Posted On: 03/01/2012
Dooley's Beef-N-Brew House
601 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.531.7600,
There’s a certain irony about an English beef-and-brew house that goes out of business on St. Patrick’s Day. In 2008, that happened to Dooley’s and St. Louis lost one of its best burger joints. Well, Dooley’s is back – and it’s touting new digs, a new owner (kinda) and the same great burger.
Nostalgia This Way
Owner Sean Dooley hasn’t forgotten the downtown roots of the restaurant his father, Alex Dooley, ran for four decades. Lovers of the first eatery will want to venture downstairs to the basement bar, where décor and signage from the original Dooley’s piques former regulars’ nostalgia.
Burgers are 6 ounces and cost just $6.50, plus 50 cents for each topping you fancy. The patties come with a variety of soft cheeses (blue, onion, cheddar, port wine, roasted jalapeño) that are, upon request, dolloped atop with an ice cream scooper. Sure, you can opt for shredded Provel or a slice of Swiss or American, but why would you? The thing that makes Dooley’s unique is the way the creamed cheeses slowly blanket the burger and pick up all those meaty juices to create a succulently messy sauce. Our pick: the port wine cheddar – subtly sweet and decadently rich.
After One Too Many
The Hooligan – a house-made patty topped with bacon, cheddar and an over-easy egg – is a breakfast-plus-lunch cure for the common hangover. The elegance of a golden yolk mingling with the meaty juices is just what’s required to settle an unruly soccer fan. Have a pint with it.
Pappy Stops By
Barbecue junkies will love the Chicken Pappy, slathered in the signature sauce of the local ‘cue mecca. Sure it’s sloppy, but in a wet-barbecue, the-more-napkins-the-better kind of way. With grilled pineapple, onion rings and smoky cheddar, notes of caramelized tropical fruit brighten the salty fried chicken.
Described as “ram jewels,” this new-to-the-menu take on Rocky Mountain oysters aren’t half-shells at all but rather – you guessed it – sheep testicles that have been delicately breaded and bathed in toasty oil until crisp. Reminiscent of deep-fried sweetbreads, the tender and creamy snack is complemented by a side of zippy, Russian dressing-like Ram sauce.
Stay Out of the Water
The Fish Chippy, two strips of flawlessly fried white fish, arrived under-dressed and under-salted, sitting atop a lowly hamburger bun (in lieu of the potato bread stated on the menu), a mild iceberg “slaw” and several winter tomatoes that couldn’t overcome the odds stacked against them. The fish was delicious, but the dressing lacked the acidity and vibrancy that a little more salt, some lemon or even a splash of Crystal’s hot sauce could’ve offered.
The ambiance may have changed, but the burgers haven’t. Dooley’s isn’t about fancy culinary pairings or grass-fed BS, it’s about a simple, affordable burger made the way you like it (and cooked perfectly). Is it the best in town? Maybe, maybe not. But after a lengthy absence, it sure is nice to be able to get a scoop of cheese on a burger again.
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