Ok, so friends of mine got married this weekend, and Friday night had dinner for all involved at the Clark St. Grill. This is the restuarant for the new Westin Hotel downtown. The hotel is really lovely and a fantastic place for visiting guests, or even a romantic get-away without leaving STL. The restaurant, however, sucked.
We had 11 in our party, 2 children. The kids were really well-behaved, so that didn't effect the experience at all. We waited 30 minutes for our waiter to tell us the specials, after we asked our "assistant waiter" who said that only our head waiter could tell us about the food. We asked the waiter to take the kids orders first. He refused, saying that it would be too confusing for the kitchen. I'd understand this position if Clark St. weren't kid friendly, but they had kid-specific menus available. Another 30 minutes after ordering, aps arrived w/ several missing. My grilled goat cheese w/ toast and tomatoes was good, but my husband's "study of tomatoes" was kind of gross, which is odd considering that we're in the midwest, in the middle of tomato season. The fois gras was really good, though, and the salads were pretty good as well.
Entrees...eh. But eh isn't ok when they entrees were around $30/person. (Keep in mind that this is St. Louis, and the most top restaurants don't charge $30 for a chicken dish.) I ordered the filet w/ crab cake and polenta -- not exciting, but I didn't want to order anything too taxing. Filet was good, but the crab cake and polenta cake were both frozen in the middle. Not cold, but frozen. This was particularly odd considering my entree came about 10 minutes after the rest of the table's as mine had been "burned" (told to me by the assistant waiter). Huh. Husband's salmon was ok, nothing special but nothing terrible.
The worst part was the desserts. A friend of ours is a chef, and he and I spent the whole meal talking food. He kept saying, "they've only been open a few months, the kitchen is working out the kinks." Defering to his professional knowledge, I kept my mouth shut. But the desserts annoyed both of us. He ordered the tart tatin, and I had the bread pudding w/ bananas -- both seemingly safe orders. The bread pudding had the consistency and shape of a rice cake. This was the driest, least flavorful bread pudding I've ever experienced. The tart tatin didn't have anything in common w/ what we thought we ordered. The item was shaped like a muffin, but was drier and grainier. It really reminded me of a bagel. We couldn't find any apples, at all. They forgot the ice cream.
Here's the kicker -- the whole meal came to over $1100. Our friend spent over $100 a person, and the food sucked. Since it was the night before their wedding, no one wanted to upset the couple. So we thanked them for the lovely meal, and promised ourselves to never return.
Bottom line, if you visit St. Louis, by all means do stay at the Westin, but contact me for restaurant ideas downtown.