St. Louis, Missouri: Ted Drewes' Frozen Custard
"These concretes are so thick that the servers make a show out of holding the them upside-down with the spoon suspended in the mix without any danger of it (or the shake itself) sliding out of the cup."
When I left Kansas City I was already thinking about that night's destination: St. Louis, home of Ted Drewes' Frozen Custard. It was dusk when I rolled into the parking lot of the Ted Drewes on Chippewa, located on historic Route 66. My gas tank was on empty, I was striking out in my attempt to locate a pet-friendly hotel for the night, and the sky was about to let loose with a downpour. But this didn't stop me, or dozens of others, from lining up for concretes.
A national institution, Ted Drewes' concrete is an ultra-thick interpretation of a milkshake, made with frozen custard (always vanilla), and rounded out with optional mix-ins like nuts, candy, fruit, and other sundae-style fixings . You probably know the drill—these concretes are so thick that the servers make a show out of holding the them upside-down with the spoon suspended in the mix without any danger of it (or the shake itself) sliding out of the cup.
The menu had some familiar ice cream touchstones but some of the "Flavorings" had me scratching my head (Frisco? Tedad?). Their lineup of specialties included concoctions with curious names like Hawaiian, Cardinal Sin, Terramizzou, Southern, Fox Treat, Crater Copernicus, and Dottie. Not wanting to tie up the line I kicked it omakase style and the server surprised me with one of their most popular mixes, the Dutchman—vanilla custard blended with butterscotch, chocolate, and pecans. This was wobbly-knees good and, while it's probably not fair to compare frozen custard with soft serve, blew away any Blizzard or McFlurry that's ever crossed my lips.
St. Louis native and New York restaurateur Danny Meyer tips his hat to Ted Drewes with the concretes at his incredibly popular Shake Shack outposts. While I've knocked back many milkshakes at Shake Shack, this weekend I bypassed the hour-long wait and took full advantage of the ice cream only "B-Line" at the Madison Park location to try my first Shake Shake concrete (vanilla frozen custard with hot fudge and peanut butter).
Delicious, but it was already melting by the time I grabbed a seat on a nearby park bench. This was definitely not going to be dangling over my head, but it'll have to be my go-to place for a concrete fix until the next time I find myself in St. Louis.
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
6726 Chippewa, St. Louis, Missouri, 63109 (map)
4224 South Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri, 63111 (map)
About the author: Brad Thomas Parsons is a Brooklyn-based writer who has interviewed many of the food world's biggest names, including David Chang, Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Danny Meyer, Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver, Paula Deen, and Giada De Laurentiis, among others. He is currently at work on his first book, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails and Recipes.