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STL-Monarch to reopen Balabans

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I had been hearing this might happen. Looks like its a go. Construction paper is in the windows and the dumpster is full. Sounds like they are going to change the name to Herbies, as in Herbie Balaban. I started thinking about all the great meals I have had at Monarch since they opened and I am sure they will keep the high standards at the new Herbies. I understand that they will keep some of the signature items from Balabans and put the Monarch touch on a new menu. Monarchs Ted Kilgore, the best mixologist in the area in my opinion, will help with the bar and signature cocktails. I think St. Louis will be abuzz about Herbies. I have always thought of Monarch as one of my go to restaurants and look forward to the new CWE venture, as I've had a lot of great times at Balabans over the years.. Just curious about others thoughts on Herbies, Balabans and Monarch.

Gotta eat.

Greggold

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  1. There once was a Herbie's a few blocks south at Maryland Plaza and Euclid. It was the hottest nightclub of its era in St. Louis and was owned by Herb and Adelaide...

    2 Replies
    1. re: robt5265

      Balaban's was a truly great St. Louis classic, paving the way for other good restaurants in the Central West End and remaining reliably consistent until the most recent ownership change when it quickly plummeted to oblivion. Back in the '70s and '80s Balaban's was the place to eat and to socialize for young St. Louis. The bar was always busy on the weekends and in the dining room you were almost certain to strike up an interesting conversation with the group at a neighboring table. The wait-staff was cutting edge, in its blue jeans and white shirts, Bryan Young, now a well-respected caterer, ran the front of the house, and the whole experience brought smiles.

      Herbie's was all late-70's flash, with a decidedly gay esthetic at a time when that was quite daring and avant garde. Herbie's wife, Adelaide, stood guard at the door and those who were admitted felt like members of an exclusive club.

      It would be wonderful to think that Balaban's could be resurrected but those of us who have lived through all of its incarnations will be taking a wait and see attitude, given the disastrous turn of events with the most recent ownership.

      1. re: alan

        80's joke: what are hip waders? guys who work at Balaban's.

    2. It has opened and I ate there Tuesday night during the soft opening and again last night for the grand opening. I was like the old days. The bar was wall to wall people and tough to walk through. The food was great both nights. I have stuck with the old Balaban classics so far but the tuna, short ribs and pasta liguarian got rave reviews at our table. The first night I had the Beef Wellington which was better than my memories and the mignonette for the oysters was a perfect compliment to the oysters. I tasted the cucumber bisque and I think they recreated the original very well. It was very tasty with bits of cucumber. Last night I had to go with the Balaburger (smoked goat cheese and bacon on a brioche bun) and it was awesome. Cooked more medium rare than the ordered rare, but it didn't matter. Wine list is getting better each day. I'll be back soon.

      Gotta eat.

      2 Replies
      1. re: greggold

        I only moved to St. Louis in 1991, so missed all of the 70's hoopla. Contrary to several earlier posts, the most recent ownership (Brendan Marsden and partners) was my favorite. I totally appreciated his efforts to make the bar non-smoking, and spent more money there during his one-year run than the previous 16 years combined. I was there last Friday evening for about an hour, and hung my suit on my balcony to air it out when I got home. I'm eating in the cafe tonight, and look forward to trying the new menu created by the Monarch team.

        1. re: Todd Lannom

          Most people I know, both on and off this board believe that the most recent ownership of Balaban's blew it big time. The food just wasn't good and, previously, Balaban's was an always reliable spot for a very solid meal. I'm crossing my fingers over this latest incarnation. I agree that having cigarette smoke lingering can be very unpleasant, but I'm in favor of restaurants focusing on well-prepared food first and foremost.