On our annual baseball trip to St. Louis earlier this summer to see the Cardinals play, we met up with my friend, Mike, who works for the St. Louis Rams. Mike has a friend who works for the Cardinals who helps us out with tickets. When we go to St. Louis - and if he's in town - we like to go out to lunch with Mike and catch up. We decided upon a place that Mike and I have eaten at a couple times - Syberg's on Old Dorsett Road in Maryland Heights. (see map) We were staying out in Westport and the restaurant is about a five minute drive from Mike's office at the Russell Athletic Training Center in Earth City.
Syberg's has its beginning as a family catering company that began 41 years ago. And it wasn't intentional. Richard and Sally Syberg catered a family member's wedding in 1972 and everyone raved about the food. One thing led to another and they started Syberg's Family Style Catering, using a kitchen in a church basement as their base of operations. As their business and reputation for good food grew, the Syberg's opened their first restaurant on Gravois in the St. Louis suburb of Affton.
As they continued their catering business, the Syberg's children - four boys and two girls - became involved in the business. With that, Syberg's has expanded to now five locations with the newest location opening earlier this year in far western suburban O'Fallon, MO. They continue to run their catering business, and they also own Helen Fitzgerald's, an Irish pub located on the southwest side of St. Louis.
The shark in Syberg's logo also sort of came about by accident. Wanting an interesting look to the exterior for their newly opened restaurant, the Syberg's turned to a neighbor who moonlighted as an artist. The movie, "Jaws" was out and the artist was taken by the movie. He developed what turned out to be an underwater mural with a three-dimensional shark swimming at the top of the building. Then someone within the family then said, "Hey, if we have a shark on our building, maybe we ought to sell shark!" They began to sell grilled shark chunks and now go through about 500 lbs. of shark meat a week at their restaurants. (Photo at right courtesy Examiner.com)
We had agreed to meet Mike at the Syberg's next to the Quality Inn at the corner of Dorsett Road and I-270 around noon. (I've stayed at the Hampton Inn next door on a couple of occasions and Syberg's is familiar to me. I've also eaten at the downtown location on Market Street that was also attached to a hotel I used to stay at when it was also a Hampton Inn, as well as the location in the Chesterfield Valley.)
As you walk into the restaurant, you walk down a long hallway that has a number of pictures that pays tribute to a number of American icons of the 50's and 60's. Large dining rooms for private functions are on the right as you walk down the hall toward the host stand.
We were greeted by a guy who asked how many we had. I said that we were meeting someone and at that point, Mike popped up from behind the half wall where he was already seated at a table. We got some menus, ordered some drinks and caught up on what's been going on with Mike and the Rams.
The food at Syberg's is probably classified as "family friendly". They have the pre-requisite burgers, appetizers, salads, and sandwiches, but they also serve pizza, steaks, chops and pasta. They also have a kids menu at Syberg's with all meals priced out at $4.95.
The atmosphere at the Old Dorsett Syberg's is similar to the other Syberg locations I've been to - it's mainly a sports bar with a ton of televisions hanging all over the place. It doesn't matter where you're seated at Syberg's in the bar area - there's a good chance that you'll be able to see at least six televisions in any direction. It's a sports fan's heaven.
Syberg's are famous for their chicken wings - they have eight different types of sauces that you can choose to go on to their wings. I'll have to admit, they are pretty good. They also have very good onion rings. We ordered up a plate of the onion rings to get us started.
The onion rings are beer-battered and deep fried. The outer crust is flaky and flavorful, and the onions are sliced thick. Oh, man. I love the onion rings at Syberg's. (My stomach is doing jumping jacks screaming for Syberg's onion rings, as I write.)
One thing that I've always wanted to try at Syberg's are their shark tacos. You get three softshell tacos filled with grilled shark bites, topped with a slaw mix and then drizzled with a homemade spicy sauce. I didn't even look at anything else on the menu once I decided that was what I was going to get.
Cindy went the light route and got a patty melt. Our friends, Scott and Marcia, went with the mushroom Swiss cheeseburger, and the cobb salad, respectively. Mike went with Syberg's signature chicken strip salad - hand-breaded chicken strips, deep fried then put on a bed of greens, drizzled with their homemade sauce and topped with shredded provel cheese and homemade croutons.
It took a bit of time for our orders to come out, given that it was at the height of the noon rush in the restaurant. But that was all right as we were caught up in conversations. Our server dropped off the shark tacos in front of me and they were not small. Large chunks of grilled shark sitting on the slaw mix were doused in some of the Syberg's sauce. I realized it was going to be a lot of food for lunch.
But the first bite told me that the fish would not go to waste. The shark bites had a wonderful grilled flavor, they weren't fishy in the least, and the shark meat was tender, yet firm. There were at least four or five large shark bites on each taco. I was able to eat two of the tacos (thanks to the onion rings we'd ordered), then I picked the shark meat out of the final taco, eschewing the taco shell and slaw mix.
The salads at Syberg's are not small, either. I took a picture of Marcia's cobb salad, but it didn't come out. Both Mike and Marcia's salad bowls were good sized and heaped in greens and veggies, with Mike's chicken strips on his salad big and meaty. In fact, Mike got what he couldn't eat of his salad boxed up.
Scott and Cindy both liked their burger choices, as well. Scott said, "My burger is very good." I think he was sort of surprised, but it did look good. The mushroom Swiss cheeseburger (I would have added bacon) would have been my second choice past the shark bite tacos.
Frankly, I'm sort of surprised I hadn't written about Syberg's before. While the food is far from gourmet quality, it's well above average for a sports bar. The menu is extensive and they seem to do everything well. I've never had a bad meal in all my visits to any of the Syberg's locations. One caveat - the prices on the menu can be a little high compared to similar sports bars, but they have much more to offer at Syberg's than your typical sports bar. Our server at the Westport location that day did a good job, well, as well as she could waiting on multiple tables during the lunch hour. Syberg's is a fine place for casual dining if you're looking for lunch, dinner or for appetizers when you're watching a sporting event.