Thursday, August 12, 2010

STL Views and Reviews: Crown Candy Kitchen

Crown Candy Kitchen.

If you live in St. Louis, you've probably heard of it. 

If you don't live in St. Louis, you may have heard of it as well -- most recently, the St. Louis institution was featured on the Travel Channel's Man v. Food when host Adam Richman failed the Crown Candy Challenge to drink five malts in thirty minutes. 

No, it's not the place to go if you're looking for a healthy experience . . .

Crown Candy Kitchen is hailed as one of St. Louis' "oldest and most popular attractions."  Since 1913, Crown Candy has been making its own confectionary delights, and serving classic soda fountain treats like malts, phosphates, and giant sundaes. 

If it's a hearty meal that you're in the mood for, they also serve sandwiches like a BLT that comes stacked with an entire pound of bacon!!!

They've even had a book written about them, Sweetness Preserved: The Story Of The Crown Candy Kitchen.

So being the good St. Louisans that we are, my husband and I decided recently that we really couldn't get away with never having visited Crown Candy Kitchen any longer.

Taking our kids and checking it out for ourselves just seemed like our civic duty.

But we were kind of disappointed.  It didn't live up to all the hype.

If you're looking for a good dose of nostalgia, a visit to Crown Candy Kitchen is like taking a step back in time.  It's even still located at its original location on St. Louis Avenue in North St. Louis -- and driving along those streets you can almost see the neighborhood as it must have once been, before the beautiful, Victorian style homes that look like they came straight out of Meet Me In St. Louis became the run-down, bullet-ridden places that they are today.

The candy counter, filled with licorice and giant lollipops and homemade chunks of chocolate, was neat (and thoroughly entertained my kids during our almost hour long wait).  But, by today's standards, it was small, and to my grown-up eye, the candy just didn't look as enticing as I thought it should.

I'm not sure what I was expecting -- it's not like I had visions of Willy Wonka's factory dancing in my head -- but the reality just didn't live up to the expectation.  I've seen better candy counters in my day . . . Godiva, anybody???   

The restaurant boasts ten booths that seat four, and a few more two-seaters.  So when they're busy, as they were on the Sunday afternoon when we decided to go, you wait. 

And wait.  And wait.  At one point, the line was out the door and down the street.  And when you wait for something that long, especially with young children, you expect it to be worthwhile. 

Don't get me wrong, the food isn't bad.  It is good.  But it's not destination-trip-to-North-St.-Louis-good

My husband had that BLT (and I quietly pulled slices of bacon off piece by piece lest he have a heart attack right in front of me).  I had a Breaded Chicken Sandwich.  The chicken was hot, fresh, and juicy, the bread was soft, an the sandwich was slathered with Miracle Whip.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  But it was also something that I could make at home.  Or get from KFC. 

And the ice cream was what truly disappointed us.  We ordered a Fire Chief Special Sundae that was big enough for the four of us to share (which at $5.75 it should be).  It was smothered in chocolate sauce with strawberries, bananas, nuts, and whipped cream, but it was only so-so as today's ice cream sundaes go. 

It was served in a shallow dish, and as we dug in and the ice cream started to melt, it also started to overflow.  As in a gooey mess of ice cream soup covering our table and an overzealous toddler who couldn't stop eating long enough for us to wipe it up. 

Did I also mention that we were seated at the very first table and that an entire line of hungry customers waiting for a table were standing right next to us watching this all play out?  By the end of our meal, all we wanted to do was get the hell out of that place.

So, long story short, Crown Candy Kitchen didn't do it for us.  There are lots of better places for ice cream in St. Louis -- Oberweis, Ted Drewes, or Fritz's, just to name a few.  At this point, it seems like Crown Candy Kitchen is coasting on their history and their name, and they're popular, well, just because they're popular . . . 

And quite frankly, if you want a fat-laden, heart-stopping meal to go along with your sundae, I think a trip to Steak 'n Shake is a better bet.

Have you visited Crown Candy Kitchen?  What did you order and did you like it?  Am I missing something? 

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