The Lovely Wife and I had our 12th anniversary on Sunday. Nothing says “Happy Anniversary, I love you” quite like going to a restaurant that specializes in butchering its own meat.
I had wanted to visit The Block in Webster Groves for quite some time. I had heard a lot about it last year in the local press, and this video created by one of the owners behind The Block really caught my eye.*
*Two thoughts on butchering. First, I am totally fascinated by the butchering process. When I was a kid, I helped my grandparents butcher hogs on their farm a couple of times. I think it is such an important and under-appreciated skill. I help out for a few hours each year cutting up pork for our church’s sausage supper, and I’m always amazed by some of the older gentlemen of our congregation who cut pork all day long. My hands are killing me after only two or three hours of work…then there’s guys in their 70s who butcher all day long. It kind of reminds me that my hands are generally used for typing and texting most of their days, and are not accustomed to actual WORK.
Second, for those who are opposed to the eating of meat, and butchering animals, good for you, but here is my philosophy. Everything dies of something. Hogs, cattle, chicken and their tasty brethren serve an important and noble purpose. They fuel innovation and progress. Do I wish we raised our food more humanely in general? Absolutely. I really wish we could go back to more sustainable agriculture. But, with 7 billion mouths to feed, industrial agriculture is here to stay.
And now back to our romantic anniversary…with our two children.
Unfortunately, my Mom and Dad are out of town over Christmas. They are our go-to babysitters, and we really didn’t feel like trying to arrange a sitter, so we spent the day with our kiddos. Honestly, it was a blast. They’re kind of funny, loud reminders of all we’ve accomplished during our dozen years of wedded bliss.* We went to the Missouri Botanical Garden in the afternoon and had an awesome time together. I am constantly amazed at how awesome the Botanical Garden is all year round.
*So, I was thinking about what to give the lovely wife for our anniversary. I started thinking about dozens. The first thing that popped into my head was eggs. Then doughnuts. Finally, my mother-in-law suggested a dozen roses. That thought had never crossed my mind. I am a true romantic.
And on to the meal. It was not very busy on Sunday night, and we were seated right away. The space is open with wooden walls and metal chairs and tables. I especially enjoyed the large picture of heritage breed hogs to my left as I sat down.
Our waitress was prompt with our beverages. I ordered a Boulevard Tank 7 Ale, and the lovely wife ordered a mixed drink. I’d never had Tank 7 before, and found it to be an excellent citrusy, hoppy beer.
As it was still Christmas break, and I’m still off the reservation as far as health goes, we ordered an appetizer. Our waitress described the flatbread of the day as having prime rib with onions, peppers, cheddar, and their own steak sauce.
You had me at prime rib.
It came out cut into four generous strips. I loved it. The prime rib strips still had pink centers, and the onions and steak sauce provided sweetness to contrast the savory beef.
As we are at a restaurant that butchers its own meat, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with the Butcher’s Cut on the menu. The cut of the day was a 12 ounce ribeye. I ordered it medium-rare, while Sarah ordered The Block Burger medium.
As for the kids, Katie ordered buttered noodles, while Brendan ordered the mac and cheese. Interestingly, Katie was permitted to substitute spinach for the fries as her side.
After a short wait, our food arrived. First, the burger. The lovely wife and I said we would split our dishes, so we would each get some steak and burger each. I am glad I decided to share. It was by far, the best burger I have had in St. Louis. Perfectly pink in the middle, each bite was full of well seasoned, melt in your mouth savory ground beef. Juices literally ran down my chin for the first couple of bites. The cheddar was very sharp, adding an extra burst of flavor, and the pickled onions and pickles complimented it all very well. I have to be honest, I don’t even recall the bun, the meat was that good.
As for the steak, it was excellent as well. Ribeyes are my favorite steaks. A little fatty, lots of bold flavor. Once again, my steak was well seasoned, and cooked to a perfect medium-rare. My lovely wife couldn’t get enough of the steak sauce. It was excellent. Sweeter than A1 and other sauces out there, the Block sauce was a great compliment to our steak (and fries).
Speaking of the fries, they were fantastic as well. Well salted, with enough garlic flavor, but not overwhelming, as garlic fries tend to be.
The wonderful daughter liked the buttered noodles, but didn’t care for the spinach. The delightful son liked the mac and cheese and fries.
My daughter noticed the flavors of ice cream on the large chalkboard behind us early in our meal. It was all house made and had some intriguing flavors.
As it was our anniversary, we decided to splurge on dessert as well. Each order comes with two scoops of ice cream. The kids split an order of farmhouse vanilla, while the lovely wife and I shared a bowl of CHOCOLATE BACON ICE CREAM.
Sadly, my bacon intake will be greatly curtailed in 2013, but wow, I truly enjoyed the blessings of the Bacon Christmas Fairy over break. First off, the chocolate flavor in the ice cream was very intense. It was strong dark chocolate that had a deep complex flavor. It was almost a smoky flavor. Into that were chunks of delightful salted bacon. Cold, smoky, and salty it was a real treat. The lovely wife agreed it was some of the best ice cream we have had.
One final note, as parents of a diabetic child, we really appreciate it when restaurants can give us accurate food measurements. When we asked our server the portion size of our daughter’s buttered noodles, she promptly returned and told us a serving was six ounces. It is a real help, and we appreciated the service with a smile.
Overall, we all agreed it was a wonderful anniversary meal. We felt well taken care of, had amazing appetizers, marvelous main courses, and delicious desserts. It was a delightful end to our celebration of a dozen years of marriage. So, if you find yourselves in Webster Groves, drive around to The Block and meet some outstanding meat in the new year.