Monthly Archives: June 2015

Kingside Diner

What comes to mind when you think of when you think of a diner? Greasy, fast, retro, late-night? I was expecting all of this out of the Central West End’s newest restaurant, Kingside Diner, but I was left a little disappointed.

The theme of the restaurant is supposed to play off of its neighbor, the St. Louis Chess Club. However, aside from the name, a few catchy menu items, and a couple of TVs on the chess channel, the theme seems to stop there. Rather, the inside feels more like a modern, casual restaurant instead of a bustling diner.

Our experience was off to a bad start when the not-so-friendly hostess took our name and told us that it would be 20 minutes until we would be seated. This would normally not be a a big deal except there were multiple tables inside and out that were unoccupied. We were told that there were just not enough people to wait on all of the tables and that more servers should be arriving soon. Knowing it was a Sunday morning on Father’s day, you would expect that the restaurant would be fully up and running.

Kingside Diner 2Once we were seated, we looked over the large menu of breakfast items, sandwiches, burgers, chili, salads, and daily specials. We decided to start off by splitting the cheddar drop biscuits. I chose a burrito filled with eggs, spinach, tomatoes, red onion, and buttermilk basil which was served with a side of hash browns. My husband went for something a bit more unusual, Grandma Rosie’s rolled cabbage. This Eastern-European inspired dish consisted of beef stuffed cabbage and tomato sauce served over a bed of mashed potatoes.

Our food took a full 30 minutes to arrive and I was brought someone else’s order. The mix-up was quickly corrected and we were finally able eat. Luckily the disorganized feel of the restaurant did not ruin the taste of the food. The buttermilk basil on my burrito was what made this dish stand out. The tortilla was warm and fresh, the eggs were well cooked, and the portion was just right. The hash browns were both crispy and greasy, just like I would expect at a diner. However, I didn’t love the cheddar biscuits as much as I expected. They were dense and dry but in their defense, I did not top mine with the creamy chorizo and sage gravy. My husband loved the gravy and put the left overs on his mashed potatoes. My husband also enjoyed his cabbage dish because it reminded him of something his grandmother would make. I did not grow up with anything close to this and it didn’t suit my taste quite as much.

Luckily the best part of our meal was the food. The menu is well priced and the restaurant is family friendly (although I did overhear the hostess say that they ran out of highchairs). Although Kingside Diner has been open for a few months, the kinks in the service need to be worked out before I’ll be back.

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Lona’s Lil Eats

I came across Lona’s Lil Eats after receiving some spot-on restaurant advice from a friend. It took three attempts to actually dine at the restaurant due to their somewhat limited business hours but it was worth the wait!

IMG_3589What started as a stand in Soulard Market, is now a brick-and-mortar restaurant located on an unassuming corner in the Fox Park neighborhood. Lona’s serves up what can be best described as Asian soul food, pulling flavors from her native home in the Yunnan province of Southern China. The restaurant is set up so that you order at the counter and food is delivered to your table. What is normally a less than personal restaurant format is exactly the opposite at Lona’s. Every employee was welcoming, friendly, and helpful. They even brought us a shot of spiked punch from the bar when they heard it was our first time at the restaurant.

IMG_3604The star of the menu is the build-your-own rice paper wraps (think Asian version of Chipotle). You choose your protein (grilled chicken, pulled turkey, spicy tofu, grilled steak, or stir-fried shrimp), then your staple (whole-grain rice, jasmine rice, glass noodles, stir-fry glass noodles, or lettuce mix), and finish it off with of one of five sauce choices. Each wrap is served with your choice of a side dish. There are also salad options, suggested wrap combinations, and plates which allow you to try more than one protein. Be sure to do yourself a favor and start with an appetizer of dumplings, you won’t regret it.

To start, my husband and I shared an order of dumplings, half mushroom and half mushroom and steak. They were full of flavor and served with a spicy sauce. Our entrees arrived on trays covered with white parchment paper. My wrap was stuffed with stir-fry shrimp, stir-fry glass noodles, and spicy sesame sauce. The wrap was quite large and held together surprisingly well. While I loved the bold flavors, I was left regretting all of my spicy fillers which were just too much for me. It was served with a side of spicy eggplant which luckily had a little less heat than I was expecting. It tasted like it had been marinating for days leaving it with great texture and flavor (my eggplant-hating husband even enjoyed this dish). My husband ordered a chicken wrap filled jasmine rice, lettuce mix, and Lona-Q sauce with a side of the village bamboo stew which was an unfamiliar tasting, yet interesting dish of pickled bamboo. We both agreed that portions of food are large and filling but leave you feeling healthy and light at the end of your meal.

Overall, my experience at Lona’s was great. I loved the unique concept and have found nothing else like it in St. Louis. Just be sure to call and check the hours before heading there.

Lona’s Lil Eats is located at 2199 California Ave St. Louis, MO 63104

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