Apr 17, 2014

A Saint Louis-style birthday blitz

Last month I was proud to be a part of a group who gathered in Saint Louis to celebrate the birthday of my friend, Ken, who many of my regular blog followers may recall has been along on many of my travels, including last summer’s Colorado road trip.  You may also know we sometimes refer to Ken as “the Beast of Virden.”  It’s a name well-earned.  After all, Ken really is from Virden, Ill.  (He’s also a pretty big Rolling stones fan, for what it’s worth.)

The trip afforded me an opportunity to hit several of my favorite (and previously blogged about) places in Saint Louis, as well add a few new experiences to the resume.  And, of course, great travel often includes great company.  We certainly had that on the trip, as well.

Our first stop in Saint Louis … Broadway Oyster Bar, conveniently located near both Busch Stadium and the historic Soulard neighborhood.  I drove down with two other friends, Kent and Sue, and it was here where we met Sue and Terry Hupp toward their end of day drinking in Soulard. 

At the end of the "patio bar" at Broadway Oyster Bar 

A late Saturday afternoon in March, no sports in town, unusually quiet for Broadway, especially with a band already playing … but I’ll sure take it! 

Plus, it’s the closest place I know where I can get Abita Amber.  Or, in my case, a fresh Abita Strawberry Harvest on tap.  Now, that’s a bonus up here after a dreary Midwest winter. 

Me and Terry Hupp in our natural habitat
Terry Hupp obviously approves, too.

Moving on, we meet up with the birthday boy soon after he has checked in to the Cheshire Inn near Forest Park. Unfortunately, Sue and Terry’s room is not yet ready.  Fortunately, the great staff at the Cheshire compensates them with a round of appetizers at their on-site tavern, the Fox and Hounds.  Lucky us.

It didn't take us long to do some serious damage to a cheese and pate plate and a serving of wings.  The wing sauce is made with Newcastle Brown Ale.  I could have drank a cup of it as a chaser. 

Deep discussion

Two Sues and a Terry ... as Kent Argenta would say, you couldn't swing a dead cat in there without hitting a Sue. 
Meanwhile, the commiserating continued until Sue and Terry’s room was ready.  Plans were afoot.  Anticipation for a planned dinner at Blueberry Hill and a Drive-By Truckers concert at the Pageant began to build.  We mobilized and made our way to the popular Delmar Loop neighborhood and Delmar Boulevard where both are located. 

Delmar has no shortage of bars, eateries and shops which draw an eclectic crowd.  It also helps that it’s so close to Washington University.  After finding parking in a nearby county, we joined the throng of pedestrian traffic crowding Delmar and bee-lined it to Blueberry Hill. 

Chuck Berry appropriately displayed above the entrance

Out of place, yet seemingly appropriate
An hour-long wait for a table for six provided me plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere.  As you’d expect from a restaurant and music club where local legend Chuck Berry still performs regularly, the walls are heavily lined with pop culture memorabilia and other oddities.

And while Blueberry Hill may feel somewhat like a tourist trap, the beer and food prices make you feel at home. 

We were eventually seated in the dart room, one of several themed rooms that comprise the Blueberry Hill complex. 

Meatloaf was headlining that night at Blueberry Hill 
And since we were in a hurry (and many of us planned on absorbing a few more alcoholic beverages that evening), most of us opted for the meatloaf special.  Very affordable, if somewhat ordinary.  Maybe Ken made the right call with the Loop Club "sammich" after all, since he couldn't even finish it (more on that later).    

We moved on to the Pageant which I have previously blogged about as one of my favorite venues to see a special live music attraction.  Since Ken is a huge Drive-By Truckers fan, their show at the Pageant was the reason for us all to get together to celebrate.  And, as I believe I've mentioned before, there’s really not a bad line of sight in the whole arena. 

From the floor ...

Or the balcony ...

Drive-By Truckers rock the Pageant

A closer look ...

Whooping it up on Ken's birthday
From all indications, it was a very happy birthday for Ken, indeed.

He even got to bring along the rest of his sammich for a late night snack.  The rest of us were a little jealous.  Even as the lettuce wilted, it mocked us all night long. 

It should be interesting when many of the same crew get together for a trip to New Orleans at the end of April.  One thing is certain; I'll be on hand to record all things blog-worthy ... and probably a few that aren't. 

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