After months of hearing rave reviews about Three Flags Tavern, I was excited to see for myself what all of the buzz was about. Walking into the restaurant on a cold winter night, I immediately felt as if I was walking into someone’s home by the warm greeting and offer to take my coat. Although the dining area and bar are divided into two rooms, the entire space feels comfortable and cozy. The dark walls, large map on the wall, and wood wine racks give it a rustic, yet almost old world vibe.
The drink menu offers several craft cocktails. I chose the Elderflower Paloma made with tequila, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lime juice, and a Stiegl Radler float. This smooth drink went down quickly and while I had every intention of trying something else for my second round, I couldn’t help but order another. I also had the opportunity to sample the Amelia made with gin, lemon juice, and unique flavors such as crème de violette, velvet falernum, and a cava float. While I cannot tell you much about the ingredients in the Amelia cocktail, I can tell you that it was quite tart and packed a little punch.
The eclectic food menu is driven by a mix of Spanish, French, and American influences (Get it? Three Flags!). I started with off-the-menu Deer Creek oysters flown in from Washington. They are served with a choice of cocktail or mignonette sauce. The oysters were medium in size, sweet, and delicious. For an appetizer, our table of four shared lobster beignets and Manchego fritos. The lobster beignets were fried on the outside with a creamy lobster center. They were topped with a bit of powdered sugar which added a little sweetness. These were a huge hit at our table and were gone within minutes. While it was my fault for not reading the menu closely, I was surprised that the Manchego was served fried. Although Manchego keeps with the Spanish theme, frying it makes it taste no more special than a mozzarella stick. What made this dish unique was the side of dulce de membrillo (jelly made from the pulp of a quince fruit). The cheese definitely tasted its best when the two were paired together. While I enjoyed the appetizers, two fried dishes were too much for me.
I ordered the Connecticut style lobster roll for my entree since I had yet to try this popular dish. You may order the dish Maine style (served cold and mixed with mayonnaise and celery) or Connecticut style (served warm with drawn butter). Both come in a poppy seed bun with a side of onion rings. The large pieces of lobster were sweet and tender but the bread didn’t seem to add much to the dish so after a few bites, I ended up taking the lobster out of the bun and eating it alone. The onion rings were as good as any I’ve ever had but after two fried appetizers and lobster covered in butter, I was not in the mood for them. I was able to try the sturgeon with mustard greens, clams, and lobster broth. We were expecting quite a bit more broth than what was served but the clams were large and the sturgeon was cooked and perfectly seasoned. Having been honored with the Riverfront Time’s best burger of 2014, my friend was excited to try the ground brisket burger with cheddar. This was served with a side of fried pickles and was so large that it was difficult to even take a bite. However, he ranked it as one of his top 5 favorite burgers in St. Louis. With additional side dishes available, we chose brussel sprouts and papas bravas. The papas bravas were large pieces of potato tossed in a tomato sauce and the brussel sprouts were served with apple and smoked shitake which provided a unique flavor. Both sides were more than enough food for four people.
Since I was amongst blue cheese lovers, we ordered the blue cheese with honeycomb and slices of toasted baguette for dessert. The sweetness of the honeycomb paired with blue cheese was an unexpected but great surprise and something I would definitely order again.
Overall, I was really pleased with my meal at Three Flags. I wish that the menu offered a little more explanation about dishes because I probably would have made different choices to lighten up my meal a bit. This is a great place to go either with friends or on a date night. Be sure to make reservations because it can be difficult to get a table at this popular spot.
Three Flags Tavern is located at 4940 Southwest Ave St. Louis, MO 63110