Review: Das Bevo

The restoration of the grand hall inside this historic 1917 landmark is breathtaking. The dark woods, staghead wall hooks, wrought iron chandeliers and painted-tile murals take you back to a very different time and place. An authentic Bavarian bierkeller, or beer hall, Bevo Mill was a haunt of the local Busch family back in its heyday, and a favorite of St. Louis’ sizable German community.

The complete structure encompasses much more than this grand hall, but the rest looks largely untouched, still waiting for its makeover. There is ample outdoor seating in an urban garden atmosphere, mostly with views of somewhat ramshackle storefronts, but that is overshadowed by the charm of Bevo’s stocky windmill and Teutonic exterior. The menu is small and simple: a few sandwiches, salads and sausage boards meant to pair well with beer.

A starter of Pork Belly Pierogies ($9) came as a platter of about six deep-fried dough pockets filled with mashed potatoes and sprinkled with bacon, scallion and crema. If they were going for an authentic German item, they missed the mark with the dough, which tasted more akin to crisp Asian
wontons than boiled, doughy German dumplings. The crema, too, was out of place; pierogies would take a pungent mustard better than a creamy white sauce. Were they tasty nonetheless? Yes, they had the same pleasant fried quality as crab rangoon.

Despite sounding a bit suspect (deep-fried sauerkraut?) the Kraut Balls ($7) were really good. Packed inside a very crisp and non-greasy crust were tart sauerkraut and crumbled German sausage. The three large balls came with a cheddar-beer mustard that tempered the vinegary flavors. What could be more German than bratwurst and kraut? The German Board ($12, with French and Italian options too) had the whole nine yards: bratwurst, sauerkraut, a soft pretzel, beer mustard and German potato salad. I liked the presentation on a thick wood board. The brat was mild, no real spicing of any kind, and was helped along by the grainy mustard on the boar, although I think it was meant for the pretzel. The kraut was OK, but I prefer it tangier with more vinegar and caraway. The potato salad had the most memorable flavors, a mix of sweet, sautéed shallots, bacon, scallions and creamy warm vinaigrette.

Another signature dish is the Pork Schnitzel, a thin pork filet, heavily breaded and smothered in brown gravy dotted with bacon and crumbled sausage. It was very well done and struck me as a quintessential example of hearty Germanic food. It came with an impressive medley of fresh veggies—sautéed green beans, asparagus and baby carrots.

Das Bevo is a fun place to spend a few hours, for more reasons than just consuming dinner. St. Louisans will love seeing a familiar landmark come back to life. There’s a fabulous patio with many benches, counters and tables where diners can enjoy al fresco eating and imbibing. And, of course, it’s a beer hall, with a massive communal table down the center that lends itself to all kinds of drinking, laughing and celebrating.

The downside was the somewhat spotty service: diners at our table were served at different times, for example.

amuse bouche
the scene | Renovated German beer hall
the owners | Pat and Carol Schuchard
the prices | $9-$12 sandwiches, $11-$16 entrees
the favorites | Pork Schnitzel, Kraut Balls, German Board

Pictured: Brathendl–roasted chicken with roasted vegetables
Photos: Bill Barrett