Peacock Loop Diner
Joe Edwards spreads his feathers with a new 24/7 venue.
The best time to experience the Peacock Loop Diner in its full glory is at night, when the counters glow in pastel hues and the white globes suspended from the ceiling glisten. Servers and cooks bustle in the open kitchen, and the Delmar streetscape filters in through huge windowpanes.
Welcome to the newest restaurant from Joe Edwards, the proprietor who helped shape The Loop with venues like Blueberry Hill, The Pageant, Eclipse and Pin-Up Bowl. His latest kitschy collection—of peacocks, naturally—is on display in cabinets along a couple of walls, but the masterpiece is the sign outside, a flamboyant 11-foot-high bird unfurling its neon feathers.
Breakfast is the first meal that comes to mind when you think of a diner. The menu caters to the college students who live in the building, newly constructed as part of a Washington University development project. For example, there’s the Finals Breakfast Sandwich with a fried egg, ham steak, bacon and cheese for protein, plus house-made jam and sriracha sauce between two waffles. But the diner offers plenty of classics: The Loop Sling slathers a bed of deep-fried potato cubes with eggs, meat, chili and cheese, and the Loop Fling subs in chorizo gravy instead of the chili. There’s even the requisite bowl of Cheerios or Raisin Bran. For kids or adults with a sweet tooth, there’s the red velvet waffle with cream cheese, whipped cream and syrup.
Edwards’ goal of giving his diner a cosmopolitan feel that reflects The Loop’s diversity manifests in inspired dishes like the wasabi soy tuna salad and chicken curry salad. But for those craving some greasy-spoon deliciousness at 2am after a night out, there’s nothing like a flat-grilled burger with a side of onion rings… and maybe a piece of blueberry pie. Edwards, always a civic booster, chose his signature dessert intentionally to avoid competition with neighborhood eateries and bakeries.
What you won’t find on most diner menus are specialty cocktails, beers, wines and spiked milkshakes. This is where the Peacock Loop Diner veers off into territory that’s more familiar to fans of Edwards’ other establishments. It’s also potentially where the undergrads from the building’s upper floors will find the most reasons to procrastinate on homework. Draft beers include favorite local microbrews like the Urban Chestnut STLIPA and the Civil Life American brown ale, while bottled beers target niches from PBR to Tsingtao to Stiegl’s grapefruit radler.
Many of the cocktails are riffs on classics: The Horse Hookey (rye whiskey, soda, brown sugar and mint) brings to mind a mint julep. The Old Fashioned and Content (Old Grand-Dad 114, muddled strawberries and oranges, orange bitters and brown sugar) brings out the fruity undertones in a high rye whiskey.
The staff clearly had fun coming up with the 17 variations of spiked milkshakes. Some are whimsical, like the Salted Caramel Corn or the Peanut Butter and Jelly. Others are intense, like the Human Sacrifice: Patron XO Café, Sauza Tres Generaciones, Kahlúa, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream.
Then there’s The Happy Couple (Canella Prosecco, Stoli Peach Vodka, orange juice, fresh strawberries, dash of orange bitters, sprinkling of brown sugar) served up two at a time, and, if the mood hits, perhaps shared in the Peacock Carousel of Love, a centerpiece booth that rotates for privacy with its own TV and video-game system.
If the waiting times for tables on the weekend are any indication, people were hungry for this concept in The Loop. Once again, Edwards has proven his knack for looking ahead and filling a need before anyone else knew it existed.
Photo credit: Jennifer Silverberg