Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Mud House

As I make my way throughout the city of St. Louis’ brunch scene, sometimes the best places are the ones you just fall into. After spending a lot of time on Cherokee and in the Benton Park area, we drove by Mud House quite a few times. But since another location was still closed at 9:30AM, we finally remembered to make The Mud House our destination.

This place is hopping on the weekends so you may have to wait to find a table and be prepared to make friends so you can get a seat. Definitely a cute coffee shop with interesting noshes for breakfast and lunch.

For such a small shop, there are quite a few choices for coffee, breakfast, and sandwiches, so we had no trouble killing our time in line closely studying the menu. I was really wanting to be adventures and try a “Veggie Madame”, which has veggies on a brioche with an egg on top, but I went with the safe bet and got the “quiche or strata of the day”.

Strata
Patience was the adventurous one and got the “hash of the day”, which turned out to come with a pile of Brussels sprouts and potatoes in addition to an egg on top.

Hash with Brussel sprouts, potatoes, and fried egg
We are both wanting to go back to try some more dishes!

Resources:

The Mud House = http://themudhousestl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Yellow Farmhouse Winery and an Olive Ovation

I was invited by a friend, who works at Yellow Farmhouse Winery, for a tasting of their wines at a store I had never been to before: An Olive Ovation. Mostly known for their wide variety of olive oils, the store actually has a lot of artisanal and cooking products. So for the first time, we attended a “wine and olive oil” pairing class.

While we did taste the olive oils straight, the actual pairings were the wine with a small dish made with the specially selected olive oil. On a couple of them, you could taste the flavor of the oil, but for the others, the flavors were too well blended.

The oil that stood out the most was the Olivas de Oro Rosemary olive oil, which was used as a dressing for the Italian Rice and Bean Salad. The strong herbal dressing gave the vegetables a little more flavor and stood up to the extra sweetness from the Compass Rose.

My favorite pairing of the night was the Edelweiss, a white table wine, paired with the spicy sausage and lentils that were mixed with hot smoked paprika, Dijon, rosemary, thyme, and garlic. The slight sweetness matched up perfectly with the little bit of heat.

A Chambourcin Reserve from 2009 is a good pick for red wine lovers as the dryer flavors were able to take on the grilled veggie skewers dipped in sunflower oil and Robbins balsamic.

And for dessert, the Sweet Talkin’ Blonde Traminette definitely dominated in sweetness over the Macadamia Nut & White Chocolate cookies.

Menu
Resources:

Yellow Farmhouse Winery = http://www.yellowfarmhousewines.com/

Extra Virgin: An Olive Ovation = http://www.extravirginoo.com/

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

STL Vegetarian Restaurants

I have had the same discussions MANY times...trying to come up with a list of vegetarian restaurants.

I think it's about time I write these down...this way everyone will have a place to refer back to!

Feel free to message me or comment with any that I may have missed and need to add.

Everest Cafe
Frida's Deli
Gokul
PuraVegan
Ranoush
Seedz
Small Batch
Tree House Vegetarian
LuLu's Local Eatery
Pi Pizza has a vegan pizza
Lona's Lil Eats

Update: The RFT recently posted it's 10 best Veggies Restaurants as well:
http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/gutcheck/2014/12/10_best_spots_for_vegetarian_fare_in_st_louis.php

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Central Table

Not only did it take a while to finalize dinner double date plans, but it also took me a while to get to Central Table Food Hall. But now I know what everyone is talking about!

If you haven’t heard, Central Table is more of a cafeteria-style restaurant during the day for lunch but at night, it turns into a regular sit-down restaurant for the dinner course. I was also surprised to see a very large bar in the middle of the hall, and it was almost full for dinner, probably because it was a Friday night.

The high ceilings give it a big and open feel and I bet it’s hoppin’ during the day at all the different food stations that are available. Yet, I still think dinner may be the best time of day to go because now you have all the different stations on one menu so you can pick and choose from each section.

Although, this does make trying to pick out dishes a little more difficult when you want one of everything!

I definitely recommend going in a group so you can share all the different dishes that are available. We ended up doing a little bit of sharing and a little bit of splitting so we could try several items at once.

We started with a couple of oysters…one of each from both coasts, and they were served with three different sauces to try. My favorite was the soy mignonette…although it made the oysters extra salty, while the red wine and cocktail sauces gave the oysters a much sweeter flavor.

Oysters
Next up was the maki rolls: salmon and tuna. Both were very small rolls of six each and made for another excellent starter. The fish was wonderfully fresh. But we were jealous of my friend’s specialty maki, all of which are unique to Central Table. Luckily, she shared with us and not only were they twice the size of our rolls, but had so much more amazing flavors . I highly recommend getting as many specialty rolls as you can!

Sushi
For our main course, we ended up splitting the Sea Scallops that were served on top of root vegetables, freekah, and rappini. I had to research these two ingredients: freekah is a roasted grain, while the rappini is a green vegetable. The dish was actually a good size for one person, but I was happy we made room for the sushi since that was definitely my favorite.
Sea Scallops
We also go to try a bite of the Spiedie pizza, which came with chicken, ricotta, roasted garlic and oregano. There was no red sauce, but still a good mix of flavors.

I definitely would love to go back because I didn’t get to try anything from their soup (butternut squash) or salads (kale!) list, or from the hot small plates (mussels!). And I really wanted one of everything off the sushi menu to be perfectly honest.

The only issue is parking…since it was cold and snowy, I was thankful for the $4 valet, but I think it’ll be much easier come spring time for walking around in the Central West End.

Resources:

Central Table Food Hall = http://centraltablestl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Tenacious Eats Moulin Rouge

I know this is another “third-timer” on the STLCheesegirl blog, but Tenacious Eats keeps growing and getting bigger each time I go.

I took advantage of some time off over the holidays since the “five course dinner and a movie” event usually goes until 11pm. But now there are more good reasons to go a little bit early to Meyer’s Grove, where Tenacious Eats is hosted.

First, starting at 5pm, a small band kicks off the night, which is then followed up by a Super 8 film from Tom Stockman, who probably has the largest collection of Super 8 movies in the country if I had to guess. If you follow Tom on Facebook, or on the We Are Movie Geeks website, you can check out his other showings at the Way Out Club twice a month.

Anyway, Moulin Rouge was such a big and flashy movie, the food had strong competition between that and the cocktails created by owner, Dan Stoner and Beth Sorrell, from Cocktails Are Go. Talk about taking things up a notch! Let’s just say this is definitely the only time I probably will ever have a cabernet mixed with expresso or a habanero moonshine mixed with PBR!!

I have to admit that it was hard to pick a favorite course or even a favorite pairing since each one is so unique. It’s just one of those events you have to try once, when you can be out late on a school night.
Tenacious Eats Moulin Rouge Menu

Resources:

Tenancious Eats = http://www.tenaciouseats.com/

Meyer’s Grove = http://meyersgrove.com/

Cocktails Are Go = http://cocktails-are-go.com/

PW Pizza Deschutes Brewery Beer Dinner

The end of January meant the start of another season of beer dinners at PW Pizza and the featured brewery was Deschutes, located in Bend, Oregon. All the more reason to visit the upper northwest, I say!

I was finally smart this time and was able to pace myself through the courses since beer can be so filling and you pretty much can have as much as you’d like for each course. There are even two full pizzas served at each table for the pizza courses so it’s easy to overdo it.

Unfortunately, three of the four beers were way too hoppy…even the first “light” beer, the River Ale, started at 28IBUs. Luckily, both pizzas had a lot of kick to them (first one had roasted garlic while the second one had spicy meatball) to help match up to the bitterness, but it was too much for me.

Easily, my favorite course was dessert: a dark chocolate mousse paired with a Black Butte Porter. It definitely was smooth and creamy like the dessert itself, and yes, we did finish off our neighbor’s chocolate mousse it was that incredible. We ate them so fast, we forgot to take more pictures other than the menu!
PW Pizza Deschutes Brewery
Resources:

PW Pizza = http://pwpizza.com/

Deschutes Brewery = http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/

Planter's House

I had been saving Planter’s House for my birthday because even though they don’t have a lengthy menu, I kept hearing such rave reviews about the menu. Although, I did cheat and had a few items off of their appetizer list a few weeks before, because with their cocktails, you definitely want to make sure you have something to eat.

Poutine
Since we are huge fans of poutine, that was the first starter I picked and instead of the traditional pomme frites, they used chunks of fried fingerling potatoes with red wine pork gravy, five year gouda, and onion smothered all over them. Pretty amazing and really could stand up to any cocktail there.

Another winner was the chicken wings. The wings were uniquely hay roasted and had a strong sage flavor to them. Just those two together were the perfect meal…
Chicken Wings
But my birthday dinner also meant that I finally got a real good look at their full cocktail menu, which is actually quite lengthier than the list of dishes! Planter’s House is definitely more of a place to enjoy sophisticated drinks than a fine dining establishment. I went on a Thursday night and by 7pm, the place was packed…so be sure to go early, because I don’t think the hype is going to die down anytime soon…

Not only are there your traditional “house favorites”, but the biggest and most interesting list is their own creations. Certainly you’ll have to try a couple and come back to check in on some more another time. Unless you’re a cocktail expert, I just recommend taste, taste, and more tasting. But don’t be afraid to ask your server for recommendations! They are there to help find the right drink for you.

I kept hearing so much about the duck burger, so my birthday meal was an easy choice. I was surprised to see that it was open face on a pumpernickel bun, which was quite crunchy. To make things easier, I moved the bun to the side and just focused on the rich duck since it was covered in a five year gouda and a fried duck egg. It even came with those delicious fried fingerling potatoes. It takes “burger” to a whole new level. The richness of the whole course really helped to balance out my boozy cocktail.
Duck Burger and Fingerling Potatoes
My favorite pescetarian ordered the mussel stew, which came in a mustard cream sauce and served with several large pieces of toast.

Mussel Stew
For any vegetarians, I also got to try the faro pilaf, which was much heartier of a meal than I expected. Farro is Italian grain and it was baked with grilled squash, peppers, wild mushrooms, sage, dried fruit, and walnuts. What a perfect winter dish!

And you can’t have a birthday without a special dessert…so we ordered both of them! The gooey butter cake certainly lived up to its name, but the in house “doughnuts” are hands down THE best item on the menu. Go ahead…I give you permission to order these first!


Two half dollar-sized doughnut “holes” are served together – one is filled with crème anglaise and the other is filled blackberry jam. Quite the heavenly experience I must say.


Resources:

Planter's House = http://plantershousestl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon