Newstead Public Tower

13

Okay, so before I even begin with this review, I’ll start with a disclaimer. If you’re:

A. Overly sensitive to scathing reviews

B. The owner of (the now-defunct) Newstead Tower Public House

C. A huge fan of well-done burgers

Then you might want to leave this page. Here’s a good option for you!

I’m kidding about the well-done burgers, by the way. It’s not my thing, but if that floats your boat, then go for it! Smile

With that said, let’s jump into this review!

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So when I heard that Newstead was going to close on October 30th, 2010, I was a little sad. This place has been on my to-do list for quite some time; I heard that their burgers were to die for! I can’t resist a good burger.

Me and a friend went on a busy Wednesday night. I suppose everyone else had the same idea. There was a 30 minute wait, which I’m typically too impatient for, but this was an exception I was willing to make!

We were finally seated and we ordered drinks right away.

We also decided to try an appetizer. The housemade pomme frites sounded good: fries with aioli and malt vinegar, with a side of rarebit:

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Um, hello, smallest serving of fries ever! Maybe Newstead should have taken some notes from Terrene – perhaps they’d still be in business, then? ZING! Okay, that was mean.

The fries were tasty. Piping hot, salty, and crispy – just how I like them. While the aioli was tasty, the rarebit was not. It tasted almost sour, not cheesy how I like it.

2 bites later, the fries were gone. Now time for the main event: the burger! I ordered the grass-fed hamburger topped with a fried egg, bacon, and pepperjack cheese, with a side of fries. Note: that’s what I ordered. They were out of bacon and cheese, so just the fried egg would have to do. Did I also mention they didn’t have any barbecue sauce? Call me a rube, but I order a side of BBQ sauce with just about everything. It’s delicious with fries, poured over a burger, on top of pizza, etc. Best. Condiment. Ever. And Newstead didn’t have it. Oh well. I was holding out hope for this burger.

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So the burger came out. The fried egg was cooked perfectly, with a delicious runny yolk. Fun fact: As a kid, I hated eggs with runny yolks. Now I love them.

Turns out the egg was the only thing that was cooked properly in this meal. My burger, which I ordered medium cooked, was well-done. Like, super well-done. Not an ounce of pink to be seen. This made me really mad, especially because the waiter told me that Newstead’s version of “medium” was a lot pinker than most other burger joints. Well, someone dropped the ball here. Obviously.

So I had a well-done burger with no barbecue sauce, cheese, or bacon to save the day. But what about the bun? It was a ciabatta bun, which I typically like. However, someone in the kitchen was clearly having a bad night, because the bun was hard! So now we have a hard, dry, hockey puck burger and a hard bun.

By now you’re probably wondering why I didn’t send the food back. Well, I did another thing that I typically never do at restaurants. I waited for 90 minutes to get my burger. I know. You don’t have to say how silly that was. But I do crazy things in the name of food, okay? So the thought of sending this back when I was already starving was just not in the cards for me. Instead, I started drafting my scathing blog review of this place in my head, which is totally healthy and normal…right?

So yeah. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Am I glad that Newstead is closed? No. I’m not; a lot of innocent people are out of jobs now, and in this economy, that really sucks. And while I don’t know the story of why they closed, I have a feeling it might have had something to do with the abysmal food. Just throwing that out there!

Score time!

Food: 1 star (out of five)

Ambiance: 2 stars

Service: 1 star

Value: 1 star

Okay, now that this review is out of the way, I’m going to try to flush this memory out of my system. Oh, and if you do like overpriced hockey puck burgers, be sure to check out Five Bistro; apparently, the owners of Newstead also own this little gem. Be sure to report back if you do try Five, because this girl won’t be trying it anytime soon.

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  • Paige

    Ugh THANK YOU for this review. I have been confused for a long time about the hype that Newstead has always received – when I went there I was sorely disappointed by both the slow service and poorly-executed menu. I ordered some sort of warm potato salad there for lunch and by the time I finally got my food I was almost in tears at how small the portion was in comparison to my very LARGE hunger by that point. Glad to know I’m not the only one that was disappointed by this place!

    • Stephanie

      thank you for the feedback! I’m glad I’m not the only one disappointed in the place.

  • Peggy

    I’m not sure what you hoped to accomplish with a review like that on a place that is closing. I’ve eaten at Newstead before and had very good experiences, although I completely agree that your experience was not ideal by any means. I’m curious, did you ask to speak with a manager about any of these problems? Is it fair to critique a place that is closing and may not be anticipating a large crowd such as the one that was there the night you visited? If Newstead always had that many customers, I have no doubt that the doors would still be open.

    I hope that you will be more considerate (possibly humble) in the statements that you make in the future. I hope that you will try Five. It is a completely different concept and experience than Newstead was. And I don’t think that a rude comment about Five is warranted when you haven’t taken the time for a visit.

    • Stephanie

      Hi Peggy! Thanks for visiting the site and taking the time to comment.

      A manager actually did come to our table and attempt to remedy the situation by paying for our drinks. It was a nice gesture, but I don’t make a habit of complaining to the managers; I let my wallet do the talking. If I don’t like a place, I don’t return.

      To answer your other question, yes, I do believe it is 100% fair for me to document my experience and share my opinion about my experience at Newstead. As a restaurant-goer, I don’t CARE if it’s your very first day or your final week; the food better be up to par no matter WHEN I visit, and no matter how crowded it is. I was also informed that Newstead was understaffed in their final days. Once again, not MY fault. If Newstead couldn’t handle the crowds (and they HAD to have known that there would be crowds in their final week), then they should have simply closed their doors to the public and exited from the restaurant scene quietly.

      But they didn’t. They chose to stick around and offer their mediocre food and service to the (mostly) unassuming masses. And that’s not okay with me. I have a mouthpiece (my blog) and I use it to state my opinion on restaurants whether that opinion is popular or not.

      Once again, thanks for visiting and commenting! 🙂

  • Karrie

    So you go to a place that you know is closing and expect greatness?

    • Stephanie

      Hi Karrie! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

      To answer your question, yes…I do. It is the restaurant owner’s responsibility to ensure that their product is good, whether it’s their first day of business or their very last day. I’m not saying it’s an easy job (that’s why I don’t own a restaurant!), but as a paying customer, that’s what I expect.

  • erica

    just found your blog and since i love eating & love st louis, i’m definitely subscribing to you. i just wanted to thank you for an honest review of newstead. in fact, this is why i’m subscribing to you. i ate at newstead a year ago and found it to be COMPLETELY overrated. i could NOT understand the hype and it continued to baffle me until they closed. st louis is small, so my guess is like two people generated the hype – it’s not that difficult. my burger was grody. ANYWAY – thanks again. A lot of food bloggers refuse to write anything negative which makes them incredibly untrustworthy in my opinion. Not every dining experience is going to be AWESOMEGREATEXCELLENT and if you are going to blog about restaurants, you need to hit the good AND bad sides of them. Anyway, I look forward to more reviews!

    • Stephanie

      Awww, thank you! Your compliments really mean a lot.

      I will ALWAYS write my honest review, regardless of whether it’s popular or not (and it looks like this time, it wasn’t!) I appreciate that you see my review for what it was: my honest take on a restaurant. Thanks for the support!

  • scotchgrrl

    Hi! I just read this review and wanted to let you know I have tried Five Bistro and it was wonderful! I went on a Saturday for lunch and arrived just as they were opening. The staff was very attentive, the food was wonderful, all as local as was possible to get. It’s a bit spendy but worth it once in a while. The chef came out to meet us and chat for a few minutes. In all, a lovely visit. I hope it holds up and that whatever infected Newstead doesn’t do the same here.

    ps-love your blog!

    • Stephanie

      Thanks, scotchgrrl! It’s been a while since I’ve tried Newstead, and I was thinking about giving Five Bistro a try. After reading about your good experience with it, I think I just might! Thanks for reading the blog. 🙂

  • Dee

    Another well written review. I am not surprised this place closed either, based on their poor service. I was one of the unlucky people that ate here so I am very familiar with their sub par food and horrendous service!

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