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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Snax Gastrobar

Since Snax is another Stanley and Arlene Browne restaurant, the cocktail menu, wine list, and draught beers list is well done.

Rieger 75 cocktail for me...bottle of wine for Jamie and Shannon....and a beer for Patience. Everyone was happy!

Rieger 75
I went with my usual attack of focusing on the small plates for the first time at a new place. I ordered two starters: Pickled Bits and Cheesy Bits!

Awesome cheeses: Morbier, an aged cheddar, and a triple creme. Heavenly. Fairly upscale for a "casual" restaurant.

(Why yes, there ARE Meaty Bits and Bar Kibble for more fun dish names to say!)

Pickled Bits

Cheesy Bits
I was leaning towards ordering a sandwich until I heard that the "seasonal vegetable salad" was an heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella and basil.

Heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella and basil
Our server said that Meatloaf and the Burger were their best sellers and Patience had a hankering for meatloaf, so that worked out. It is a blend of beef and pork with a sweet and spicy glaze and included mashed potatoes, green beans, and carrots!

Meatloaf
Shannon stepped up and ordered the double patty burger with cheese, which I got a third of (AND SO MANY FRIES!!!)

Burger
Jamie appeared content with the BLT, but I was just happy I got his fries too! :)

BLT
With a healthy main course, I also added a side of Mac N Cheese. I had to take most of this home and it made for a perfect lunch the next day!

Mac N Cheese
Since I was pretty full, I had to settle for a "shooter" of ice cream. Isn't it cute?!?!?! Baby scoop of chocolate Serendipity ice cream!!

Ice Cream Shooter
Jamie and Shannon were all in with three scoops of Cookie Monster ice cream. (It's not just for kids!!)

Cookie Monster ice cream
And Patience managed to finish off her Creme Brulee with no problem.

Creme Brulee
It was a beautiful evening and we sat outside at picnic tables. (Sorry for all the shadows in the pictures.) Since it is more of a casual place, kids were everywhere so just a heads up that it's not near as fancy as the last two restaurants that stood at this location.

Resources:

Snax = https://www.snaxstl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Half & Half Brunch

Since I "food cheated" and snuck off to Sardella's for breakfast last week before work, I agreed to take Patience to the hottest brunch spot in town, Half & Half.

This place is ALWAYS busy so you must use the NoWait app. We got in line from bed. Not only did we have an hour wait to kill, but then we had a half hour wait for our food.

But now I can see why so many people want to eat there. It was amazing.

Even though there were pancakes AND French Toast, Patience chose the sausage biscuit. Look how tall that thing is! On top of the house made sausage is cheddar, scrambled eggs, and aioli.

Sausage biscuit
My Cali omelette was actually a reasonable size and came with a ton of guacamole and tomatoes on top. I didn't even need to eat too many potatoes. I'm still eating the potatoes days later. hehe

Cali Omelette
A great place to try once or if you can go super early...

Resources:

Half & Half = http://www.halfandhalfstl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Thursday, May 11, 2017

PW Pizza 4 Hands Beer Dinner 2017

We were really looking forward to the 4 Hands beer dinner since it's a favorite! Unfortunately, they did not serve Patience's all-time favorite beer, Chocolate Milk Stout. Instead, they did pour their (newer) beers that probably went the best with pizza.

The first course was actually my favorite... it's potato salad...deconstructed. Almost too pretty to eat! This was paired with the newest beer, City Wide Pils. This just screams summer time!

Potato Salad - Deconstructed
As someone who loves Toasted Ravs, this didn't quite stand up to how I thought it would taste. I think this needed some marinara dipping sauce! Paired with a City Wide Pale Ale, this one screamed St. Louis. hehehe

Toasted Ravioli Pizza
The Monte Cristo Pizza, on my favorite Honey Wheat Crust, was the winner as it was piled high with gruyere, ham, turkey, and a cinnamon Raspberry Jalapeno Sauce to give it a sweet finish. The Incarnation IPA stood up to the meats, but you know I prefer to let the pizza shine here. No screaming necessary.

Monte Cristo Pizza
The delicious Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown is great for dessert and it was well paired with donut holes with Goshen coffee for dipping.

Goshen Coffee & Donut Holes
Menu
Resources:

PW Pizza = http://pwpizza.com/

4 Hands Brewery = http://4handsbrewery.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Vicia

We have all been hearing the hype for quite a while thanks to the pop up dinners. I wanted to go so badly. I. Could. Not. Wait.

I am thrilled to announce...it was worth the wait! Vicia really is that wonderful! Just WOW! This might be one of THE best meals I have ever had. What an experience!

Now... this might not be for everyone...

I was a little nervous about this "vegetable forward" concept, but now I am excited that my vegetarian friends can easily enjoy an amazing restaurant experience along with me. (A good excuse to go back, yes?)

With all the rain we've been having, the first ray of sunshine for me came when I realized there was a little bit of parking behind the building. Walking up, you can easily peer into the windows and see the modern, sleek design.

Since we were early, we sat at the bar, and pondered the branch-like artwork and then quickly got distracted by the cocktails. A short list, but I still found something sweet with the "Strawberry", which included gin, zucca, aquavit, strawberry top shrub, ginger, and tonic. Patience found a drier cocktail with the "Chamomile", which is a gin infused with chamomile, elderflower liquer, and cava!

Strawberry and Chamomile cocktails
They even have some non-alcoholic tonics on the menu! I think those would have been right up my alley too.

Cocktail Menu Spring 2017
We could have ordered from the bar, but decided to keep our reservation in the main dining area, which is where the real show takes place!

You can easily see into the kitchen and it's fun to watch all the action. At the pass, you'll find Michael Gallina putting the final touches on dishes, and Tara running everything else. She even ran us a few of our dishes!

There is a separate "patio" dining area that is currently in use, although with the windows shut, it's a little darker. I can't wait to see how nice it will be with fresh air and real sunshine streaming in!

It helped to go early, before the dinner rush at 7pm, and I highly recommend dining there during the week since the weekends are jammed packed and probably always will be.

Instead of just an "appetizer" listing, there are "snacks" and "starters". Our server kindly explained the snacks were just a couple of bites versus the "small, shared dish" of a starter. So we ordered some of both!

We chose the Purple Top Turnip Tacos (say THAT three times fast!) as our snack, two with beef and the other two with mushrooms.

Purple Top Turnip Tacos
Patience was curious about the Charuterie since it was a little different. Vicia's version included spalla cruda, chicken liver pate, pickled green strawberries, rhubarb, and focaccia. Since there was chicken pate leftover, she also asked for an order of bread. (Note, there is a separate cost for bread service.)

Charcuterie
For the starters, I had to order the Grilled Cucumber because I had seen so many pictures that I wanted to know what it tasted like. The best part is the sweet dip. I'm pretty sure Patience would have licked the leftover off the plate!

Grilled Cucumber
Next, we were adventurous and each tried a Goose Egg. Inside a goose eggshell was a scrambled goose egg with broccoli, wheat berries, shiitake mushrooms, and cheddar...isn't this just ADORABLE!! We even showed it off to our table neighbors.

Goose Eggs
Delicious inside of the Goose Egg
Overall, the menu is quite small, so we almost accomplished our goal of ordering everything on the menu!

Since we could share sides, which was perfect for two people, we chose the Garlic Roasted Carrots and the Creamy Missouri Rice, which included asparagus, onion flowers, ramps, and chorizo. The rice dish, almost too pretty to eat, was quite filling and probably could have fed four.

Garlic Roasted Carrots

Missouri Rice 
Then the last choice is your "protein" or asparagus. Really, we wanted them all of them, so we settled on chicken and the beef option, which turned out to be a very heavy and filling bolognese!

Perfectly cut chicken breasts

Beef Bolognese
Yes, we had to take half of it home....because we had to order dessert!!!

I was curious about the panna cotta since there was a mention of chocolate. Unfortunately, it was just a slight dusting, but it still won the prettiest course of the night.

Anne's Garden
It worked out since Patience needed my help after ordering FOUR cheeses on her cheese plate. I really don't know where we found room for it.

Cheese Plate
So what's the catch? All that wow-ness is pricey. It's definitely a special occasion kind of place, although I have a feeling we might be making exceptions for future date nights...

Resources:

Vicia = https://www.viciarestaurant.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Louie's Wine Dive

Louie's Wine Dive is not that far away from us in downtown Clayton, so I at least had to try it. My hesitation is that this is actually a chain when there are quite a few local wine shops that could use our support more, but I wanted to check it out for myself.

This wine bar, located in the old Tani Sushi location, appears to be a good spot to start out your evening since it's so close to restaurants like Sardella, Pasteria, and Cafe Napoli.

You can't miss the gigantic wine board board when you first walk in. The board, along with the lengthy wine list, makes for a rather difficult time of trying to find a wine to drink that you might like. Luckily, everyone behind the bar was helpful and we were offered samples to help us narrow down our choices. Unfortunately, the wines per glass were priced a bit higher than I like to spend.

Wine Board
I thought the bottles on the wall was pretty cool too...

Wine bottle art decoration
The best part about Louie's is that they had plenty of our favorite snacks to go with the wine.

Snack listing
I immediately went for the Squeaky Cheese Curds, which came with a serrano dill aioli and a marinara sauce.

Squeaky Cheese Curds with serrano dill aioli and a marinara sauce
And Patience can't help but order the Mussels! We're so predictable!

Mussels, tomatoes, lemongrass, tom yum broth, focaccia
Since we were still hungry and ready for another glass of wine, we ordered another round. This was where the wheels started to fall off and we overdid it a little bit. Ok, a lot.

I tried to order something small by ordering the Guacamole, but it came with so many chips and veggies!
Guacamole
Patience had to try ALL the cheese by ordering TWO Charcuterie boards!

First cheese plate...

...and the second one!
So many choices! So we got them all!
And we just can't resist dessert, especially when it's Beignets! They were kind enough to box them up for us because we just did not have room for all of them!

Beignets

They even have their own glasses!
Resources:

Louie's Wine Dive = http://louieswinedive.com/locations/st-louis/

Photos by Patience Scanlon