Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of Tasty Magazine for 2013

Everyone else was doing a best of recall of the year so I thought I would do the same.

I have to say that this year, has been a busy year for me personally.  We have had some family injuries and new family members so it has always been distractions for me to not try new places or even get a chance to.  I will say that over this year of 2013, I have been to many cities and have tried new things outside of this precious St. Louis area.

This year has been a big one with food trucks.  While they have almost always existed, a decline of food trucks in the later half of the 20th century in St. Louis has been rewarded with a huge influx of trucks in the past few years.  I have always heard stories about how the men would work down at the docks or the landing in the wee hours of the morning.  They would be starving and with no restaurants open, they would wait until the food trucks arrived.  I can imagine being so hungry and then seeing these food trucks drive up with wonderful and filling food, as if they delivered the workforce like an angel on high.  I also heard of them referred to as "roach coaches" as the laws, permits and inspections did not exist for food trucks in the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's.  This is the year, as early as January 10th, where I had seen a truck parked downtown and just happened to be downtown to order from it.  It was the Taco Truck, which still runs around today.  The hot tacos were a blessing on a cold and wintry day.  They are the ones that whet my appetite for food trucks.  Had their food not been so delicious, I would have maybe stayed clear of some of them.


As the year went on, I tried as many trucks as I could get to.  You have to understand that while other sites have dedicated writers, who are paid to go and try things, I have a full time job that I am able to hold down, while trying these new places and restaurants.   I have tried Seoul Taco, Guerrilla Street Food (www.guerrillastreetfood.com ),Completely Sauced, My Big Fat Greek Food Truck, Sarah's Meltdown, Hot Aztec, Roberto Trucktoria.  While each has their own style and cuisine, I have to say that as far as order anything on the menu and have it be awesome: goes to Guerrilla Street Food.  

Burgers are burgers and while some places claim to make awesome burgers, I think that comment is a very subjective one.  I like my burger to be good, full of flavor, good toppings, good seasonings and cooked well. This year, I have been to a number of new places, just for their burgers.  The White Knight, has delicious burgers.  Bailey's Range has some awesome grass fed beef burgers, Bobby's Burger Palace in Maryland had nice toppings and could let you crunchify it.  The burger that still makes my mouth water, even now as I think of it, is this one:

This burger is from the "Man That's Good" Truck, run by Willis and his burgers are simply amazing.

While St. Louis should be known for their pizza, has their own style, and even has their own invented cheese, the pizzas I had in the area were not that good.  The long rustic style pizzas from Crushed Red, in Kirkwood, were okay.  The deep dish pizza from Pi, was also just okay.  I had to go to Normal, Illinois, and go to Firehouse Pizza and Pub, to get some good pizza for the year.  Basso, has their own wood fired pizzas and as many as we have had, we have not had a single bad one, they are all delicious.

I do like desserts and while I try to go to as many places as I can, I have been trying to put myself on a healthier diet this year.  I tried Jilly's Cupcake Bar and even though someone from them teaches at Forest Park Community College and even though they have won two times on "Cupcake Wars", I didn't think their cupcakes were that different or even amazing.  However, before you die, visit World Fair Donuts, on Shaw, as many times as you can.

I was graced this year, with the opportunities to take my kids and wife to some other cities this year for fun and work.  I went to Austin, Las Vegas, Bloomington, Normal, Cockeysville, Baltimore, and Lake Ozark.  I think I am always lucky to find some good restaurants in anywhere I go.

This year, my family has been spending a lot of time in the Ozarks.  Thanks to a condo which we share with my in-laws, the 3-4 hour drive can reward us with a large space, soft beds, and a break from the busy city. This year though, we had discovered this great fresh, seasonal, farm-to-table restaurant called Savannah Grille, which had just celebrated their one year birthday.  It is awesome and every time I go to the Lake of the Ozarks area, I try to step in and say 'hi' and eat. http://savannahgrillerestaurant.com/

Once a year, if I am lucky, my in-laws fly my family out with them.  This means that for one day a year, my wife and I can look or at least act like we are rich snobs with a lot of class.  Whatever we do, we always try to eat somewhere nice and classy.  This year, I was watching on Facebook, at how Chef Rick Moonen was changing his awesomely awesome RM: Seafood restaurant into a Steam-Punk themed restaurant.  He did over the menu items, did a complete interior redesign and made everything new.  While this would have worked flawlessly with others, this year also happened to be the year that I had started my line of antique steam-punk inspired jewelry.
Zenith watch necklace with red Swarovski crystals on leather https://www.etsy.com/shop/Antiquarian78

I didn't know it at the time, but while going through a huge box of antique watches and watch parts, I started to learn about them, what makes them tick, and even started to learn more about the times they were produced.  This ties into RM: Boiler Room, because it looked like almost every Steam-punk stereotype was played out in his new restaurant.  The female staff was wearing corsets (which women in Edwardian and Victorian times would not have worn visible to the public) and I even think I recall seeing goggles, which are now one of the biggest stereotypes of steam-punk, that everyone HAS TO HAVE goggles.  The thing is: that the food was good,and some of the food was the most remarkable I have had this year.  I just wish that it wasn't tied to all of these Steam-punk sterotypes.

In Austin, we had a chance to eat at a restaurant which made itself out to be just like Farmhaus.  Farmhaus is awesome, just like how Basso is awesome.  Parkside is not awesome.  Everything from okay food that was overpriced to naive servers who are just plain slow, it wasn't a restaurant worthy of my dollar.

In Bloomington, while working, my family stopped into this small and shy looking restaurant only to find that they served some of the best fried foods I have ever eaten.  Nothing like getting over 100 chicken wings ,drumetts and wingetts for a super low price.  Super JJ's Fish and Chicken is where anyone should go for a great deal on great food.

Here in St. Louis, Rooster is a great breakfast restaurant and works so well with kids, while the new restaurant in the million dollar expansion of the Art Museum, isn't worth it. 

Ethnic or cultures that have restaurants in St. Louis, tend to be my favorite, but often times fail.  Dressel's Public House and Iron Barley were just okay in my book.  As for Asian food, Liu Shun Wok has pulled out to be my personal favorite.  It also helps that my sons both have dance class about 100 feet from that restaurant.  But it helps considering that this restaurant puts the same time and care into fresh ingredients and fast cooking as Farmhaus does. 
Just like everything, I know that there have been some really bad things that I have blocked from my permanent memory, but am willing to break the seal and dig deep for information. In the Ozarks, where even the worst bar or restaurant has one thing going for it, this place called Shell's Pasta Emporium had nothing.  Shell's Pasta Emporium advertised that it had homemade pasta and was customizable, like Noodles & Company, where here you pick the type of pasta, the toppings and the type of sauce.  That procedure makes it seem like you could pick some good combinations and then they would cook the pasta, cook the topping and get it ready and then get the sauce and you were ready.  What happened instead, was that at this restaurant, you paid almost $9, for 30 cents of boiled dried noodles, 2 ounces of sauce from a jar, and some microwaved, frozen chicken, with fake grill marks.  It was just bad.

Also, remind me to be very careful when I watch episodes of Bizarre Foods.  I love the show and Andrew seems to be one of the most genuine and nice people ever.  But, you really have to watch him, when he tries food.  He has developed an interesting way of doing a show about trying new things: he never qualifies the food.  Watch an episode and really pay attention.  He came to St. Louis and he went to Schottzies Bar & Grill and tried some of the food.  I don't think he actually said that anything was good, but went there anyway.  So, I'm up for something new on a Saturday afternoon and take my kids there.  Not only did we get some of the worst service ever, but the food was horrible.  I can't even bother trying to explain how bad everything was.  If there was a zombie apocalypse and the zombies would eat things that even tasted as bad as raw brains and body parts, they would likely even turn down the food at Schottzies.

I think we finished the year with a trip two weeks ago to Basso.  My wife and I stopped in on a very busy Friday night for a cocktail and then came back that next morning for lunch.  The food is just awesome.  If I had money, I'd invest in that restaurant, I love it. www.basso-stl.com/

Anyways, 2013 was a great year for foodies and fooding.  I hope everyone had a great 2013.


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