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Thanks all for your help on this post http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/991541
Overall I had a fun trip, enjoyed some good food, sights catchup time with a close friend and fun get away from work pressures. I didn't get a chance to hit all the places I wanted, good excuse to come back soon.
Thoughts on the places I visited.
Pastaria - Cacio de pepe and fried risotto balls. Balls were crsip but inside were more like a paste. Not a texture I liked that much. Flavor was good with mild marinara pairing well along with the cheese. But the mushiness inside turned me off. Other dipping sauce of tartar type sauce was okay and didn't pair well for me.
Cacio de pepe was great when hot. But cooked on the chewy side and I normally prefer my pasta with a bite and not mushy. Problem was halfway through dish when it had cooled off, the cheese and butter just congealed while the pasta got very tough. I’m normally a faster than normal eater so I don’t think it was because I let the dish sit too long.
Cafe Manhattan - Small StL style pizza with sausage and mushroom. Loved the crispyness and the cheese. textures worked really well for me. The mushroom was overwhelmed though and didn't come through. Liked the sausage. Juicy without being fatty. Saved a couple of slices to bring back to hotel room. Ate cold later in evening and it was still tasty.
Pappy's - Got there right when they opened, only a few people in line ahead of me. Fast moving. Got half slab combo with extra burnt ends, brisket and spicy sausage. Sides of fried corn and vinegar slaw. Rub had a definite sweetness to it. Liked the ribs, good pull, solid smoke flavor. Burnt ends tasty, same with the rub but not a lot of burnt to it. Brisket was more like thin sliced roast beef. Although it pulled apart easily in my hand, it was chewy, kept running into gristle. Some smoke flavor. Would rate it okay. Sausage was nothing special. Didn't finish it. Liked the fried corn treatment. Slaw was ok to my taste. Overall, liked it and would return for ribs and burnt ends.
Ted Drewes - Chocolate concrete, regular size. Dense, good flavor, smooth. Definitely different than ice cream. Less fatty on tongue. Ate outside in sun and with it a little melty, surprised at how fast I finished it.
Bogarts - Got there at 10:45 and no line. Half slab combo with pork skins, deviled potato salad. Extra of brisket and pastrami. Rub was a little less sweet than Pappy's. Liked it. But ribs were kind of tough and chewy without a lot of smoke flavor. Pastrami was lean, way salty and no smokiness. It was like a bad rendition of fast food dirty pastrami without the flavor. Brisket was steamed sitting in it's juices also with no smoke flavor or smoke ring. Better meat quality than Pappy's but flavor was really disappointing. Pork rinds were also average, nothing special. Really liked the potato salad but that was small consolation. Would not recommend or repeat based on this one visit. Maybe I just had bad luck.
Gioia's Deli - Hot salami sandwich on garlic cheese bread. Liked the balance of meat and fillings with the bread. Wasn't expecting the salami to be more like summer sausage in texture. Mild seasonings but the whole thing worked for me. Not something I'd go out of the way for but glad I tried it.
Mama Toscano - Fried ravioli. I can see the appeal of this as a snack. I liked the light fry, not greasy. The mild hot marinara sauce on the side was a good pairing. Meat filling was lightly seasoned. Another item that is more of an indulgence.
Park Ave Coffee - Gooey butter cake. Stuck with the original. Really liked this. Great pairing with coffee. the texture and flavor just worked for me. I liked the crispy edges for the extra chew. If this was around me, I'd make it a regular snack, works so well with a cup of coffee. I liked them so much, on another day when I was walking around downtown, I stopped in that location and had the chocolate version. I liked that one a lot too but the original is what I’d choose on a regular basis
Goody Goody - Now open on Sun 8-3. Liked the setting and the food. Comfy diner place, friendly service. The type of place I can see myself visiting regularly. Got their slinger. Hearty, but not heavy oily. I liked it but I’d probably get the other menu items more often.
Soulard Market - Liked the variety of stands. Would be a fun weekly outing if I lived in the area. Can't beat having a fresh pork rind place with a variety of flavors. I had to get a bag to snack on just because I couldn't resist the aroma.
Smoki O's - Sauce way too sweet and overpowering. Same with the bbq spaghetti. Snoot was fried too much for me. Not sure what I was expecting but what I got were very hard discs. Pork flavor but tough chewy and crunching through. I was really struggling trying to bite through each one. Maybe I was expecting a bit more give something where I would have a crisp exterior with a tender interior.
Juniper's - Great food. Redeemed themselves even though I had to wait 30 minutes after my 9 p.m. reservation before being seated. Fried oysters, smothered frog legs, ham flight. They comped some bacon and andouille sausage with the flight for my patience.
Liked the mix of regular and chicken oysters and the cornmeal mash under. Coating was a little heavier than I prefer but overall taste and seasoning was good. Frog legs were a very small portion and bland. The greens liquor was very good strong broth with the black eyed peas tender. Didn't care for the corn bread toast. Tasso pork chop. Juicy with a little pink. Great pork flavor. Seasoning was not nearly as spicy as led to believe but liked it. Cornmeal cake under was average. Trio of ice cream. Boiled peanuts was too chewy for me. Bourbon bacon, flavor was good but bacon bits were gummy and didn't work. Caramel apple was the best with right amount of sweetness and bits of apple. Overall, enjoyed myself a lot.
Olivette Diner - Stopped early on a weekday and no crowds. Got their version of the slinger. Liked it better than Goody Goody’s. Better balance of ingredients. Overall it melded better. I think I would really like this dish at the end of a late night out.
Half and Half - donuts and blueberry pancakes. Really liked the donuts. Pancakes were also good. Menu looked really interesting and would like to explore it more.
Sugarfire - Hit this on the way to the ariport in the early afternoon. Didn’t care for the service. Had the Brisket, ribs, sausage. Thought the brisket was the best of the three bbq places I tried. Tender, smoky, moist. Did not care for the ribs. Sauce was too sweet sticky overpowering. No smoke flavor, texture was okay. Sausage was solid, I liked the grind. Overall, wouldn’t go out of my way to return, possibly the brisket would be worth it. But from Clayton it is an easy stop on the way to the airport and made for a decent meal to tide me over for the flight.
Thanks again everyone for the help. Now that my friend lives in the area, I'm hoping to visit more regularly in the future.