Going home for Christmas often provides the unique opportunity of reviewing restaurants outside of my traditional coverage area, and this year was no exception. It’s the first time in three years that I’ve been home. The universe gave me a gift: Schlafly Brewery of Saint Louis opened a location in the family’s ancestral home of Highland, Illinois during Christmas week.
After coming to the USA from Switzerland, the founders of the craft brewery first put down roots in a small town not far from where I would be staying this Christmas. I saw the news of the opening through the old television station I got all my news from as a kid. It struck me as unusual for many reasons. Saint Louis, while not far away, so rarely extends the tendrils of its businesses out into these rural communities. It wouldn’t be until I actually visited that I’d find out the historical significance of the choice. It also promised a dining experience to an area often underserved.
So I planned Christmas Eve lunch with my father and my husband at the new restaurant, and we arrived ahead of the doors opening to make sure we could get a table. The location wasn’t taking reservations– and they may never. That wasn’t particularly clear. What was clear, however, was that we were not the only people in the region with this idea. Even ten minutes early, car after car arrived to park along Highland Square and wait their turn to walk into the doors of the old bank turned brewpub.
We were seated at a hightop for our early lunch, and there we ordered our drinks for the meal. I began with a flight. I also failed as a food blogger and didn’t get a proper picture of the beautiful thing. The opportunity to sample five different beers on draft was too tantalizing for me to remember my duty. My apologies. Their wintry haze IPA is delicious on draft, and I’ll be looking forward to it again next year when we return. We most certainly will be doing that.
The fries are on the softer side, which isn’t a bad thing. You can tell that these are cut in house and fried with some care. They’re well seasoned, and they’re a welcome break from the richness of the burger that’s often only broken by the acidity of the light pickle in the burger itself. Speaking of these pickles-- these are also done in house. I can't think of a single jarred pickle that tastes or looks at light as these did.
Something like the Schlafly brew pub isn’t often found in towns like Highland. Indeed, it’s probably the first of its kind that I’ve seen in such a small town. Ten thousand people, and now it’s home to a brewpub that could compete in cities four times its size. The Highland Park location will be a welcome destination for the rural residents of the area, no doubt. I know we’ll be back on every visit. The less I have to drive into the metro-east, the better!
You can visit the Schlafly website to take a peek at the menu not only for this location, but for all others that are part of the Schlafly family in the Saint Louis Metro Area. Plan your trip if Saint Louis is in your future, and you won’t be disappointed. They’ve been fighting the good fight for good beer in the shadow of Anheuser-Busch since the 90’s. It’s the least we can do to support them.