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#1
Posted April 19th 2005, 10:42am
There is one thread I can find that gets into a bit of detail on St. Louis.

We're meeting family there for 3-4 days this week, and as far I know, have most meals free (available, not paid for). We're going to LoRusso's Friday night, but we'll be in the market for breakfasts and lunches and another dinner or two.

We're actually staying in Creve Coeur, so close-by suggestions are appreciated. We're celebrating my father-in-law's birthday, dinner on Friday, a Cards game on Saturday, and I'm not sure what else. We've got two young kids, but we're pretty willing to bring them most places that will have us.

Lunch before/dinner after a Cards game suggestions are good. Tastes run fairly mainstream, especially if I haven't personally vetted the place beforehand (e.g., they love Spoon Thai, but would probably be reluctant to visit Pho Grand--"Hey, I heard of this great Vietnamese place online...").

The Tim Mallett (budding St. Louis Rich Melman?) Great Restaurants look promising (Big Sky, Remy's Wine Bar). There are a couple good reviews here of Cardwell's. Ted Drewe's, of course.

I'm not sure what our plans are by day, so it's tough to pin down locations. I need breakfast spots, good place for a drink (any word on Schlafly Tap Room? other local brewpubs?)

Places also that looked possibly worthwhile in (very brief) passing...

Black Thorn Pub & Pizza
Crown Candy Kitchen
Pizza A-Go-Go

Plan on getting a birthday cake from Dierberg's, perhaps, unless someone else can recommend otherwise.

Will keep an eye out fro St. Paul, snoot, and fried brain sandwiches, though honestly none of those sound too appealing.

The trip there and back offers Amanecer Tapatio in Joliet, Cozy Dog in Springfield, and various Steak 'n Shakes.

I feel moderately prepared. Any other advice?

Thanks,

Aaron
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#2
Posted April 19th 2005, 12:10pm
Having spent eight years living in the South Grand area of St. Louis City, I will make a few comments.

Crown Candy is the best ice cream place in town. Having said that, it is also in one of the roughest neighborhoods in St. Louis. If you go, run a Mapquest so that you are clear how to get there (and out of there).

If you are buying a cake at Dierbergs, buy one at the Dierbergs on Olive Street Road in Creve Couer. That store has a phenomenal bakery that is one of the best in St. Louis. They do great work and the stuff looks phenomenal.

I was at Pho Grand the week they opened nearly 12 years ago. Great food BUT ... 1) they have very limited space and 2) it is always packed EVEN at odd hours. Last year, I waited 30 minutes for a table at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon. An alternative is the Mekong Delta which is about 3 blocks north on Grand.

Kabob International down the street is pretty good and has a varied menu.

In the Westport area, I have always sent people to Ozzie's Sports Bar which has solid (though not earthshattering food) and Patrick's. I have been to both and have had some pretty good meals. Both are reasonably priced.
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#3
Posted April 19th 2005, 12:21pm
Aaron,

As one of the posters on the STL thread, you've already mentioned some of the places that I would point you towards. Remy's & Big Sky are two of my favs. I always loved Cardwell's and I know Jonah had a good experience there as well. Since you're staying in Creve Couer I would recommend Annie Gunn's in Chesterfield for either lunch or dinner. I will warn you that it can get crowded so reservations are a good idea. They shouldn't be hard to come by though since so many people just walk in. They have an outstanding store attached to the place called The Smokehouse where I used to spend a lot of time/money on their meats, cheeses, baked goods, wines, deli items.

As far as your father-in-law's cake, I really don't think you can go wrong with Dierberg's.

Annie Gunn's
16806 Chesterfield Airport Rd
Chesterfield, MO 63005
636-532-7684
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#4
Posted April 19th 2005, 12:56pm
Addendum...

I was just looking at the hotel web site (Drury Inn off 270 at Olive Rd), and noticed this list of restaurants:

Applebee's Adjacent
Bristol's Bar & Grill 1/2 blk
Lion's Choice 1/2 blk
Candicci's 1/2 M
TGI Friday's 1/2 M
Ruby Tuesday 2 M
Macaroni Grill 2 M

Are Bristol's, Lion's Choice, or Candicci's any better/worse than other choices on the list? I would love to be armed with options, should a member of our party try to default to the aforementioned hotel recs for a nearby, comfortable meal.

Thanks for the recs so far,

Aaron
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#5
Posted April 19th 2005, 1:12pm
Aaron,

I'd give Bristol a C+/B-. I used to have a friend who worked in the area and we'd meet there for lunch just for convenience sake. Not bad, but I wouldn't go out of my way to go there or pick it as a destination spot. How's that for a ringing endorsement? I'm not familiar with the other two places although I think Lion's Choice is a chain steak place.

Btw, I second jlawrence's rec of Ozzie's.
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#6
Posted April 19th 2005, 3:05pm
Bristol's is pretty decent. We would entertain clients there as the food is pretty reliable and it is one of the better places in St. Louis for seafood (at that price).

Lion's Choice is a local chain of ROAST BEEF restaurants (think Arby's). I ate there perhaps once in eight years which should give you some indication of my perceptions of the place.

In Clayton, MO, Almond's restaurant is a pretty good choice. They have a good selection of cajun inspired menu items and the service was really good. One of my friends recommended it to me on my last trip and the food was great.

I have a pdf file of restaurants but it is on my home hard drive.
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#7
Posted April 19th 2005, 5:55pm
Ahh... Creve Coeur. I grew up there - moved away from St. Louis about 8 years ago. I go back at least yearly to visit family but it hasn't changed a lot. You're not going to find great food, I'm sorry to say, within Creve Coeur. You'll find okay food, but not great food.

If you want to stay in the neighborhood Bristol's will work. It's been around for a long time - which to some means it has reliable food.

Lion's Choice is a roast beef/fast food joint and I like it a lot. Very thinly shaved roast beef, much better than Arby's or anything like that. You can walk there from your hotel.

I also recommend Imo's Pizza. Very thin crust and uniquely St. Louis provel cheese. They're all over the place and they have at least one or two branches in Creve Coeur that will deliver to your hotel for a late-night craving.

Schlafly's Tap Room is nice. A microbrew with good beer, it will remind you of Goose Island with more character. Pretty close to the ballpark, though not walkable.

Between your hotel and the Busch Stadium is the Central West End. Lots to eat, drink and see there. Try Balaban's for a great meal, though upscale. http://www.cafebalaban.com/

And do hit Ted Drew's (http://www.teddrewes.com/Drewes.asp) and eat some toasted ravioli somewhere.

Don't bother with the St. Pauli sandwich, snoot, or for heavens sake the fried brain. They're hard to find and, frankly, more novelty than substance in my book. (Though my book has big pictures, small words and crayon scribbles.)

Have fun!
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#8
Posted April 21st 2005, 6:18am
There was a Lion's Choice in Warrenville for a bit, and I enjoyed it. It is real roast beef, not processed loaf like Arby's, and they had pleasant enough twice-fried fries. But, in the end, it was tender, processed and flavored beef as a vehicle for salty au jus at a reasonable price. As I said, though, I liked the place.

I have to host a St. Louis dinner for my niece (law graduate from St. Louis university, and a rather heroic story, if I do say so, as she became a single mother in her late teens and has successfully put herself through college and Law School while working and raising a wondefully sweet kid - at this point she qualifies as the most heroic individual I know personally, or at least a really heart warming story, for beating those odds) early in May.

This is the bride's family, which means central Illinois farm folk from the Streator area, and I fear both the prices and atmosphere of some of these more high-falutin joints might put them off. On the other hand, I ain't going to Appleby's. Having worked through the various places listed, the one that seems most promising so far is Big Sky's sister, Ellie's in Webster Groves, but if anyone else has places I might have missed... Think creative brew pub food well-done, middle price range.
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Feeling (south) loopy
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#9
Posted April 21st 2005, 12:29pm
I'm from St. Louis too, and would recommend Blueberry Hill on Delmar in the U. City Loop as a great place to bring the family for lunch. It's a relaxed, fun place with alot of memorabilia and knick knacks for the kids to look at, nice wooden booths, great hamburgers, good beers on tap, and also the prerequisite toasted ravioli. At night it gets packed, but for lunch it's great, and if the weather's nice you can sit outside. It's kind of on the way from the ball park to Creve Coeur, too.

Disclosure: I worked there for a couple years back in the early nineties, and never saw such a spotless kitchen in my life. The food is amazingly good for "bar food" and the atmosphere, while fun for kids, isn't kitschily cloying and annoying for adults. Good jukebox, too.
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#10
Posted May 9th 2005, 10:14pm
Well, we spent a wonderful four days in St. Louis, ate quite well, and avoided the Applebee’s adjoining the hotel lobby. Actually, I didn’t entirely avoid the Applebee’s, as they sold us a couple bottles of beer to take up to our room upon our late arrival, and they graciously provided bourbon-appropriate glassware for the length of our stay.

Breakfast, for the most part, was between quite poor and non-existent—i.e., the quality of my first Drury Inn breakfast was poor enough to dissuade me from eating much more than a banana or cup of yogurt on succeeding days. The upside, however, was that it was super convenient when traveling with two young children to be able to roll about of bed and have a spread of rolls, bagels, yogurt, fruit, eggs, pancakes, French toast, waffles, etc. to sate them early in the morning. And it left more room for lunch for me.

On Thursday morning we headed out to the Budweiser promotional zoo—Grant’s Farm. A stunning capitalistic success, Grant’s Farm was (as far as I could tell) where Ulysses S. Grant retired and was later purchased by Adolphus or Augustus Busch. When it was private Busch property, I guess they set it up as a wildlife refuge.

Now, you get a tram-tour of all sorts of “wild”life—llamas, bison, lemurs, whatever, uncaged; elephants, etc., caged; a petting zoo; a log cabin; a great collection of old (late 19th/early 20th century) carriages; the Budweiser Clydesdales; Busch-family horse racing memorabilia; and a magisterial stable area and courtyard, where they served such fare as brats, pretzels, and beer. The brats, unfortunately, were nothing special. Not particularly bad, but not up to the standards of, say, Lincoln Square’s various German-themed festivals.

The beer was all Bud, of course, but a cold, fresh Budweiser tastes pretty darn good sitting outside in a nice plaza, on a beautiful day, in the middle of the week, after rescuing your kid from teeming thongs of hungry pygmy goats and showing him the largest rodent in the world. Oh, and the beer’s free. As my brother-in-law noted, you gotta love a place where beer’s free, but you have to pay for soda. Admission’s free too. All-in-all a solid half-day of entertainment for the whole family for about 20 bucks. The property is really very pleasant, and while the Bud presence is ubiquitous it’s not overwhelming or nearly as tacky as it should be. And it’s probably a huge corporate tax write-off. As I say, a real stroke of genius by the Bud folks.

Thursday night, we had our Great Restaurants dinner…I pushed for Big Sky or Remy’s, but my wife wanted something a bit more casual, so we ended up at Ellie Forcella’s. All-in-all, quite a nice place, and actually a really good Applebee’s substitute. It has a slightly-manufactured neighborhood bar and grill feel, but with a mostly honest and eclectic décor and vibe, and an interesting menu.

Food ranged from decent to very good. Rarely would I see a chorizo-stuffed trout and lasagna on the same menu and expect either to be good, but in this case, both were. The beer list was nice, too, featuring some local stuff, a few imports, and some national microbrews, like a Hennepin Ale from Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown. Overall, a perfectly successful selection for what we needed. (dickson, I believe your family will be perfectly happy there.)

Friday was Arch day. Be forewarned, there’s a long line to get into the underground/movies/museum part of the arch (which is really poorly executed anyway), and then, once you’re in, you may have another hour wait for your tram to the top. And the tram is an hour commitment. So with two kids in tow, and lunch time fast approaching, we bailed on a trip to the top and went to Crown Candy instead.

jlawrence01 kids not…I didn’t feel unsafe, but Crown Candy is in a pretty run-down part of town. So we were somewhat surprised to see a line of smartly dressed folks trailing out of the restaurant, awaiting lunch and pending rain showers.

The place is all booths, none seating more than four, so our group had to split up, and we still probably waited half hour for a table. This is a small shop. Lunch was good enough, sandwiches, mostly. The BLT is apparently the thing to get; why I got grilled ham-and-cheese I don’t recall. My brother-in-law was taking bacon strips off the BLT, they were piled so high, and was still rejecting bacon two days later. It looked pretty good to me.

The real draw of this place, though, is the ice cream. Man, what ice cream! Some of the best I’ve had, though I don’t know how it would compare to the recent South Side tour. It seems like it would have fit in quite well. I got the Crown Sundae—14% butterfat vanilla ice cream, caramel, hot fudge, buttered pecans, whipped cream, absolutely delicious. Chocolate malteds and shakes were excellent also.

Oh, and we couldn’t leave without buying about $30 worth of candy by the pound (ah, grandparents). The chocolate-dipped stuff they all make in-house, and it was really good. The stuff not made in house (in our case, licorice and sour balls) was good too.

And the whole look and feel of the place is classic. I wish I’d taken pictures, though I’m sure I couldn’t have done it justice. The jukebox in the middle of the room played old 45s. Definitely a worthy St. Louis stop (though it’s worth trying to avoid the lunch rush).

Dinner was at LoRusso’s, an Italian place off the Hill. Very good meal here—lamb, steak (choice, I believe, but perfectly executed), pasta, fish—it was all done well. Service was excellent. And Luke took his first solo steps trying to reach the candy machine. I know there are scores of Hill and off-Hill Italian places to try, and I’ve only tried one, but I wouldn’t hesitate to return.

Saturday morning we escaped the Drury Inn for a very nice French café-themed restaurant-cum-catering operation a few blocks from the hotel, Cuisine d’Arte. A little precious, but welcome relief from the Drury, and the food was good. I had toasted slices of French bread topped by smoked salmon, asparagus, tomatoes, and served with a side of scrambled eggs. Very satisfying.

That afternoon, we said our hello and goodbye to Busch Stadium, witnessing a fantastic showdown between Roger Clemens and Mark Mulder, who pitched a rare 10-inning shutout for the Cards. Hot dog was worse than Wrigley.

Saturday night we were looking for something low-key to relax after a nice day in the sun at the ballpark, someplace close to the hotel, get in the kids in, out, and to bed. So we ended up at probably the nicest restaurant in Creve Coeur. I’m not sure what that’s saying, but Café Bellagio was an excellent restaurant by any standard.
Located in a new and upscalish suburban shopping center, the place is apparently an offshoot of a certain Giovanni’s on the Hill. First of all, the service. I mean, we possibly had the best waiter I’ve had, ever. This guy was good. I barely noticed when he deftly stepped in to remove the aluminum pull-tab cover from one of the kid’s just-opened fruit cups. Gratuitous class, flawlessly executed.

(We called and asked if we could bring kids—of course, they said, and they provided a high chair. And we ate quite early—5:30. But we weren’t prepared for about three-quarters of the gentlemen to be wearing sportcoats, and a lively but adult restaurant. Again, they handled the kids impeccably, seating us in a slightly out of the way corner. Entertaining the kids, humoring them, treating them like kids like to be treated. Heck, another waiter even brought his three-year old girl over to talk to Watson—what, he keeps his daughter in back to entertain the kids of idiot out-of-towners who show up for a fancy dinner on a Saturday night with a three-year-old and a one-year-old? I’m telling you, these guys were good.)

Oh yeah, and the food. As I say, this waiter was so good, he could have sold us anything on the menu. And pretty much did. Thank goodness. After running through the appetizer specials, we all looked at each other, and my father-in-law, whose birthday we were celebrating, spoke for all of us when he said, “Just bring us what we need to have.”

So they split three appetizers, and plated a piece of each on a plate for everyone at the table. A generous raviolo stuffed with monkfish and shellfish mousse in a cognac-lobster sauce was perhaps the best three bites of stuffed pasta I’ve ever eaten. Did I say stuffed? It was only slightly better than the flash-fried squash blossom stuffed with a deliciously porky, fennely Italian sausage and wonderfully complementary gorgonzola. And this stuffed duo was nicely balanced by a simply and lightly breaded shrimp. This was a phenomenal appetizer.

To say that the main dishes didn’t live up to the quality of the first courses is a bit like saying you don’t like Shakespeare’s history plays quite as much as the tragedies. I had a veal chop, cooked to perfection, dressed by a marsala-porcini sauce. I don’t recall all the other entrees, but all told, this was a terrifically satisfying and surprising meal. Low expectations often yield greater satisfaction, and I can’t say for sure what role that axiom played in our enjoyment of this meal. But I hope to find out when I return.

The trips there and back were punctuated by stops at Cozy Dog in Springield and Steak ‘n Shake somewhere else. Cozy Dog’s a cute place, and the corn dogs were good, fried to order. I have no recent corn dog to compare too; Kate prefers Hot Doug’s. She pointed out quite correctly, I think, that Cozy’s dog had a less than optimal mealiness. Steak ‘n Shake was good, but I wish I’d ordered a double. Another stop at Amanecer Tapatio was hoped for but not in the cards. Yet another reason for another trip downstate.

Thanks to all for the suggestions.

Cheers,

Aaron

(By the way, I threw a similar request out on Chowhound, if anyone wants some more suggestions.)
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#11
Posted May 10th 2005, 4:33pm
Aaron,

Thanks for the review. That was pretty thorough.

For the record, I am really hesitant to warn people about the neighborhoods that places are located in. Everytime I do mention how bad a neighborhood is, I get my share of hate mail. However, Crown Candy is located in one neighborhood that I used to recruit food service employees in and it is a rough neighborhood.

One more point. On Pestalozzi St. near I-55, I would recommend Gus's Pretzels for their homemade, handmade pretzels. It also happens to be located adjacent to the brewery which also offers FREE beer and expensive coke (G).
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#12
Posted May 10th 2005, 5:18pm
Re Cozy Dog. I have commented before that the problem is that they use a terrible pork dog that tastes like a Lykes or Oscar Meyer from the Jewels. (I insist on calling it the "Jewels" with a Berwyn Sox fan accent.) I've got nothing against pork, and a pork dog is natural for a place in Springfield for so many reasons, but rarely are pork hot dogs any good.

Since they dip em to order, I wonder if they would balk at the idea of frying up a decent hot dog brought down from the big city. I'd pay the full price, even. Because they aren't hand-dipping them at Hot Doug's or most anywhere else.

Remarkably, you didn't remark on the fries, which are some of the best fries I've had anywhere and better than even those famous fries at Hot Doug's (though maybe not as good as the tots).
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#13
Posted March 3rd 2011, 9:37pm
Kwe730 wrote:Aaron,

As one of the posters on the STL thread, you've already mentioned some of the places that I would point you towards. Remy's & Big Sky are two of my favs. I always loved Cardwell's and I know Jonah had a good experience there as well. Since you're staying in Creve Couer I would recommend Annie Gunn's in Chesterfield for either lunch or dinner. I will warn you that it can get crowded so reservations are a good idea. They shouldn't be hard to come by though since so many people just walk in. They have an outstanding store attached to the place called The Smokehouse where I used to spend a lot of time/money on their meats, cheeses, baked goods, wines, deli items.

As far as your father-in-law's cake, I really don't think you can go wrong with Dierberg's.

Annie Gunn's
16806 Chesterfield Airport Rd
Chesterfield, MO 63005
636-532-7684


So, nearly 6 years later, stuck in a hotel in Chesterfield with no car for the night, the only available option besides the hotel restaurant is...Annie Gunn's.

Quite enjoyable, a cute little gourmet food store off to the side. Nice, friendly bar. Ordered two, apparently, signature dishes...smoked shrimp which was quite good and a pork sandwich, three thin layers, not breaded, topped with a pear chutney. Not cheap, and I wish I was hungrier, as the entree menu looked phenomenal. I'd go back. Especially if staying next door in Chesterfield with no car.
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