Thursday, September 22, 2011

Balaban's Feast Magazine Tasting

Feast magazine held their September tasting at the new Balaban’s located in Chesterfield. I used to love the old restaurant in the Central West End as my family used to celebrate special occasions there. Luckily, they still serve their Beef Wellington, but after the tasting, I was in the mood to try more of their appetizers and tapas. This just means I’ll just have to go back for my favorite dish someday.

The new Balaban’s took over the collection of wines from the old restaurant yet this month’s tasting featured more recent wines. Like previous Feast tastings, the food portions are small and often get drowned out by the large wine servings. My favorite glass was a white wine (of course): a 2009 Cline Viognier from Sonoma County, while the best tasting was the Smoked Trout Pancakes. The trout was paired with a 2009 Mudhouse Pinot Noir from New Zealand, which had a smooth finish. Pinots are definitely my favorite red wine these days.

After the tasting finished, I was very surprised to go inside and see that the new version is actually a retail wine and gourmet food store! All the tables are arranged at one end of the room, along with bar seating against one wall, and is NOT the large, formal restaurant that I had imagined. Still, I was eager to try out the menu.

Since I am always searching for quality seafood in the Midwest, I started with the Chilled Oysters, along with everyone else at my table. The oysters had a sweet flavor of champagne and I was able to trade one for a couple of slices of the Applewood Bacon Flatbread, definitely one of the best items on the menu. It was recently featured in Feast magazine in STLwinegirl's "Quite the Pair" article.

Another weakness of mine is Lobster Ravioli and the delicately handmade, large squares came in a fennel and ricotta sauce. Great flavors but I would have liked a little more sauce to cover all the raviolis.

The last tapas item I tried was the Artisanal Cheese Plate and I was disappointed that I got more toasted bread than cheese. Mostly because I didn't get much cheese at all.

Next time, I’m definitely getting the Beef Wellington!