Wife and I spent last weekend in St. Louis. We had both been separately when kids, but even though we've lived in Memphis for years had never made the trip. For some reason when planning a weekend road trip we always head south down 55 to New Orleans rather than heading north. We decided to go the other direction this time, catch a Cards game, and get some good food.
We had a late lunch Friday on the way into town at Iron Barley. We saw it on Man vs. Food and wanted to check it out. Because of the show and some reviews I read I was worried it would be touristy or, in the words of some commenters, "overhyped." However, everything we had was great and the place seemed very "real." I had the Oak Roasted Pork - delicious, very smoky. While not barbecue in the southern pulled pork sense of the word, this had more smoke flavor than a lot of places in Memphis - the self-professed pork BBQ capital of the world. The accompanying barley was an interesting touch and delicious as well. My wife's hot-smoked salmon was also very good. The smoke on the salmon was almost, but not quite, overpowering - it toed the line in a good way. The accompanying tomato/vinegar/onion relish was a little jarring for me, but I still liked the dish. I think I'm going to buy some oak chunks and a side of salmon this weekend and fire up my smoker. They also had a great beer list, which seems to be a common theme at STL restaurants.
After lunch we swung by the Schlafly Bottleworks for a tour and a tasting. Very nice folks and picked up a few of their beers that we can't find in the Memphis market. From an outsider's perspective, STL is known for Anheuser Busch but is lucky to have what appears to be a pretty vibrant craft brewing scene (and maybe MO as a whole with Boulevard in Kansas City, Crown Valley in St. Genevieve, etc.). Memphis has Boscos/Ghost River and Nashville has Yazoo - and that's about it in TN that I'm aware of.
Friday dinner was a barbecue bacon dog at Busch Stadium. I guess this is STL's entry in the over the top ballpark foods contest. A hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with baked beans, pico de gallo, garlic aioli, barbecue sauce, and fried onion straws. Good in a bad way, though not something you'd need to eat very often. Kept me full through the 2 hour rain delay and the rest of the game, though.
Saturday lunch was a sandwich and salad at Adriana's on the Hill. Sandwich was very good, though I don't know that it topped Fino's from the Hill in Memphis (started by an STL transplant). That's not really to knock Adriana's - just a plug for Fino's if you're ever in Memphis. The bread was better at Adriana's. We then went to Volpi Salumeria and bought several dried salamis - unfortunately couldn't buy the fresh sausages because we didn't have any refrigeration. Spent a lot of money on food, wine, and Italian liquor at DiGregorio. Had gelato at a place across the street from Amighetti - name escapes me - excellent pistachio and hazelnut gelato. All in all I'm very jealous of the Hill.
Saturday dinner was at Niche. Starters were pappardelle with pork shoulder ragu (braised pork shoulder, mascarpone, and apples) and a green bean salad with picked shrimp. The ragu was incredible. Entrees were pork belly and a sauteed trout with brown butter sauce. The pork belly was good, and had more meat than this dish sometimes has - but the trout may have been the best meal of the trip. While a lot of Niche's dishes seemed a little experimental (the pork ragu; there was a strawberry sauce with my pork belly), the trout was just a classic bistro dish done extremely well. Service was a little lacking - but that doesn't usually bother me too much if the food is good. We didn't see much of our waiter and I had to flag down the host to get a glass of wine.
After Niche we went to the bar at Pi, near our hotel, and enjoyed some other MO brews. The bartender said that he personally selected the beers on tap and really seemed to take a lot of pride in his selections.
Sunday we had brunch at Brasserie by Niche. Fresh cheese with homemade prune jelly and sweet beignets, a croque madame on house made bread, and a delicious burger and frites made for a nice ending to the weekend. O'Fallon's Scotch Ale was also delicious. I had several O'Fallons over the weekend and really wish we could get them in TN.
All in all a great time and we hope to be back in the near future.
5510 Virginia Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63111
9438 Manchester Rd, Saint Louis, MO 63119
Brasserie by Niche
4580 Laclede Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108