Stepping Out: O’Connell’s
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
4652 Shaw Ave.
St Louis, MO 63110
O’Connell’s Pub was not what my fellow foodie friend and I were hoping for. Usually when I insist on going to a restaurant together, it’s ethnic; it’s extravagant; it’s chic. This time we drove around for 40 minutes and got lost, all for a small Irish pub with dark walls and a gruff sensibility. When we entered the restaurant, an assortment of animal heads gazed down at us from above, and a yellow chandelier twinkled dimly over tables of beer-swigging patrons.
As we waited to be seated, my friend spotted something on the wall and asked me if it was the menu. But then she decided it couldn’t be—it was way too short. “Yeah, that can’t be the—wait, actually, I think it is…” I muttered, realizing midway that it was indeed a very sparse menu. Listed on the wall were burgers, franks, chicken breast, grilled cheese, and a few other options along the same vein. On this particular Friday night, the pub was packed, and it took us half an hour to be seated. Once we were seated, an additional 30 minutes passed before we were able to order. Both of us ordered Swiss cheeseburgers and shared orders of onion rings and fries.
Another half hour later, a very flustered-looking waitress delivered two heart-wrenchingly thick burgers to the table. The hunks of meat rested on toasted white buns with slices of molten cheese slipping down their sides. A nice bit of lettuce and a big helping of sliced onions were available to top the mouth-watering burgers.
Though we were frustrated by the wait, I would gladly wait again for that burger, which easily rivals Blueberry Hill’s and costs a mere $5.75. My jaw cracked as I opened it wide enough to take my first bite. First came the puffy bread, then came the crunchy onions and lettuce, then a zesty ketchup/mustard mix, and, finally, the burger itself. My teeth sank into a hefty meat patty, breaking through the slightly tangy Swiss to the juicy meat itself. A dribble of juice fell down unnoticed to the plate below. I’m sure a big swig of beer would have been the perfect beverage to wash it down.
The french fries and the onion rings were similarly delicious. The fries were a bit thinner than I typically like them, though not nearly as thin as the McDonald’s variety. They were still warm when they came to the table and had a nice grease shimmer to them as though they had only just been fried. I was particularly thrilled with the onion rings. Onions that slip out of their fried shell—a far too common phenomenon—always frustrate me. Having resigned myself to the fact that, by and large, this is just what happens with onion rings, I was delighted when I took a bite of both crispy dough and onion together.
I recommend O’Connell’s to anyone going out on a weekday night, because the wait on a Friday or Saturday night may be too long for some. At the end of a two-hour dinner, we waved goodbye to our new moose-head friends and paid the check, eager to return as soon as possible.