Saturday, July 6, 2013


I had been really looking forward to Agrarian since my friends and I had been to the first installment of Entre’s first pop-up restaurant, "A Good Man is Hard To Find", but also because I am so pro-vegetarian these days. I always get excited when chefs go out of their way to put the spotlight on veggies because they always come up with such fantastic ideas.

Agrarian’s menu offered up a price fixe menu again, but you got to choose any four menu items for $35. Since none of the desserts were chocolate, I went with two small plates and two larger plates for my complete dinner. Luckily, with six people in my party, I ended up getting to try or hear about most of the dishes. I highly recommend going with as many people as possible because the descriptions on the menu don’t quite cover the unique and different plates. We asked a lot of questions about our server as well, but each course is nothing like you’ve ever had!

Before I get into the menu, we had the difficult task of just selecting a cocktail. Even this list had seven creations and it was hard to guess if you’d like the flavors or not so it was a gamble. I went with “Wendell Berry’s Last Stand” because I love a fruity drinks, but the bourbon was the strongest flavor and I had to sip it throughout my meal. I preferred “Little Flower” the most because of the sweeter flavors and bubbles. The “Ivan Drago” looked just like a mojito and was very refreshing, while the “Macchu Pisku” was another “fruity” drink that I probably would have enjoyed much more.

In addition to not being able to pronounce “Macchu Pisku”, we had to research “Chow Chow” and "Chifrijo” on our phones! Hehe We asked the server but both of these dishes just needed to be tried for yourself.

While I started with a cheese plate (four amazing selections that can also be ordered as a dessert), my friends went with the Chow Chow, which looked like a red and green pickled pepper spread. If you like pickles, it was quite delicious.

We all had a very hard time deciding which courses to get for our “main dinner”, so again, I recommend going in a larger group so you all can taste as much as possible. I also recommend ordering a few smaller items and then some larger dishes for a good mixture in complexity of taste and so you get enough to eat. Four small dishes probably won’t be filling for most Americans.

I started with the Tomato Mint Sherry, which was a tasty fresh tomato, without being overwhelmed by the mint. It was probably the most beautiful dish as the bright red contrasted the white plate. I also go to try the peas and carrots, which again were flavorful, but not too many on the plate.

Tomato Mint Sherry
My second “small plate” was the Beet Red Onion Chevre. I should not have gotten this since I’m not the biggest fan of beets and there wasn’t too much chevre on the plate, but I found that my friend’s Squash Black Garlic Pepita was a better taste for me with the tower of squash right in the center.

Squash Black Garlic Pepita
I was super excited to see the word “gnocchi” in the dish Spring Onion Vichyssoise Gnocchi, but there were only three small dumplings on this plate, so that was a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping for a whole bowl of them. The Cauliflower Risotto was also a downer because it wasn’t actually risotto at all, just cauliflower in small pieces. I did not get to try this dish but I probably would have been fine with this as long as I wasn’t expecting risotto.
Another friend ordered the Chifrijo, which tastes wonderful in comparison in trying to pronounce this. The chef’s take on this meant a black bean, tofu, and rice filling in place of any piggy that makes up the traditional dish.

This was one of the heavier dishes, much like my Poutine Smoked Shiitake Gravy Bluecheese. And yes, it was just as wonderful as it was a mouthful to say.

I have never had poutine before who doesn’t love French Fries covered in gravy and cheese! After one taste, my friends immediately ordered one just for themselves!!

The other “heavy dish” that I got to try was the Tagliatelle Smoked Broccoli Pesto Fried Duck Egg. There was only a hint of broccoli and pesto, but the perfect fan for any pasta lover since the big noodles are what stood out the most.

We did have one “meat eater” at the table who ordered a ½ Cornish Game Hen and it was definitely a good-sized meal, but I’m not sure that it had the most flavor when compared to the rest of the uniquely crafted vegetarian plates.

For dessert, the Brown Butter Financier Strawberry Ice Cream was a big hit with everyone except for me since it was lacking the required drowning in chocolate sauce for me to enjoy a dessert.

While not everything was a huge success, I must give props to the chef for coming up with so many new and creative takes on everyday vegetables. Definitely a food adventure!

Please note that the menu does change a little bit each week since with vegetables, it does depend on what the local farmers have in stock!


Agrarian =

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sommelier Showdown III

I hadn’t been to a Sommelier Showdown before and when I saw that STLwinegirl, Angela Ortmann, was going to be in the third “battle” against Brandon Kearne from Elaia & Olio, I immediately signed up!

What I really love about this “competition” is that the challenge is about making the perfect pairing, which to me is much more important than how good a wine is by itself. Some wines just may be quite quaffable, but one usually has a glass to drink over dinner and you want to bring out the flavors for both in either a complimentary way or to let the food shine.

With Randall’s Wines & Spirits as the sponsor, they kicked off the evening with a shot of tequila, handed to us by a guy in a Mexican wrestling mask. I’m not sure if every “Showdown” is like this but it certainly set the tone for the night as the evening definitely had a “fight night” atmosphere!

While I admit that I was very biased towards Angela’s pairings, the voters were definitely the winners as you got two glasses of wine with each course. Not a bad deal at $35!! This was an exceptional price considering this “Showdown” was held at Cielo inside the Four Seasons!

In summary, I felt Angela had the better pairings because her wines were a lot more accessible in both taste and price. (Prices are listed on the menu because Randall’s was encouraging everyone to purchase what they tasted that night.) I felt that her wines were a lot more mellow and paired well with each course, really letting the food stand out. Brandon’s wines were almost all big, bold, or dry. I don’t think I could drink any of his selections as none of his pairings matched my palate.

First course...goat cheese and salad
Second course...risotto, shrimp and asparagus
Third course...Pork tenderloin

My favorite part of the evening was when both Brandon and Angela came over to our table and I got to ask them why they had picked each wine. It’s great to get inside a Sommelier’s mind and see how they think about the wine and the corresponding food.

Brandon came out the winner, although I really think Angela had the better pairings, which is what the evening’s competition was really about.

Be sure to check out the next “Sommelier Showdown” on Thursday, July 18th at 7pm with Linda McGovern from Major Brands vs Glenn Bardgett from Annie Gunn’s. This one is also $35, but will be located at Copia at 1122 Washington Ave.


Randall’s Wines & Spirits =

Cielo =

STLwinegirl =

Elaia & Olio =