A night after going to Lewis and Clark's, I decided to go to their sister restaurant - Trailhead Brewing Company - in historic downtown St. Charles (see map). When I worked for my former company based in St. Peters, we spent a lot of time at Trailhead Brewing Company. And after I left the company over 7 years ago, I still caught up with some of my former colleagues at Trailhead when I'd make it to St. Louis. But the company ended up closing, former colleagues moved away or got other jobs, and it had been a long, long time since I was last in.
Trailhead Brewing Company opened in 1995 in an old building that once housed the Old Grist Mill. The land the restaurant sits upon is said to be the "trailhead" point for the Lewis and Clark expedition. As St. Charles grew as an important trading center in the 1800's, it was known as a trailhead for fur traders, settlers and other people heading west. Today, Trailhead Brewing Company marks the eastern trailhead of the Katy Trail, a recreational trail that ends 225 miles away in Clinton, MO.
Trailhead Brewing Company is a very popular place with a large square bar and a couple of dining areas in the place. The bar was packed with people when I got there that evening, so there was no place to sit and be able to watch TV and get dinner. I opted for a table in the upper dining room. The hostess took me up there, sat me at a table and handed me a menu. The waiter came over and asked if I wanted a beer to get started. It had been such a long time since I'd been there that I had to look over the beer menu just to remember what they had. I ended up getting a Trailhead Red Amber for my first beer.
Trailhead Brewing Company's menu is sort of extensive with a number of appetizers and about five pizzas to choose from. They also have a number of soups and salads, along with some house specialties that include ribs, fish and chips and a sausage platter. And just as I remembered, Trailhead has large selection of sandwiches including burgers, prime rib sandwiches and grilled chicken sandwiches.
But I was looking at the entrees that evening, even though the spicy hot beef sandwich was getting my attention. Trailhead Brewing Company has three different sizes of slow roasted prime rib, and an interesting "jerk"-seasoned grilled Mahi Mahi. But the slow smoked, then grilled center-cut pork loin medallions kept calling me. That what I ended up ordering when the waiter came back with my beer. The medallions were served on a bed of rice and I got a choice of a side, as well as a salad. They had maple infused sweet potatoes that evening. Ooo, I'm a sucker for maple and sweet potatoes. Putting them together sounded so joyfully sinful. For good measure, I also ordered a cup of Trailhead's chili in which they put smoked beef brisket chunks. I remembered that as being pretty good.
The Trailhead Red Amber beer was, well, sort of disappointing. It tasted rather flat and didn't have the forward taste that I've come to expect from an amber beer. It just wasn't very good. I knew I wouldn't be ordering that again for my second beer.
The salad was a generous plate of greens topped with Trialhead's homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Nothing spectacular, but it was serviceable. But the chili was everything I remember it was. It featured nice sized chunks of smoked brisket and it had a great taste to it. Looking back, had I just gotten a bowl of chili for dinner that could have been more than enough.
The waiter came by to pick up my salad plate and my empty cup of chili. I ordered up one of Trailhead's Trailblazer Blond ales, about the lightest thing they had on their beer menu. I do like their Missouri Brown dark ale (has a nice blend of caramel and coffee taste to it), but it's a little too heavy for me. As is their Old Courthouse Stout. Stout beers and I don't get along, anyhow. And I certainly wasn't going to order up the Riverboat Raspberry beer. Ordering a fruity beer is not part of my drinking agenda.
My pork medallions came out along with my beer and I dug in. The pork was actually a little over-grilled making the meat a little tough, and the barbecue sauce really overpowered the taste of the meat. The barbecue sauce that Trailhead Brewing Company uses is all right, but it's nothing exciting. The highlight on my plate were the maple sweet potatoes. Oh man, were they great!
The Trailblazer Blond was OK, better than the amber, but not by much. It had a light flavor, but I should have probably ordered a Bud Light. I have sort of an unwritten rule that I have at brewpubs - drink what they make, even if it isn't all that great.
The Trailhead Brewing Company was exactly what I remembered it to be. Average food and average beer all served in a unique 1800-style building that is cozy and comforting. Like I say, I do remember their burgers and some of their sandwiches being pretty good and maybe I'll stop back for lunch some day to give them another try. But with all the choices in the St. Louis/St. Charles County area for places to eat for dinner, it may be quite sometime before I make it back to Trailhead Brewing Company for an evening meal.