it's about as unpretentious and un-self-conscious as a microbrewery gets.  the decor is just the right mixture of minimal and eclectic.  what few art pieces they have are quite tasteful, and we love the blackboards covered with handwritten notes about their locally-sourced ingredients--mushrooms from ozark forest, chips from billy goat, etc.

after dining here so many times, we have a handful of servers we look forward to seeing.  though there have been times where we've been made to feel like slight annoyances when we've asked about vegetarian ingredients and/or made special requests, the service is just about always spot on, with just the right amount of attentiveness.  this is a place where you can settle in to enjoy your food and beer, a place where the servers won't ever make you feel rushed.  to the point: lots of folks come to schlafly precisely because of the way they're treated like family.  we love this about schlafly.

oh, but there's so much more to love, folks.  so much more.  you know by now about our profound love for schlafly's hummus and curry crackers (not safe for vegans, though, as there's cheddar in these bad boys), but there are many more vegetarian options to choose from.  we're huge fans of the grains and greens salad, which we order with vegetarian meatballs (made from match!).  the sun-dried tomato ranch dressing provides a smoky tangyness to the dish, helping to balance the earthiness of the three-grain blend (quinoa, kamut, and barley, we think).  in any case, on this night, we wanted to try something new, so we went with the veggie burger and the veggie chicken enchiladas.

(a side note: we sat down with scot smelser, gm of bottleworks, for a little q & a before dinner, and he told us schlafly is about to release a revamped menu and that vegetarians have good reason to be excited.  in a couple of days, we'll be posting other tasty morsels from the interview, so please look out for it.)

in the past, schlafly used a pre-made veggie burger, but now they're using a housemade burger to satisfy the vegheads.  and, man, does it satisfy.  officially, it's called the chipotle black bean burger, and it comes with smoked gouda, spinach, and sriracha aioli.  not to be outdone, the wheat bun (from companion!) was crazy flavorful--so flavorful, in fact, that lois, a habitual shunner of (edible) buns, insisted on finishing this one.  the burger patty was chock full of veggies and grains, and it maintained an excellent crunch-to-tenderness ratio.  the smoked gouda doesn't get lost at all, and we're always grateful for sauteed greens on a sandwich.  our only complaint is that the sriracha aioli is a bit too tame.  we'd like to see a sauce that's a bit more pepper-forward, but everything else was delicious.  

still, the revelation on this night was the final dish: veggie chicken enchiladas.  just typing that sentence makes your humble author salivate.  seriously, we wonder what we've been eating all these years when we ordered "enchiladas" because nothing we've had to this point comes close to schlafly's version.  sure, the cheese is gooey goodness, and the tortillas were satisfyingly hearty, but it's the veggie chicken (again, match meat!) and the green chili sauce that had us incessantly moaning like bumbling idiots.  there's just no way we could've formulated an articulate thought during this enchilada apocalypse.  to top things off, the rice and beans weren't afterthoughts as they so often are at other restaurants.  so much goodness on one plate is hard to believe, but it's truth, people.  word is bond.

yes, schlafly's menu (at bottleworks and at tap room) is full of meaty options, but how often are you going to find vegetarian curry, housemade veggie burgers, and quinoa at a brewery?  and these aren't just token gestures to appease vegetarians; smelser, a former vegetarian himself, has put a lot of thought into this menu, insisting always that the food be fresh and as local as possible.  it says a lot, too, that from day one, bottleworks has never allowed a fryer on its premises.  toss in all the community events that schlafly supports and/or sponsors, and you have yourself a veritable st. louis icon. 


vegetarian-friendly score:
Schlafly Bottleworks on Urbanspoon


  1. Their portobello sandwich is top notch.

  2. I too am a Schlafly fan, but my recent experience with the veggie burger was pretty disappointing. I wasn't aware that they had switched away from the Morningstar black bean burger until the new one arrived on my plate. It was mushy enough that I reluctantly asked the kitchen to throw it back on the grill for a little while (I never do that).

    From your photo, however, it looks like they may have improved their technique since then. Perhaps I will give it another try some day. Looking forward to what the new menu has in store!

  3. the portobello sandwich, as i recall, was delish. we're not the biggest fans of such sandwiches as there seems to be one everywhere, but schlafly's version is, as heather says, top notch. come to think of it, it's time to try it again!

    & to gwen: yes, definitely give it another shot! we adored it, and honestly had no problem with it being too mushy or crumbly.

  4. What about the salads? You must say something about the vanilla dressing.

  5. oh, we didn't forget-- how could we! there'll be at least one more schlafly entry :]