An Oasis in a Desert of Mediocrity - A review of Mosaic, 1101 Lucas Ave St Louis, MO 63101
Given the current climate in our country, you would think that a restaurant serving tapas would be trendy and Euro-trashy. In a town like St Louis, however, it proves to be a place where a dining experience can finally rise above the pedestrian contributions proffered by the competition.
Dont get me wrong; the atmosphere radiates a certain modish air, but without the pretentiousness so often associated with such a look. High ceilings, exposed ductwork . . . stylized menus and a central bar that looks like a failed modern art thesis. Trite, but it works. The well-lit area hides nothing, and Mosiac has nothing to hide.
In fact, the combination of atmosphere and food led my business-traveling companion to exclaim, For the first time on my trip, I dont feel like Im in St. Louis. The portions are small, sure, but theyre tapas meant to be sampled and savored. This type of dining experience works well for a group but in an intimate setting, ordering seven dishes can be unwieldy.
The food itself is exquisite. Each dish highlights a central ingredient, with accoutrements that support and heighten its flavors. Malay-spiced rack of lamb, fresh west coast oysters (served two ways, raw and steamed in champagne), beef and prawn carpaccio; even the more traditional fare like crab cakes are amplified with overtones of citrus and served on a bed of creamed spinach (trust me, it works). One of my personal favorites was the pan seared organic scallops buttery and elegant, slightly charred on the outside to provide a nice contrast in texture to the perfectly cooked interior. Alone or with the accompanying chimichurri sauce, they were like little heavenly pillows of deliciousness.
Mosiac is not cheap most dishes are the size of a standard appetizer and are slightly more expensive. Multiply that by the number of dishes youre ordering and it quickly becomes an expensive proposition, which is another reason that the restaurant lends itself to a group setting so well. Youre paying, but youre paying for inventiveness, freshness, and the feeling that youre not in St. Louis anymore.