Thursday, November 18, 2010

I don't give a Puck....

First of all, the word 'puck', in culinary circles is synonymous with Wolfgang Puck. That chef, has done wonders with fusion foods and also has kept his feet on the ground to create master works of culinary art that still tastes like the foods mom used to make. However, if you are in st. louis and you were thinking of going to get his brunch menu at the st. louis art museum, skip it. My wife and I attended this hot brunch a few months ago.  You can find better food for the $25 a person.

There was a hot foods buffet line, with things like egg, cheese and spinach quiche, freshly cooked bacon, sausage, waffles made on the spot, chicken marinara, a carving station with roast beef and other smaller details. There was a cold bar with fresh fruit and some small pastries and salads, like a fresh spring green salad with walnuts, dried cranberries and a oil vinaigrette.

There was a desert bar as well.

For $25 a person, I was expecting a bit more: 2 out of 5 stars.

The cold food was too plain. The melons were sliced almost paper thin, so you had to stab 19 on your fork to fill the same space one normal chunk of melon would take. The croissants were good, but taste like pillsbury made them at the store. I doubt that there was a pound of butter in that batter for those rolls. The hot food was normal and mediocre at best. There was no awesomely sublime ideas presented to us, like fresh salmon and eggs or rich buttery and creamy waffles or pancakes (flapjacks, griddle cakes, etc). After working at a buffet most of my life, I know that you need to change out the meats because they tend to dry out fast under that heat lamp. The carver would sometimes leave his station and the beef looked like it was dry as a bone by the time he came back to it. Dessert was things like what seemed to be flourless chocolate cakes that were small, like 2 cm each way and then chilled, so there were almost frozen solid. Or there was peanut brittle that was rock hard as well. Cookies, which seem rather safe and chocolate covered strawberries.

Here's the thing: the brochure says that they have an "incomparable Sunday brunch". Well, it is, because I don't know what to compare it to. It didn't have the complexity that a more high priced brunch should have and didn't have the regular feel to it that normal places have. It is like if you wanted to go to Mesa Grill but only wanted to eat their baked goods, like the jalapeno bread or blue corn muffins. While blue corn bread is something strange, it is still something that you can make at home. I guess this is slightly biased because as I become more and more skilled some things are easier for me to cook at home. So, here is my standard: if I can't do it, and it tastes great, I pay a lot for it.

So, the cooked foods at Puck's brunch, sadly, I could do it all myself. I should have saved me from the $50 and just cooked breakfast for my wife in bed. I would pay $50 for the two of us for fancy french food at Chez Leon, in the central west end, and that gets me a grilled chicken with a black truffle risotto and my wife some soft shelled crab with a desert. (we always go prix- fix)

What was the most comical of all, when my wife and I did do this art museum brunch, which was actually several months ago, was that the restaurant area was filled with a large assortment of pretentious and snobby individuals who felt that the best way to judge the food was how easy it was to cut with a knife and fork and for them to place in their mouths and chew: hoping their dentures didn't crack or fall out. My wife and I are foodies, so when we sit and try food we comment out loud sometimes as to what we think.  I remember the looks of someone at the table next to us act like we were horrible people because after the meal I had stated what I thought of everything.  I'm sorry ma'am, that the eggs that my wife makes at home don't taste as good as the ones your butler makes every morning for you, but we still have a right to an opinion.  I think we received the most stare-downs that we have ever had at a restaurant in a long time.  (Which was odd, because I had a full suit on, my wife had a long dress and we were perhaps the two most well dressed people there.)


  1. Attention Chef Bauer - Pucks has been closed for 1 year now - How exactly did you and your wife patronize Pucks Sunday Brunch when they are a closed venue? Wolfgang Puck closed due to the St. Louis Art Musuem expansion - the venue is under construction. Next time you critique a restaurant please be sure that they are open for business!

  2. Well, p, I had it written down and didn't know if I posted it yet or not, so I posted it. As for checking if places are open or not, that is harder than you may think. An American Place, which is supposed to be a great 3 diamond restaurant located downtown st. louis, still has a website up and has listings everywhere. When I called them this Saturday, I found out that they were closed. So, even though they were closed, they still have everything up as if they are not.

    If my review of a restaurant that is now closed offends anyone else, please let me know.