Sunday, February 9, 2020

Layla Revisited

I know I had been to Layla in the Grove, but that was quite a few years ago, and with previous owners of the restaurant. You can check that out here: https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2012/07/layla.html

The old version used to serve Mediterrean, but the new version is a strange combination of gourmet burgers and shawarma!

Still, things didn't go quite as planned as I was hoping to use my birthday as an excuse to pick out a burger and a shawarma and split both. Both are filling by themselves so sadly, you can really only pick one.

Since Patience picked a burger, I went ahead and ordered the shawarma so that I could at least get a bite of burger. There are quite a variety of burgers with clever names, although I personally would only prefer a couple of them. Patience ordered the "Clarice", the lamb burger. (Hopefully, you get that.)

Clarice burger with sweet potato waffle fries
I assume there is a kid's menu with burgers on it because we went early to make it to the movies and almost every table was a family with kids. We were outnumbered!

I had the Traditional Shawarma, which was lamb as well. I figure if you order the Greek version, it really is a gyro at that point. hehe

To keep the theme going, I ordered quinoa tabbouleh on the side instead of fries, although hummus and pita was available too.

Traditional Shawarma with a side of quinoa tabbouleh
I was impressed at how many options there were to have your burger or shawarma become vegetarian or vegan, as well as gluten free. It literally is for everyone!

I really do hope to make it back to try MY pick of burger next time! (And may go later in the evening.) With a decent sized cocktail and draft beer list and a full bar, I'm thinking there must be more adults after 7pm.

Note: There was a charity cocktail called "Fund the Pain Away" where $2 of every drink goes to a local charity and I was more than happy to do my part!

Resources:

Layla = http://laylastl.com/

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Akar

Akar had been on the top of our list since it opened last year. We are huge fans of Bernie Lee and everything that is on Wydown. (You know what restaurants I'm talking about!)

How to define Akar... upscale Asian fusion? Regardless, we knew it'd be a fancy place for a romantic anniversary dinner, and with its dim lighting, its' definitely a date night destination. There are five or six tables max with a few spots at the bar. And there is no way to avoid the cold when the door opens. Intimate is an understatement so a reservation is a must.

But Akar lived up to the hype and was everything we'd hope for!

There are quite a few starters and we narrowed our choices down to the Rangoon "Ravioli" since it was lobster stuffed with a sweet mango dip.

Rangoon "Ravioli"
And we're huge potsticker fans so the dumplings were winners as well.

Potsticker of the Day
The entree list is limited, but that makes it much easier to make a choice. Well..maybe. We both were torn between two items.

I thought for sure Patience would go with the short ribs (I was torn over them myself), but she ordered the Duck Breast with a butternut squash mash in a sweet plum wine reduction.

Duck Breast
Even though it wasn't anything fancy, I ordered the Sweet Potato Gnocchi because I'm a huge sucker for gnocchi. In addition, there were three "veggie" meatballs. This would definitely be a good pick for a vegetarian with subtle heat throughout. I did try to eat around the peppers, but still had to wipe off a little nose sweat!

Sweet Potato Cnocchi
For a side dish, we picked the Stticky Rice with mushrooms since that seemed most appropriate for an Asian restaurant, although there are a few vegetables to choose from as well.

Stick Rice with mushrooms
Normally, I would have split a dessert with Patience, but they had a chocolate mousse, so I had to get my own. The chocolate mousse was super intense so the raspberry dusting was definitely necessary.

Chocolate Mousse
Patience got her own cream brulee favorite as well.

Creme Brulee
Hands down one of the best new restaurants and I'd follow Bernie Lee anywhere.

Resources:

Akar = http://akarstl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

STLCheesegirl Top Posts of 2019

Once again, 2019 was a slow blogging year, with the same amount of posts as the year before. I guess that makes sense as we made it through year two in the house. Also, it's a real good thing that we have a standing monthly beer dinner at PW Pizza as that is most of my blog posts.

Talking to a blogger friend of mine recently, blogging doesn't seem to be such a hip thing anymore and for a second I thought about putting the blog on the shelf. I just don't have as much down time these days and do people still read blogs anymore? I know my friends are tired of waiting for us to take a picture of their food before they can eat.

Yet, there is another full season of beer dinners coming up and reservations made for 2020. Not to mention a whole slew of new restaurants that we have not yet been to and hope to try out. I love to brag about our food scene as it continues to grow. And people STILL ask me where I have eaten lately.

So here are my most popular blog posts from last year. My page views took a big hit when compared to previous years, but I blame social media algorithms.

Deschutes PW Pizza Beer Dinner - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/08/pw-pizza-deschutes-beer-dinner-2019.html
Deschutes is a huge brewery so I'm sure all their beer fans were the ones to check this post out. It was cool to try some of their newer summer beers that I've never had, but they still finished the beer dinner with their popular (and Patience's favorite) Black Butte Porter.

58hundred - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/03/58hundred.html
I love neighborhood joints - eat local! (I am also hoping everyone will also check out Stone Turtle, which I just posted about today.) Not all of my friends have had the same experience as I did, but I haven't had any issues and enjoyed their food both times I've gone. Hopefully the high page view count means you all checked out this place!

The Boathouse - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/05/the-boathouse-at-forest-park.html
Always a popular St. Louis destination and the new menu is a big hit. I hope you all get a chance to try it out or enjoy a beverage in front of the water.

Hamilton's Urban Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/01/hamiltons-urban-steakhouse-bourbon-bar.html
The Hamilton's have a winner with this restaurant and my parents loved it when I took them for our second time.

Civil Life PW Pizza Beer Dinner - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/05/pw-pizza-civil-life-beer-dinner-2019.html
I shouldn't be surprised by the popularity of this blog post because Civil Life is one of the most popular breweries here in the STL. I was happy they served their Irish Red since I don't know of many local "red" beers being produced. I recently had a coworker in town and recommended their Brown Ale to him. He drank two!

Grand Tavern - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/02/grand-tavern.html
This was a much hyped restaurant and I ended up going back there for a second time for my stepmom's birthday. We had the same server so she really rocked it for us again. At least we knew to stop at one cocktail at those prices, and we probably won't go back because of it.

Great Divide PW Pizza Beer Dinner - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/07/pw-pizza-great-divide-beer-dinner-2019.html
I did not know anything about this Colorado brewery, so all their beers were new to me. I enjoyed three out of four and they had a summer beer called "Roadie"!

Jollibee - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/07/jollibee.html
Patience is obsessed with this restaurant and now wants to go every time we are in Chicago, since it's the closest one. I don't normally blog about out of town restaurants, nor "fast food" places, so this was really out of the norm for me. Of course we went back over Thanksgiving on our way out of town. I even tried a regular chicken sandwich, and it still tasted weird to me.

Frisco Barroom - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/04/frisco-barroom.html
This is such a cool place in downtown Webster and we went back to meet friends for a late night cocktail. I really need to eat there more. So much fun to hang out with friends there.

Cork & Rind - https://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2019/03/cork-rind-irish-cheese-class-2019.html
While I don't love the drive to St. Charles, it makes me really miss attending cheese classes. We haven't been able to make the drive since last summer, but I do love seeing my friends and Coach Cheesemonger Kinney.