Thursday, March 29, 2012

Take your kids to Fritz's

Fritz's railroad restaurant is the place to go for kids.  We visited one in the Crown Center mall, in Kansas City.  It was started in 1954 when Fritz returned from the Navy, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and started to make hamburgers the way his father used to make.  Fritz was a bit of an inventor at heart and after he opened his first restaurant, he thought of a way to deliver the food to people dining at his restaurant.  He called it the "Skat Kat" but the name never held as it appealed to people as a train.  Fritz didn't really like the train idea and tried to downplay it but eventually went along with it.  With so many people liking the train concept, he started to market and sell hats and gifts involving trains and his restaurant.

Now, the restaurant we went to at this mall, had a track attacked high on the wall, near the ceiling, which covered the whole restaurant.  The way this place works, is that you order your food, on a phone at your seat, and then the drinks are delivered to you via a server.  The food is brought to you by a train.

The food here is just like any other good diner you can go to.  I'd say it is comparable to a good Steak n Shake or Red Robin.  I give the food a 3 out of 5, but the fun for the kids, that Scat Kat gets a 5 out of 5 for me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Help end childhood hunger

So as I'm sitting here with my kids, begging that my 4 and 5 year old eat their dinner, I think instantly of the children around the world starving.  We were all told as kids that children are starving in China, when it came to our parents teaching us about wasting food.  But what is just as important, is the amount of starving and hungry children in your local area, here in America.  Looking at this site:  , you can see that a current 24.8% of children in the state of Missouri, have what is called "Child Food Insecurity".  This means that 24.8% of children in this state do not know when they will eat a healthy and safe meal.  I know that we as Americans are always looking to help starving people from around the world, but here we have starving kids in our own country, state and even city!  Are we too blind to see this or do we choose to look the other way.

I have a dare, I dare you to contribute.  What is the worst that will happen?  If you donate some supplies for a bake sale, you are out a few bucks? If you donate your restaurant proceeds for a day or two, you could be out a few hundred dollars?  Isn't it more valuable to help people?  When I looked at the list of local restaurants helping and donating in September for the Dine out No Kid Hungry, I was shocked.  This is being promoted and pushed by Food Network among other companies and corporations and the only places in the St. Louis area donating and participating at this time are chains.  Is that it?  Are there any single owned restaurants that wish to participate? The list available reads like a skipped record; "Fazoli's, Papa John's, Joe's Crab Shack, First Watch, Denny's, etc...".

You know what I want to see?  I want to see The Scottish Arms, Pappy's Smokehouse and even Mosaic.  I want to see all of these places like the Farmhaus where I know has great food and can make a customer happy, bring in even more people while it donates 20% of their proceeds during that week to help end childhood hunger in our area.

I also want to see some of these great places with mouth-watering and tempting pastries and baked goods contribute by working with me on a Great American Bake Sale.  I want to see the CEO of Panera Bread contact me about hosting a bake sale in the parking lot behind their offices on Watson.  I want to see Bailey's chocolate bar with a stand up in the park across the street.  I want to watch over a bake sale in Columbia, Illinois and in St. Louis and see thousands of sellers, volunteers and people bringing what they have to help.

So, right now it is just me and my family.  The only ones who look like they are willing to jump in there and help in the area.  If you are willing to do the Dine Out method, let me know and I'll add you to my list of great helpers.  If you want to help me with a bake sale in either Columbia, IL or St. Louis, MO, contact me as well.

I would like to think that with all of the people, large corporations and restaurants in St. Louis, that someone will help me stop childhood hunger.

Made in Saint Louis

Old Vienna Snack Food Company is the name of a snack food company that was founded in St. Louis in 1936.  It was successful but changed hands and owners many times before finally closing in 1966.  At that same time, a group of ex employees loved the brand so much that they got together and purchased the company, renaming it to Old Vienna LLC.

Now, this company has been getting more popular with rappers like Murphy Lee writing about them and people talking all about them.  Word of mouth spreads like wild-fire.  The "Red Hot" name is associated with many of Old Vienna's products, like Red Hot Riplets or Red Hot Chips.  I tend to find my way buying their products as I do want St. Louis companies to grow.

This is what I purchased recently...

This got my attention because of two things.  First of all, it is made with ST. Louis style BBQ sauce, which I like.  Secondly, the idea of a pork steak was basically invented in St. Louis.  I know that I grew up eating pork steaks and finding pork steaks as an option at every family or friend BBQ.  The idea that potato chips can taste like a BBQ pork steak, is so interesting and fundamentally St. Louis, that I had to try it.

After trying them I have to say this, through some remarkable miracle, they taste like BBQ pork steaks.  I don't know how they do it exactly, but have an idea.  I know that I invented a recipe for a pancake ice cream, that tastes just like pancakes, but doesn't have pancakes in it.  I made a mixture of flavors which are the same flavors that one experiences when they taste pancakes.  But the large assortment of complex flavors that is inherent in a BBQ pork steak, would be quote difficult to replicate.  Anyways, go get these chips.  They do taste just like a BBQ pork steak.  They don't smell like a pork steak, but they really do taste like one.  5/5 for weird potato chips!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Catch up time

So many little things, related to food or drink happen in my life that it would fill up my blog in no time if I wrote about each one as a separate entity.  So, this blog is a catch-up.  I will give my thoughts on  a bunch of things.

I forgot if I wrote about these or not, but these are awesome.

Back, in the 90's I remembered watching a show on PBS, channel 9, called Scientific American Frontiers.  I remembered watching Alan Alda and Dr. Wolford eat and prepare this salad, which is high in nutrients and low in fat and calories.  Dr. Woldofrd believed that you could live longer by eating less calories but still getting everything you needed.  So, it wasn't until recently that I saw this online, after more than 10 years of me searching for this recipe.  I tried it and everyone thought it was delicious:

I don't know what used to be there, but this Wine shop and Tasting Bar is very nice.  I always thought that the people of Columbia could use a wine tasting bar as it would rake in the cash and this guy did it.  This place is great.  They don't sell food or even mess with it at all.  They only sell wines and then sell it by the bottle or glass.  They also are very nice and open to you bringing in food and eating it there while you enjoy a glass of their wine.  What is really fun, is getting some Thai House food and bringing it over there with a glass of wine. So, if you are in Columbia and you are looking for some knowledgeable wine people and a nice place to taste some, go here.

While in a Barnes and Noble, in KC, I found this great cookbook.  It was the El Bulli family meal book.  For those of you who don't know, besides being the best, and no closed, restaurant in the world, El Bulli did something that no other restaurant does: it makes a family meal for the employees.  After the food is cooked and everything is ready for service, the employees, all of them from the dishwasher to the owner, sit down at a large table in the kitchen, and eat together.  They eat the food that will be served that night.  What better way to help sell the food than try it.  I decided to make a menu, 2 out of 3 items, for my wife for dinner.  The first was the potato chip omelet, which was tasty.

I then decided to make the main course, which called for pork, but I had just finished a week of making all pork dishes, so I used chicken instead.

I do like my energy drinks and I always and only try the ones that do not have High Fructose Corn Syrup in it.  That is my rule.  So, here is a new one I found.

Spider energy drink, has everything that energy drinks do, and they are tasty, at least the Widow Maker version is.

Lastly, I do drink beer, but I'm not a huge fan of this one:

I don't care if it is triple filtered or quadrupled filtered, it doesn't hide the fact or the taste that it is a Bud Light. Yeah it does have 6% alcohol, which is a bunch compared to a normal Bud Light, right? isn't noticeable. (Or at least to me it isn't.)  Here's why...  the Guinness I drink, is the imported extra stout, which reaches about a 7.5%.  Did I mention that a Guinness has 10X as much flavor than a Bud Light?  What is also interesting is that my Guinness has 155 calories and a Bud Light has 137 calories.  Some may find this odd as most regular light beers, like the regular Bud Light, only has 110 calories.  So, Bud Light Platinum has  just a few more calories than other light beers: 27 more.  But those will add up if you drink yourself silly with at least  4 beers.  Then that comes to almost 500 calories that you just drank up.  I'll stick with my Guinness.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Scottish Arms

You know, I have been to this place many times and don't remember ever reviewing it.  It is always one of those places that my wife and I enjoy taking people to for their good beer selection and good food.  My wife likes the fact that the men wear kilts.  So, one night a few weeks ago, to celebrate mt wife's friend's birthday before heading off to Novak's, we went back to the Scottish Arms.

I had to get a good selection of items and while we went thinking of one item in particular, it is always good to pick a couple to try and enjoy.  First off, here is a picture of the Scotch Eggs:

Don't see anything up there do you?  That is because that by the time I thought about taking a picture, we had eaten them all.  The menu gets you four of these and they are so tasty and so awesome that they were gone, completely without us even thinking about it.  If you go to the Scottish Arms and you do not get the Scotch Eggs then you are just not cool.

So, we ordered some more things.  We then picked and received the Beet Salad, which I honestly didn't get to eat since my wife enjoyed it so much. (Not much of a blog when the food is eaten before I can take photos of it, now is it?)

We did get the Haggis Fritters and it is great.  They took ground liver, heart and kidney and mixed it up and then covered it with a breading and fried it.  These are what they look like:

They reminded me of falafel.  They came with a sauce, which really didn't add or subtract any flavor.  The first bite was filled with that wonderful, perfectly spiced, mineral-y flavoring that you can only get from organ meats.  It was my first time, really tasting these organs in this dish and it tasted really good.  I rated this an easy 4 out of 5.  (If you are trying to catch me, the beet salad was a 3 out of 5 and the scotch eggs are like a 4.9 out of 5.)

We then got the baby Bridies, which was a ground meat pie stuffed in puff pastry and then baked and they were like the best ground beef pies ever.  4 out 5.

We lastly picked up the duck, which was a duck, cooked in its own fat (confit) and then served with some cooked orange peel and some toast.  This got a 3 out of 5 from me.

Here is the thing.  If you are looking to go to a pub, a Scottish style pub, complete with men in kilts, great selection of drinks and beer, great food and football being played on the tv's all the time (real football, not soccer) then you need to go here.  Get the haggis fritters and your mouth will love you forever.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Is yelp censoring bad reviews?

I went for fun and checked on a restaurant that I have never been to, nor will I ever go to.  The Jumpin Jupiter got on my black list last year for allowing one of their star performers to use a copyright photo, from my wife, on their website.  When my wife asked that it be removed, the owner of the Jumpin Jupiter announced that any photo on his site was his and that my wife is never allowed into his club.  We messaged him back that the photo was actually her's and he is at risk of being sued and after pointing it out again, he finally realized that he had been mistaken and had taken the photo down.  While this could have all worked out okay, having the owner complain and ban my wife from his club before it was even open because he was breaking the law, seems like a bit much for me.  So, I was curious as to how it was doing.  I went to yelp, since it was the first result in the search and found many good reviews.  This site listed 11 good reviews, in which people gave this venue a mix of 4-5 stars out of 5.

What got my attention though, was a link at the bottom of the page.  The link, was to the hidden 19 reviews that were "filtered out".

Why were these filtered out?  3 out of the 19 filtered out, were good reviews, giving the venue a 4-5 star rating.  But the other 16 were all negative.  It made me wonder and ask: why were all of the negative reviews filtered out?

Okay, let me see if I can summarize all of the "filtered out" reviews:

1. cold food, expensive and slow service
2. cold food, slow and bad service
3. cold food, slow waitresses, bad service and a manager who never was seen
4. bad food, cold food, bad service, arrogant servers, manager never was seen
5. budlight is not a domestic beer, prices not explained, coupons and ads not explained, expensive, slow service, manager claimed to be a police officer and then became aggressive towards the guests
6. cold food and slow service
7. slow service
8. manager insulted them, the shows ran late and bad service
9. bad music
10.  This one was a 4/5 star rating, and they did say that the dancers were good, which is why it got 4/5.  But, the show ran late, manager look "high" and was unresponsive, slow service
11. loved everything about it, 5/5 stars
12. an $8 a drink "service fee" was added to the bill when using a Groupon coupon.
13. bad food, bad service, messed up reservations of 6 couples and then put them way in the back
14. food was never served after ordering and waitresses complained to the guests
15. food came in very small portions, dancers were cheesy, dinner was not worth $50
16. show was just okay, not great, the food was horrible
17. perfect service and good food 5/5 stars
18.  clown sucked, MC sucked, cheese plate sucked, some tickets were $100 and others were $10 for the same thing
19. thought the decor and show was good, didn't try anything on the menu though, 5/5 stars

Here is the thing though, I would guess that since the reviews that were not filtered, are all positive reviews, that the owners went through and requested that not a single mixed or negative review can be seen about their place.  This is sad, because it is false advertising.  They are making this place out to be something that it is not.  The sad part is, I cannot even get into this place nor do I want to spend my money there and see if any of these complains hold water.  As I said from the beginning, I already was yelled at from the owner before it even opened, for him stealing images that belonged to someone else.  Why would I give him money?

PS:  Farmhaus has 117 reviews, 10 of which were "filtered" and out of those filtered reviews, 6 out of the 10 were still 4 or 5 out of 5 stars.  So, I guess the answer would be to find out if Farmhaus has any bad or reviews of 2 or less in their "unfiltered" page.  Farmhause had 9 negative reviews on their page.  Nine out of 117 reviews isn't bad, and the fact that one restaurant had them "filtered out" and the other did not, makes me think that the property owner can request to have them "filtered out".  Farmhaus did not "hide" or "filter" out the bad reviews, they show them right on their main review page.  If my idea of true, then this can be why some places have great reviews when they hide their poor reviews.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is it better than Soulard's? Yes.

During a recent trip to Kansas City, Missouri, I had a chance to check out their farmer's market and boy, have they got St. Louis beat.  I guess St. Louis could have had a better farmer's market had they kept the large market open, where the Drury used to be downtown.  I know we have the Soulard market, but it pales in comparison to KC's market.

According to the flyer, the City Market of Kansas City was founded in 1857.  This spot was used for everything from trading, farmer's selling goods, horse shows, medicine shows and even circuses.  There are as many as 100 different stalls for people to enjoy at this market.  What I like about this farmer's market, is that the buildings are set up so they can be both indoor and outdoor.  It would be as if the sellers at Soulard's market would open up the doors behind them to allow fresh air and people to come from all sides to purchase their foods and goods.  The City Market has about 10,000 square feet of space for sellers.  The buildings are old, and one side has two stories and the other has one.  So, if you were to walk inside a random building, you would see a large garage door to your right, that opens up to the back of an outside vendor's area.  In the middle is a large walkway and on the left is a store.  It could be described as a strip mall, with a permanent awning and giant garage door on the other side, to allow for more open-air room for stalls.

I enjoyed seeing this large space for vendors and farmers and thought of how St. Louis, or in particular, Soulard cannot accomplish this because it is land-locked into a tight space.  The City Market also has a decent sized parking area.  It would be like building a market in a horse-shoe pattern of buildings and using the space in the middle as parking.  They even had covered walkways for you to access towards your car.

This is an image of this guy who I will refer to as the "Spice Trader.  This man spoke English and Arabic and had to have over 10 pounds of every spice you can think of or not even imagine.  He had whole star anise, cinnamon sticks and curry powder mixes.  He had every spice that you would need or even want for every cuisine imaginable.  Because, whatever his clients need, he gets so he can get their business.  His prices were cheap as well and we stocked up on spices and took them on the trip home.

You can also see by the way that the structure is made, that by that garage door being there, it not only brings in natural light, but also allows for this seller to have more room.  Opposite of his stand, is a store, specializing in dried fruits and also has many Middle Eastern goods and foods.

So, the bottom line, can St. Louis make a market like this so large and easy for people to access?  Yes.  Will they?  No.  I figure that no one wants to make a farmer's market that could compete with Soulard because of its historical significance and the possibility of causing it to close or run out of business.  So, unless people near to the market come up with some ideas to extend it and make it bigger and better without hurting it, St. Louis may always be stuck with a small farmer's market.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Best BBQ in a while

When I first learned that I was going to go to a BBQ place in Kansas City, MO, I thought that I was a traitor.  Everyone knows that St. Louis has great BBQ and I thought of myself as a Benedict Arnold, patronizing a BBQ establishment in another BBQ city.  But, this was really good BBQ.

Gates BBQ started as just a family making their own BBQ sauce and used their sauce on various meats.  This started in 1946 and  demand for their sauce grew.  Like other stories, they became successful and started to open one restaurant after another.  There is definitively something different and tasty about their sauce involving one spice that may or may not be the secret ingredient: pepper.

Here is the counter.  It is set up where you stand in line, order your meats, order and pick up your drinks and then sit down at your table.

The restaurant is old fashioned looking inside.  Nice booths, mirrors on the wall, nice sturdy tables and fans, attached by a single chord, where one spins the next and spins the next and is all spun by a single motor.

The fan is spinning and you can see two chords on the upper left and two on the right which turn the fans.

Doesn't this look delicious?  This was called the President's tray.  It was all of this meat: pork, turkey, chicken and beef, along with sausage.  This was $74 and was more food than 6 adults and two kids could eat.

As I mentioned, the secret ingredient could be pepper, because on every table there was the absence of a pepper shaker.  The sauce was peppery and truly lip-smacking good.  It was just enough spicy, from the pepper that it just made the meat that much more addictive. My final conclusion: if you are driving near KC and you see a Gates restaurant, stop in.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A taste of Taste

The other night, my wife and were finally able to get a reservation to Niche.  I say it was a good restaurant.  We looked at the desserts on the menu and they didn't really seem to pop out at us.  We wanted someplace more.  A selection of cakes and ice creams doesn't sound like much, especially my wife who gets homemade ice cream whenever she wants it in any flavor or style.

We decided to take the advice of our server and go to Taste, in Clayton, about a 5 minute drive away.

The building was small, a narrow space with a bar on one side, a two chef kitchen on the other end and an entry door that opens into utter darkness with a ramp.  Taste, if you or anyone from your place is reading this, install a light in that entry way. That is a liability waiting to happen!  The front entry door opens into a small, opening area, like a 5 by 5 foot area and the entry on the opposite end that goes into the bar, has two large, thick, black curtains that you have to part and walk through to get inside.  That's great, but we didn't see it and how to get in.  On our way out, my wife didn't see the ramp in the pitch blackness before we reached the outside door and she almost fell in there.

It is arranged like an underground English bar, not really a design I have ever seen before but little pieces from other places.
The picture is not a very good one, I admit.  It is dark in this place.  It is the kind of darkness that you cannot see the correct color your wine or mixed drink is.  It is hard to describe your amazing drink's color when everything is 5 hues darker than they are supposed to.

Even though this is the bar where Ted Kilgore works at, and he is supposed to be amazing, he was way too busy for us to even notice.  I also wonder, not in a way to say anything bad about anyone, but how can you judge a bartender or mixologist?  I don't know if he came up with the drink list or if he just runs the place.  We got our hands on two seats at the bar, after we tried to get our name on the list for a table and were given one bar seat while I had to stand, in the mean time.  One of the most pointless moves: I personally cannot enjoy a bar or even a drink, when I have to stand directly behind someone and have little to no access to the bar or anything else.

We did get two spots on the bar and took advantage of those spots by ordering some desserts. My wife ordered the apple cobbler which was a very hot apple mix with a large amount of oats on top.

It was alright.  I thought that there was too much oat or granola on top and not enough fruit.  But I think it was good and we both enjoyed it.  Probably give it a 2 out of 5.

This was a glass dish which was deep with a layer of lemon custard, lemon curd and then a shortbread on the bottom.  It was tasty, very lemony and very much like a lemon meringue pie.  It was good and I think my wife liked it better than the apple cobbler device.  I'd say another 3 out of 5.

We both didn't really want to make that much of a fuss about this place until we could sit down at a table and enjoy some of the regular food.  The two desserts we had and the one drink, wasn't enough to make me think that is is the best bar in St. Louis.  Next time we come though, I'm bringing a flashlight for that front entry.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Finally, a trip to Niche'

I'm sorry but I can't find it.  While it must have been so technical issue, I really cannot explain how I had so much article here and then it disappeared.  Oh well, here it goes again.

After about a year, my wife and I finally got into Niche.  I say it has been a year because it has probably been that long.  I try to get to new restaurants as soon as I can but babysitting is one obstacle, as well as reservations. I'm old-school as I was raised to make reservations at a restaurant.  So, as long as I've been contacting Niche' for reservations, they have been telling me the same thing.  They have no reservations between 6 and 9pm.  I find this difficult to believe in a restaurant and even wrote a blog post about it last year.  I complained saying that there should be no reason that I can't make a 7pm reservation, unless they had 10 tables and they reserve each table, twice each night.  Well, they do not have 10 tables.  They have 21.

The restaurant is fancy, white table cloths, nice chairs and high ceilings.  It looks nice on the inside.  We arrived for our 6:00 reservation at 5:45 and as we went in, there was just that many people there, 4 tables were sat, out of 21 total and we were the 5th table.  We could not figure out why the 7pm reservations were not available because as we dined, the table on either side of us, stayed open, all the way until almost 8pm.  Why were we not allowed to make reservations at that time when they had available tables?  No clue.

Anyways, I really wanted to give this restaurant a try, since it is constantly voted and spoken of as the best in St. Louis.  Another problem is, even as complained by Robert Irvine, is that there are too many people standing around and talking.  My wife and I counted at least 8 servers, 1 hostess, one manager, who never left the kitchen window, 5 chefs and one more who was expediting everything.  The thing is, that when you have 5 tables, there is no reason to have 8 staff. Now, our guy, and I'm sorry that I forgot his name, was fast and friendly and I didn't see him chat with all the female servers who were already chatting away.

As we started our official meal, our waiter asked if we wanted anything to drink to start and I asked for a Rob Roy.  What was delivered to me very quickly soon after was nothing less than a perfectly made Rob Roy. The thing is, that most of the time that I order one, it never comes out correct.  My wife jokes that the only people who order Rob Roys are old men over 90, so I stump the bartenders when I order them. What certainly helped was the fact that the wife of Ted Kilgore, of Taste, was the bartender this night.  

My wife and I looked at the menu and immediately she was drawn to the Tasting Menu.  With 2 out of 5 items on the Tasting Menu being seafood and me not being a huge fan of which, I decided not to go with it and order off of the regular menu instead.  We were disappointed however, because we were told that they cannot have only one person out of 2 order the Tasting Menu because it screws up with the timing of the dishes for both.  We both complained because we had eaten at RM Seafood and my wife had a 6 course Tasting Menu and I had ordered items off of the normal menu and they timed everything perfectly.  So, the manager, who was still too busy, standing by the kitchen talking to the chefs, couldn't think of a good way to time her 5 dishes with my 2, fine.

We both ordered starters and she ordered the toasted anchovies and I ordered the spiced nuts.

While the nuts were nothing special, the anchovies had something special about them: I ate them.  Some of the nuts were spicy and some of them tasted sweet and still, some of them tasted like bacon.  I give these a 3 out of 5 stars.

 This is how the anchovies were prepared and delivered to us.  I have to say that there was this tomato based sauce on the tops of the bread and then the anchovies were decapitated.  But each bite I took had this calming and soothing flavor, if those could be attributed to flavors.  I am guessing that when Andrew Zimmern says that things taste of the sea, this is what he means.  It had a very slight fishy flavor to it, so slight that it was almost not noticable.  They were good enough, that I ate two of them.  This was my first time trying anchovies and they were delicious.  I would give these a 4 out of 5 stars.

After those starters, they had brought out a piece of bread.  It was a red pepper and rosemary faccocia.  I thought instantly; "where is the butter?"  What they gave us though, was a piece of bread so moist that there was no need for buttery spread.  It was good.  Probably a 2 out of 5 stars.

Dinner soon came, or at least the first of our two dinner dishes.  My wife ordered the Lobster dish, which was  pullman, celery, tarragon, togarashi hollandaise.   Togarashi is the Japanese word for red chili pepper.  What was delivered was this:

This was a dish that had pieces of lobster in a sauce, then a salt and sugar cracker and then a bundle of squid ink pasta and then it repeats.  Here is the thing: I tried a bite of lobster but wasn't impressed.  It tasted a bit chewy for me, but I don't eat lobster on a regular basis.  The best part of my wife's dish, was the pasta.  The night before this outing, we had watched Andrew Zimmern eat some squid ink pasta, I think he was in Maine.  I think of squid ink as the ink in my pen, smelling awful and possibly tasting even worse.  Well, the pasta with squid ink, tasted nutty and delicious.  No pen ink anywhere and it was very tasty.  It was tasty enough that if I saw squid ink pasta somewhere else, I would order it.  I would give this dish a 4 out of 5.

I ordered the BBQ Trotter, which had foie gras, calvados, tabacco, grapefruit and mint.  Calvados is a type of apple brandy.  This is what my plate looked like:

The dot and the line on either side of the food, is a tabacco sauce that tastes to me like the smoke from a cigarette does.  I tasted it and then avoided it.  There are these sugar glass-like pieces which had large pieces of salt on them and were sweet and salty together.  The grapefruit was extremely tart and had tiny mint leaves on them.  There were these discs made of shredded pig trotter.  They tasted like the best Braunshweiger that you had ever had, with a hint of BBQ sauce. I don't want to be the evil one who says that something doesn't belong, but the foie gras doesn't belong.  You have this awesome tasting BBQ, porky flavor and then if you eat it together, you get this cold, creamy, fatty flavor.  The foie gras doesn't go well with the trotter; flavor wise.  I know that people put it on plates to make plates seem fancier, but it just doesn't go well together.  I even tried the whole deal: I put a small bite of the trotter, foie gras, grapefruit, mint leaf, sugar/salt cracker and dipped it in a run of the tabacco sauce and took a bite.  There was a complex mix of flavors in my mouth and many did not melt together.  I think this dish would have tasted better had you replace the foie gras with truffles, to be honest.  It was an interesting dish and I have had foie gras before, but it was warmed last time.  Overall, I would give this plate a 4 out of 5 stars.

My wife's main plate was the Roasted Local Chicken, with parsnip, picholine, foie, granola and sherry jus.

 My wife thought it was an okay dish.  She didn't see how the green sauce went with the other flavors and didn't like how the parsnips were still raw in the middle of the chips.  But besides that she said it was a good chicken dish.  I say a 3 out of 5 on this one.

I ordered the Pork Duo.  This was smoked shoulder, pulled belly, popcorn polenta, dill and hickory broth.  What you see here is the smoked shoulder on the right, which was tasty with a salty and peppery crust.  The left side had some vegetables and some dill and a polenta cake/biscuit.  The waiter came by with a very small sauce pot with the pulled belly still in the hot hickory broth and he spooned it over the vegetables on the left side of the dish and then poured the rest of the broth on top.  Everything was delicious.  The pulled pork had a sweetness from the broth and the broth had a slight dill hint, which I loved.  This was my dish, there was only one thing wrong with it and that was the polenta.  The polenta was delivered on this plate as a one inch thick biscuit and was not hard, but heavy.  It was even heavier after soaking up most of that broth.  It still was very good and I give this a 4 out of 5 stars.

My final thought is that this is a good restaurant and has some good food.  If they had better customer service, it would have been better.  (The manager or the front of the house guy, in his collared shirt, tie and slacks, talked to a number of people, just not us.  I don't know why that was.  I was wearing a suit coat, nice slacks and a collared shirt, no tie though.  My outfit was valued at a couple hundred dollars and my wife's was as well.  So, I don't think we didn't look "fancy" enough to talk to.)  It was odd because even at other restaurants, every member of the front staff would say hi, from the manager at RM in Las Vegas to even the owner of Chez Leon.  This manager, just glared at us once and then didn't even come by.  Also, as I said, some of the dishes just didn't seem to work together.  Maybe because I don't own a restaurant or write for a magazine, but I have plenty of books about flavors and study and eat and experiment enough to know that some things just don't go well together.  Food should be cooked thoroughly, unless otherwise noted.  Hot food should not be on the same plate as almost ice cold food, unless you are trying something along the lines of some molecular gastronomy or molecular cuisine.  I don't know, as long and as hard as my wife and I have tried to get into this restaurant certainly didn't leave us with this idea that this is the best that St. Louis has to offer.  I don't care who pushes them or where they advertise, if it was best in the city, then everything would have been perfect.

My advise, is if you can get in, and you have a couple hundred dollars to spare, then go and try it yourself.  If you have half of that amount and want a nice night out for two, ask me and I'll tell you someplace else to go.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy March 1st.

I did plan on having something on here but I don't, it didn't save for some reason.  What I have is this:

Besides food, one my favorite things is to look at how things used to be and this was a large restaurant in St. Louis.  Pictures like this give me hope that St. Louis can go back to the classy culinary elegance that it once held.  Look at how this restaurant works.  Look at the giant room that they have to seat people in.  You have lights hanging down from the restaurant, large fans doing the same to keep the guests cool and even a large kitchen window allowing guests to see the workings of the kitchen.  It had a very high ceiling and white table cloths.  I also know that this was in the early 1900's.

What is sad, is that searches online have provided no answers as to what the Wohler Grand Restaurant was.  I can't tell if it did well or was opened for a short time period.  It is not open anymore in St. Louis but the idea of something being so fancy and nice in St. Louis makes me think that one day, when the politicians stop their crooked deals with real estate mongers, then perhaps St. Louis really can get off of the most dangerous city list and move into one of the classiest and nicest cities:  Maybe even get to the top of the American culinary band wagon.