Sometimes, the best things come in the most humble of packages. Quincy Street Bistro is one such case. It may look like a nondescript South City bar and grill to the casual observer, but there's some extraordinary deliciousness going on inside.
The interior is sparse, just some neon beer signs and flat-screen TVs for decor. But once the menu hits the table, it's apparent something special is happening on Quincy Street. Chef de Cuisine Rick Lewis recently was nominated as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef of The Year Award, and it was well deserved. His versions of comfort food and pub standards take the simplest of ingredients and transform them into something definitely a cut above. All dishes at Quincy Street are made from scratch, as are items like the charcuterie—a pretty impressive feat for such a small kitchen and a ton of work for chef and staff. But the results are worth it.
Our starter was a perfect case in point: the Butcher's Plate ($10), a selection of house-made charcuterie that changes regularly. On our visit, the selection was braunschweiger, a hefty slab of which was served with pieces of toast, some grain mustard and pickles. This soft liver sausage is one of our childhood favorites, and the Quincy Street version is the best we've ever sampled. Unlike some we've had in the past, it was firm enough to hold its shape but not to crumble. Texture-wise, it was on par with a fine paté.
Further proof of the kitchen's prowess came with our mains. For instance, the Country Fried Steak ($12): not much there but some meat and a little batter, right? In the hands of the Quincy Street kitchen, it became something much more than the sum of its parts. The steak itself was pounded ultra-thin, the crispy coating on the outside was flaky, with just the right touch of spice. And the milk gravy--well, it was the crowning glory, rich and creamy and subtly augmented with black pepper. The burger debates continue to go on around town, but we'll put any questions of which one's the best to rest here: the Hog Burger ($11) has them all beat in our opinion. The patty is a blend of ground beef, pork and house bacon, topped with some pimento cheese and caramelized onions. Simple, straightforward and indescribably good. Cooking this anywhere above medium rare and drying up that juicy amalgam of meats would truly be a culinary crime.
Lest anyone think that all the effort goes into the big dishes, the sides at Quincy Street are superlative, as well. The mac 'n cheese could've easily been phoned in, but the small crock we got was flavorful and topped with crunchy bread crumbs. The mashed potatoes served alongside the steak were nicely whipped but still retained a few lumps for texture. The slow-cooked chicken in the cup of Chicken N' Biscuits ($3, bowl $6) literally melted in our mouth, and the tiny biscuit that accompanied it was flaky perfection.
During our visit, we had little room left for dessert; but for those with a sweet tooth the menu includes treats from local favorites Sugaree Bakery and Crown Candy Kitchen.
Enough said. You know the saying: Run, don't walk...
-- 6931 Gravois Ave., 353-1588, quincystreetbistro.com
Quincy Street Bistro’s Pimento Cheese
1 1/2 C cheddar cheese, box grated
1 1/2 T mayonnaise
1 T cream cheese
1 sweet pepper roasted, peeled, seeded and diced fine
1/4 t paprika
A pinch of cayenne, salt and pepper
A dash of Louisiana hot sauce
Mix everything together well and serve melted on top of burgers and other dishes.