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Greek style bean soup

Greek-style bean soup photographed on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, at Michael's Bar and Grill, 7101 Manchester Ave. Photo by Christine Tannous,

Q • I’d love the recipe for the bean soup at Michael’s on Manchester, which is located just west of McCausland. — Mark Tucker, St. Louis

A • The bean soup at Michael’s Bar & Grill directly reflects the heritage of the founder of this popular Maplewood restaurant, Michael Malliotakis. “It’s a Greek bean soup that’s been on our menu for 35 years,” Kristina Moriarity says. She’s part of the Malliotakis family. She’s also the office manager at Michael’s restaurant, a neighborhood mainstay, that’s been open in same location for 40 years.

The soup cooks up chunky with creamy white beans, lots of celery, plenty of onion and just enough tomatoes to add a nice acid balance to the dish. The smooth silkiness of the broth comes in part from an olive oil the restaurant imports directly from Greece. Garlic, salt and pepper join with dried dill weed to round out the seasonings.

The soup, which is known as fasolada, is the national dish of Greece. Michael’s recipe is unusual in its inclusion of dill, which gives the broth a real brightness. “It’s one of the top two soups here,” Moriarity says. The top-selling soup is also a Greek classic, avgolemono, a creamy soup with a distinctive lemony bite.

The menu at Michael’s is a mixture of Greek and American specialties with top sellers falling clearly on the American grill side — burgers, wings and salad. “We only have two dressings: ranch and our house dressing, which has a red wine vinegar and oil base. The atmosphere is old guard with dark wood, ironwork, booths and tables.

A covered street-side patio draws a good crowd in nice weather. A small separate bar serves a variety of beers, cocktails and wine. Two Greek beers are on the list, Mythos and Zeos. The Greek wine selection is small with a dry red and a dry white from Harlafis, and a red from Maurodaphne.

“We also serve daily specials, which rotate, that are really popular with our customers. We bring in so many different kinds of people — attorneys, mechanics, neighborhood regulars, young and old. We have customers who stop in every day for lunch,” Moriarity says.

Customers, wait staff and management mix freely in this long-established restaurant. Staff turnover is low, and anniversary dates for workers regularly surpass the 15-year mark. Server Dawn Lamb has been working the floor at Michael’s for 26 years. When we talked about the longevity Michael’s enjoys, the reason Moriarity and Lamb both cited was the relationship of staff to one another, and their relationships with the customers.

When tragedy struck Dawn Lamb last year, she learned the depth of one couple’s compassion. “My son, Brandon Lamb, died last year,” she said. “Two of my customers lost their daughter two years ago. They come in here all the time, and we would talk about their daughter sometimes.

“When Brandon died, the woman invited me to lunch at a different restaurant. Soon after I got there, her husband walked in. They told me they knew firsthand what I was going through. They had money left after their daughter’s funeral, and they’d thought about what to do with it for two years. They gave it to me to buy my son a headstone. The husband realized we wanted to help a mother who went through what we did. I told them I couldn’t repay them. They said I repaid them every day with good service and company.”

Moriarity says that the story demonstrates the close bond between customers and servers. “We’ve been in business for 40 years. Sometime this year, we’ll have a celebration. It’s something we want to share with everyone. We are so thankful for our customers and for our employees for making that 40-year run happen.”

Michael’s Bar & Grill

7101 Manchester Avenue


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