Monday, February 15, 2010

Everything counts in small amounts.....

Just like Depeche' Mode would say, everything does count in large amounts, but sometimes, small amounts count for even more. The President has more power than a hundred men and one small dish at Mosaic has more "umph" behind it than a large portion dish at Sleek. Mosaic is a small restaurant/lounge located on Washington in downtown St. Louis and while I previously didn't think there were that many 'good' places to eat downtown (good not hip), Mosaic certainly changed my mind. Inside the lounge, they serve food and drinks and while it has a deep, dark house vibe to the atmosphere inside, the dishes are exciting and robust as could be found in rich, light places and colorful restaurants.

Mosaic is a tapas restaurant and with reasonable prices on their dishes, some of which were large enough for 4-5 people to split and still get some good bites in. My meal started with two dishes: some potato chips drizzled with some truffle oil, with thin ribbons of cheese on top, dashed with salt and pepper with a side dipping sauce. This was like a grown up version of potato chips: Truffle Frites. The potatoes were the perfect vessel for the sweet truffle flavor and the salty cheese and seasoning. I gave the chips a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. The second dish was the Flight of soups, which was 3 soups, in little shot glasses, with tinier spoons, and little cracker biscuits. The first soup was a potato soup with bacon and sour creme in it, which was smooth and tasted like a loaded baked potato, in a glass. The second was a butternut squash soup which was a super thing puree' mixed with a dash of vanilla to give it an almost dessert feel but kept it clean and savory. Last came a mini-minestrone soup that had the strong beefy-ness of a good soup but was still light overall. This dish, containing all 3 soups was a great way to start off the evening and got 4 out of 5 stars.

Next I indulged myself on the cherry port-braised short ribs that did fall off the bone as I was moving them onto my personal plate. You could taste the perfect soft crunchiness of the braised side as the heat caramelized the sugars in the port, creating an almost crust of happy crispiness. The whipped potatoes, although mentioned that apples were inside, did not have any other flavor than the potatoes, really, so I failed to see how that worked for me. The dish was good with a 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Moving through the meats I geared towards poultry and went for the Cuban Achiote roast chicken. This dish was a perfectly juicy and cooked chicken which has an obvious layer or crust of smokey and awesome Achiote flavor providing it with a delicate and spicy flavor at the same time. There was a few strands of what was supposed to be a micro-green salad, some still hard pieces of butternut squash and a few sunflower seeds. The chicken won the attention as it was acting as if it was a stand-alone dish taking all of the credit and leaving those little accompaniments aside. The dish reminded me of something I had at Rick Bayless's Frontega Grill, and I loved that place. I give the chicken dish a 4 out of 5 stars.

All good things must come to and end as as such a dessert was in order. This was to be the cardamom creme' brulee liquor cup. I have to be honest on this one and as interesting as it all seemed, it was the least liked dish of the night. The fried sugar 'mirror' top was very thick, at least as thick as 20-30 sheets of paper, which made each brake like chopping ice and taking chunk out to eat it. The pudding inside was good and very tasty but with only a slight hint of the exotic cardamom spice. The liquor cup was actually a soup spoon filled with a coffee tainted chocolate, not resembling a cup or a liquor in any way, shape or form. This dessert gets a 2 1/2 out of me though.

Overall, this restaurant/lounge was a perfect way to spend time downtown on a cold night. If you have time and can't get into the restaurant, ask if you can still get menu items in the lounge and take a high seat. There is no reason to miss this place and its food and above all else, bring friends as that way you can order more variety of foods and dishes.

Mosaic restaurant is located on 1001 Washington Avenue

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