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Some good eatin' in St. Louis

Missy | Apr 1, 200409:39 PM

Hi, Just returned from a short biz trip to St. Louis and enjoyed a few good meals, courtesy of your tips.
A trip to Trattoria Marcella was well worth the 17$ cab ride from my downtown hotel. The first thing I had - and the highlight of the meal - was the artichoke stuffed with couscous, diced tomatoes, cheese, and LOTS of garlic. The artichoke was perfectly cooked, tender but not mushy, and the leaves carefully separated and filled with the succulent couscous mixture. The salt of the cheese, rich depth of the garlic, and fresh zing of barely cooked tomatos were delightful. My only complaint was that the heart had been carefully removed, leaving an open core all the way down. Maybe they use the heart in some of the other dishes that list artichoke as an ingredient?
I eat alone a lot and it's always a drag to have to limit myself when I want to taste so many things. Fortunately I was able to persuade the kitchen to make a half-poriton of the lobster risotto. This was pretty good but didn't really live up to the hype in my opinion. The rice was heavily flavored with cheese and tomato and these bright tastes were the most profound flavors. There was really no flavor of lobster in the rice, which made me think they did not use lobster stock in preparing it. There was quite a bit of nicely cooked lobster to enjoy, but the dish didn't really meld into lobster nirvana. It lacked lobstery depth.
My main course was a broiled hangar steak in a balsamic viengar glaze. This was topped with some spears of peeled asparagus, perfetly cooked over coals and lightly perfumed with smoky goodness. I could've eaten a pound of it. The steak was cooked exactly as I ordered, a great mix of tender and chewy, nice crusted over the coals. The sauce was a bit too sweet and cloying for me but others in the room were raving about it, so I write this off to a personal prejudice. Some perfectly nice garlic-roasted potato cubes accompanied this. Passed on dessert for a great, strong capuccino.
The next evening I was fortunate enough to visit King Louie's. Wow, what a cool place! It's in an old brick building on the side of a bridge; it used to be the hospitality house for a local brewery, I was told. I started out with the King Louie salad, a mix of mesclun, roasted pears, toasty walnuts, and Maytag blue with a balsamic vinaigrette. Out of this world good. The bread was dense and chewy, served with a compound butter that included cream cheese, shallots, and dill. My entree was rabbit braised in tomatoes with sliced green olives and papparadelle, baby spinach and parmegiano reggiano. It was quite good, the rabbit meltingly tender, the spinach bright green, the noodles al dente, and the olives and cheese nicely salty. I was dining with relatives this time, and they all had a seared tuna of a quality one might not expect that far from salt water. We split a bottle of 2003 Wishing Tree Shiraz that was utterly fantastic. SOOOO smooth and a berry bomb with nice depth. I'm going to order a case of it, as I found it online from a supplier for 8.99/bottle. This wine is an astounding bargain and a wonderful, wonderful experience.
Desserts fell a little short, but were by no means awful. One was a chocolate/walnut filling baked inside a pastry purse and theother a custard tart topped with blueberries.
Unfortunately I didn't get to taste any of that famous frozen custard... Oh well, must simply ask for another meeting in St. Louis sometime!!!

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