Boston.com staffer Emily Wright is in St. Louis to check out the World Series scene for Red Sox fans that might be heading this way this weekend (or who are already in the area). She's there to find out what the locals think of Bostonians, and to see what St. Louisans have to offer out-of-towners during the World series. Keep up with her adventures in her live blog.
With the way the Red Sox game went on Wednesday night, I thought I was going to be in some serious hot water walking around downtown St. Louis wearing my lucky Manny Ramirez jersey and ancient (I like to say antique) Boston hat.
Having been to Yankee Stadium sporting a Bronson Arroyo T-shirt and my same faded hat as a 19-year-old, I know the dangers of being a Bostonian in enemy territory. I was expecting something along the same lines from the St. Louisans surrounding me during Game 1.
No such luck.
I was pleasantly surprised by the jovial nature of the city folks here, who even when I yelped and clapped at Mike Napoli's RBI triple, and geeked out over shortstop Pete Kozma's errors, simply let me revel in the Sox good fortune.
I'm beginning to understand what Dan Shaughnessy was looking for when he asked "Where's the hate?" in a column earlier this week about the series. The quote below about the Redbirds can easily be related to their fanbase in the area as well.
The Sox appreciate the Cardinals and what it took for them to get here. The Cardinals are loving the Boston hospitality and are honored to have a chance to represent the National League against the venerable Red Sox. John Farrell has great regard for Mike Matheny and Matheny thinks Farrell is the Manager of the Year.
Of course, the crew at beer bar The Flying Saucer (just steps from Busch Stadium) rubbed it in my face when Matt Holliday cranked one toward the Green Monster in the ninth, but that was to be expected. I almost wish there had been an Obnoxious St. Louis Fan to rival Obnoxious Boston Fan while I was watching the game. But there wasn't. And I was the OBF of the night.
Now that you know you won't have your face shoved in your dinner if you're out in the Lou supporting the Sox this weekend, let me give you the lay of the land of the trio of stops I made last night.
Before I made my trip west, I reached out to local food and feature writers to see if anyone would be kind enough to point me in the right direction while here. St. Louis Magazine's food writer George Mahe connected me with STLwinegirl founder Angie Ortmann, who inevitably showed me a great night on the town.
First stop: Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood
Our first stop was Mike Shannon's fine dining establishment downtown. The MLB veteran and sports memorabilia aficionado has decorated the two-story locale with jerseys, autographed photos, and a ton of other collectible (and potentially priceless) sports-related items. The bartenders we had were stellar. Lucio and Abby were on top of their game, filling water glasses before they were empty, recommending wines, beers, and other spirits, and making a Sox fan feel welcome.
Lucio, a six-and-a-half-year veteran of the Shannon's bar, gave us a much appreciated five-minute heads up before happy hour ended, and tipped us off that although they weren't on the menu, toasted ravioli -- the St. Louis staple hors d'oeuvres -- were available.
Anyone that knows me well, knows fried things don't tend to cross my plate often, but when in Rome, er St. Louis, do as the St. Louisans do.
Toasted ravioli at Mike Shannon's is a must. It comes with shaved parmesan and a side of marinara and the gooey stuffing of meat and cheese makes you glad someone legendarily dropped a ravioli in a batch of hot oil years ago.
Still on my list of St. Louis food to try: Imo's provel cheese pizza, Ted Drewe's custard, and gooey butter cake. Someone point me to the nearest elliptical.
We also snacked on sweet potato fries with sliced jalapeno peppers and smoked paprika ketchup. Yum.
We stayed at Mike Shannon's until the end of the fourth, when Lucio promptly thanked me and shook my hand for coming in, and manager Tom Bub wished me well for the rest of my trip. We then ran around the corner to the Hilton, which plays host to sky and rooftop bar Three Sixty to catch a few more innings.
Note about Mike Shannon's: There is also an outdoor area called The Outfield that's open before, during, and after every game. I got a sneak peek at the area and kind of wish I was going to be in town to see what it looks like when it's alive and jumping.
Second stop: Three Sixty
If you're looking for a stellar birds eye view of Busch Stadium before the game, in all of its lit up glory, head to trendy nightspot Three Sixty in the Hilton for just that. The bar features indoor and outdoor seating with heat lamps and televisions abound. It was a tad chilly when I was up there on Wednesday night (as in 40 degrees and blustery), but I did make it outside to see what the hype was all about.
I'm going to try and get a better shot during the day, but for now: feast your eyes on Busch Stadium from 360. pic.twitter.com/PX16yDU75K— Emily Wright (@MissEmilyWright) October 24, 2013
The industrial interior of the double decker space is pretty profound, too, featuring floor to ceiling windows, what had to be a 14-foot streaming water sculpture, and bartenders who were on their A-game. Jamie (James if you're his mother) played gracious host to a Sox fan, which may surprise you because he's from Detroit (sorry, Tigers). He made me feel right at home and served us with delicious beers, including the local Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. I'm no beer expert, but I would have gone for a swim in this seasonal brew. Get your hands on one while you're here.
There were a couple of corporate parties going on at Three Sixty that made for cramped quarters since everyone was squished inside, so we ventured to a franchise of Texas-based chain The Flying Saucer to watch the final two innings of the game.
Note about Three Sixty: The elevators have these newfangled touch pads outside of them to specify your destination floor, but you don't get to press them yourselves -- unless you are skilled at making friends with the modern day bellman/concierge awaiting your arrival. Someone report back to me if you get to do it. I'll be jealous.
Third spot: The Flying Saucer
You may be thinking, why a chain? Well, because this chain boasts 80 beers on tap and anywhere between 150 and 170 beers by the bottle on a daily basis.
If you're a lover of specialty beers, this will be your place. You can literally see the stadium from the front door of the bar, so you go from a view of Busch to a view of all 80 taps when you set foot in the watering hole.
Server Sammy (above) gave me the lowdown on the daily specials, including happy hour on Friday and Saturday, and pint deals on Sunday and Monday. These are the ones that will probably benefit visitors for the series the most. We tried a banana bread beer that, guess what, tasted like banana bread, and watched Holliday hit his smash.
As the game wrapped up, I heard clapping from across the bar and went in search of what I guessed was a group of Red Sox fans. My hunch proved right when I was greeted by a trio of visiting Mainers, one of which was sporting my same antique hat.
Note about The Flying Saucer: They have an appetizer called Bratzel -- stay with me here. Sammy raved about this fusion of pretzel, bratwurst, Swiss cheese, peppers, and onions, and got this clean-eating machine thinking "Hey, when in St. Louis." I didn't have the energy to try it last night, but I might go back today solely for that reason. For $6.99, I don't think you can go wrong. If I don't make it back today, maybe they should put a Flying Saucer in Boston. Hint, hint.
As the bar switched from game sounds to bass-thumping music, my day was coming to a fast close. I am certain that today's adventures will be just as sweet.