Right in the heart of Historic Downtown Ste. Genevieve is one of the town’s oldest and most celebrated social scenes. Audubon’s long and interesting history started in 1901 when the property was purchased by Charles Petrequin for just a little over $2,000. In 1903 it became the historically famous Palace Bar and since then it has housed multiple owners, a variety of businesses, and some local historical firsts including hotels, a barber shop, a plumbing business, and the first television in Ste. Genevieve County.
Today 573 Magazine journeyed to Downtown Ste. Genevieve to check out what’s new with one of Ste. Gen’s oldest and most popular eateries.
The Audubon’s of Ste. Genevieve was reopened as a restaurant under the current ownership in 2014. The owners are Herb & Norma Fallert, Greg & Pat Ferguson, and Jim & Marybeth Ferguson. Today 573 Magazine journeyed to Downtown Ste. Genevieve to check out what’s new with one of Ste. Gen’s oldest and most popular eateries.
John James Audubon (1785 – 1851) was an American artist, naturalist, and ornithologist. His interests in art and ornithology turned into a complete pictorial record of all the bird species of North America. His detailed illustrations, which depicted the birds in their natural habitats gained him notoriety in the National Audubon Society, and his name adorns a large number of towns, neighborhoods, and streets in every part of the United States.
This story is sponsored by First State Community Bank.
When we arrived at Audubon's in Ste. Genevieve, the manager, Kara, was in full action attending to guests. “I had some staff call in,” she explained, “so we’re stepping in to help, we’ll be with you shortly.”
It really says a lot about a place when the managers and owners are willing to roll up their sleeves, step in and fill positions. Owners, Jim and his wife Marybeth were also there, waiting tables, bussing dishes, and tending bar.
“You folks need anything to drink,” Jim Ferguson checked in on us as we waited for Kara. “I’ll let Kara tell you about everything, she knows it better than we do I’m betting.” He chuckled. “She’s kind of our right hand man!”
Kara Burt, Audubon’s Front of House Manager took the time to show us around and give us the 411.
I really enjoy being here as part of the Audubon family.
“I’ve been here as Front of the House Manager for the last year. My title is actually Event and Hospitality Manager, so I take care of all of our catering‘s both on-site and offsite. We do a lot of rehearsal dinners and things like that. I can help take care and plan all of that stuff. We do a lot of different kinds of special events. We did a Wine Around the World Event in April and it went over really well. We paired seven wines with seven dishes from seven different countries and it was a really fun night. We’re planning a Cocktails Around the World Event coming up and we’re also trying to do a Dueling Piano Event. It’s a different thing and we’re just trying to fill out our calendar. I really enjoy being here as part of the Audubon family. I was here as a bartender for 4 1/2 years prior to the management position and I’m from Ste. Gen, so I think the connection just kind of helps, to be familiar with the town and the history and the events and things that go on. It really is the perfect job for me. I mean, I never thought this would be where I ended up, but I absolutely love it.”
We started with cocktails, and the first one we had to try was Audubon’s famous Palace Old Fashion. Made with Buffalo Trace Whiskey aged in an oak barrel, the Palace Old Fashion is topped with a splash of soda water and a cherry. Served in their molded ice cup the Palace Old Fashion is one of the most popular cocktails enjoyed at Audubon’s.
Next up was the Chocolate Lovers Martini. This drink is basically like an elegant adult chocolate milk. With chocolate vodka, a rich chocolate liqueur, and some Irish cream, this amazingly decadent drink is served in a tall martini glass rimmed with swirls of chocolate syrup with a chocolate surprise garnish. YUM!
One of Audubon’s most popular appetizers...
The first dish out was Audubon’s famous Monster Pretzel. The Monster Pretzel is a house fried pretzel, deep fried until it’s crisp and warm on the outside and soft in the middle. One of Audubon’s most popular appetizers, it is most often served with house made beer cheese. The house made beer cheese is cheese infused with a beer from the O'Fallon Brewery made exclusively for Audubon’s called the Palace Amber Ale.
The pretzel is absolutely perfect. The outside layer is deep fried golden to give it just a little bit of a crunch just right on the surface of the skin, but everything underneath is so soft and so fluffy and so moist. It’s just absolutely delicious. The house made beer cheese gives it just the zing it needs to be a monster craving cruncher on a summer night. It just sets off the flavors and goes beautifully with a tall cold brew like this glass of Southern Pecan by Lazy Magnolia featured with it today. Although, the most popular beer to pair with the Monster Pretzel appetizer is Audubon’s House Palace Amber Ale, but because of the high demand, they ran out before our arrival.
Next up was the Giant Schnitzel Sandwich. A huge house breaded pork loin big enough to block out the sun, deep fried, flowing over the sides of a house bun with lemon butter cream sauce, topped with a lemon slice garnish and capers. The Giant Schnitzel Sandwich is amazing! The pork loin is fried to perfection. The outside is crisp and glistens with the light touch of the oil still there in the most perfect way. The seasoning is outstanding!
If you’ve never had Spaetzel before, it is absolutely delicious, and we highly recommend trying it here at Audubon’s.
The pork loin itself is very tender and the bun is soft and buttery. Served with Spaetzel and pickled cabbage, it was a treat for the 573 team. If you’ve never had Spaetzel before, it is absolutely delicious, and we highly recommend trying it here at Audubon’s. It’s a German noodle that’s tasty and buttery. With a perfect texture, Spaetzel is kind of a firm, thick, dense noodle, and very, very good. The pickled cabbage was very interesting with a little bit of a savory kind of taste, and also some sweetness in there, but not overwhelming. The seasonings are on point and don’t take away from the natural flavor of the cabbage itself, it’s delicious!
Fired over the grill on a cedar plank then finished off in the oven, the Cedar Plank Salmon is topped with bacon and a sweet maple glaze.
The Cedar Plank Salmon came out next. Fired over the grill on a cedar plank then finished off in the oven, the Cedar Plank Salmon is topped with bacon and a sweet maple glaze. The salmon is awesome. It is super tender on the inside with just a little bit of a crispy crust on the outside holding all of that flavor in. It’s fall apart tender with a wonderfully sweet and savory medley of flavors. The maple glaze and the bacon play very well together and add an interesting and dynamic flavor to the salmon. The broccolini served with it is fantastic! It’s buttery and steamed thoroughly but at the same time it still has some firmness to it, I like that in my steamed vegetables, the texture is perfect. The risotto is absolutely amazing! The granules of rice are tender but not mushy and the flavor is awe inspiring. You can definitely taste notes of lemon, basil, and parsley. It has a very light, but tasty flavor. We paired the Salmon with the house Chardonnay which complimented the dish well and is featured during happy hour Monday through Wednesday 3 to 6.
Featuring Audubon’s housemade andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp, the Cajun Pasta is served with a salad of your choice and a piece of grilled artisan bread.
Last for the entrees was the Cajun Pasta. Featuring Audubon’s housemade andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp, the Cajun Pasta is served with a salad of your choice and a piece of grilled artisan bread. The Cajun Pasta is magnificent! With a strong heat that subtly creeps up on you, the Cajun Pasta is very savory, and very filling. It punches you right in the mouth with a popping, surprising flavor and then very slowly heats the inside of your mouth with a warmth that eventually radiates all the way through your body rolling and building but never coming to a crescendo. Without getting too spicy, it gives you a small taste of cajun heat and the flavor is wonderful.
Time for dessert!
To top off our amazing meal, we had a bowl of Salted Caramel Martini Ice Cream. This very exclusive specially made ice cream from local creamery, Bold Spoon Creamery, features one of Audubon’s signature drinks, the Salted Caramel Martini. The Martinis are made in house then taken over to Bold Spoon where Rachel infuses the ice cream with it. Once the ice cream is delivered back to Audubon’s it’s topped with a little bit of caramel sauce and sea salt. Advertised as Audubon’s booze infused ice cream it has very quickly become one of their top sellers and for good reason.
...specially made ice cream from local creamery, Bold Spoon Creamery, features one of Audubon’s signature drinks, the Salted Caramel Martini.
The Salted Caramel Martini Ice Cream is not just ice cream, it is a complete snack. You have to be careful when you eat it, because it’s dangerous and it could end up becoming a meal! Creamy, thick, and rich, the sea salt definitely adds a big zing to it that just highlights all those other flavors of the caramel and the vanilla. It is decadent, sweet and perfect…absolutely magnificent. You put a spoonful in your mouth and just melt into the thought that this is what heaven must taste like.
After our outstanding meal, Kara took us on a tour to see the hotel.
The honeymoon suite. Eat, drink, and crash at Audubon's.
“We refer to this room as our honeymoon suite. It’s the Turtle Dove room, room number three. It’s one of our most popular rooms because it’s very unique with the exposed brick wall. With a night’s stay you get a free cocktail at the bar and breakfast the next day. We do also offer corporate rates Sunday to Thursday when people are traveling throughout the week for business. We have seven different rooms and six rooms have king beds.”
There’s lots of history in this building...
...The Bluebird room, has two queen beds, a sitting area with a couch, and a kitchenette. Each room is a little bit unique and has its own story to tell.
“The seventh room, The Bluebird room, has two queen beds, a sitting area with a couch, and a kitchenette. Each room is a little bit unique and has its own story to tell. The hotel opened originally in 1904 and it actually housed one of the first TVs in Ste. Genevieve County. It originally had 13 rooms with shared bathrooms. When we reopened the hotel in 2018 that changed to seven luxury rooms, each with their own private bathroom of course."
There’s lots of history in this building, but the hotel also carries pieces of history from the downtown area surrounding Audubon’s in a most unique way. Next to each window, in each hotel room, is a picture of what used to be the view outside. Portraits displaying ghosts of Audubon’s past and tiny glimpses into the rich history of Ste. Genevieve.
Next to each window, in each hotel room, is a picture of what used to be the view outside. Portraits displaying ghosts of Audubon’s past...
Audubon’s has been a pillar to the Ste. Genevieve downtown community for more than a century. It has witnessed an unimaginable amount of change and progress. It’s fun to think about what changes are in store for the future of Ste. Genevieve’s oldest and most popular downtown eatery. Audubon's truly is a place where the past meets the present, and definitely worth the drive to go visit.
GET OUT THERE!
words aj koehler
pics t. smugala
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