Saturday, November 17, 2012

Michael's Bar and Grill

I can’t quite remember if I had ever been to Michael’s Bar & Grill in St. Louis City before so in a way, that almost makes it a new restaurant. This was my first time being invited to my friend’s Dining Club that she organizes once a month, so that was pretty exciting and this month’s theme was Greek. We all got to vote on a few restaurants and Michael’s won.

My tablemates were generous and ordered several appetizers, some Greek and some not: Saganaki, Fried Calamari, Tzatziki, and Dolmades. Since our table was in the basement of the restaurant with low, wooden ceilings, they were not able to set the saganaki on fire, which was totally understandable and it was definitely the best starter dish anyway. Of course I’m totally biased on this.

Greek food is a no brainer for me. I pretty much get my favorite: Greek Salad, Moussaka, and baklava for dessert. But tonight, I realized that I had been saying it wrong the whole time! You pronounce it moo-SI-kah! That’s a lot of years saying it wrong.

I admit that I did see a few other dishes I wanted to try. I probably should have gone with the Greek Sampler Platter because then I could have had more dolmades or spinach pie. Another friend ordered chicken kabobs and I also saw a lamb dish further down the table. I really don’t think you could go wrong at all.


The Good Pie

Since my friends and I were going to check out a band at the Firebird, we needed to find a place to meet up for dinner. This was not too hard now that several new restaurants and bars popped up near the SLU campus. So many people have raved about The Good Pie so I was excited to have a chance to try it out.

Now I knew going into it that the pizzas are made “Neopolitan style”, but I didn’t realize that there was a limited menu. Meaning, you can’t add your favorite toppings. So if you don’t like the combinations of pizzas that they have, you’re out of luck. Also, the pizza that I had picked out, the Funghi, which was covered in nothing but mushrooms and two kinds of cheese, wasn’t available.
Although, we were able to order the special pizza…a vegetarian, that managed to come with mushrooms, but none of the pizzas come with olives. I mean, why make a pizza if you’re not going to put olives on it?? Needless to say, the whole experience was disappointing.

The pizza was individually sized, so you can have one all to yourself easily or for us, it was perfect for sharing in addition to our salads. At least you could order roasted olives on the side but since they come with the pits, you can’t exactly sneak them on top your pizza. While the pizza was tasty with all the cheese on it, with such a thin crust, the center seemed to get weighed down by the ingredients and the grease. This is why I prefer thicker and sturdier crusts.

So while it’s not my most favorite pizza joint, it is a great place for a quick and cheap bite before a show.


The Good Pie =

Warehouse Wine Dinner

Looking back at all the courses, I have to admit that I don’t have a favorite since so many of the dishes were amazing. Chef Cassy really outdid herself. If you haven’t been to Home Wine Kitchen yet, you absolutely should get over there, but these courses were really above and beyond anything on her menu. Due to that, the wines had a hard time standing up to the food and merely were a “supporting cast” if you will and is probably the reason why I don’t remember them as much.

All the wines were rich and bold to me, but it was necessary since each course was incredibly full of flavor. I guess my top two were the buttery Diver Scallop that had a little kick from the Siracha Mayo and the Sugo with Lamb Shank, Pork Collar & Beef Cheek over Olive Oil Polenta with a Poached Egg.

Then came dessert…in a small, innocent glass jar…Chocolate Custard with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream & Cinnamon-Espresso Powder. Oh my goodness. You had the rich chocolate custard on the front with the salty caramel flavor on the back. Normally I don’t enjoy anything corrupting my chocolate but this was such a happy mixing of rich flavors. Somehow, an extra glass jar ended up in my coat pocket on the way home! (I returned the glass jar…)

Yet, the most exciting part of the dinner was during the first course when the scallops were cooking…with no real kitchen or stove hood, the smoke found its way to the smoke alarms. Industrial smoke alarms are NOT quiet and soon, the Fire Department arrived with axes ready. If I were them, I would have stuck around longer to try some of the other courses too!

  • Diver Scallop seared in Bacon Fat with Shaved Brussels and Siracha Mayo
  • Venison Tartare with Beet Root Chip, Dijon, Quail Egg, and Cornichon
  • Duck Confit Fritter with Cayenne Spiced Fig Jam and Spicy Greens
  • Sugo with Lamb Shank, Pork Collar, and Beef Cheek over Olive Oil Polenta with a Poached Egg and Smoked Paprika
  • Jarred Chocolate Custard with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream and Cinnamon-Espresso Powder

Scape Bistro

A friend of mine wanted to try out Scape Bistro in the Central West End and who am I to argue really. I always love to try someplace new and the restaurant was just beautiful inside.

The first thing that caught my eye on the menu was the raw bar, which is perfect since I was with my “seafood buddy”. I ordered the shrimp cocktail for us to start with (they were giant shrimp – isn’t that an oxymoron?) and then we picked out two east coast and two west coast oysters to try. I’m not sure I could tell the difference but the east coast oyster seemed a bit more flavorful even though I doctored both with cocktail sauce.

The other standard starter I always go with are crab cakes. While these Sauteed Maryland Style Crab Cakes were a good size (I’d say medium), they didn’t come with much sauce and I feel crab cakes should have a fair amount of moisture to balance out the breading on the outside. Again, I definitely could have made dinner out of their entire list of starters since they have so many unique dishes to try.

Since the raw bar and crab cakes were tempting me, in addition to a couple of fish items on the menu, I felt that I could confidently order the Kung Fu Girl Riesling…one of my absolute favorites since it has just the right amount of sweetness to it. But don’t get me wrong, I still would have ordered it if I had gotten the Veal Parmesan. My buddy tried their Hard Strawberry Lemonade specialty cocktail, which also was incredibly sweet and you couldn’t taste any alcohol. I easily could have had two of those.

I usually lean to getting the special since I know it’s fresh and seasonal and I got lucky that the Red Snapper was on that list. In addition to the fish, I ordered the other special as my side: risoto with beets and goat cheese. The little chunks of beets and goat cheese added a little bit of sweetness to the otherwise savory dish. My red snapper was light and flaky, but my buddy’s salmon was far better with a full, buttery flavor to the fish.

Luckily, fish isn’t too filling and we had split all the appetizers so we still had room for dessert! Of course I ordered the most chocolatey item on the menu: chocolate pate and gelato! So you had the richness from the thick pate next to the soft creaminess of the gelato, with only a couple of raspberries in the way. Mixing the two textures together in one bite was heavenly! My buddy’s hot apple pie probably could have used some of my chocolate gelato melted over it too…


Scape Bistro =

Monday, November 5, 2012


After reading so much about Cleveland-Heath, STLwinegirl, Angela Ortmann, finally gave me a good reason to travel over the river and through the woods to Edwardsville by hosting a Traveling Table there. Located right on the corner of Main Street, the restaurant had a warm and charming feel with all the servers dressed in plaid shirts and jeans. Although, our event was actually located in the Township Grocer next door where we sat at one long, wooden table, which Cleveland-Heath rents out.

Luckily, there were some locals attending the dinner who had eaten there several times so I asked them what was their favorite and what was the best. Both of them said the tacos were fantastic along with the risotto and basically, they loved to try whatever is new there. Cleveland-Heath also offers quite a lengthy beer and wine list and their menu reminded me of American “home cooking” but with a fresh twist.

We started off the night with a baby beet salad with farro, feta, and chimmichurri. Beets are all the range these days and I was really impressed at how different they tasted as to the flavor I was expecting. Fresh is so much better than canned any day! The light and fruity salad paired well with my favorite, a von Hovel Riesling, Kabinett Oberemmeler Hutte, Saar, Germany, 2010. I don’t know how many times I will tell you that German wines are the best…not too sweet, not too dry.

The main course was a Crispy Skinned Wild Arctic Char, in place of salmon, but looked like the same thing to me. Underneath the two large hunks of fish were brussels sprouts, butternut squash, roasted mushrooms, and pomegranate, almost like a mini vegetable salad. I still cannot eat Brussels sprouts to save my life but this was a hearty meal with warm flavors. That warmness helped to pair the meal with a red wine, Mirabile Nero D’Avola, IGT Sicilia, Italy 2009, even though it was a fish course! Yet, it was an Italian red, which was a little too dry and heavy for me, even with the meaty and buttery fish. Although the brussels sprouts definitely needs something strong!

The dessert course was my favorite since it included a ridiculous amount of chocolate. To do it justice, I included another picture so you can see the smooth and creamy goodness underneath the “house made graham” and toasted “marshmellow” top. A strong port was paired with this to cut through all the sweetness, but I can only handle something like a Moscato rather than a fortified wine. The Terra D’Oro Zinfandel Port came from Amador County, CA.

This dinner definitely gets all three stars from me since it featured a Riesling, chocolate, and no bacon to be seen!


Cleveland-Heath =

Township Grocer =

STLwinegirl =

Photos by Stacy Anderson ( and Angela Ortmann