Category Archives: $$

Publico

After many months of anticipation, Publico finally opened its doors in the Delmar Loop. The designers of the restaurant completely transformed a former hair salon into a modern and artistic, yet comfortable space. As you walk in the front door, the wonderful smell of hickory and oak takes over your senses and you notice your eyes being drawn to the left side of the restaurant where several 3-D trees appear to emerge from the wall. There is a large bar in the middle of the restaurant and a kitchen in the back that is open to the dining area (which explains the great wood fire smell).

We arrived andPublico 1 were told that our table was not yet ready so we took a seat at the bar and ordered an original margarita and a mescal margarita. The mescal margarita differed from the original in that it is made with mezcal liquor instead tequila making it very smooth and more of a craft cocktail. I was starting to get frustrated after 40 minutes had passed from our reservation time but a table finally opened up and we were seated. Luckily, the long wait time was my only complaint of the night.

We were greeted by our lovely server, Sara, who was as upbeat and excited about the food as I was. I will warn you, Publico is not for those who shy away from bold flavors and aren’t willing to be open-minded. Although items such as lamb hearts and shredded duck gizzard are scattered about the menu, you will still find options such as guacamole, a wide variety of tacos, and grilled meats. We started with two small plates, the first being pinto beans. These flavorful beans were made with lamb drippings, mint, chives, queso fresco and were served in a metal cup with a masa cake on the side. The second dish was the cobia crudo served with ginger, lime, sweet potato, and truffle. The fish was incredibly fresh and it had a spicy kick which I really enjoyed.

I opted for street tacos for dinner. They are small, come two to an order, and are served with house-made corn tortillas. First up were the fish tacos. These took me completely by surprise as they are made with smoked white fish that, as the description suggests, pack a huge smoky flavor. They were topped with jalapeno cream cheese, cilantro, and crispy shallots which gave it the texture it needed. Next up were the Hongos tacos (Spanish for mushroom) topped with cucumber, radish, goat cheese crema, and huitlacoche. These were amazing, I just wish the shell had been a bit bigger to hold all of the filling. Publico’s tacos were fantastic and in my opinion, they are the first in St. Louis that stand up to Mission Taco. Based on the recommendation of our server, my husband ordered the pork shoulder seasoned with lime, sesame, and brown sugar. This lean cut of meat was seared and crisp on the outside and tender in the middle. His only disappointment was that the dish was served with nothing besides a lime wedge. We were thinking about ordering dessert but decided to go for a second order of Hongos tacos and we were not disappointed.

The restaurant really seems to be about options. The bar is large and comfortable enough to spend your evening having drinks and small plates or you can opt for a table to enjoy a more formal meal. The wide range of pricing allows you to have a less expensive meal of tacos or celebrate an occasion with larger plates. Unique menu items will push you out of your comfort zone if you are feeling adventurous but allow you to kick back with an appetizer if guacamole is what you prefer. Despite the 40 minute wait (with a reservation), I loved my experience at Publico and will definitely be back for more.

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The Shaved Duck

The Shaved Duck 6What appears to be a hidden gem from the outside is actually a restaurant that everyone in town seems to know about. The Shaved Duck was completely packed, even on a Friday during Lent when it seems many people would shy away from a restaurant that prides itself on BBQ. We pushed our way in the door where we began our hour and a half wait for a table. We managed to get a drink while we waited and we were able to follow our wait on the NoWait app (although you are not able to reserve a place in line ahead of time). When we were just reaching our limit of standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers, dishes of much appreciated, seasoned popcorn were brought out and placed at the bar for everyone to munch on.

We were finally seated in the dining room which had a great, energetic vibe. We looked over the menu and decided on appetizers to share between our table of four. First up was the buttermilk cornbread served in a skillet with a side of honey butter which the menu stated would take 15 minutes to prepare. However, it arrived in no less than 5 minutes, barely warm, and slightly dried out which can only mean that it had been sitting there a while. The sweet glaze on top and butter definitely helped but in the end, it was only average. Our second appetizer was the smothered fries which were featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. They were topped with rib and pork meat, white cheese sauce, and sharp cheddar. I really enjoyed the white cheese sauce verses the typical nacho cheese you find at most places and the plate was perfect for four people to share. While the fries were good, I can’t say I was blown away by them.


I had the shrimp and grits for my entrée. This hearty bowl of rich and creamy grits was topped with five large shrimp and while there were no frills about it, the dish was delicious. We also had the chance to sample one of the four chilies on the menu. We ordered the ancho beef as a chili mac meaning that the chili is served over a bowl of macaroni and cheese creating a dish that is definitely large enough to be ordered as an entrée. This was the least spicy of the chilies and was definitely manageable (the spiciest is served with a glass of milk). After hearing about the house-smoked meats and homemade sausage and meatloaf, two sampler platters were ordered at our table. The first had pulled pork, pulled chicken, and mac and cheese while the second had meatloaf, pulled pork, and burnt ends. While both plates were completely licked clean, the burnt ends were voted to be the favorite and the meatloaf was said to be “better than moms” (sorry Mrs. E.).

Just when I thought I could not eat another bite, we managed to be temped with dessert. After all, who can resist Samoa white chocolate pretzel bread pudding? Unfortunately, it was a little dry and we all agreed that the gooey butter brownie might have been a better option.

While there were parts of our meal that I didn’t love and the wait was less than desirable, I understand why the restaurant is bursting at the seams. The atmosphere and energy of the restaurant make for a really great dining experience. It is evident that a lot of time has gone into creating a menu full of thoughtful comfort food that keeps people coming back.

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Baileys’ Range

Bailey's Range BuildingOn a quest for something other than brunch on an early Sunday afternoon, I came across Baileys’ Range. It is fair to say that I have loved the atmosphere and food of every single Bailey’s restaurant that I have walked in to so I expected nothing short of delicious. One of my favorite things about Baileys’ restaurants is that they embrace older buildings that others would possibly shy away from. The first glimpse of their creative touch is the mural outside of the building which provides a bright spot to an otherwise dreary city block. Walking in to the two-story industrial style loft space, your eyes are drawn in every direction. The ice cream bar on the left makes you question whether you really need a meal or if you should skip right to dessert while the giant display of unique sodas provides you with as many drink options as the fully stocked bar. The space is filled with a variety of reclaimed items from ceiling fixtures to hanging windows that separate the kitchen from the rest of the restaurant.

Bailey's Range First FloorWe were led upstairs to our table with giant windows on one side and a view looking down into the restaurant’s first floor on the other. We were presented with three menus for food, drinks, and ice cream. There are 17 different soda flavor categories, several local brewery offerings, boozy floats, shakes, ice teas, and lemonades. The rest of the menu consists of starters, salads, and burgers along with a la carte sides. All burgers on the menu come with a suggested protein, but any meat can be substituted for lamb, bison, chicken, pork, beef, veggie, or Match products (plant based, vegan meat substitute). In addition, your bun can be customized to be vegan, pretzel, or gluten free. There is also a weekly burger battle in which two burgers face off head-to-head so that the burger that is ordered more often remains on the menu to compete with a new burger the following week.

I chose to start with a Virgil’s black cherry cream soda while my husband chose a delicious, creamy espresso shake made with homemade ice cream (I suppose it’s one way to get your Sunday morning coffee). We also ordered the pretzels for an appetizer. The plate of three pretzels arrived quickly along with a large bowl of cheese sauce. The pretzels were unique in that they were more buttery and fluffy than your usual salty, dense pretzel. There was plenty of cheese for each bite and even some left over for our fries. I ordered the Ozark burger for my entrée which came with caramelized onions, sautéed Ozark forest cremini mushrooms, and black peppered goat cheese. This was all served on a homemade bun which was light enough that I didn’t feel like I completely filled up on bread. I substituted the protein for Match but the texture was a turnoff for me so I will probably go with a veggie patty next time. However, the toppings were great and I loved the flexibility of the menu which allows almost anyone with a dietary restriction to enjoy a meal. My husband chose the Herb’d Lamb which was a lamb patty topped with mint basil walnut pesto, Asiago cheese, fennel, and mixed greens. His burger was completely devoured by the time I took my third bite so I took this as a sign of success. We also ordered the small French fries which was plenty for two people. All fries come with a choice of mayo (rooster, horsey, chipotle, sriracha, house), mustard (beer, honey, sweet/hot), homemade catsup (sriracha, chipotle, curry, wasabi), Bbq or house cheddar sauce. Since we had left over cheese sauce from our pretzels and catsup from our burgers, we went with something more adventurous and chose the horsey sauce (horseradish mayo). All it took was a small dip but I loved the kick it added to the fries.

All in all, our meal was a success. The prices for these unique burgers average a manageable $10-$12. The space is perfect for a casual meal with kids or friends and provides a great spot to go before a game or with out-of-towners who may be out and about in downtown St. Louis.

Baileys’ Range is located at the corner of 10th and Olive in Downtown St. Louis (map).

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Death In The Afternoon

IMG_2884Death In The Afternoon. How can you not be intrigued by a restaurant with a name as unique as this? Death In The Afternoon, located in downtown St. Louis, is named for Ernest Hemingway’s book as well as a classic cocktail made of absinthe and champagne which both bear the same title.  The owners of the member’s only restaurant, Blood and Sand, opened this lunch spot to provide diners with a unique and creative midday meal. The location alone is something special. The building is constructed with floor to ceiling glass windows which provide unobstructed views of City Garden.

Looking over the menu, I was surprised by eclectic variety of Asian, Middle Eastern, and American dishes served together under one roof. My meal started off with the Agua Fresca, a refreshing drink that changes every day. My particular beverage was made with pureed cucumber, mint, and lemon and served over ice. The drink felt healthy and fresh and was a great alternative to a soda or cocktail. We started our meal with an appetizer of kim chi which was served with pickled green beans, mushrooms, colrabi, and parsnips. This was my first experience with kim chi and I really loved the spice, especially against the tartness of the pickled vegetables.


When it was time to decide on a main course, I was immediately drawn to the turnip miso ramen. I always find myself longing for warm, hearty soups and stews but it is rare to come across one that is vegetarian friendly. This large noodle dish was accompanied by root vegetables, mushrooms, black garlic oil, a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg all served in a broth that had a great peanut flavor. Although I didn’t quite master the art of eating ramen in public, I fully enjoyed my dish and would come back for this alone. I also had the chance to sample the falafel and special of the day. The falafel was served alongside tzatziki sauce, cucumber salad, romaine lettuce, radishes, and mint. Although the falafel appeared to resemble your typical Middle Eastern street food, the spices of the dish are what made it stand out. The special of the day was baked eggs topped with cured guiancale (Italian cured poor cheek), carrots, and daikon. The eggs in this dish were also perfectly cooked but it felt like it didn’t quite belong on a menu with no other breakfast items. However, with a menu filled with such a variety of foods, I suppose anything goes.

 

This is not quite the place to bring your kids after playing in City Garden nor is it  where you should stop by for a hurried lunch. The food is meant to be enjoyed and take you out of your comfort zone. So if you are looking to get a bit adventurous on your lunch hour, Death In The Afternoon should definitely be on your list.

Death In The Afternoon is located at 808 Chestnut Street, St. Louis, MO 63101
Open everyday from 11am-3pm

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Winslow’s Home

Winslow's 1Winslow’s Home is what I would consider to be the hidden gem of University City. If you are not looking for this restaurant as you drive down Delmar Blvd., you are likely to miss it as the building’s architecture blends right into the rest of the neighborhood. The farm-to-table concept is apparent from both the rustic and homey feel of the restaurant to the seasonal and ever changing menu. In fact, much of the food is grown right at Winslow’s Farm near Augusta, MO. Not only is Winslow’s a restaurant but it is also a store with a variety of household products, books, and local foods such as sweets, flavored salts, and honey.

I would like to preface my review by saying that this is probably the fifth time I have dined at Winslow’s and I go back because I love it so much. However, my experience for brunch last weekend was incredibly different than what I am used to.

Winslow's 6Since it was a beautiful Fall morning and I live in the neighborhood, we decided to ride our bikes to the restaurant. There are two racks out front which made it easy to secure the bikes while we ate. It was a crowded Sunday morning as I expected and we took our spot in line to order. Diners have the option of any of the breakfast items, salads, main courses, and off-the-menu specials such as butternut squash soup throughout the day (See Winslow’s Seasonal Menu (PDF)). While standing in line to place our order, a hostess took our name and informed us that it would be quite a wait for outdoor seating so we settled on eating inside. After standing in the very slow moving line, we ordered and were then instructed to move to another line to pick up our drinks. After sixteen minutes of waiting at the counter, I was handed a mocha and the smallest glass of fresh squeezed orange juice I have ever seen. Now I understand that the orange juice was fresh but had I known that it would be gone after four sips, I would have chosen something else, especially with how long I had to wait for it.

After 25 minutes our food fiWinslow's 5nally arrived. My husband went with the pork burrito which was a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with breakfast sausage, eggs, potatoes, cilantro, mozzarella, chipotle sour cream and served with a side of tomatillo salsa. The portion was quite large and the flavors were good. The burrito was a bit dry however the salsa took care of the problem. I ordered the egg white frittata which was mixed with broccoli, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, and topped with arugula and served in a hot cast iron skillet. While the presentation was good, the bottom of the frittata was burned, rubbery, and required a knife to cut which is not what I expect in an egg dish. I was underwhelmed with my meal because it felt like it was something I could have made in my own kitchen. We finished our meal with a plum sour cream coffee cake which was large enough to share, very moist, not overly sweet, and reminded my husband of a Russian cake that his grandmother used to make.

Overall, I was disappointed with my experience because of the wait times, chaotic atmosphere, and execution of my dish. Although the restaurant is designed to be cozy and quaint, it doesn’t feel equipped to handle a crowded Sunday morning. However, I have had really good experiences at this restaurant in the past and I am incredibly impressed with the freshness of the food and concept of the menu so I will definitely be back, maybe just for a mid-week, late afternoon lunch.

Winslow’s Home is located at 7213 Delmar, University City, MO 63130

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