He Said/She Said: With cheese, pleaseRuss: Everyone knows the usual suspects when it comes to getting a good cheeseburger in St. Louis.
Kathy: Yeah, but who wants the usual over and over again?
R: You know, with lettuce, tomato and onions on top, a cheeseburger includes a fruit and vegetables as well as meat, dairy and grains. It’s a veritable food pyramid in your hand.
K: Oh, sure. And next you’re going to find a way to justify corn dogs as nutritionally sound.
R: Don’t stand between me and my dreams, woman!
Kathy’s cheeseburger profile: A real backyard burger is hard to beat, rushed to the table still hot and juicy.
Russ’ cheeseburger profile: Pink in the middle with tangy cheese as a counterpoint.
Newstead Tower Public House
4353 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.535.7771
Tue. to Thu. – 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. and Sat. – 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. – 3 to
R: OK, this is the antithesis of the fast-food burger. This is like … the supermodel of cheeseburgers.
K: How do you get that?
R: Think about what a fast-food burger looks like in an ad. Compare that with what it looks like when you actually order one.
K: Stepped on.
R: Exactly. But this is just so perfectly constructed: a gorgeous, hearty roll; a thick, perfectly cooked patty; cheese and caramelized onions neatly piled on. It’s just the perfect picture of what a cheeseburger should look like.
K: The blue cheese on mine was pretty potent, but it still ran second to the bold beef taste. I’d go so far as to say this burger was exceptionally cow-flavored.
R: The grass-fed beef does make a difference. Rookie diners may not be prepared for this much beefy goodness.
Northside Dairy Haven
1902 N. Main St., Edwardsville, 618.656.9233
Mon. to Sat. – 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun. – noon to 9 p.m.
K: This little burger stand reminds me of a similar place in my hometown: gravel parking lot, walk-up counter and a constant stream of regulars.
R: It’s classic Midwest Americana – the roadside ice cream and burger stand. Would there even be fast food without it?
K: And yet for such a tiny little place, the menu is amazingly extensive.
R: Including the burgers. There’s a regular burger, which is slightly bigger than a slider; a quarter-pound burger; and then there’s the Charco Burger.
K: It lives up to the name, that’s for sure, with its distinct charcoal flavor. Not quite backyard grill flavor, just a bit different.
R: Compared with the regular burger – which is cooked on the flattop grill – it’s got a lot more panache.
K: Charco Burgers remind me of the burgers my mom would broil in the oven. They’re just about the same size, and piled with toppings. Dining outside like this, with a cheeseburger and a huge root-beer float, is the perfect summer night.
The Royale Food & Spirits
3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314.772.3600
Mon. to Thu. – 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. (bar – until 1:30 a.m.), Fri. and Sat. – 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (bar – until 1:30 a.m.), Sun. – 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (bar – until midnight)
K: We have to come here more often. Inside the dining room, the only smoke around is what’s coming off the grill, and the patio feels more like a backyard than a restaurant.
R: There’s definitely a neighborhood party vibe – everyone casually sipping cocktails from highball glasses and watching the burgers sizzle on the grill.
K: The grill guy just needs a “kiss the cook” apron and the scene would be perfect.
R: Practically perfect is good enough. Even before the first bite, there’s an inherent coolness in ordering the Royale With Cheese. Any film buff should get a thrill from ordering this burger.
K: I ordered the bison burger, so my thrill had to wait till the first bite. Topped with Cheddar and bacon – you can’t go wrong.
R: The Royale is a gargantuan slab of Australian-raised Wagyu Kobe beef. “Wagyu” may translate as “Japanese cow,” but to me, it will always mean “luscious burger that melts in your mouth.”
9025 St. Charles Rock Road, St. John, 314.428.5009
Mon. and Tue. – 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wed. and Thu. – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. – 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sat. – 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. – 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
R: Well, we may need to get tailfins retrofitted on to our Jetta next time we …
K: Look, skip the fancy-schmancy stuff. One word: Wow.
R: Yeah, I liked …
K: Talking, here. Cars should be lined up back onto Rock Road before this place opens every day. If you haven’t been here, you don’t know what you’re missing.
R: So I …
K: The burger. The Vintage Melt. Fabulous. Tasty. Dripping with sauce. Crispy at the edges. Mainly, though, it’s the flavor.
R: You know, this column’s called “He Said …
K: And the pineapple shake. The waitress just said, “We have good shakes.” I would order shakes all the time if they were this good.
R: So you liked it, is what I’m hearing?
K: Strike whatever I said earlier – this is my cheeseburger profile.