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bilrus
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This weekend marked my first attempt to return to my hometown, and in addition to visiting my mother and catching my last game at Busch Stadium, to seek out good restaurants rather than the old favorites in my West County neighborhood. I made a list of ten or twelve places culled from eG, Mouthfulsfood, www.saucecafe.com, the Riverfront Times and the Post Dispatch.

We ended up at 1111 Mississippi in the Lafayette Square neighborhood and Modesto, a tapas place on the Hill. And I had a few surprises.

My first suprise was finding the vibrant Lafayette Square neighborhood in an area that for all my memories was a little too close to the now demolished Darst-Webbe hi-rise housing projects on the Near South Side. 1111 Mississippi is a small renovated warehouse with a small bar, open kitchen and two levels of tables - a more casual area by the bar and a slightly more formal feel in the upper level. The food, especially the fish entrees we had - potato crusted grouper with feek fondue and flash fried trout with chile soy vinaigrette - were excellent. This kitchen appears to have a way with fish. I also especially liked the surprisingly zippy kick at the end from the fresh tasting heirloom tomato gazpacho. A bread pudding that ended up like an overdressed TGI Friday's brownie and a white chocolate torte with the texture and taste of cheesecake (are you sure that isn't actually cheesecake?) were disappointing. I wish I would have gone with my gut and ordered the very St. Louis slice of Gooey Butter Cake with a glass of milk that was on the menu. This is the type of neighborhood restaurant that every neighborhhod wants but most can't quite pull off.

My second surprise is that a Spanish restaurant could survive and thrive amidst the red sauce, veal and Italian statuary on the Hill and the conservative dining habits of St. Louisans. 10 years ago this place could have never gotten off the ground, but this Saturday, they were full four years after opening. Like most any Tapas place, there were a few dishes that were better than others but only a tasteless trio of housemade sausages in an overpowering mango barbecue style sauce was a real loser. And my first experience with white Sangria was a pleasant one. This was every bit as good as Jaleo. Jaleo may have a deeper, more authentic menu, but for the basics Modesto did well.

My third surprise is that I'm already trying to figure out how to get back to try some of the others from my list.

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You know, I think they can revoke your St. Louis citizenship for not ordering the gooey butter cake.

I was very sad that I was out of town while a co-worker visited StL last week. He offered to bring stuff back but I didn't have the heart or energy to send him all over town for Pratzel's cupcakes or gooey butter cake and then have to freeze the stuff for me.

Sigh...

I'm jealous of the last visit to Busch. Couldn't work it in to my summer schedule. But I am seeing all 3 Nats-Cards games this weekend.

Jennifer

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You know, I think they can revoke your St. Louis citizenship for not ordering the gooey butter cake.

But I am seeing all 3 Nats-Cards games this weekend.

I am going to the Saturday game myself.

I was originally planning on having gooey butter cake for breakfast on Saturday, but Dierbergs was out at the store I went to.

That's OK, I found a recipe online and plan on making it myself this week. I also found the recipe for Charlie Gitto's Toasted Ravioli on Foodtv.com.

I amprobably going to post the results over on eG like I did when I made Imo's Pizzas at home. Need to school everybody in the STL style foods.

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I am going to the Saturday game myself.

I was originally planning on having gooey butter cake for breakfast on Saturday, but Dierbergs was out at the store I went to.

That's OK, I found a recipe online and plan on making it myself this week.  I also found the recipe for Charlie Gitto's Toasted Ravioli on Foodtv.com.

I amprobably going to post the results over on eG like I did when I made Imo's Pizzas at home.  Need to school everybody in the STL style foods.

That toasted ravioli receipe looks exhausting. Good but exhausting.

For my 29th birthday a good friend in NY offered to make me gooey butter cake. I gave her two recipes--the one you have above and one much more complicated. She chose the complicated one and then complained about how it didn't seem to set properly.

Personally, the next time I get a craving I'm picking the easy one.

Mr. BLB totally loved Imo's. Mayhap that is a birthday present I could get for him...

Jennifer

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Depends on what you want.

For old school St. Louis style pizza, get yourself to Imos. Seriously good pizza, even my non-native St. L hubby loved it.

http://www.imospizza.com/

For me a trip to St. Louis isn't complete without a trip to the Hill neighborhood and an Amighetti's special.

http://stlouis.citysearch.com/profile/5739187/

I'm sure Bilrus will pipe in with other suggestions--he gets back more often than I do!

Jennifer

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Imo's is a long standing St. Louis tradition that is also a rather unusual pizza: it has provel cheese on it and a cracker thin crust. I like it. A lot!!! But for some it may take some getting use to. For those who grow up in St. Louis (a city that would make a great home town) it is as much local flavor as it is delicious. Just like Ted Drewes' frozen custard which has several locations but there is really only one that you should consider going to: 6726 Chippewa http://www.teddrewes.com/Drewes.asp

Ah! Federal Hill! A GREAT Italian market is John Viviano & Sons. Not just because this is middle America but because it is a GREAT Italian market you should stop in. New York, Providence, Boston-all should be so lucky to have a market like this. For dinner: Dominick's on the Hill. Think Bawlmer's Little Italy, Boston's North End (Mamma Maria's) or Philly's South Side. Same spirit, same tradition, just better. Seriously, better.

On the riverfront there is a long standing joint called Al's. In the spirit of, say, Peter Luger. It is about a mile north of the arch on the riverfront at Main street and Biddle. Dark, black and white tile floors with nasty, surly waiters-there is a great deal of character. Beef. Just like Luger's which is a fair comparison.

If you go to any of these please post your thoughts on here.....

I should add that one of my best friends (and someone who, along with me, has done his best to eat his way through Italy) was born in St. Louis and grew up there. For all of the restaurants and deli's around the world that he has been to, these are the ones that he comes home to... Viviano and Dominick's are his suggestions. I have been to them and loved them. If I/you only have one night in St. Louis this is where I would go.

Edited by Joe H
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Not really special, but a true neighborhood haunt in the West End is Duff's, across the street from Left Bank Books (399 N. Euclid; happen to have bookmark on my desk).

I wish I could remember the name of the places my Chinese-born, St. Louis friend introduced me to, a great Chinese barbeque place, another for the House Special fried rice, across the highway from a good, if ordinary Indian restaurant. Some help I am.

Blueberry Hill is not as much as it's pumped up to be in terms of its burgers. However, the little shack across the street, right in front of a cheap, cheap street produce market (on Saturdays?) has some mean ribs and sweet potato pie.

City specialties: fried ravioli, deep-fried, I believe. I just never got around to that.

Otherwise, make sure to get yourself some concrete at Drewes, the source that Joe H. mentions. It's made with fresh fruit in the summer.

Another local custom: If you ascertain that someone is from St. Louis, ask where s/he went to high school. Cynics suspect this is the way natives size up class and social standing, though the innocent will tell you it establishes bonds and identity.

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Not really special, but a true neighborhood haunt in the West End is Duff's, across the street from Left Bank Books (399 N. Euclid; happen to have bookmark on my desk).

local lingo. It's made with fresh fruit in the summer.

Another local custom: If you ascertain that someone is from St. Louis, ask where s/he went to high school. Cynics suspect this is the way natives size up class and social standing, though the innocent will tell you it establishes bonds and identity.

I also like Duffs, good thought.

And count me among the cynics. Although I argue that the only difference between what you describe the innocents or the cynics doing is spin of the facts. In a far from classless society, how can you establish a bond or identify without sizing up class and social standing?

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Another local custom: If you ascertain that someone is from St. Louis, ask where s/he went to high school. Cynics suspect this is the way natives size up class and social standing, though the innocent will tell you it establishes bonds and identity.

Actually, it's a little bit of both. :)

I missed this thread earlier. I don't get back quite as much as I wished I did, but I had two good meals on my last visit worth mentioning. Here was my post from eG about that trip.

We ended up at 1111 Mississippi in the Lafayette Square Park neighborhood and Modesto, a tapas place on the Hill. And I had a few surprises.

My first suprise was finding the vibrant Lafayette neighborhood in an area that for all my memories was a little too close to the now demolished Darst-Webbe hi-rise housing projects on the Near South Side. 1111 Mississippi is a small renovated warehouse with a small bar, open kitchen and two levels of tables - a more casual area by the bar and a slightly more formal feel in the upper level. The food, especially the fish entrees we had - potato crusted grouper with feek fondue and flash fried trout with chile soy vinaigrette - were excellent. This kitchen appears to have a way with fish. I also especially liked the surprisingly zippy kick at the end from the fresh tasting heirloom tomato gazpacho. A bread pudding that ended up like an overdressed TGI Friday's brownie and a white chocolate torte with the texture and taste of cheesecake (are you sure that isn't actually cheesecake?) were disappointing. I wish I would have gone with my gut and ordered the very St. Louis slice of Gooey Butter Cake with a glass of milk that was on the menu. This is the type of neighborhood restaurant that every neighborhhod wants but most can't quite pull off.

My second surprise is that a Spanish restaurant could survive and thrive amidst the red sauce, veal and Italian statuary on the Hill and the conservative dining habits of St. Louisans. 10 years ago this place could have never gotten off the ground, but this Saturday, they were full four years after opening. Like most any Tapas place, there were a few dishes that were better than others but only a tasteless trio of housemade sausages in an overpowering mango barbecue style sauce was a real loser. And my first experience with white Sangria was a pleasant one. This was every bit as good as Jaleo here in DC where Jose Andres has a reputation as one of the best, even hosting his own show on Spanish television. Jaleo may have a deeper, more authentic menu, but for the basics Modesto did well.

My third surprise is that I'm already trying to figure out how to get back to try some of the others from my list.

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I also like Duffs, good thought.

And count me among the cynics. Although I argue that the only difference between what you describe the innocents or the cynics doing is spin of the facts. In a far from classless society, how can you establish a bond or identify without sizing up class and social standing?

I'll echo the Duff's suggestion as well. Brunch used to be quite good there but I haven't been back in forever.

I think the high school question is mostly innocous small talk in the same vein as asking folks what they do for a living or where they went to college. But the other thing is that St. Louis is a "small" big city and folks do know each other or know friends or distant relations. It's a nice way to make a connection. (I went to Metro, for the record. :) )

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I'm in St. Louis for the evening with three people from work and wanted to head somewhere decent for dinner before hitting the casinos in St Charles. On the advice of this thread, and the fact that we had been discussing tapas earlier in the day, we went with Modesto.

We were quite happy we did. Between the four of us we ended up ordering three tapas each as we kept wanting to try more things and we ended up making it through a decent portion of the hot menu (but didn't make it to any of the cold menu). Of particular note were the ribs (the only item that was ordered twice) that were juicy and tender and had this awesome tang to them. Also very good was the hangar steak with a plum wine reduction sauce and blue cheese. The blue cheese overwhelmed the hangar a bit, but it didn't upset me too much as I did enjoy the blue cheese tremendously as it was very blue and creamy, and the plum wine sauce along with the texture of the hangar really set it off.

I had wanted to hit up Imo's pizza for lunch one of the two days we're here but couldn't find one in the area (the Union Station/downtown area) that was dine in. The only one that I could see on there website that was closeby was listed as not being dine-in. Maybe some other time.

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For old school St. Louis style pizza, get yourself to Imos. Seriously good pizza, even my non-native St. L hubby loved it.

Thanks for the tip...five minutes of fussing with my cellphone browser, et voilà, I had an improvised dinner plan.

Dave likes! Although it sorta reminds me of a high-falutin' Domino's "Doublemelt".

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Going home for four days for work along with Mr. BLB and the baby. We're staying downtown and will have a rental car. So far we plan to have pizza, Amighettis, toasted ravioli, pizza, and I'd like to try 1111 Mississippi. Oh, and have some pizza.

Also wondering about An American Place in the Renaissance.

Any other ideas?

Steak N Shake, Lion's Choice and Imo's of course, and more toasted ravioli :blink: The Frenchie sandwich from Companion in Clayton is also a must for me. You should get some BBQ if you can, too. I love Super Smoker's, but not sure if they're still around anywhere.

Also, if you can get a res, Sydney St. Cafe is my favorite restaurant in St.Louis. Also, people seem to like Niche a lot too, it's basically across the street from Sydney St. Haven't heard about An American Place. Have fun!

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Going home for four days for work along with Mr. BLB and the baby. We're staying downtown and will have a rental car. So far we plan to have pizza, Amighettis, toasted ravioli, pizza, and I'd like to try 1111 Mississippi. Oh, and have some pizza.

Also wondering about An American Place in the Renaissance.

Any other ideas?

Last time I was in STL we went out to an ice cream place in Webster (on Big Bend, Serendipity?) that I really liked. I also tried a gelato place on Manchester in Warson Woods that I thought was only so-so. Not bad at all, just not wow. I always go to Ted Drewes. I don't have any first hand experience of any of the places that I ever hear mentioned there, so am reluctant to provide feedback.
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aah- i like Lion's Choice- not quite up to par with Baltimore pit beef, but darn close. au jus and great fries.

I would recommend Crown Candy Kitchen- great shakes- better than Steak and Shake.

When I lived in St. Louis, we lived for dive diners like The Buttery and Courtesy Drive In. My favorite dish after a long night was the Slinger - eggs, bacon, hash browns - all smothered in chili. I then put parmesan cheese and hot sauce on top- so wrong, but so perfect to soak up the alcohol. I think O.T. hodge's chili parlor did the same thing- it may have closed though.

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So far, so good! Arrived at an ungodly hour yesterday.

We made it to Pratzel's for my cupcake fix and seitzel bagels.

Did Amighetti's for lunch, Imo's for dinner and bought Bissinger's for chocolates for the room.

Had a gooey butter pastry for breakfast. There is a Lion's Choice across the street from my conference location so I might sneak out for lunch today or tomorrow.

Tonight at Cardwell's in Clayton. Any tips?

Thanks!

Jennifer

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I was in St. Louis over the summer, but I couldn't find pizza. We went to Imo's, but all they had was matzoh with ketchup and melted pasteurized processed cheese food on it.

:blink:

haha that is hilarious. Yah, I forgot to mention Amighetti's above, glad you hit that and scored a gooey butter cake. Hope you liked Cardwell's - I've never been a big fan of that place. Food's always pretty blah. My favorite thing at Ted Drewes is the milk-chocolate sauce (I think they call it chocolate-marshmellow), over custard with macademia and bananas. oooh thats good stuff.

Now, where can I find this Baltimore pit beef that you speak of??

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I will be heading to St. Louis next week for a few nights and will be staying at the Hilton near the Ballpark. On my last visit around a year ago, I did Imo's, Gitto's and Tony's. After reading this thread, I think I will try Domonics, Lion's Choice, and wander around the Hill possibly stopping by Modesto. Are there any other more recent recommendations the sages of this board care to offer?

I will not have a rental and will be taking cabs, so places grouped in walkable neighborhoods are preferrable. Thanks.

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I think the high school question is mostly innocous small talk in the same vein as asking folks what they do for a living or where they went to college. But the other thing is that St. Louis is a "small" big city and folks do know each other or know friends or distant relations. It's a nice way to make a connection. (I went to Metro, for the record. :rolleyes: )

I know I'm about 3 years late on this particular comment but I just had to note I'm amazed the high school thing is so noticeable so immediately! It's always been a joke in my family, my mom having grown up in StL (as did I) and my dad not having done so.

However, I haven't been back in years, so I can't chime in on the restaurants. A ton of my high school friends still/again live in town (no shock there) and say the scene is a lot more fun than it used to be. Might have to make a trip to visit in the near future, given all the friends -- and, oddly, hub's twin sister -- who live there.

Full disclosure: John Burroughs. :huh:

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See. That says all I need to know. Priory.

Dated a Priory boy summer after graduating HS and one of his classmates wound up on my freshman hall in college. World = officially too small.

My parents don't live in town anymore or I'd have been back more. In reality, I've been once since 2000 -- for my oldest friend's wedding, at the "new" Westin right next to the new stadium. I felt like it wasn't even the same town.

Grew up eating at Gitto's, Amighetti's, Benedetto's, Tony's, Anthony's...and I'm not even remotely Italian! Used to love the "nouveau" cuisine at Cardwell's at the plaza once I could drive myself there, though.

I wouldn't even know where to begin, now. At least Blueberry Hill is still around...

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Dated a Priory boy summer after graduating HS and one of his classmates wound up on my freshman hall in college. World = officially too small.

My parents don't live in town anymore or I'd have been back more. In reality, I've been once since 2000 -- for my oldest friend's wedding, at the "new" Westin right next to the new stadium. I felt like it wasn't even the same town.

Grew up eating at Gitto's, Amighetti's, Benedetto's, Tony's, Anthony's...and I'm not even remotely Italian! Used to love the "nouveau" cuisine at Cardwell's at the plaza once I could drive myself there, though.

I wouldn't even know where to begin, now. At least Blueberry Hill is still around...

I taught at Southwest High for a year while I was there in the late '70s... does that count? I'd add Kemoll's to the list of Italian places I remember fondly. I've only been once since it moved from the N'side to Downtown but I loved the place. No one for fishbowls of beer and all you can eat pasta or greasy fried chicken at Randazzo's on the Hill? Or McGirk's for wings on Fridays?

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I'm going to STL and considering Atlas for dinner (in the CWE). I've read good things about it at chowhound and from locals. Anybody want to chime in with an opinion?

Alright, replying to my own post--Atlas was great. Really friendly waitstaff and hostess (I'm pretty sure that she was one of the owners), food was delicious (of course, I don't remember a single thing we ordered now). I do recall my dessert, however--butterscotch pudding. perfect. The +1 had steak frites, which he thoroughly enjoyed. The space is fairly blond (definitely not restaurant as theater), but it's attractive. I would wholeheartedly recommend it.

ETA: Had a GREAT breakfast at rooster (http://roosterstl.com/). Great crepes, good atmosphere, relaxing. Another thumbs up. I had a savory crepe and the +1 had a sweet, we were both pleased. I recall the coffee being fine (nothing remarkable in either direction). I wish I had something like it near me here.

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Any place decent in downtown St. Louis? i'm here for 3 more nights. Staying at the Renaissance.

An American Place in the Renaissance is really quite good. It reminded me a bit of Corduroy.

I would stay away from places owned by current and former baseball players-- I have never had a good meal at any of them.

Kemoll's is supposed to be good but I've never been.

Good luck! I'm jealous!

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An American Place in the Renaissance is really quite good. It reminded me a bit of Corduroy.

I would stay away from places owned by current and former baseball players-- I have never had a good meal at any of them.

Kemoll's is supposed to be good but I've never been.

Good luck! I'm jealous!

i like kemoll's, have been there a number of times, and tony's is quite good as well. if you have a car, i'd try to go to the hill, the italian area, to hit vivano's (get some carry out) or the original amighetti's. maybe get doughnuts at the soulard farmer's market......

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Any place decent in downtown St. Louis? i'm here for 3 more nights. Staying at the Renaissance.

Might be too late to help ya, but here's some insight from a pal who lives downtown:

"...Mizu at 10th and Washington - decent Japanese, happy hour till 7pm, and easily the best service downtown. Mango's at 11th and Washington (tucked away past a parking lot) is empty only because of its poor location - great peruvian good and mango margaritas. Flannery's at 14th and Washington has the best wraps and Planet Sub on 9th and Pine has the best sandwiches. For breakfast, consider the Bubble Tea place on 10th street between Locust and Washington. For coffee and gelato, best place is at 1327 Washington - both the coffee and the people. If you like beer and wine, definitely visit Bridge on Locust between 9th and 10th - over 40 beers on tap."

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I was in St. Louis last week, and I had some good meals around downtown. Bridge is a little restaurant just around the corner from the Renaissance on Locust. They specialize in beers - there are hundreds on the list - but the food was good too. I had a roasted beet, chevre, and caramelized onion gratin that was very nicely done with crispy homemade crackers and focaccia. My companions had the macaroni and cheese, the coffee beef, and the duck sandwich, and everything was deemed delicious. Rooster, their sister restaurant down the street was OK. I had a veggie sandwich that can be best described as having an interesting combination of flavors. Sen Thai bistro on Locust was OK but crowded and rushed. Pho Grand (on South Grand) was by far the best meal, but that was a car ride from downtown. Eight people, eight different shared dishes, all of which were fresh, beautifully presented, flavorful, and not in the least bit greasy (a big complaint of mine for some of the Pho restaurants around me). Great service too.

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This is going to be a long post as I just got back from my semi-annual pilgrimage to St. Louis and feel like there are quite a few highlights this thread is missing. Unfortunately since I’m never in town for more than a few days, I’m usually hitting up the big players and won’t be able to provide much detail on the Vietnamese, Mexican, and BBQ places that St. Louis also does so well (but a quick search through the Riverfront Times website should give you all you need). I’m also only going to mention the places I’ve been to in 2010 and 2011, so some of my older favorites are being left out since I can’t vouch for their current level of quality.

I’ll start with the Niche family, since I tend to hit up at least one every time I go back to St. Louis

Niche is the restaurant that basically reinvigorated the St. Louis food scene. The chef came to St. Louis from Salt Lake City, and not too long after opening Niche was one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs. It’s gone through a few changes (tasting menu only, tasting menu and a la carte, and now a la carte only). I’ve gone twice—once in the tasting menu format and once in it’s current state. The menu constantly changes, so I won’t go into much detail on the dishes. However, to give you an idea of the type of cooking Niche puts out, my most memorable dish was a take on the Rueben (and I’m going to forget the details as this was a while back), that involved corned beef tongue and rye gnocchi . They’ve also been known to feature lamb testacies on the menu on occasion. One must-order here, no matter what preparation, is the pork belly and anything pork related.

Brasserie by Niche is exactly as the name implies--a more casual, French sister to the Niche family. It’s also the type of restaurant I wish we had more of in St. Louis. It’s comfortable, homey, and bustling at the same time (and unlike most places in DC, you can still hear the person across the table). There’s also a very well thought out cocktail, wine, and beer list, with the prices reflecting the casualness of the restaurant. The food is the star here, though. It’s not pretentious food, but it’s good food prepared with quality ingredients and lots of skill. I haven’t ordered anything that wasn’t delicious, but the roasted chicken, onion soup, and frites are all must-haves.

Taste Bar is helmed by Ted Kilgore, who basically brought the craft cocktail back to St. Louis. He also oversees the cocktails at all the Niche restaurants (his wife is actually the bartender at Niche), and it’s hard to go wrong with any of his drinks. Taste used to be a tiny bar (about 15 seats) next to Niche, but has since moved to its current and significantly larger space next to Brasserie by Niche. I’d recommend getting there early and getting a seat at the bar so you can talk to Ted as he makes your drinks, but they do take reservations for the tables. The food here is good, but your focus should be on the cocktails. The classics are all done well here (go for a Daiquiri or Manhattan, as these are Ted’s favorites and there's a lot of thought going into the details/ingredients), and there's also a constantly changing list of specialty cocktails.

It’s broken down by taste (“Tart, Bright Citrus,” “Full, Dark, Robust”), as well as a Tiki section, punch section, favorites section, and bartender’s choice. I could probably spend days here just trying to sample everything. Luckily I always go with a group and tend to force everyone to order different drinks so I can sample some of each. On my last trip here, my sister ordered a Tiki drink that involved gin, rum, lime and other ingredients that are fuzzy at the monet, but it was the garnish that truly amazed. It was half a lime with a little sugar pressed into the fruit, which was then topped with two juniper berries. Next came a healthy pour of a high proof rum, followed by some fire. After letting the lime burn for a minute, my sister was instructed to push the lime down into the drink and gently stir to allow the caramelized flavor of the lime to meld into the drink...delicious! I also ordered a drink (“Say Hello To My Little Friend”) that involved jalapeno infused tequila, two kinds of bitters, Yellow Chartreuse, rum, espresso syrup, and a couple of other things. I mostly ordered it just to see how all of these things could possibly work together. Surprisingly (or not considering the guy behind the cocktail) the result was actually good. Now I'm looking for ways to use jalapenos and espresso together (the peppery, bitter and spicy elements really played off each other).

The newest restaurant I've been to in town is Salt. It’s in an amazingly gorgeous restored townhouse. There are multiple rooms, and it feels homey and formal at the same time (actually my biggest complaint is probably how formal it felt since the focus seemed to be on sharing food). I think they’re known for their duck fat fries, but I wasn't too impressedsince I’m not a big fan of shoestring fries. If you are, then definitely order these as the flavor was there. One of the top dishes for me was the scallop, which is sealed in a mason jar with a cracked mustard sauce and a puff of cedar smoke. The smoke isn’t too original, but this is more than just a trick as its one of the tastiest scallops I’ve had in a while, and I'm pretty sure I was scooping the sauce out of the jar. The other top dish would be the pork cheeks on a celery root puree . Once again, not the most original, but all the flavors and textures were just so perfect. This is probably a weird way of describing it, but it reminded me of really good BBQ ribs (without the bones of course). The outside was crispy, sticky, sweet, and salty and the inside was tender but still had some chew. The bar also looked like a great place to perch if you’re planning on eating by yourself.

If you’re in St. Louis on a weekday around lunchtime, go to Farmhaus. You won’t regret it. It’s by far the best deal in St. Louis, and one of the best I’ve ever come across. At first, it doesn’t really sound like much--$10 gets you iced tea, a salad, and the blue plate special of the day. However, once you’re presented with the salad, you’ll understand. The salad is huge with lots of fresh greens, some sliced hard boiled egg, pickled red onions, and a piece of lavosh. It’s perfectly dressed (seriously!) in a mustard vinagrette, and even though it’s a fairly simple salad, you can tell the amount of effort and technique that went into it. On the day I was there, the blue plate was fried grouper, hushpuppies, and red beans and rice. The fried grouper was one of the best pieces of fried fish I’ve had, and the red beans and rice were oh-my-god good. The chef spent time in New Orleans and it shows. One caveat—if you do go here for lunch, your only choice is the blue plate special of the day, which can be found on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/farmhausstl). They also have a dinner menu that looks great, but reservations are difficult and I haven’t made it yet.

I think this post is probably starting to get too long, so here are some other places worth trying:

360 on top of the Hilton Ballpark Hotel – Go for a cocktail or two around sunset on a weeknight—avoid the food and weekend crowds.

Rooster – Great breakfast/brunch spot. Go for a crepe and a bloody mary (7 days a week)

Sanctuaria – Good food and creative cocktails (also $2 off during happy hour)

Local Harvest Café – Another good breakfast spot (with brunch on weekends). They also do farm-to-table dinners, but I haven’t tried one of these. Make sure to go to their market down the street!

Pi – There’s one of these in DC (which hasn’t gotten much love from the food crowd), but I think the one in Central West End is gorgeous and I’ll never forget the Christmas Eve when they were the only place that seemed open during the late night snow storm. My brother and I were able to get away from the family and have some delicious cocktails and beer.

Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar – Great beer and wine spot, with good small plates

Finally, I’ll end with a shout out to a restaurant out in O’Fallon, MO where my parents live. Asian Cafe Bar and Grill has both a Vietnamese and Chinese menu. My parents had only been here once, and of course ordered off the Chinese menu, which I’m guessing most people in O’Fallon tend to do. However, we went and all got dishes off the surprisingly good Vietnamese menu. You can tell it’s family run (the two kids were our servers), and everyone seems generally nice. The food was good all around—I tried the lotus root salad, shakey beef, two of the bahn mi’s, and their special—Vietnamese Beef Stew. I have no idea if this is a real thing, but it was delicious. The broth was so beefy and rich, the beef was slow cooked tender chunks, and the large pieces of carrots were also perfectly cooked (can carrots be al dente, because that’s how I’d describe them). It came with a choice of baguette or rice noodles, though I wish I would’ve gotten both. Anyway, the place hit the spot so well I was back for dinner after my flight got cancelled and my parents promised never to order off the Chinese menu again!

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Taking BLPreschooler (almost a Kindergartner) to St. Louis this summer for his first Cardinals game. I have most of my dining laid out (Amighettis, Imos, Kemolls, etc.,) but I realized that one of the things I miss most from my childhood is St. Louis style barbeque. And while I know it is in no way going to live up to memories, I'm wondering where we should go. The places I remember aren't around anymore.

I'll have a car and mostly cooperative dining companion.

Thanks!

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All my friends back in STL say Pappy's Smokehouse is the place to go. I still haven't been, even though it's on my list every time I go back (maybe next month!).

My family's favorite is still Bandana's, but that's more of a chain (not that that's a bad thing).

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enjoy your trip! and my eating list is pretty much the same, though at various times i throw in 1) ted drewes 2) the cheese toasted ravioli from schnucks or dierbergs and 3) dierburgs' gooey butter cake. and i do almost always hit global groceries up in kirkwood.

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Sigh... Pratzel's Eastgate appears to be no more. I visited over the summer and I found the cupcakes to be as good as I remembered.

A week or so ago I confirmed the hours and arranged my schedule this visit to get there. Doors are locked and papered over. Website is gone. Phone is disconnected.

I can't even begin to describe how sad I am.

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Sigh... Pratzel's Eastgate appears to be no more. I visited over the summer and I found the cupcakes to be as good as I remembered.

A week or so ago I confirmed the hours and arranged my schedule this visit to get there. Doors are locked and papered over. Website is gone. Phone is disconnected.

I can't even begin to describe how sad I am.

This article reminds me (sadly, not flippantly) of the Haydn "Surprise" Symphony, No. 94, 2nd Movement (*) - "Pratzel's Eastgate's dead and gone, but their cupcakes linger on."

I remember upstairs in the aging Maryland Science Center, there was an exhibit about "surprise" where participants would wear headphones, and stare at a peaceful looking picture, maybe a picture of a flower in bloom. This movement was playing softly in the background, and right in a particularly gentle part, a very loud sound of breaking glass would catapult people out of their chairs and up into the air. Well, there's your cultural dose of the day; not quite sure how it ties in with Pratzel's Eastgate, but I'm quite certain Alfred Hitchcock rejected this technique. If there were people sitting around a table playing cards, and there was a bomb under the table about to go off, he would cut to the timer on the bomb every now and then and show it ticking (*) - the difference between "suspense" and "surprise." Refer also to The Blair Witch Project which I still think is the scariest movie I've ever seen.

(*) That said, he completely violated his own principle in the 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much when the assassin's gun poked out from behind the curtain. Cheap shot, Alfie, cheap shot, and I still haven't forgiven you because I wet my pants.

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I have no idea where in St. Louis this is (it was not a super nice part of town, is all I remember), but I was in town for work last week and we found our way to the Iron Barley. It is a hole in the wall kind of place, but it has a great beer list and some really surprisingly good food. They were running a ton of specials, one of which was a full rack of St. Louis-style BBQ ribs that a couple of folks at the table got and I got to try. They were seriously falling off the bone and terrifically smoky and flavorful - my clothes still smell (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). They were also doing a prime rib special that looked awesome (and my colleague cleaned her plate, so I assume it was tasty), but I got one of their regular menu items, the schnitzel and spaetzle - really nicely seasoned and cooked perfectly and a huge portion for the price.

The service was outstanding - not only was our waiter full of personality, but he was knowledgable and attentive and just really made sure we felt at home and that all of our needs were met. What looks like a dive on the outside (and kind of on the inside, honestly) is a truly homey place with quality food and folks. Color me pleasantly surprised. I'll definitely be back when I return to St. Louis for business (if I can find it again).

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I have no idea where in St. Louis this is (it was not a super nice part of town, is all I remember), but I was in town for work last week and we found our way to the Iron Barley. It is a hole in the wall kind of place, but it has a great beer list and some really surprisingly good food. They were running a ton of specials, one of which was a full rack of St. Louis-style BBQ ribs that a couple of folks at the table got and I got to try. They were seriously falling off the bone and terrifically smoky and flavorful - my clothes still smell (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). They were also doing a prime rib special that looked awesome (and my colleague cleaned her plate, so I assume it was tasty), but I got one of their regular menu items, the schnitzel and spaetzle - really nicely seasoned and cooked perfectly and a huge portion for the price.

The service was outstanding - not only was our waiter full of personality, but he was knowledgable and attentive and just really made sure we felt at home and that all of our needs were met. What looks like a dive on the outside (and kind of on the inside, honestly) is a truly homey place with quality food and folks. Color me pleasantly surprised. I'll definitely be back when I return to St. Louis for business (if I can find it again).

It's in South St. Louis, almost by the river (across from Illinois). Here's their website: http://www.ironbarley.com

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