StL Adventures #11 Crown Candy Kitchen

31 Jul

Note – I imagine you think I’ve forgotten all about my list and blogging our StL Adventures. But we haven’t! We’ve been crossing this off our list since we first posted it…I’ve just been to busy to get the blog posts up! In fact, I almost always write the post as soon as we get back from an adventure. It’s adding the photos that slows me down. So I’m catching up. Enjoy watching the weather change in the pictures : )

St. Louis Adventures #11.   Order a BLT and a malt from Crown Candy Kitchen.

I organized my list on a Thursday morning. When I typed the words ‘BLT and a malt…’ serious cravings set in. I was DIEING for a chocolate malt. The BLT was just a bonus. I knew this would be one of the first things to get checked off the list.

Saturday morning, I woke up to intense sun shining through our bedroom window and I flew out of bed declaring we were goin OUT! I don’t deal well with the winter. I don’t mind winter weather, its the lack of sunshine that I have trouble with. Like lots of people, I get serious bummed out and eventually quite anxious if I don’t get a good dose of sunshine. So we’re making big efforts to be outside this winter, especially on sunny days.

The “what are we going to do” conversation lasted a mere minute because we both knew we were going to catch our rays from inside our Jeep, en route to Crown Candy Kitchen!

As you may know (Its been on the Food Network and Travel Channel and National Geographic and Oprah. Only half of that is true.), Crown has been in the same location since 1913 and these days, it ain’t a real fabulous neighborhood. Don’t let that scare you off, its worth the visit.

I’d written down directions carefully since I had no interest in getting us lost in the more dicey areas of North St. Louis. Zac drove us to the city and as we approached the river he said, “So where am I going?”

And I said, “Let me see here….” as I reached for my directions. Only I couldn’t reach them because they were back home sitting in our office. Awesome.

You’ll note here we are not fans of technology. This means we did not have a GPS, a phone with GPS capabilities or even a phone with internet access for that matter. To each their own, we just think it sucks the adventure out of things if you remove the possibility of getting lost. Also we’re cheap.

What we did have was a 2009 Missouri Highway Map. Again, awesome.

We considered scrapping our plan but decided on just finding it. I remembered the cross streets from reading the website and I was able to locate one of those streets on the Missouri Highway Map. We guessed at an exit. We guessed badly.

Long story short – we got off the interstate about 20 blocks north and 15 blocks east of where we needed to be. And these weren’t the  most hospitable 35 blocks you’ve ever seen. I’m not inclined to be afraid of ‘bad’ neighborhoods. I think its ignorant to assume that everyone who lives in a neighborhood that’s seen better days is dangerous. However, I still possess common sense and therefore threw out a few Hail Mary’s.

When we finally found one of the cross streets we were left to guess between turning left and right. We went right. We drove one block and then a city police officer spotted us and signaled for us to turn around. You don’t have to tell me twice.

Thankfully we never got any more lost than that and we found our way to Crown Candy Kitchen fairly easily. Accept for the part where I yelled at Zac for missing not one but two stop signs. Then he politely informed me that he could see the expletive expletive stop signs, he was choosing not to stop at them. Fine then.

Finally, we found it. There, among the blocks of abandon lots and the burnt out shells of old brick row houses was Crown Candy Kitchen.

And a line about 25 people deep, starting inside and winding its way down the sidewalk.

We waited in line for about 30 minutes and nabbed a tiny booth for two. Actually it was like a booth for 1.5. This place is teeny but it gives everything a friendly feel. We quickly ordered the BLT, a grilled cheese and a chocolate malt while we admired the surroundings which appear unchanged since 1913 – points for that!!

The shakes, malts and other deserts are made behind an old school bar thing so you can watch the magic happen. Like cheap entertainment really.

The service was fast and friendly and we were quickly sipping away at an incredibly delicious chocolate malt. It was fabulous! And the ice cream concoctions that I watched being looked ammmazing.

Soon our tiny table was crowded with our sandwiches and we got to work. Sorry there is no photographic proof of the BLT. Eating commenced immediately.

Considering we paid I think $15 for our malt and both sandwiches, this was a seriously good lunch. The BLT was hands down the best I’ve ever had at a restaurant – loads and loads and loads of thick cut bacon. And the grilled cheese was perfect – no fancy pants smoked gouda here – American slices baby. The way God and your mother always intended it. I recommend you order one so that you can be  quickly transported to your childhood. Goes good with the chocolate malt.

So if you’re coming this way or you live round these parts and haven’t been, put Crown Candy Kitchen on your list. There were loads of families with young kids and the draw is easy to see there – perfect family spot given the simple menu, awesome shakes, low prices and the long, long cases of candy to marvel at and pick from after lunch.

Don’t let my scary neighborhood story scare you – get your directions ahead of time and there are exits from the interstate that will get you there easily. And honestly, the immediate neighborhood is some sort of bazaar example of regentrification. I don’t have any clue how long those efforts have been going on, but for a block or so in each direction  the buildings have been cleaned up with new windows, painted window and door frames, nice new sidewalks and park benches. The typical “revival” bull shit. Don’t get me started.

But anyway, the freshly poured curbing will probably make suburbanites more comfortable. Just don’t fail to look past the fresh paint and see the real neighborhood beyond it. It’s hard to stand outside of Crown and not look down the block at old store fronts, up the road at the collapsing or burned out buildings and wonder what used to be. I’m like that about abandon store fronts, especially in “Main St.” or downtown areas.

You know they didn’t just build up those buildings and those store fronts for nothing. Something was there. Someone was there. Vitality was there. I just have a hard time seeing that without wondering what used to be, what changed, what went wrong? Have we learned anything from that or are we destine to just keep building new “up and coming” neighborhoods, watching them decline into despair, then building a new one? What will come next for a neighborhood like this? And don’t tell me the brightly painted window sills and new curbs and special tax districts will save it because a neighborhood has little to do with window sills and curbs.

And maybe the most interesting question to ponder while you’re there, how does a tiny candy shop with good thick cut bacon survive it all?

Might as well think about it, you’ll need something to do while you wait in line to get a seat. If you’re going to explore St. Louis, you might as well expose yourself to the whole story.

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