Last week's ethnic dining club dinner was a visit to Gulf Coast Seafood Cafe in the SoGra (south grand neighborhood), which was ethnic only in that I heard somewhere that they had a Cajun accent on food. This did not turn out to be true. However, we did have a wonderful evening and everyone who was there said they would go back.
The atmosphere was just funky enough to remind you that you were in SoGra but not too preschool. The walls were swished with a lovely soothing sea blue and the room in which we ate had a fantastic tiled mural and lots of plants. The menu was not one of those out-of-control big offerings. It was short and appetizing in itself. There were two salads, soup, six appetizers, a chicken picatta and a steak and the rest were seafood entrees. We were taken care of by an amused server who was one of the most professional servers I have had since we began eating out with this club. She took the ladies' orders first and served and cleared from the correct sides. It was a treat to be waited on here.
Bread was another good thing. It was made into big soft but airy rolls with a brown crust. It was unlike what you see at most other St. Louis restaurants. Salads were also great, with a crisp mix of lettuce, some puny tomatos but a great tangy mustardy dressing. We were also served FREE servings of calamari, which was out of this world. EVERYONE at the table said it was the best they'd ever had in St. Louis. The squids were rather big for calamari, and juicy. The breading was zingy and light. Yum.
Main courses were next. The Bradetto was billed as a seafood stew, like a bouillabaise. However, it was not too brothy and included fish, shrimp, mussles, clams, tomatoes and mushrooms. The whole thing was served over angel-hair pasta. Firecracker shrimp was generous with the smallish shrimp and was nice and spicy, served over pasta. Risotto was good, with saffroned rice, seafood as in the bradetto, and excellent chorizo. Spinach and shrimp crepes were beautifully presented, with a somewhat bland creamy sauce. Crab cakes came with a beurre blanc sauce and the crab was probably canned. Chicken picatta was slightly lemony with a creamy sauce. The non-pasta/rice dishes were served with a medley of vegetables and buttered rice. Sadly, most of the sauces that accompanied these dishes were bland. You may consider asking for some hot sauce or just ask the chef to spice things a bit.
A nice selection of wines is available and the dessert/after-dinner-drink menu is fabulous. I would return, get the calamari and a salad and go straight to dessert. Prices were EXCELLENT - almost all entrees were $12.99. This was a real find. FYI - we forgot to do a bathroom check and kids would be fine here.