There she is on the bottle of St. Pauli Girl Beer: The St. Pauli Girl with her blonde hair, ample cleavage, and traditional German dress is wearing a big smile, her arms open invitingly, and she carries a huge frothy stein of beer in each hand. And though there might be a drop of bottle-sweat dripping down her face, (she’s probably been working hard) you know that beer is cold.
Between 1820 and 1860, a million and a half immigrants arrived in America from Germany. Quite a few of the new arrivals eventually traveled west to St. Louis and worked as shopkeepers and skilled tradesmen. They also worked in construction, shoemaking, and manufacturing. St. Louis was first in booze, shoes, and blues. Although German immigrants didn’t mix beer with politics, some reformers at this time right before Prohibition, were disconcerted by the atmosphere of the German social establishments. Unlike the Irish bars, the German beer gardens catered to whole families. This caused a little concern to August A. Busch, the second of his family to run what would become the world’s biggest brewery.
In 1916 he built Bevo Mill, a high class German restaurant that served great food for the whole family and featured a low-alcohol beer by the same name. Bevo is derived from the Bohemian pivo which means beer. The Bevo Mill is shaped like a Dutch windmill and is a terrific German restaurant. It consistently wins awards for its reasonably priced fare such as sauerbraten, rouladen, and hasenpfeffer. This is just good old-fashioned German food. The main dining hall is huge with plenty of dark wood and a lot of deer antlers on the wall. Be sure to check out the Mill Room though, which was once Busch’s private dining room. Watch for the mug-holding gnomes on the ceiling arches, they are from the Paris Exposition of 1889. The entire restaurant was renovated in the 80’s to the tune of a million dollars. Even the giant windmill blades on the front of the building are turning again.
The Bevo Mill is at 4749 Gravois just south of St. Louis and right up the road from Grant’s Farm, which was President Grant’s home and later became the estate of the brewing family. Part of the estate has been made public and is now one of St. Louis’ most popular attractions.
Schneithorst’s Hofamburg Inn 1600 South Lindberg (314) 993-5600 This old and venerable German restaurant in Ladue is a favorite hang out for the senior crowd and is also looking a little staid and worn lately. The restaurant serves traditional German dishes and some staple American fare. The roast pork is especially good. They have a large selection of German beer and wines and a pretty decent buffet. The outside beer garden is nice when the weather permits. The bar has a totally different personality, being one of the most popular after work gathering spots in the county.
St. Charles Vintage House Restaurant 1219 South Main, St. Charles, Mo. (636) 946-7155 This restaurant out in St. Charles (about 30 minutes from St. Louis) features Austrian, German, and Swiss food. They also have an excellent all-you-can-eat breakfast. The atmosphere in the beer garden outside is festive and the cottage-like interior of the restaurant is quaint and quintessentially German. You almost feel that The St. Pauli Girl is going to pop out at you at any time. The staff is very friendly. You might even get a visit from the chef or the owner if the place is not that busy. A cold Pauli Girl and a schnitzelÃ¢Â?Â¦..now that’s the ticket.