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Restaurants & Bars

San Francisco Hounds' 4 days in St. Louis

jaweino | Jun 20, 200309:50 PM

We recently spent four days in St. Louis and were pleasantly surprised by the diversity and
quality of the restaurants.

THE CROSSING, 7823 Forsyth Blvd, Clayton was absolutely wonderful. We liked
everything about this place. The decor was simple, but elegant and inviting. The prices by
San Francisco standards were amazingly low, $35 for a 5 course tasting menu. The
service was friendly and attentive, without being intrusive. The wine list was well thought
out with good selections of both California and French wines at fair prices. We selected a
2001 Siduri Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir that was an excellent complement to our
meal. The food was outstanding. Shortly after being seated we were presented with a
Blue Cheese Soufflé which was light and flavorful and quite delicious. For first course we
had Cold English Pea Soup and Foie Gras with Pears. The soup was just loaded with the
flavor of fresh peas and was a nice light starter. The Foie Gras was tender and juicy, and
crisp on the outside. The flavor was just pure essence of what you want from Foie Gras.
For the main course we had the Tilapia and the Gnocchi. Fish seems to be the chef’s
specialty, and he did an outstanding job with the tilapia. The fish was sautéed to the point
of having a crust on the outside while still remaining tender and juicy inside. It was the
best tilapia I’ve ever had. It was served on a bed of mashed potatoes. The gnocchi were
also wonderful. They were very, very light and fluffy and flavorful. For dessert we had
the Lemon Semifreddo and the Flourless Chocolate Cake. The semifreddo was just the
nice light dessert I wanted and it was very tart the way I like lemon desserts. The
chocolate cake was heavenly. It was served warm, and was almost melting in the center.
It was very rich and very chocolatey. We had a chance to talk with Jim Fiala, the
chef/owner. His pedigree is impressive. He graduated from The California Culinary
Academy, and worked in The Hayes St. Grille (one of our favorite seafood places), and
Stars in San Francisco, then at an Italian restaurant in Chicago, before finishing his training
at Daniel and the Gotham Grill in New York.

MODESTO, 5257 Shaw Ave., St. Louis. We went here for lunch one day and wanted to
eat almost everything on the menu. They have a good selection of both hot and cold
tapas. Unfortunately, I don’t remember all we had. Maybe I had a little too much of the
very good sangria. What I do remember is a goat cheese dish, meatballs, a warm shrimp
sautéed in olive oil with garlic and other spices, mussels in a wine sauce, and little
marinated pork skewers. We loved everything. The service was very good The decor is
basically an old building that has been extensively remodeled and Spanish items all over.
It is all new trying to look old, but it’s pleasant and comfortable. We would definitely go
back to Modesto and The Crossing if we return to St. Louis.

CONNELLY’S GOODY GOODY DINER, 5900 Natural Bridge, St. Louis This was a
fun place that gave a feel for local St. Louis diner from the past. It’s been there since
1931. I had one of their specialties, The Wilber. It was an omelet filled with chili, fried
potatoes, onions, peppers, and tomatoes, served with grits and a biscuit. The rest of the
party had chili over spaghetti, a cheese omelet, and a hamburger. Everyone was happy
with their selection, and we really enjoyed the place.

SUPER SMOKERS BBQ, 10151 Watson Rd., Sunset Hills. This is the newest location
of this multi-store mini chain. The building was new, brick, clean, comfortable and
inviting. There were four of us and we went for four different meats, Pork Ribs, Brisket,
Pulled Pork, and Pork Loin. All the meat was served dry. There was a six pack of
assorted sauces on the table. The Pulled Pork was our unanimous favorite. It was
flavorful and not overcooked, so it was still juicy and fairly lean with no large clumps of
fat. The brisket was also very good. It had a crisp outside with a good pink ring. The
inside was still juicy and not dried-out as brisket sometimes gets. It was also fairly lean.
The ribs were large meaty and tasty. The Pork Loin was our unanimous least favorite. It
was a good lean piece of meat, a little drier than the others, but not nearly as flavorful. All
the meats had obviously been carefully smoked for many hours.

The sauces on each table were Championship, Tennessee Original, Kansas City, St. Louis,
Mississippi Mud, Carolina Mustard, and Texas Hot. All were very good and did represent
their namesakes well. Our Favorites were the Championship and Kansas City.

For sides we ordered Slaw, beans, turnip greens, fried okra, boiled cabbage, green beans,
black eyed peas, and sweet potato fries. The greens were excellent. The okra and sweet
potato fries were interesting and good definitely worth a try. The others were all fine,
nothing special but nothing wrong either.

TRATTORIA MARCELLA, 3600 Watson Rd. St. Louis. This was a very competent
Italian restaurant with excellent service and decent food. When we were seated we were
served a plate of hummus with our bread. I found it to be just OK, a little too bland. The
portions were extremely large and the menu was also fairly extensive. I ordered the Calf’s
Liver, which was sautéed with onions, pancetta and marsala. It was an interesting
preparation, and it held together fairly well. The Lasagna was a good lasagna, nothing
special, but competent. I don’t remember what the other two at our table had, but I do
remember that they were happy with their selections.

SMITH&SLAY’S, 8025 Bonhomme Ave., Clayton. We went here for Sunday brunch
after trying several other places that had long waiting lines. This place seemed to be far
better than any of the places that we rejected and it was almost empty. It was a buffet, but
you could also order omelets, made to order. The buffet table had a whole poached
salmon, excellent smoked salmon, shrimp, herring, eggs Benedict that seemed freshly
made-- the yolks were still soft and runny. There was a carving station with ham and roast
beef. There were hot trays with a chicken dish and a pasta, several salads, a beautiful
tiered tray of fresh fruit and berries, and a fine dessert table. There was also a table of
breads, bagels, croissants, etc. We were also enjoying the bottomless glass of fresh orange
juice. The room was very attractive, and we were thrilled with this find. The Smith in the
name is Ozzie Smith, but he was not in attendance.

BERTOLINI’S, Hammond Rd. This was our one really disappointing meal. We went
there, because the people in our group, who had previously been to St. Louis had good
experiences there in the past. Two people ordered Piccatta (one veal, one chicken).
These resembled no piccatta that any of us had ever had. It had awhite sauce that wasn’t
particularly lemony and seemed to have marsala wine in it, but it wasn’t a traditional
marsala sauce either. Whatever it was wasn’t an improvement on either Piccatta or
Marsala. I had the Linguine with White Clam sauce which was OK, but the linguine was a
little overcooked.

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