Short List: Onion rings

While even the best onion rings probably won’t propel you onto a quest of Tolkien-ian proportions – there’s no one ring to rule them all – they can serve as the ideal french fry alternative or stand alone as an appetizer. Thinner rings allow the batter and onion to stay intact as you bite through it, so you’re not left with a slithery, naked onion. A light, crunchy coating of batter is best, and that batter better be well seasoned. And please, no excess pools of grease to spoil our precious, precious rings.

O’Connell’s Pub
4652 Shaw Ave., St. Louis, 314.773.6600

Onion rings in general have a slightly greasy texture – it’s just the nature of the beast – but the coating on the rings at this venerable Irish pub was salty enough to cut through the grease. Though the batter didn’t adhere to the onion as much as we prefer, it had a pleasing texture and was not so heavy as to obscure the sweetness of the onions themselves.

The Village Bar
12247 Manchester Road, Des Peres, 314.821.4532

A floury, well-seasoned batter applied with a light touch puts these rings at the top of the heap. After a trip to the fryer, the coating emerges with a flaky texture, while the not-too-thick, not-too-thin cut allows for plenty of crunch. Best of all, the onion retains a measure of its original texture and remains firmly nestled within its crunchy coating, post-bite.

Cousin Hugo’s Bar and Grill
3233 Laclede Station Road, Maplewood, 314.645.8484

Admittedly, these rings arrive at this Maplewood pub in a frozen state, but don’t let that put you off. Uniformly sized rings are served piping hot, a definite plus since a quick trip from fryer to table is essential – hot rings wait for no man. We found the onion-to-coating ratio to be slightly tilted toward the coating side of the equation, resulting in a crunchy, satisfying bite.

Want more rings? See this month's Short List runner-up in our Extra Sauce section.