Review: Plush in St. Louis
3224 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.535.2686, plushstl.com
Why go? Live music, late-night eats and four impressive floors make this a unique venue primed for some wild nights.
Jettisoning any semblance of a traditional format, the team behind Midtown’s Plush has presented to the neighborhood a nexus of food, spirits and entertainment. Combination bar, diner, coffeehouse and live-music venue, this multitasking newcomer has a lot of promise. But also a great deal of confusion.
The Space: The unfortunate and inaccurate name aside (Nothing about the place is particularly plush, nor is it a trendy nightclub.), the new space – a four-level monster – is undeniably imposing. There’s a nice buzz in the air on a Friday night as the house lights dim on a well-dressed main stage and dark blue and red illumination fall over Plush’s world.
As an alt-rock band works seamlessly through its first set, a mellow crowd from a variety of generations and tax brackets leans back in mismatched chairs and oddly colored couches on the ground floor. More onlookers peer down through the railing from the wraparound level above, occasionally ducking into a side room where Plush’s staff shakes a quick cocktail and gently slides it across a gorgeous mosaic-topped bar. In the adjacent loft-style lounge area, the cool kids hang out around a spattering of retro table and chair collections, which very well might have been stolen from someone’s grandparents’ house. Downstairs, an older crowd shuns the music, occupying the main bar and dining room – which tout an equally eclectic mixture of odd furnishings and mismatched colors.
The Bar:It’s a pleasure to navigate the extensive (but not overly vast) draft and bottle menu, which represents the international as well as the local microbrew spectrum: Spaten Premium Lager ($4.75), Six Row Double IPA ($4.75), Fuller’s London Porter ($5), Moretti Lager ($4.50), even a 16-ounce Stag for $2.50. Likewise, premium bottles of vodka, gin, whiskey and an impressive showing of single malts abound. Unfortunately, there’s currently no cocktail menu to speak of (a major disappointment considering the obvious work that has gone into other aspects of the fledgling operation). Fortunately, left to their own devices, Plush’s bartenders can mix a mean martini and a generous (and not overly sweet) Manhattan. Here’s hoping they’ll soon get their act together and put together some proper signature drinks.
The Scene: A genuine shape-shifter, Plush bends, contracts and reinvents itself nightly depending on the type of band taking the stage. Before dropping in for an evening, check out the website to see what kind of crowd will be spilling over from the music side. Expect the unexpected: Plush books every type of group, from alternative to bluegrass, hip-hop to country and various DJs in between. They’re all there to entertain well-dressed, mainly 20- and 30-something patrons who mingle about the multiple bars, now and then popping out onto an outdoor balcony to grab a smoke. Weekends usually draw in talented national and local acts for a door charge of around $8. Large, noisy crowds sometimes take over the front room on busy nights. More laid-back weeknight shows are offered without cover.
The Eats: Not everyone you’ll encounter is a music fan. The restaurant, ably helmed by executive chef David Zimmerman, is enough to stand on its own. Open Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m, and Sundays till midnight, Plush’s diner offers breakfast anytime, along with innovative small bites – Shepherd’s Pie Skins; Mini Meatloaf Cupcakes; spinach, fig and blue cheese wontons – along with salads and more substantial sandwiches, most notably a highly recommended spicy crawfish roll with apple slaw. All menu items – including bread, condiments, cheeses, sausages – are crafted in-house from scratch.
The Verdict: Marred by a nonexistent cocktail menu and some blatantly awful decorating choices (i.e. the senseless cotton collage hovering over the main bar), Plush needs to work out a few bugs. And while it may be adopting too many identities to keep up with, at its core, it is an authentic and unique music house primed for some wildly late nights.