Review: Charleville Brewing Company & Tavern
This place is a collaboration between the Hamilton Group (of Eleven Eleven Mississippi and Vin de Set) and boutique brewery Charleville near Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. It’s an inviting space near Vin de Set, in a cavernous old building with exposed brick, a large outdoor patio of picnic tables and storefront windows facing Chouteau. The food is heavy and hearty, with an emphasis on fresh and local—many of the greens come from Hamilton Farms, the amazing tower garden next door.
For starters, don’t pass up the Spent Grain Soft Pretzel ($5.99). It’s nothing like the typical brown, braided pretzel. ‘Spent grain’ is what’s left after the brewing process, and it has a pleasant hoppy flavor. These pretzels are made with coiled dough stuffed into a round baking pan, basted with butter and salt (and caraway seeds), and baked to a nice, crisp crustiness. They come with a grainy rosemary mustard, but I preferred the beer cheese sauce available for an extra 99 cents.
With the much-heralded Hamilton Farms microgreens growing nearby, I had to try the salad ($4.99), which lived up to the hype. Delicate mixed greens, each leaf variety with its own subtle flavor, came dotted with cubed tomato and cucumber in a sweet Italian vinaigrette. Light shreds of white cheddar sat on top, the entire plateful a treat of uber-fresh artisan greens.
The Lobster Corn Dog ($11.99) is an inventive dish of ground lobster and shrimp compressed into an elongated form and stuffed into a yummy cornmeal coating. These come on sticks, just like corndogs, and are very good. They have an Asian flavor, especially after you dip them into the hot and sweet sauce served alongside.
If there is a house specialty, it’s Smoked Fried 1/2 Chicken ($13.99), a delicious half bird that’s smoked for 16 hours over cherry wood, then hand-battered in buttermilk and fried. It combines the best of flavors, with a deep smokiness and charred black skin underneath a crispy brown crust. Not a hint of greasiness was present, and it was amazingly moist for going through two cooking processes. It’s served with your choice of side, and nothing goes with fried chicken better than mashed potatoes! In this case, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (actually ‘smashed,’ $4.99). They were flavorful, but a little gummy in texture.
The Cauliflower Latkes ($13.99) here prove that meat lovers should never underestimate a vegetarian menu item. These fried cauliflower-onion-egg pancakes were outstanding, served with a light drizzle of house-made green goddess sauce. My only complaint? It wasn’t enough food, especially for $14.
A plate of Cornmeal Crusted Catfish with sriracha aioli ($14.99) was quite satisfying. The fillets were liberally coated with cornmeal and came out hot and crisped. There was a little spice in there, and a lot more of it in the aioli. The chosen side in this case was Fennel & Cabbage Slaw, a tasty and different take on shredded cabbage, with spicy vinegar flavors and mouth-puckering tang.
Desserts, all rich and wonderful-sounding, are homemade. Our Grilled Sticky Buns ($6.99) were actually one large, iced, cinnamon bun sliced horizontally and grilled in butter to create a crust on the sliced surface. The icing became gooey and runny, and candied pecans were scattered about. Great flavor and texture. Same for the individual apple pie ($6.99), with its hard, crusty shell filled with still-crisp green apple chunks, skin-on.
the scene | Hip urban brewery with hearty food
the chef | Ryan Luke
the prices | $2-$5 snacks, $6-$14 appetizers, $10-$16 sandwiches/entrees
the favorites | Spent Grain Soft Pretzel, Smoked Fried Chicken, Grilled Sticky Buns, Crispy Cauliflower Latkes, Hamilton Farm Greens, Apple Crumb Pie
2101 chouteau ave. | 314.241.4677
Pictured: Bruschetta (house smoked cured salmon; burrata/bacon; brie/apple)
Photos: Bill Barrett