by Jim Baxter
Housed in the space formerly known as Bourbon Street, the Brickyard Grill is obviously not a well-kept secret – the place was packed when I arrived on a Thursday evening around a quarter to seven. The staff seemed a bit outnumbered and overwhelmed at times, but they persevered, recovering nicely when the crowd thinned out a bit.
The décor is updated slightly from the Bourbon Street days – a new backsplash and lighting behind the bar, a repainted foyer with hammered metallic letters spelling out the name of the restaurant all contributed to the upscale pub vibe. The same video screens from the old days are there, playing a mix of sports and mostly obscure 90s music videos (the latter actually being a positive for me).
Taps are well-represented – favorite brewers like Lagunitas, Red Hook, Lazy Magnolia, as well as closer-to-home favorites Boulevard, (Kansas City) and Gordon Biersch (St. Louis).
The food, however, is the real star at the Brickyard. My friend Tim thoroughly enjoyed the spice rub on his pork shanks. He paired this with a very good bowl of chili, with complex spicing that seemed anything but run of the mill. His daughter Kat’s black bean burger (she was nice enough to give me a sample for this review) was substantial and flavorful. A kids’ menu is also available – there were a number of families dining there – with all selections going for 4.99.
Toppings on my “Roy-al with cheese” burger – thick-cut pickles, applewood-smoked bacon, onions, cheese – and a fried egg – were fresh and applied with obvious care. And the burgers were big – really big (all of them, the menu explains, are anchored by two 4 oz patties) – and I ended up taking half home for the next day’s lunch.
I was helped in this regard by a generous side of fresh cut fries, as well as sampling from my dining companions’ plate of chicken nachos – all toppings (here it comes again) fresh and flavorful, with plenty of freshly-grilled chicken breast amidst the tomatoes, jalapenos, green onions, and queso. My only quibble – my fries were served hot (due to my late arrival after commuting from Joplin, my food arrived a few minutes later as well), while those served to others at our table were not.
Wish list? How about a few creative dipping sauces – much like Instant Karma in Joplin (or its sister establishment, the lesser-known – but even tastier – Eagle Drive-In). A side salad option would be a nice way to balance out the meat and potatoes factor. However, diners do have the option of swapping out the beef patties for turkey or black bean versions.
All in all, the Brickyard Grill is a welcome addition to the downtown dining scene. One of its many pleasures was sitting by the window, looking out on Broadway with its mix of newly-opened and established businesses, most of these fronted by rejuvenated historical facades. The only thing missing was much foot traffic; spots with evening hours such as the Brickyard, Root Coffeehouse, and the planned Jolly Fox Brewery can go a long way toward making that a reality.
Photo credit: Jim Baxter