Tuesday, April 26, 2011

sub zero vodka bar

for a couple of years now, sub zero vodka bar has made a reputation for itself by (duh) slinging vodka to thirsty central west enders.  what many folks still don't know, though, is that sub zero has garnered plenty of attention from local publications for their food.  we tried their veggie burger about a year ago, and it was good, but sub zero fell off our radar simply because...well, we're not really sure.  but in our continuing efforts to sample all the veggie burgers our fair city has to offer, so we recently gave sub zero another shot.  as it turns out, the food is better than we remembered, and we're sure to pay sub zero another visit soon.

central west end

like many restaurants on euclid, sub zero gives you the option of outdoor seating. we, however, prefer our food to be exhaust-free, so we opt indoors. inside, it's divided three ways between bar and two dining rooms. you could sit at their famous "ice bar," but it's usually crowded and not very conducive to eating a full meal, so maybe migrate over there for a post-meal drink. the rest of the restaurant is decorated minimally, with a lot of metal and cool colors, like a big, modern icebox--one that serves up over 350 vodkas from 26 countries. cheers.

the servers we've had at sub zero have always been solid. on our most recent visit, our waitress was awesome. she did everything she could to get answers to our questions about vegetarian options/ingredients, and even though she was attending to multiple parties, she managed to make us feel like we were her only table. if we had thought of it at the time, we would've asked for her name and then requested her for our return visits.

for starters, we ordered the hummus and pita.  surprisingly smooth and flavorful, this is definitely a hummus that can hold its own. (seriously, we may start a campaign to make hummus one of st. louis's signature dishes. it's definitely plentiful around here, even more so than toasted ravioli...!) there's a subtle kick to this dish, like a little flirtatious tongue-footsie. turns out it's from some white pepper and a dash of sriracha. yum!

we were pleased to see that they offer an edamame dip, so we shared a plate of that, too. this one comes with fried pita triangles (but caveat herbivore, they are fried in a mixed fryer). maybe we shouldn't be surprised, but this was delicious, too. we do love a good edamame dip, and this was neither too pasty nor too oily, and it had a unique flavor. almost minty, the taste was zippy, green, fresh. we could see them using this as a spread or even on a salad.

for our first entree, we built our own burger--we got the black bean veggie patty and added arugula, avocado, jalapeno, chipotle mayo, and pepperjack cheese. our concoction was, we think, pretty brilliant, but there was a drawback: there didn't seem to be enough of any of the ingredients, so maybe the key is to order fewer so you actually get more. that way you don't end up paying a buck and a quarter for two slices of avocado. however, the patty was a treat; it's housemade, sturdy, savory, slightly smoky, very satisfying.

we also tried one of their signatures: the falafel burger, made of chickpeas with tahini, and served with cucumber, lettuce, and tomato in a pita (though we substituted for a bun). we ordered this burger not realizing that the patty is actually deep-fried, but we contacted them later and asked if it'd possible to get it pan-fried. a manager wrote us back immediately to let us know that they would give it a try in the kitchen that night and then get back to us. the experiment was a success, but if you ever want to request it this way, they only ask that you understand it'll take just a tad longer. we are definitely impressed by their flexibility and eagerness to please, and we feel a whole lot better knowing there's a way around the fryer. that being said, the patty itself was a refreshing change of pace. you get all the good things about falafel without the chalky dryness you so often associate with it. the toppings add some fresh crunch to the sandwich so as not to feel too heavy. all in all, it's an interesting dish and while it's not the first time we've seen a falafel burger, we've never had one quite like this.

nota bene: all but two of the sides are fried, and about half of the appetizers are. you're pretty limited to building your own burger and a few small plates, but the quality of the patties and the abundance of gourmet toppings easily makes sub zero worth a pit stop. so even though you may have cocktails on your mind for your sub zero visit, it may be your food that makes the biggest impression.


vegetarian-friendly score:

Sub Zero on Urbanspoon


  1. Sounds like I need to check this place out! Have you ever had the bean burger from Local Harvest? I had it last weekend and it was delicious!

  2. we had the local harvest veggie burger back in march (http://vegstlouis.blogspot.com/2011/03/local-harvest-cafe.html). lois liked it much more than i did, but now that you've recommended it, i'm thinking it's about time for a second helping. thanks for the feedback, lucy!