Q • River City Casino serves the best beer cheddar soup. — Trish McGuire, St. Louis
A • It takes more than Lady Luck to feed a casino-size crowd 365 days a year.
River City Casino’s executive chef John Johnson relies on precision and discipline, working with 300 employees to keep the “moving wheel” of their operation rolling forward. “It’s all about timing. We are successful here because we are meticulous.”
Johnson’s team members first test new recipes in small batches, then test again in production scale. Existing recipes are also put through the paces every so often, weighing ingredients, checking technique. Diligence counts, he says. “It’s how we put out a consistent, quality product.”
Food production is a 24-hour operation, peaking between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. During the dark side of the night, the kitchen focuses on support recipes such as stocks and time-constrained dishes such as smoked meat.
To kick off St. Patrick’s Day, the Casino plans an Irish breakfast with housemade blood sausage. For the remainder of the day, there’ll be house-made corned beef and cabbage, potato soup, beer-infused bangers and mash plus Irish desserts on the buffet.
Beer Cheese Soup is served year-round in the Beerhouse, one of River City’s five eating destinations. By design, the soup’s beer flavor is pronounced. It’s served with hot house-made pretzel sticks. “Our German pastry chef makes the pretzels,” Johnson says.
Johnson imagines re-purposing leftover soup drizzled over Irish nachos or stirred into a tater tot casserole. To best re-create the soup at home, Johnson turns philosophic. “Eating with family and friends is great. But cooking with friends and family is even better.” And one more thing, when buying the beer? For every measure of beer for the soup, “allow one for the cooks.”Beerhouse at River City Casino
777 River City Casino Boulevard
Special Request is written by Town and Country resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.
To request a recipe • Would you like to request a recipe from a restaurant that is still open in the St. Louis area? Send your request along with your full name and the city you live in to firstname.lastname@example.org.