Posted On: 08/01/2006
If you ever paid a visit to Trainwreck’s location on The Landing, then you may not be in for too much of a surprise when you visit The Feisty Bulldog that now resides in the former Wreck’s quarters. Not much has changed from the Trainwreck to the Bulldog, which is actually a good thing. The historic charm of the building is left intact, but a few improvements have been made to both the main bar and basement club to give it the air of something new
The most noteworthy thing at The Feisty Bulldog has got to be the food. Most of it is interesting, if not downright weird, and should be served with a shot of Maalox on the side for good measure. We tried some rather strange items, a few notables being: Homemade Buffalo and Blue Cheese Chips, Hoosier Pizza Dip, Fried Pepperoni and Tavern Eggs. For those of you not familiar with this English delicacy, here is what a tavern egg consists of: hard-boiled eggs wrapped in fatty sausage and then deep-fried then served up with spicy ketchup mayo. Mmmmmm. Many meals are served in a plastic bucket that you can keep as a constant reminder of the indigestion you experience after dining.
Flat-screen TVs mounted on nearly every wall – 12 to be exact – make this a great location to watch sporting events while enjoying some belly-busting food and a pint of one of the many on-tap ales.
We watched as former welterweight champion Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks made St. Louis proud by dethroning Roman “Made in Hell” Karmazin as the reigning International Boxing Federation junior middleweight champ. The crowd energized a bit when Spinks was deemed the winner in a close call. Knowing that a local boy had just done good seemed to pick up everyone’s mood a bit.
If you feel the need to get your groove on while visiting The Feisty Bulldog, you can head downstairs to Throttle, a seedier setting claiming to be the only dance bar on The Landing that doesn’t play techno. Though we heard no techno, there was in fact hip-hop, which is not too far removed from the hypnotizing beats of its clubbier cousin. Techno or not, the dance floor at Throttle does in fact boast a lone stripper pole. Not sure if this is reserved for actual gyrating nudes or just college girls after too many margaritas. Either way, it is definitely a conversation piece.
Overall, The Feisty Bulldog is a great space that just needs a little bit of kitsch to liven it up. For instance, food is served in take-home plastic buckets. But the place is called The Feisty Bulldog, so why not serve the food in dog bowls so every time patrons feed Fido, they remember their wild night at the Bulldog? What am I going to do with a tiny plastic bucket, build a sand castle? If it went the extra mile, this bar could be the thing to bring a new crowd of patrons, outside of the college crowd, to The Landing.
The straight 411 …
Though not quite as feisty as advertised, The Feisty Bulldog offers the warmth of an Irish pub with the diversity of a Landing locale, all mixed with a stripper pole and some indigestion-causing grub.
I was all set to open this column gently mocking a tourist I overheard conversing with The Feisty Bulldog’s helpful bartender. When asking about entertainment destinations, said tourist, in a heavy country accent, pronounced the first syllable of Soulard like the musical genre. “Soul”-ard. For STLians, this is strangely funny, even though we live off mispronunciations of our French heritage. For anyone else, “Soul”-ard is rational. Know what else is rational? Talking to your bartender. I think those tourists are on to something.
Until I began picking the bartender’s brain, I didn’t understand why Wash Ave. veteran Tommy Gray, the man behind Rue 13 and Velvet, would buy the old Trainwreck on the Landing, the nightlife home of the underage and out-of-towners. Hip club owners usually stay away. Second, why buy the place if you’re not going to do anything with it? The first floor is still the Trainwreck tavern, note by note by note. Seemingly zero changes. Same people. Same look. Same drinks. The second floor does have four new full-size billiard tables, but that’s only impressive if you’re hustling like Minnesota Fats. Luckily, talking to the bartender led me to Gray.
Open seven days a week, The Feisty Bulldog is just over six weeks old, so it’s rather unfair to delve into the place too much. A conversation and tour by Gray proved this true. See, the real re-redevelopment (yes, two re’s) of this building comes in The Feisty Bulldog’s basement.
In the early 1980s, after the original rehab, the Trainwreck operated a shortlived two-floor dance club in the basement called Timbers. After closing, Timbers sat in that exact 1980s state, hidden from all of STL, until a real estate agent contacted Gray with news that the Trainwreck was for sale. The agent waded through Gray’s predictable response – “The Landing? No way.” – and demanded he see the building and the spatial gem that was Timbers. Gray, like me when shown the club, was taken aback. Save an incredibly thorough cleaning and a little redecorating, Timbers needed little more than love to debut as Throttle.
Throttle offers a darkly-lit, airy, two-floor, long and narrow basement dance club with cushy booths and a small bar on the upper level and a dance floor and large bar on the lower level. A seeming constant state of descent in Throttle is impressive. You go down some stairs, then down some more, then down some more.
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday ($5 weekend cover), Throttle-goers dance to Top-40 rock with a lot of classic rock/hip-hop mash-ups so popular these days. Rumor has it that the stripper pole on the dance floor has proven popular with visiting conventioneers. And thus far, because Throttle has only had a soft opening with zero advertising, that describes the patrons – an older-than-usual Landing crowd of conventioneers and a red-clad Iowa contingent of Cardinal Nation. No one knows this is here yet. Once the word is out, though, the under-23 crowd will come en masse. I envision a flood of 22-year-old SLU students flowing from The Feisty Bulldog’s floor one to The Feisty Bulldog’s floor two to Throttle’s second level to first and so on and on and on.
The straight 411 …
For the Trainwreck, head to The Feisty Bulldog. For mash-ups and a spatial gem hidden for 20 years, head to Throttle.
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