George Tompras insists that producing a great steak “isn't rocket science,” but six decades of practice has helped his popular St. Louis establishment, Kreis' Restaurant, perfect a fail-proof process that's made the place famous for its prime rib.
The Kreis (pronounced “krice”) family established the restaurant in 1948, serving home-style food to hungry travelers. In the 1960s, the family leased Kreis' to their country club manager, Jack Kane, who ran the place while the Kreises retained ownership. The Tompras family has owned and operated the restaurant since 1983; first, brothers Byron and Virgil “Tyke” Tompras, and since 1990, the children George Tompras and Renee Tompras Bogdonos.
The Kreis claim to fame, that juicy prime rib, remains the cornerstone of the business, accounting for about a third of its sales. Tompras says he buys only Certified Angus beef that meets about a dozen specifications, including the age of the cow (young cow yield more tender beef) and proper marbling. In order to maintain quality control, he wet-ages all of his beef in-house for up to two or three months.
“By having control over this process, we know it's been done properly; we don't have to just rely on someone's word,” he says. “I don't like to serve anything to my customers that's not aged at least six weeks.”
The cooking of these prime cuts is placed in the capable hands of chef Kevin Green, who adds a level of flavor to the meat with a beautiful char, where appropriate. Green has a talent for sauces, offering up everything from a simple garlic-butter sauce to classic béarnaise and bordelaise to port wine and brandy wild mushroom sauces to dress up the succulent meat.
For diners who like a splash of surf to their turf, Kreis offers add-ons like lobster tail, Alaskan king crab legs, lump crab cakes, garlic shrimp and Tompras' favorite, eggs. “Sunny side up! Can you get a better sauce than that?” he asks.
While the tried-and-true meat preparation process is not to be tampered with, Tompras is happy to try other new things. He and his sister and co-owner have updated the restaurant's look with new flooring and lighting, and the addition of a new sound system. They're also experimenting with dinner specials to see how customers respond. Recent offerings of veal chops and grass-fed beef were well-received, and he's considering Kobe beef, bison and ostrich dishes. Customers who'd like a whole, fresh lobster, instead of the lobster tail currently on the menu, can call ahead to have a live one readied for their visit.
Business hours are 5 to 10pm, Monday through Friday; 5 to 10:30pm Saturday; and 4:30 to 9pm Sunday.
Kreis' Restaurant, 535 S Lindbergh Blvd., 314.993.0735, kreisrestaurant.com