Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Benevolent King

I was very sad to hear when Water Street closed and I knew the next place would have big shoes to fill. Well, Ben Poremba had no problem filling the space and adding to the eclectic list of restaurants in downtown Maplewood.

I could have used more instruction from our waiter and I actually tried to listen to another server to learn more about the dishes since the menu doesn't have too much detail. That other server saw us oogling her tray and even stopped to inform us of what was being delivered. And it wasn't uncommon for other tables to lean over to check out what was just put down.

Luckily, our guesses worked out in our favor and everything was delicious, but a Moroccan-themed restaurant is definitely for the adventurous.

Before we get to the menu, even if you don't like Moroccan food, just go and get a cocktail from Tony Saputo. Patience tried the Amir and Prince of The Believers, while I kept it light with the house sangria. There is a long list and they are quite complex and delicious.

Amir


Sangria
Since the menu changes daily, there is not much posted on their website so I just happened to spill some sauce on a menu and asked to bring it home with me to add to my collection. But I have a feeling they're going to keep a large selection of snacks and small plates, which you could easily make a meal from. There may not be too many dinner entrees, but I still struggled to pick one out.

June Menu
Patience and I like to order (almost) the whole menu when we try new places and I would definitely recommend trying a couple of things from each section. The snacks and the small plates really weren't that different since there was a lot of dips.

From the "Snack" section, I let Patience choose since I wasn't sure of the M'Samen or the Briouat. She ordered the items that were familiar: Fresh Farmer's cheese, which was served with several crudites and Split Pea Falafel that came with a tahini dip.

Fresh Farmer's Cheese (jben)

Split Pea Falafel with tahini
Since the tahini dip was a little spicy, I opted for putting everything in the creamy cheese dip instead!

I had just as much trouble picking out dishes in the "Salatim" section (I assume it means small plates?), but luckily they are priced at 3 for $20 or 5 for $30.

Our favorite was the Ikra, a Balkan caviar dip with pickled onions.

Ikra (tarama): Balkan caviar dip, pickled onion
The Taztziki was a very pretty dish with thinly sliced cucumbers. Since the rest of the dishes were finger foods, I just picked up the cucumbers with my hands too. hehehe

Tzatziki: Greek yogurt, cucumbers, dill, and honey
I did use a fork for the Roasted Peppers, which probably would have made a good side dish with an entree.

Roasted Peppers Mechouia
We actually were starting to slow down and decided to save the rest of the dips to take home as well as ordering two more pieces of the pita bread. Skip the Hearth Bread on the menu and just order more of these if you need more for your dips! They only charged us $1 each and were one of my favorite things that's not even listed on the menu!

Pita
For our main course, Patience went old school and got the Grilled Sea Scallops. There were only two, but they were large and split in half so we could easily share.

Grilled Sea Scallops
I even gave Patience one of my Lamb Meatballs, which were set in a smoked tomato sauce. I used the bread on the side to mop of alllll the sauce.

Lamb Meatballs, smoked tomato sauce, ras al hanout
And you probably won't be surprised that we ordered dessert...two of them...flan-like cake for Patience, while I ordered the custard.

Creme Caramel, orange blossom
Malabi: milk custard, rose water, cherry, halva
The custard reminded me a lot of the dessert from Vicia, beautifully decorated, and I really enjoyed the cherry flavor. (Even though chocolate would have been the perfect touch. Do they have chocolate in Morocco? I'll have to ask Ben next time I see him.)

Resources:

The Benevolent King = https://www.thebenevolentking.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon


PW Pizza New Belgium Beer Dinner 2018

New Belgium has always been a favorite craft brewery of mien and I think this is their 3rd or 4th time they've had a turn for these PW Pizza Beer dinners.

I was thinking that they were bringing all new beers, but I actually had one of them before, but all their "summer beers" were new to me.

We kicked off the night with the typical citrus-y summer IPA style, the Citradelic Tangerine IPA, and a salad with similar flavors.

Hamilton Farms Spring Salad
My favorite pairing of the night was the very drinkable, Fat Tire Belgium Whit. Now that's my kind of beer! No hops, but plenty of crisp and refreshing flavor! This was really well paired with a Chicken Curry pizza that had a slight kick. It reminded me of a Riesling pairing. I even finished the entire tasting glass of this one.! (I didn't mind the pineapple  on the pizza either!)

Chicken Curry Pizza
I was super looking forward to the Pot Sticker Pizza since that was such a new and unique concept. It was pretty close, but not quite matching the taste of what I was expecting. This was paired with the beer I had before, 1554, which is a black lager so even though it looks heavy, it has a very light and smooth finish.

Pot Sticker Pizza
I really enjoy the chocolate-malty taste to it, but the heavier flavors did pair well with the heavier pizza.

Dessert was another favorite since the sweet pound cake was paired with a beer that was even lighter than the Whit, if you can believe it. The sweet and citrusy flavors were very subtle and most of the people at my table couldn't quite get all the fruit flavors. For me, it was perfect, and I could easily drink it.

Citrus Poundcake
Menu
I appreciated the lighter fare for summer and I'm sure we'll need it for another couple more months too!

Resources:

New Belgium = https://www.newbelgium.com/

PW Pizza = https://pwpizza.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Monday, June 18, 2018

L'Acadiane

I still don't know how to pronounce the name of the restaurant - L'Acadiane, but it's definitely an NOLA-style restaurant, so I knew Patience would be a fan.

We went back down to Lafayette Square with our food adventure friends, Jamie and Shannon, and I was nervous about trying to get a table for four on a Friday night relying on the No Wait app, so we all left early. Arriving just before 6pm, there was only one other group in the dining area, and the bar was fairly sparse as well. (I do admit that things picked up later in the evening and the room got quite noisy.)

It felt just like Chocolate Bar, but with modern and brighter furniture.

Of course we started the night off with cocktails. I don't think I've ordered a cognac ever before, but this had raspberry shrub, lemon, and sparkling rose added to it so it was plenty sweet for me! Patience ordered a Negroni since it was Negroni Week.

Roffignac

Negroni
I appreciate a small menu, especially since it already had all my favorites on it. There were some classic Cajun dishes in the "To Share" section that really should be "small plates" or "appetizers" since they were all on the small side.

I ordered a southern favorite, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Patience ordered the Lump Crab Cake, while our friends ordered the best starter, Blackened Shrimp.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Lump Crab Cake
Blackened Shrimp
I was super torn between ordering a Po'Boy (there are several to choose from!) and one of the entrees. I was hoping to get Patience to order one, but she had her sites on the Shrimp + Grits.

Shrimp + Grits
I wanted to go traditional so I chose the etouffee and this huge dish could have easily served two. Not too much spice, so it was the perfect amount of heat, but unfortunately, it was a little too heavy for a St. Louis summer. I only made it halfway through, and then never got my leftovers. Sigh.

Etoufee
Our friends picked another winner with the Fried Chicken + Cornbread Waffle and they were smart to split it!
Fried Chicken + Cornbread Waffle
I am happy I stopped eating in time since we wanted BOTH items on their dessert menu. Patience got the order of beignets, but Jamie and Shannon really stepped it up and got the best one: Whiskey Caramel Bread Pudding Baked Alaska...TWO desserts in ONE!

It may not be Chocolate Bar, but I wouldn't blame you if you only went for the desserts.

Whiskey Caramel Bread Pudding Baked Alaska

Beignets
Menu
Resources:

L'Acadiane = https://www.lacadiane.com

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Sunday, June 3, 2018

PW Pizza Stone Brewing Beer Dinner

I think most beer people are probably familiar with Arrogant Bastard from Stone Brewing, so this was a chance for me to taste some other beers from them.

Apparently, Stone Brewing is known for their IPAs and they have a special IPA series going on right now. The first one is called Exalted IPA and it was your typical Citra hop beer, which went perfectly with the Greek Salad. I could have used more olives and artichoke hearts!

Greek Salad
A little less hoppy and my favorite pairing of the night was the Ripper Pale Ale and BBQ Smoked Salmon Pizza. I was unsure about salmon on a pizza much less BBQ sauce on top of that, but I am definitely a convert after that! Great flavors all around.

BBQ Smoked Salmon Pizza
The second pizza and pairing, I did not care for at all. With a big beer like Arrogant Bastard, a Scotch Ale that had originally been "a mistake beer", I understand you need a pizza with a lot of flavor. The Truffle Oil Pizza was a little over the top and took away from the the veggies on the pizza that included wild mushrooms and green garlic. Sadly, I didn't even remember to take a picture either. (Oh, how I need my photography assistant!)

The highest ABV of the night came from the I'm Peach beer, which was surprising since there was so much fruit when you smell and drink this beer. It reminded me of a saison style as well. The Ginger Panna Cotta was a sweet custard, so that was a good pairing, but I couldn't drink too much of the beer.

I'm Peach
IPAs or big beers...Stone Brewing is for you!

Resources:

Stone Brewing = https://www.stonebrewing.com/

PW Pizza = https://pwpizza.com/

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

BAO

This trip was definitely "a food adventure" as I had no idea what to expect at the new restaurant, Bao.

I was a little bit familiar with Korean steamed buns, but these are not in your typical format. Instead, the Korean buns are used in all kinds of ways and I have a feeling that someone had a lot of fun making this menu!

Since we recognized the always-dapper Ben Bauer behind the bar, we immediately went to the cocktail list. Both drink and food menus were printed on long pieces of paper, almost as if you were at a sushi restaurant, but no pencil is necessary.

I knew I wanted a gin drink and I appreciated the pictures of the drinks as if it helped me envision what it would taste like. hehe

Cocktail Menu
I ordered The Dough of Existence and of course Patience ordered something a little stronger, Shadows of Words, also a gin drink, but with Amarao as well.

Dough of Existance

Shadows of Words
As per usual, we wanted to try everything on the menu, but we'll need to make at least one more trip before we accomplish that feat. hehe

We started out ordering a couple of things from the small plates and one item from the entrees to see if that would be enough.

I had to get the Taiwanese Dumpling since I'm a huge fan of dumplings in general and I had never seen this version with it served "upside down" and all connected. It easily breaks apart with a fork and they were amazing. The dumplings were chicken (not pork, yay!) and included vegetables, soy, vinegar, and scallions.

Taiwanese Dumpling
I was most curious about the Little Bao and ordered the Wagyu one...which looks like a baby hamburger! Just adorable! They also come in a tofu and pork version as well.

Little Bao
The Wagyu came with havarti, romanie, and truffle mayo. The bao buns were perfect as the "burger" buns!

Our main entree was Patience's pick: Lobster roll!

Lobster Roll
A large bao bun was used to hold in the lobster creamy goodness! The lobster roll was Maine-style with brown butter, poached lobster, celery, fennel, and mayo. It was hard to share this one as it was the most expensive item.

We thought we could each do one more small plate, but since the restaurant got busy, we had to wait a little longer for the second round of dishes, and I wasn't as hungry by then.

I tried the Crab & Avocado, which was served with cute lotus root chips. Delicious!

Crab & Avocado
Patience wanted to try the Korean Street Corn, which was unfortunately overwhelmed by the mozzarella and smoky bacon fat.

Korean Street Corn
Since the ice cream came from Serendipity in Webster Groves, we had to order dessert and we shared the most popular flavor, Mango Sticky Rice.

Mango Sticky Rice
It's just like an ice cream sandwich and a little tricky to eat. Don't be afraid to get messy with this one!

If you enjoy food adventures, be sure to bring some adventurous friends so you can try everything!! I was really impressed with the chef's creativity and don't be afraid to ask your server questions.

Menu - Small Plates
Menu - Bao
Resources:

Bao = https://www.thebaostl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Clover and the Bee

Since we're huge fans of Olive + Oak, we couldn't wait to try The Clover and The Beer, as they have the same owners. Luckily, our friend Julia had a birthday and that gave us all an excuse to try it out!

We were hoping The Clover and The Bee would be easier to get into than its sister restaurant, but since they don't take reservations for dinner, we attempted to use the No Wait app. Unfortunately, Clover is on the small side, and while there were a couple of tables open, there weren't too many four tops to accommodate all of us.

We decided to wait at the skinny "rail" bar that runs down the middle of the restaurant. Even though it wasn't the most spacious, it allowed the four of us to sit close together and share appetizer plates until they could push together a couple of tables. I'd really recommend this place as a date night for two for better chances of getting a table.

Of course we went right for the cocktail list...gin for me, bourbon for Patience!

Gin cocktail

Bourbon cocktail
The two starters we selected were actually quite similar since both included bread for dipping.

Check out all the goodies that come with the Housemade Naan! Olives, ricotta, tomato relish, toasted hazelnuts, and pickled green beans! We enjoyed mixing and matching the different toppings and of course the ricotta was my favorite.


Housemade Naan
The Pistachio Dip included whipped goat cheese and radishes along with the toasted pita, which was a little more simpler than the Naan.

Pistachio Dip
We probably should have stopped at one starter since I was beginning to feel full even before we ordered. Yet, the dinner entrees are a reasonable portion and we still had enough to share bites.

I was immediately drawn to the Braised Lamb with polenta and poached egg! It was really a hearty dish that probably would have gone better in the winter time. (I probably should have had less appetizers too!)

Braised Lamb
Patience and Julia finally agreed to order the Flank Steak and Smoked Brisket after much bartering.

The Smoked Brisket was laid on top of a buttermilk-cornmeal waffle, oddly enough, but definitely my favorite of the two beef dishes.

Smoked Brisket
Flank Steak
The Flank Steak arrived on top of fingerling potatoes and greens with a red pepper butter on top. It was all quite rich!

Our youngest member of the group had an easy winner with the Pasta Al Forno and I highly recommend it if you prefer a pasta dish. This too was weighted down with red sauce and mozzarella. So cheesy!

Pasta Al Forno
After the heavy entrees, we then had to "force" ourselves to eat birthday desserts.

Birthday cookie for the birthday girl!

Chocolate Cookie
Patience and I split the Triple Layer Cake and it tasted EXACTLY like the Boston Creme Cake we both used to get as children from Pepperidge Farm!!

The chocolate mousse and ganache made it amazing.

Triple Layer Cake
(Apologies for the cake telling you that you're number one!)

If I had been on my own, I definitely would have ordered the Chocolate Pot de Creme and eat it like an ice cream cone. At least I was allowed to have one bite, but it wasn't enough.

Chocolate Pot de Creme
(You know it was the best dessert!!!)

While the dishes were a heavy for spring, everything was delicious, and they are just like their sister restaurant with some of the best cocktails and service in town! I didn't realize I was missing out on the desserts...

Brunch or dinner, definitely make time to go soon.

Main Menu

Dessert Menu
Resources:

The Clover and the Bee = https://www.thecloverandthebee.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon