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.


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!

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.)


The Benevolent King =

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


New Belgium =

PW Pizza =

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Monday, June 18, 2018


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.


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.

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


L'Acadiane =

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!


Stone Brewing =

PW Pizza =