Inside St. Louis' massive Union Station stands not an AMTRAK memorial but Route 66 Brewery & Restaurant. Customers are first met by seven 620 gallon and two 930 gallon fermenters right at the main entrance from the mall. Open since May 2000, most of the layout's five "settings" accommodate diners but the lounge stands out with its gray and white checkered tile floor. Black and white paintings cover the walls telling the story of Route 66 in a comic book style. The Dining Room features a dozen booths along with a dozen small tables draped with dark green tablecloths matched to dark green padded wooden chairs. Even the upholstery has a Route 66 theme pattern. Under the 15-foot green tiled ceiling are walls displaying state maps overlaid with the path of this historic American highway. A Route 66 gas pump stands on the hardwood floor, not far from the bar's electronic dartboards. A dozen small dark green tables on the outdoor "mall patio" offer a great view for people-watching.
From the medium-sized full bar, lounge customers can read the logo'd placards showing each beer's name, ingredients, alcohol level, grain bill and hop variety. The Lake Shore Light is a clear pale straw color with a very thin body and light hoppy flavor that lingers into the finish. The 4.6% Classic Blond Ale is clear gold, with an even flavor balance showing a nice light maltiness and subtle hops. The clear amber Imperial Pale Ale, at 5.8%, touts a mellow hop aroma and flavor, supported by a very smooth mouthfeel and great malt/hop synergy. The Continental Wheat Ale, 5.6%, is a hazy gold with lemon zest notes. The 4.7% Mile Marker Amber is a clear gold with a delicate hop character. This nice light-bodied brew offers a noticeable crispness, rice?, and finishes on the dry side. The Streamline Oatmeal Stout appears thick and cream-colored, with a medium body, even flavor balance, and nice dry, chocolaty character. The Golden Pilsner is a clear gold with a sharp hop character, medium body, and nice crisp hop bitterness. The Scottish Ale is a clear deep mahogany with a medium body, nice dry maltiness and subtle underlying hops.
A standard sampler consists of six four-ounce glasses, with jugs $2.95, 66-ounce vessels $8.95, 1/3 kegs $38, and full kegs $98. The food menu offers a solid lineup to accompany all those beer flavors. Appetizers, $4-$8, include Crab-stuffed Portabelo Mushrooms and Boneless Chicken Wings; Soup and Salads, $3-$7, feature a Onion & Stout Beer Soup and White Chili; Sandwiches run $7; Pizzas $9-$12; Entrées such as Bison Meatloaf, Missouri Trout, Salmon, and Calamari are $12-$14; Desserts include Pudding Brownies and Ice Cream. A Kids Menu is available and includes the popular Giant Rootbeer. Restaurant hours are Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mall hours? Fortunately, the bar is open until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. weekends. For a comfortable place to listen to pop music, sip on a variety of brews and watch the crowds, Route 66 Brewery is an easy Metro ride away. No need to even fight the traffic or parking.
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri -