400 Years in the Making

Like much of Belleville, we’ve been anxiously awaiting the opening of the new Hofbräuhaus restaurant located just off of Illinois 15. For years. Literally. It was supposed to open back in 2016, and they have announced something like six or seven estimated opening dates, only to have each date come and go with no schnitzel or beer in sight, leaving Belleville wondering if the restaurant was ever really going to open.

The billboard that they put up in downtown St. Louis says it all…“A Unique Experience over 400 years in the making.”

Has it only been that long?

Obviously, the billboard references the original establishment in Munich, which first opened in 1589. But I think the developers of the project missed the irony of the statement on the advertisement, because it certainly feels like we’ve been waiting at least that long for the restaurant to open!

Anyway, the Hofbräuhaus announced today that they are officially in soft open mode. I don’t know the full details of what that means, but I do know that for the next three weeks or so, until their grand opening on April 18th, you can finally get a German meal there! Even though we’ve become a bit disillusioned with the project over the years, we’re still looking forward to enjoying a dinner at the Hofbräuhaus at some point in the coming weeks…we’re just hoping the restaurant itself is managed better than the construction project has been!

Tasty Tuesday–The Best of Beast!

I’m still super excited that Beast Craft BBQ made the top 20 of Ian Froeb’s “STL 100” restaurant list, and was named the “best barbecue restaurant in the St. Louis area” on that list! I thought today, it would be fun to take a look back at all of the amazing meals I’ve had at Beast over the last three-plus years:

Some of the items pictured are from when Beast was just starting out, and don’t really appear on the menu anymore. Some are rather new addition’s to Beast’s menu, and are available regularly. And a few have been there from the beginning, and are such favorites that they’re menu staples. They all have one thing in common, though, and that’s how delicious they are!

Tasty Tuesday–Beast Craft BBQ: Wagyu Beef Eater

Last Saturday morning, I woke up to discover that the St. Louis-Post Dispatch had published Ian Froeb’s “STL 100” restaurant list online, a day ahead of the print version coming out in the paper. I always look forward to this list, because I like to see what food in St. Louis is good. In general, the top spots are taken up by fancy restaurants that I just can’t afford to eat at. This year, however, I can actually say that I’ve eaten at a “Top 20” restaurant…frequently!!!…because Beast Craft BBQ right here in Belleville made the cut, and was also named the “best barbecue restaurant in the St. Louis area!” This of course came as no surprise to me, because I’ve know about Beast’s awesomeness for over three years now, but it’s still exciting every time they receive another accolade!

Anyway, in honor of that, Ryan decided that I should try something new from Beast for lunch that day. I’ve heard so much good buzz about the Wagyu beef that I knew I had to try the Wagyu Beef Eater, which almost seems like it was custom-made for me, because it has all my favorites: beer braised beef, grilled onions, horsey sauce, and Swiss cheese, all served on Beast’s amazing Texas toast:

I am not exaggerating when I say the beef just melted in my mouth…Wagyu definitely lives up to the hype! The sauce was perfect, and gave the sandwich just the right kick. And of course, grilled onions and Swiss always make a beef-based sandwich even more delicious!

I also tried the loaded fries (I know…I’m just as shocked as you are that I didn’t get the fried Brussel sprouts, because they’re my favorite, but I wanted to try something new!). Beast makes great fries, and these were topped with sauced pork, white cheddar jalapeño cheese, and green onions. This, too, was delicious, and the cheese was just the right amount of spicy.

On a side note, you currently have the opportunity to reserve your Easter ham from Beast…a beautiful, Compart Family Farms Duroc cherry-smoked ham at that. They’re 8-9 pounds (bone-in) and they look amazing. If you’re looking for something new for your Easter table, you can’t go wrong with Beast!

Nativity Scenes from Around the World–2017 Edition

The 12 Days of Christmas aren’t over yet!

In 2014, we visited the Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville to see a display of nativity scenes from around the world. We had the chance to go there again last month, where they had a similar display, but with many different nativities than the last time we were there!

There is no doubt about where some of the nativity scenes came from:

My personal favorite was from Germany, although I guess the origin of this one wasn’t as obvious:

I love how unique and beautiful they all were…especially the ones made out of unusual materials, like shells!

The most talked about item was the “hipster nativity scene.” While I wouldn’t want it on display in my home, it certainly was food for thought. There were some things about it that really make me hope that this isn’t how history remembers us, though! Here are some of the things we noticed about it:

  • Solar panels on the stable roof
  • Drone on the stable roof
  • Joseph, sporting man-bun and barefoot, taking selfies
  • Mary, Starbucks cup, duck-face, and possible Uggs
  • Shepherd with an iPad and a sheep with a Christmas sweater
  • Wise men on Segways sporting a combination of fedoras, sunglasses, facial hair, scarves, suspenders, and skinny pants, carrying Amazon boxes
  • 100% organic cow with gluten-free feed

I love seeing how different cultures depict something that has become so common to me!

Christmas on Main Street

I love Belleville’s Main Street. Whether you’re dining out, looking in store windows, or attending one of the great events that take place on the town square (like Art on the Square), it’s just a charming place to be. But there is no better time to visit Main Street than Christmastime…there are beautiful decorations, fancy store windows, horse-drawn trolley rides, and the sounds of Christmas music coming from the Lincoln Theatre.

This year, a beautiful sand sculpture of a glockenspiel added to the holiday decor. I had meant to take a picture of it at night, because it was beautifully lit, but I never had the chance before it started crumbling. At least I got a good shot of it during the day!

The gingerbread houses in the stories windows up and down Main Street are always a family favorite…we love going from shop to shop in anticipation of what we’ll see next, and I am here to tell you that there are some very creative and talented people in Belleville!

A few always stand out as family favorites. Extra kudos to the child who called the tower that houses Big Ben by its proper name!

The Mayor’s Choice winner is always special, because it really captures something special about what makes Belleville unique:

For the last few years, a Christkindlmarkt has joined the other Christmas activities downtown, and I can’t think of anything more perfect, given Belleville’s German heritage! In addition to booths selling unique items, you can grab a bite to eat, warm up in the big tent, visit with reindeer on certain dates, and sometimes, even catch a musical performance!

I’m so happy we live in Belleville…there’s really no place I’d rather be!

Chickadee Thursday

Chickadee loves visiting Belleville’s Main Street at this time of year. There are gingerbread creations to admire, cut-outs to pose in (she’s lucky Ladybug was willing to play along and be the Beast to her Belle!), a giant Christmas countdown calendar, and her favorite, larger-than-life nutcrackers guarding the entrances to the Christkindlmarkt that let her pretend she’s Clara in the Nutcracker!

Tasty Tuesday–Beast Craft BBQ: Beer-Braised Pork Tacos

I think it’s obvious that I’m a fan of Beast Craft BBQ’s beer-braised pork…the carnitas are one of the best things I’ve eaten! They also put that delicious pork on tacos, and I had the chance to try them for the first time on Sunday (I have tried the pulled rib tacos in the past).

Not that I’m surprised, but these are SO GOOD. The flavor is reminiscent of the carnitas, and yet it’s its own thing. Three of the fabulous Beast tortillas (I seriously love these tortillas, whether they’re served plain or fried!), are filled with pork, cotija cheese, and a red cabbage slaw, and topped with both BBQ and fry sauce. They also added a few slices of lime on the side, and a little squeeze of juice adds a lot of flavor! The tacos are just the right amount of spicy, with the right amount of crunch, and the pork is just as good in tacos as it is as carnitas. I wonder if they can find anything else to do with it? If they do, you can be certain I’ll try it!