We just returned from a long weekend in St. Louis and since we'd received some good advice from midwest 'Hounders, I thought they might be interested in our impressions and experiences. First night was Riddles Pentultimate. It was mentioned on two lists, so we decided to try it. It was a Friday night, and our first impression was "college bar scene," but we pushed on and were seated in the comfortable back dining room. When he learned why were there, our waiter, Damon, turned into a fount of enthusiasm and knowledge. The spouse had a broiled halibut that she thought was excellent. I had the Memphis Pulled Pork which was spicy, but a bit dry. Had two local wheat beers on tap, which were tasty. Damon couldn't hold back, and gave us samples of all of the local vegetable dishes. They were tasty, but I admit we're spoiled in California. My wife especially like the succotash (sp?)sprinkled with cinnamon. I liked the large asparagas spears. Skipped breakfast the next morning to save room for Crown Candy Kitchens. A sad neighborhood, with all the abandoned homes didn't stop us and we were rewarded. The quaint environment was fun, but it was interesting that almost all of the patrons were young white couples or families. I wonder what the connection is with the neighborhood, which appeared to be almost exclusively black. Again, spouse was delighted by her choice, a triple cheese sandwich which she declared "one of the best ever." The same for the chocolate malts. That night it was off to Gian-Tony's on The Hill, close to our hotel. Again, a hit. Great "red sauce" Italian with subtle flavors. The wife had stuffed ravioli and I had stuffed veal and mushrooms. Very tasty. A good house Chianti too.
Next day (Sunday) it was "lunch" at Ted Drewes. The wife had a "Southern" and I had a mix of custard and pastachios (can't remember the name). Wonderful! Although no Chowhounder mentioned it in their recommendations, we followed advice from a local guide book and had dinner at O'Connell's Pub. Big, big disappointment. Nice old time environment, but the burgers were dry and relatively tastless and the service was perfunctory.
On our last lunch on Monday we decided to try King Louie. Had some trouble finding it amidst the construction, but when we did we were pleased by the look and feel of the place. I especially appreciated the choice of music -- mostly 50s jazz, featuring Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," one of the greatest albums ever. Again, we had a very enthusiastic and talkative waitress, Kate. The lunch menu choices were limited and both of us chose the Turkey sandwich. For variety, the wife had a salad and I tried the macaroni and cheese. The salad was tasty, but soggy (like that at Gian-Tony's, by the way). The cole slaw in the sandwich was a good idea, but it too, was too wet, which made one slice of the bread turn into mush. The macaroni was delicately flavored, but an over enthusiastic hand with the bread crumbs made it dry. When asked, we honestly shared our opinions, which added up to a very mild disappointment. With that, Kate insisted that we try all the house desserts -- on the house. We couldn't say no, and they appeared in all their caloric glory. The wife attacked a chocolate bombe of some sort (can't remember the name) and devoured it with unalloyed joy. I faced an enormous chunk of bread pudding with a side of ice cream. I loved every bite, even if I couldn't finish it. And then there was a delightfully tangy apple ice. All three dishes received raves, as we staggered toward the door, our car, and the airport. Oh yes, I should say that the basic Italian bread at Gian-Tony's was delightful and the bread at King Louie's was wonderfully chewy.
Since we spent much of our time touring neighborhoods, which we found for the most part to be charming enough to wonder why all those folks headed for the suburbs. During our travels we noted some "ethnic" restaurants, which are commonplace in L.A., but with more time and advice we might have wanted to try some. But next time. Thanks again to those who offered their advice.
PS: For our stop in Springfield we had a tasty Italian dinner at Saputos.