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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Bar Le Freres

With Billie-Jean opening up recently, Patience wanted to try out all the other "Zoe" restaurants since she has never gotten to visit them before. Luckily, our anniversary and my birthday fall together in January so it was just a matter of waiting until "special occasion time".

Bar Le Freres is definitely a special place for special occasions. Quite fancy. Quite French. I love the red walls and portraits from the 1800s where all the paintings are staring at you.

We were smart and made a reservation about a month in advance. Not only did this help us get a table away from the door in the dining room during the recent cold snap, but I feel it helped us to land one of the best tables in the dining room separate from the bar. The restaurant overall is small with limited seating so I have no doubt the place is booked all the time. At least in the summer, they can expand to the patio and our server bragged about their happy hour, which is probably more affordable.

I think we were at one of the best tables because we were sat in these huge armchairs. Between that and the large tapestry next to the table, I thought we were royals! hehehe

Perhaps that is what lead us to order a crazy amount of food, although it was hard not to with so many tasty choices. Just the hors d'deuvres alone... Baetje Farms Cheese Plate, Gruyere Souffle, Steamed Mussels, Lobster Tail...and then our server said the magic word: scallops. Not just any scallops, but GIANT scallops!

Giant Scallops
I had my eyes on the Lobster Bisque since I sat down, but they don't do cups. I ate the WHOLE bowl.

Lobster Bisque
And then the server brought out these delicious Gruyère gougères that were perfect for dipping into the soup. I wish I had saved one to clean the bowl with at the end!

Gruyere Balls
At this point, I really didn't need to eat anything else.

I played it safe by ordering the Halibut for my entree, the crispy outside was a little tough to cut through, but the inside was perfect. (You know the potatoes underneath were amazing though!) I did manage to stop halfway this time at least.

Halibut
Patience went all in with the Duck Confit. So much flavor! Perfectly paired with a Chateauneuf du Pape!

Duck Confit
Still in celebratory mode, we finished off the meal with chocolate mousse, which also went deliciously with the wine.

Chocolate Mousse
Patience drank her dessert as well with a Caffe Amaro. So pretty.

Caffe Amaro
I cannot WAIT to take Patience to Zoe's next two restaurants...

Resources:

Bar Le Freres = https://www.barlesfreres.net

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Monday, January 1, 2018

STLCheesegirl Top Posts 2017

I admit that I did not post as much last year due to a reduced amount of dining out and I now have a personal chef living with me full time!

While I may not be having as many food adventures these days, it is wonderful that there are so many new places to try here in St. Louis!

Readership is up overall so that makes me feel good too. So here are the top posts from 2017!

Tapped - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2017/12/tapped.html
This post may have benefited from being new and my last post of the year. I'm sure everyone is curious about it, and I hope it lasts longer than "A Pizza Story", which I loved dearly. We tried to go a third time this past week, but they were full! I hope they can keep it up.

Evangeline's - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2017/10/evangelines.html
I finally took Patience here for her birthday since it is a NOLA/Cajun-themed restaurant and we needed to go since she hadn't been since it was the Brazilian restaurant. They nailed it. Great owners, great wait staff, great food, and a great birthday. I hope everyone who read the review also went themselves.

Ludwig Farmstead Creamery - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2017/11/ludwig-farmstead-creamery.html
This was a "sponsored" post as I was approached by one of their representatives and given free cheese in exchange for a review. It made me happy to support a small cheese company located in Central Illinois. This situation was really a "dream assignment" and I hope there will be more in the future!

Vicia - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2017/05/vicia.html
I'm sure it's no surprise that the top-rated new restaurant for last year made my list as well. You need to go there. I can't wait to go back again. No further discussion necessary.

Snax Gastropub - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2017/05/snax.html
I am guessing folks were curious about the strangely-named restaurant, but I really do enjoy this new version of the restaurant as I had reviewed it once before. Now, it's a lot more casual and everything on the menu is a hit. Although I recommend going later in the evening when the kids aren't around.

Louie's Wine Dive - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2017/05/louies-wine-dive.html
While this is a chain, I see that it is a well-loved wine bar and I think they hit the jackpot by placing it in downtown Clayton. I find it to be a little high-priced, but I love how knowledgeable the staff is when I go in there.

Modern Brewery PW Pizza Beer Dinner - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2017/11/modern-brewery-pw-pizza-beer-dinner.html
We made it to (almost?) ALL of the PW Pizza Beer Dinners this year and we just love them. (Which is why most of my posts are from these dinners.) We sign up for the whole year now so we don't have to worry about reserving a spot as they do sell out quickly. You only pay that night for each event. I highly recommend them and feel free to call PW Pizza or email me for more information. It's been a great way to try each brewery's beer and have tasty food pairings as well! By the way, Modern Brewery is looking for a bigger location so hopefully they can have more serving days!

Cleveland-Heath - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2012/11/cleveland-heath.html
We finally made it there for a regular sit-down dinner and had the best service. If the restaurant was closer, we would have definitely gone a lot more. Jenny Cleveland is so wonderful and she and her husband will be missed as they move to Utah. The restaurant will still be there, although in my heart, it won't be the same without them.

Old Baker Beer PW Pizza Beer Dinner - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2017/10/old-bakery-beer-pw-pizza-beer-dinner.html
A local favorite! We drove by the brewery while on the "Great River Road" and hopefully we can make it a destination one of these days soon.

Two Brothers Brewing PW Pizza Beer Dinner - http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2017/09/two-brothers-pw-pizza-beer-dinner.html
Since Two Brothers Brewing is based out of Chicago, we were able to stop by their brewery while up in the area visiting for Thanksgiving. Great beers and hopefully they'll be more beers available in the St. Louis area soon, but check on the east side for now.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tapped

Even though it's not "A Pizza Story" anymore, I was excited to get the chance to try out the next version of the restaurant a couple of times during the holiday season.

Tapped Signage
Yet, I am still a little bitter, not just because they replaced one of my favorite small pizza joints, but because they are one of the first to offer up the self-service taps in St. Louis.

I had visited my first self-serve taps at a wine bar in Ames, Iowa and was blown away by the awesome concept. I wondered why there wasn't such a thing in St. Louis! I had visions of opening up my very own wine bar with this unique twist! I emailed the STLWinegirl and she explained to me that Missouri law did not allow customers to serve themselves. So sad. Dreams crushed.

Then, a few months later, sure enough, Tapped opened up with the very same concept and when I asked STLWinegirl again, she said the laws had changed. (Or someone's wheels got greased suddenly.)

So now I'm out of my favorite pizza and my million-dollar making idea.

Our friends invited us to a holiday get-together held at Tapped, and since we recently moved to the city, just south of Maplewood, it was a very short drive! And while they do not take reservations after 6pm on the weekends, they will hold the table just as easily at 5:45pm with "Reserved" signs.

With all the taps on the wall, this is not your typical sit down restaurant. There are a lot of people wandering about to get their own beer or wine, and this worked out great with our large party that took up two large tables so we could mingle between them.

When you're ready to order food, you just walk up to the "food ordering station". While there are no fancy pizza flavors like "eggplant"....yes I LOVE eggplant...the pizza is actually good!

Margherita Pizza
We tried the Honey Roasted Almonds (perfect snack with beer!) and the Tapped Wings as well! The wings had only a small amount of heat, but were definitely well-covered in a "sweet spicy bourbon glaze" sauce and very messy. (Plenty of wet-naps were available!)

Honey Roasted Almonds and Tapped Wings
The best part is that the beer taps are organized by style so Patience was happy going to the left for her stouts, while I stayed more towards the right for the lighter beers. It's pretty easy to hold up the white disc (a bracelet worn on your wrist) to the "Tapped" sign for the tap you wish to draw from.

Wine lovers, your area is in the far corner. I haven't looked to see what types of wines or the quality that they offered, so I'll have to check back.

Just watch out for the water dispenser...the ice comes out very fast and the water will spill if you don't hold the glass just right.

P.S. We went back a second time already to introduce more people to it. It IS a fun way to hang out!

Resources:

Tapped = https://www.tappedstl.com

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Modern Brewery PW Pizza Beer Dinner

I am pretty familiar with Modern Brewery since they opened VERY close to where Patience works, and the Citrapolis, the first beer of the night, is very popular around town. Even though it's an IPA, it's actually pretty easy to drink.

It's so easy to drink... it was actually paired with a salad course with a slightly spicy dressing, a curried apple vinaigrette!

Butterhead Lettuce with Curried Apple Vinaigrette with Citrapolis
Since it's November, we had a traditional Smoked Turkey Dinner Pizza, which is always a huge hit. This was paired with the Winter Lager, my favorite beer of the night. It reminded me a lot of an Oktoberfest style of beer and it has low ABV (5%) and IBUs (15).

Smoked Turkey Dinner Pizza with Winter Lager
The second pizza of the night, Spicy Chorizo & Black Bean Pizza probably would have gone better with the Citrapolis, as the All Black (referring to the New Zealand rugby team) was very malty.

Spicy Chorizo & Black Bean Pizza with All Black
A better pairing was the Dark Chocolate Mousse (why yes I did offer to help finish my neighbor's dish!) and the McFly Rye (named after Marty McFly from Back to the Future). The thick, dark beer could be described as a dessert beer, although it isn't too sweet.

Dark Chocolate Mousse
Menu
Resources:

Modern Brewery = http://modernbrewery.com/

PW Pizza = https://pwpizza.com/

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ludwig Farmstead Creamery

While attending a beer event at Larder & Cupboard in Maplewood, a woman from Ludwig Farmstead Creamery was handing out free samples.

Sales rep, Stephanie Peace (great name), offered me a couple of cheeses to taste and write about! Stephanie let me take home Jake's Habanero Havarti-Style and Jake's Dutch Garden Herb cheese.

Who's Jake you ask? According to their website, Jake Ludwig was a 2009 University of Illinois graduate  who developed a passion for cheese making using the morning-fresh milk from his family's Holstein dairy cattle. Unfortunately, Jake died before creating his first cheese and his father, Dave, hired a Dutch Cheese maker to carry out Jake's dream of producing award winning European-style cheeses.
Ludwig Farmstead Creamery Cheeses
Luckily, I had a day trip to Hermann scheduled to drink wine with the girls and I shared the cheese samples with them. Both flavors were snatched up quickly!

I was most nervous about Jake's Habanero Havarti-Style, but the spiciness was only felt a little bit at the back end of the bite. Instead, you mostly get a creamy flavor to help balance out the heat.

The fullest-flavored cheese was actually the Jake's Dutch Garden Herb where you get a lot of dill and garlic with each bite.

Try a taste test for yourself! Stop by Larder & Cupboard to stock up!

Or, you can order online from the Ludwig Farmstead Creamery, located just east of Champaign, IL.

Resources:

Ludwig Farmstead Creamery = https://www.ludwigfarmsteadcreamery.com/