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Monday, September 1, 2014

Bella Vino

I finally was smart and planned ahead to make a reservation at Bella Vino on St. Charles Main Street. The weekends are normally packed, but thanks to the holiday weekend, we really didn't have too much trouble getting in and Bella Vino has a patio area to expand on to.

I had been wanting to try this new restaurant since Main Street is not that far away and was especially excited that it is a wine bar. Unfortunately, I still compare every restaurant to my all time favorite restaurant Vivian's Vineyard, and it's impossible to compete with that.

Not only is Bella Vino a wine bar, but they mostly serve tapas and flatbreads. This usually works out in my favor in order to try a lot of dishes. Between the three of us, I got to try as many salads. My Seared Tuna Stemperata was perfectly cooked, and the Fried Asparagus and Specialty Kale Caesar were both a little sweet since they contained some kind of orange.

Seared Tuna Stemperata
Fried Asparagus Salad
Specialty Kale Caeser Salad
I immediately went with one of my favorite Italian dishes, Chicken Spedini, but was surprised that it came breaded and there were only two pieces.

Chicken Spedini
The Cajun Pan Seared Tilapia came in a delicious garlic shrimp sauce and was a much heartier meal.

Cajun Pan Seared Tilapia
While we probably could have stopped at just a few dishes, we boldly ordered a couple more dishes: House Cured Duck Prosciutto and the Crab Stuffed Mushroom Caps.

The mushrooms more of an appetizer size, while the pizza was a good amount for sharing and probably my favorite dish. The prosciutto was well balanced with the gorgonzola and caramelized onions.

As for the wines, I was thrilled to see a Riesling from the Rheingau, I had trouble finding a crisp, dry white whine. There were plenty of big, bold reds, but I was hoping to see a little bit of a longer list.

Resources:

Bella Vino = http://bellavinowinebarstl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

STLwinegirl In Home Tasting

After seeing so many pictures and reading the menus on Facebook, I finally had to sign up for an in-home tasting from the STLwinegirl, Angela Ortmann, Let me tell you, having your own personal chef and sommelier in your home, I felt so spoiled and could definitely get used to it.

The toughest part for me was picking out a theme or series of dishes for the STLwinegirl to whip up. (Yes, she cooks quite well too!) Inspired by another friend's dinner, I requested shrimp and grits, which turned into an entire N'Awlins-themed dinner and a wine pairing for each course.

We kicked off the night with an appetizer: Baltimore Crab Cabs with Creole Remoulade

Baltimore Crab Cakes with Creole Remoulade
Since the STLwinegirl knows me well, she made the Shrimp and Cheesy Garlic Grits EXTRA cheesy. (I think she used almost a whole bag of cheese!)

Shrimp & Cheesy Garlic Grits
Most of the heat came in the main course of the night: Duck, Andouille & Langoustine Jambalaya

Duck, Andouille & Langoustine Jambalaya
Since Patience prefers fruitier desserts and I must have everything smothered in chocolate, Angela made us both happy with Bananas Foster with Salted Caramel Sauce over Blondie Bars!

Bananas Foster with Salted Caramel Sauce over Blondie Bars
I almost forgot about the wines! Almost all empty bottles. hehe Since it was so warm we started off with a crisp white wine, a Pinto Blanc from the Alsace region of France. Next came two rose wines, the first, a Chinon from the Loire region of France and the second from Napa Valley, California. Not too sweet, not too dry, but just right to cut through the spice. And the Pedro Ximenez Sherry from Spain stood up to the rich, chocolately dessert.

Pinot Blanc, Chinon Rose, Azur Rose, and a Sherry
What I really appreciated the most was that Angela was able to alter the menu to our desires (more seafood!) and preferences (no piggy!), but the meal was still just as wonderful with the substitutions.

N'awlins-themed courses
Resources:

STLwinegirl = http://www.stlwinegirl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon and Angela Ortmann

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Peacemaker Lobster & Crab

Sometimes there are good ideas, and sometimes there are great ideas! My friend Beth picked Peacemaker as the restaurant of choice for our birthday celebration. We're a little bit late in celebrating, but it all worked out in our favor since we got to try this brand new restaurant.

Normally, I try to wait until the hype dies down and the restaurant has worked out the kinks when it's this new, but none of that applies. Go now and go often. That's really the best way to try everything on the menu.

Since Peacemaker has been getting a ton of press already and you know what to expect when you hear the name Kevin Nashan. (I even saw him in the kitchen!) As a seafood lover, I am just thrilled that there is a top notch place in St. Louis for it now along with a casual feel.

The inside is a stark contrast to Sidney Street, literally down the street, as the Peacemaker has a New England lobster shack feel to it. All the servers are in t-shirts and aprons, and there were quite a few of them for a medium-sized space. This means excellent service.

Another great idea that I had was getting there early on a Friday night. The restaurant was actually slow at 5:30pm when we arrived and by 6pm, it was just starting to get busy. Peacemaker doesn't take reservations for parties less than six, so you definitely want to plan accordingly. By the time we left at 7:30, there were almost as many people waiting outside the restaurant as they were inside, and the bar area was packed.

Getting to the restaurant early meant we could review the menu and plan our attack. Of course we wanted to order everything, but luckily, it wasn't too long so we could cover most areas. We started the night with five different types of oysters, and I found that I enjoyed the saltier ones better since I was able to compare them all. Regardless, they are so light that you can afford to have quite a few and still have room for the rest of the menu.

Oysters
My friend Matt started out with a cup of gumbo, which would be perfect for me on a chilly night.

Gumbo
Our "side dish", fried green tomatoes, actually came out next and we enjoyed them as an appetizer as well. This was probably for the best because once our entrees came out, we were far too distracted.

Fried Green Tomatoes
I ordered my first shrimp po'boy, which was a lot sweeter than I imagined. while Patience got the lobster roll, Connecticut style, which was so incredibly rich! Both entrees came with a side of homemade chips.

Shrimp Po'Boy

Lobster Roll
Regardless of the amount of food we had eaten at this point, we weren't too stuffed so we went ahead an ordered TWO desserts and combined them together. Peach pie and vanilla ice cream in a chocolate shell...all homemade!

Peach Pie with ice cream and magic shell
For my friends, they decided to try the Lobster Frito Pie, which was actually on the side dish menu. The Fritos bag contained frito powder, red chili cooked in lobster stock, sweet chunks of lobster, and a sprinkle of cheese.

Lobster Frito Pie
Let me know anytime you want someone to go with! I hope to go a lot more!

Resources:

Peacemaker Lobster & Crab= http://peacemakerstl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bishop's Post

When I first walked into Bishop's Post, I had a strong feeling of deja vu...no, it wasn't the Matrix being updated, but indeed, I had been there before when the restaurant was the West County version of Oceano Bistro.

I was so happy to see such a beautiful restaurant (with huge glass wine racks) going strong with new owners. Since it was happy hour, there was a great deal on discounted drinks and $7 appetizers. I ordered two, the crab cakes and the sliders, and it was the perfect size meal for a dinner.

Like before, there is a large selection of seafood and steaks, but if you can make it to happy hour, the list also included the House Smoked Missouri Trout, Flash Fried Razor Clams, and Beef Tenderloin Bruschetta to name a few. Certainly worth the $7.

The crowd died down after happy hour, but that just made it easier to hear the easy listening covers by Joe Metzka. It was worth the price just to hear him play and it's such a wonderful way to wind down after a long work week!

Since I was with friends, there are no pictures, but definitely worth a nice evening out or a happy hour.

Resources:

Bishop's Post = http://www.bishopspost.com/

A Pizza Story

I was all excited that I finally made it to A Pizza Story, which just opened up in downtown Maplewood last month. I convinced my boss to take us there for our weekly lunch instead of the same old sandwich delivery.

Since my boss was there, unfortunately, there are no pictures, and since I waited so long, another article also came out about it this week. So you can check out here:

A Pizza Story spins a flavorful tale in Maplewood
http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/dining/restaurants/reviews/a-pizza-story-spins-a-flavorful-tale-in-maplewood/article_b37ba77b-ebb8-551b-b815-287af918d3ce.html

I was pleased to see they had a small lunch menu so I could get a small side salad with fresh parmesan cheese on top.

Then there are two pastas or two pizzas (Magherita and Thriller - with Spanish Chorizo) from which you can choose and my Magherita was amazing. Huge glops of mozzarella and a very light crust. No greasiness! My boss inhaled his Thriller. I was smart and saved half for my next lunch!

The full dinner menu has several more pizzas as well as a few desserts.

Nice and quick for lunch and not too crowded (good for us) if you're there before Noon. Can't wait to go back again!

Resources:

A Pizza Story = http://www.apizzastory.com/