I love it when history, architecture and cuisine coincide. Apparently, so do studio artists Pat and Carol Schuchard. The couple spent a year and $1.5 million to bring Bevo Mill back to life, giving the German restaurant both a new look and a new name: Das Bevo.
It’s fitting that they reopened the South City icon in May since this year marks the 100th anniversary of the windmill built by August Busch, Sr. as a rest stop between Anheuser-Busch brewery and his home at Grant’s Farm. He even had a place to stay in the turret of the mill, where he could watch the blades rotate pass the windows. The Schuchards intend to turn the space into three hotel room for overnight guests.
As Cyndy and I walked across the spacious parking lot for a late lunch, we paused to visit with a busload of visitors, who had just eaten and were eager to recommend various dishes. I also met the chef who, of course, said everything was good, we couldn’t go wrong.
The Look of An Alpine Lodge
We wandered about the vaulted-ceilinged dining hall, that has the communal feel of Munich’s Hofbrauhaus. The mantel of the massive, rock fireplace would be perfectly at home in an Alpine lodge. Over the mantel was a row of old beer steins and a lovely, carved quote from Oliver Goldsmith’s “The Traveller”—“Bless be the spot, where cheerful guests return to pause from toil, and trim the evening fire.”
While undergoing renovation, the basement area was stripped of it’s paneling to reveal tile walls and another fireplace. The area now known as Das Bevo Underground is used for musical events, weddings and business meetings.
During the days leading up to Prohibition, the place served only beer, light wines, soft drinks and Bevo (a non-alcoholic beer). A 1917 advertisement indicated that the restaurant specialized “in dishes obtainable no place else in St. Louis.” I’m unsure just what that meant. But the ad went on to explain that they served meat and fowl barbecued in view of the diners.
Schnitzel, Sausage, Salads and More
The menu is modest, but items are well selected and include burgers, salads, schnitzel, and sausages. When I eyed the pork schnitzel, our server described it as a fried cutlet on deli rye topped with Gruyere, covered in beer-sausage gravy alongside sauerkraut and coleslaw.
That seemed a bit much for lunch, so I went with the advice of several chatty customers, who recommended the German Board. The item came with bratwurst atop sauerkraut on a wooden board alongside a tasty pretzel, spicy beer mustard, and a potato salad, that includes bacon, shallots, scallions, and a warm vinaigrette.
Don’t Miss the Warm, Fresh Pretzels!
Now I’m not a big pretzel fan, but this one got my attention. The creator Ann Cronin is even mentioned on the menu, as well she should be. She makes the pretzels daily in the “belly of the Bevo,” (the basement) and often sells them at local farmers’ markets.
Das Bevo radiates the warm feeling of a bygone era in the historic Bevo Mill neighborhood. With a charming facelift and enhanced menu, Das Bevo is once again brightening the St. Louis culinary scene.