Hand-Crafted Cocktails + Fresh Food Add Up for Kirkwood Joint 612 Kitchen & Cocktails
Kirkwood, MO/January 4, 2017 (STLRestaurnat.News) – A great neighborhood restaurant isn’t necessarily the place you go for fine dining, although it can be (i.e. Charlie Gitto’s). It isn’t necessarily the bar and grill that’s stood the test of time, but of course, it can be that too (i.e. Krieger’s). It may or may not have the most cutting edge menu. But a great neighborhood restaurant does have great food, a great bar, friendly and efficient service, and a comfortable, lived-in vibe. That’s 612 Kitchen & Cocktails at 612 West Woodbine Ave. in Kirkwood. After just about two-and-a-half years in business, they were recently named to OpenTable’s top 10 neighborhood restaurants in St. Louis. At #8 out of thousands of local restaurants in the metro area, that’s quite an accomplishment.
But then for 612’s owners, siblings Devin and Alison Graham, running a restaurant is in their blood. They opened their retro 1920s-inspired place in July 2014 in the footprint of their parent’s place, Graham’s Grill & Bayou Bar. When mom and dad retired, Devin and Alison stepped in, revamped the interior, changing the aesthetics, and renaming it to match the newer, fresher vibe. They kept Graham’s Grill’s Executive Chef Brian Gabelsberger, and worked with him to rewrite the menu. They also shifted the focus from family dining to a more pub like atmosphere, complete with a killer cocktail bar, by bringing in mix masters Todd Brutcher (a.k.a. the sangria specialist from Onesto) and Sarah Jones.
The bar features hand-crafted cocktails, sangria specials, and a nice selection of locally brewed craft beers. Happy Hours are Tuesday – Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with nightly drink specials. There are also big screen TVs, along with drink and app specials during major sporting events, including Blues and Cardinal’s games. And they have live music most weekends, primarily on Saturday nights!
Since Gabelsberger knows his way around a smoker, as evidenced by his tender, succulent pulled pork and pulled chicken, the menu is barbecue-centric. They have all the apps, or “first bites” you would expect to find at a great neighborhood joint. There are dry-rubbed wings, stuffed mushrooms, soft pretzel bites, and spinach & artichoke dip. But you’ll also find pulled pork sliders and nachos, slow smoked pork mac & cheese, and smoked pork filled empanadas. The real standouts on the Apps menu are the “Street Tacos.” They make them four ways and since each order comes with three, you can mix and match them as you like. There’s smoked chicken with lettuce, cheese, corn salsa and BBQ sauce; or smoked pork with lettuce, cheese, pineapple salsa, mango mustard, and lime. The shrimp tacos come with lettuce, coleslaw, cheese, tomato, and horseradish crème fraîche. And they do bourbon braised brisket tacos with their signature slow braised brisket in bourbon sauce, topped with lettuce, cheese, pickled onions, and smoked poblano peppers. A few orders of these and a pitcher of Sangria (or O’Fallon 5 Day IPA) makes a night out with friends a real treat.
Their “Garden Bites” include house and Caesar salads made with fresh ingredients and their house-made dressings. The house salad is a blend of iceberg lettuce and kale, topped with cheese, tomato, cucumber, onion, and croutons. You can make either the House Salad or the Caesar a meal by adding smoked chicken. The Caesar also has a house-smoked salmon option.
The “Main Bites” at 612 include a pulled pork and chicken combo that comes with coleslaw, cornbread and French fries or chips, as well as bourbon glazed meatloaf, an 18 oz. ribeye, and burgers topped with their own tomato bacon jam, or a combination of pulled pork, cheddar, and fried apple. One of their signature dishes is the Chorizo Chop. It’s a bacon wrapped pork chop stuffed with chorizo sausage stuffing and smoked in house. The large, well seasoned chop is served with a potato cake, green bean casserole and whiskey-braised applesauce.
A couple of highlights from their seasonal “Winter Bites” menu that should be on the menu year round include the Apple Pie Hummus, a smooth and creamy blend of fresh apples, chick peas, tahini and cinnamon that’s served with cinnamon sugar pita chips; and the Bourbon Braised Brisket Grilled Cheese, slow braised beef brisket in a bourbon sauce with tomatoes, bacon onion spread, pepper jack, smoked Gouda and American cheeses, melted together into a gooey, delicious triple-decker sandwich on Texas Toast.
Dessert at 612 is as simple as it is delicious. There are two choices: homemade ice cream (in vanilla, or the flavor of the day) or warm bread pudding with sweet caramel sauce. It’s the perfect end for a meal of comfortable, classic fare.
The 612 Kitchen is closed on Mondays. The Kitchen is open Tuesday – Thursday From 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday 3:00 p.m. to Midnight, Saturday 11:00 a.m. to Midnight, Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (with Sunday brunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) The cocktail bar stays open until 1:00 a.m. Tuesday – Saturday, and until Midnight on Sunday.
Since the Grahams opened 612 Kitchen & Cocktails in July 2014, it has become Kirkwood’s “go to” place for craft cocktails and fresh food thoughtfully prepared. Customers reviewing the restaurant rave about the service and the comfortable, friendly feel of the place. A big part of that is the attitudes of the owners, who say they want their guests to be the main focus of their business. They say their goal is for each visit to be an experience to share and not a typical night out. It’s that customer-focused attention to detail that put 612 Kitchen and Cocktails in the #8 spot in OpenTable’s survey of the top 10 neighborhood restaurants in St. Louis.
Picture courtesy of 612 Kitchen & Cocktails
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