Category Archives: $$

The Dining District at United Provisions

United provisions 7Exciting things are happening in the Delmar Loop including the building of Wash U. student housing, the opening of exciting new restaurants, and the creation of a much needed grocery store. The owners of Global Foods Market in Kirkwood recently opened their newest venture, United Provisions. This specialty supermarket features items you would find in a typical American grocery store as well as products from around the world. Another component unique to this location is a restaurant called The Dining District, located inside United Provisions. Chef Ben Poremba, James Beard nominated chef and owner of Olio and Elaia, has partnered up as chef in this new venture.

The Dining District offers a variety of foods including old favorites from Porembra’s other restaurants such as Olio’s egg salad and burrata as well as a huge menu of new creations. They feature a raw bar, a long list of sandwiches, grill items, and full sushi menu which is overseen by Chef Naomi Hamamura.

I started my meal with two appetizers, the burrata and crudo. The burrata was topped with olive oil, salt, and pepper and served with beets on the side. It came with a large portion of warm pita bread although I was happy eating the dish on its own. The crudo included five thinly sliced pieces of fish that were also lightly seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I was a little nervous about ordering this on a Sunday night because it is hard to expect much freshness out of seafood at that time of the week. However, this fish was perfect and tasted like it was caught that morning!

Next up was a marinated artichoke and provolone warm-pressed sandwich. It was filled with marinated artichokes that were just a little too lemony for my liking but delicious nonetheless. There was a thin layer of a mayo based spread over the bread which was crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. I’ll be honest, I didn’t finish the sandwich at the restaurant but ate the rest at home later that night. My husband ordered the goat burger which was a hamburger topped with a healthy serving of goat cheese and medjool date tampenade for sweetness. The burger was served medium rare and was devoured before I could even finish half of my sandwich.

Because there was a sushi menu sitting in front of me the whole night, I couldn’t help but order one roll. I went with the Hamma’s tuna roll which is Chef Hamma’s signature spicy tuna roll. The tuna was incredibly fresh and the sauce was not overpowering as it sometimes is. The sushi was a bit more expensive than most restaurants in St. Louis with prices averaging $8.50 for basic rolls and $10 to $22 for specialty rolls.

United provisions 3Somehow, I managed to save just a tiny bit of room for dessert. Desserts at the restaurant are provided by La Patisserie Chouquette and are displayed in a case at the front of the restaurant. Since I had just eaten the equivalent of about three meals, I stuck to macarons. Although there were lots of interesting flavors such as absinthe and lavender, I chose to play it safe with pumpkin and chai. They were both fresh, delicious, and probably the best I have found in St. Louis.

Overall, I was really impressed with both the grocery store and restaurant and I think that this space adds so much to The Loop. Whether you need groceries, takeout, a fast lunch, or want to sit and enjoy a nice meal with a bottle of wine, you will be able to find something at United Provisions and The Dining District that works for you.

United Provisions on Urbanspoon

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The Kitchen Sink

IMG_2353Can’t decide what you want for dinner? Check out The Kitchen Sink, where everything you could want, including the kitchen sink, is on the menu. This restaurant is located on Union Blvd., just a short walk from Forest Park and the Central West End. This unconventional diner has been serving up St. Louis Style creole along with burgers, salads, and sandwiches, since they opened in 2012. Breakfast is served all day and a live band plays into the night on Fridays and Saturdays.

A good size patio provides outdoor seating but I chose to sit inside where we could listen to the live band. We were greeted by our waitress, Vanessa, who ended up being one of the best parts of our meal. She was enthusiastic from the moment she learned that it was our first time in the restaurant. From the way she went over each section of the menu, pointing out her favorite items, you could really tell that she loved her job.

Based on her spot-on rIMG_2357ecommendation, we started with sweet potato fries topped with a maple glaze and marshmallow. While these fries were so sweet they could have been served as dessert, they were so yummy that I would eat them at any time of the day. I chose the crawfish etouffee as my entrée which was served in a bowl over white rice with two corn fritters on the side. The huge portion of etouffee had no shortage of crawfish or flavor. If you are leery of spice, this dish may not be for you but it was right up my alley. My husband ordered the Kitchen Sink for his main course. Sautéed shrimp and Andouille sausage came served over a bed of cheesy grits and were topped with tasso and crab gravy. Although the dish was a little light on the shrimp and sausage, the grits were so rich that it would have been difficult to finish any more food. A side of corn fritters were served alongside this dish as well which ended up being my favorite part of the meal. These bite-sized fritters were filled with a sweet creamed corn and then fried. Our waitress warned us that one bite of these fritters would have us coming back for more and I think she may be right.

 

The Kitchen Sink is located at 255 Union Blvd St. Louis, MO 63108

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @myweeklybite

The Kitchen Sink on Urbanspoon

Sugarfire Smoke House (Olivette)

Whoever says barbeque is only foIMG_2187r meat lovers has clearly never been to Sugarfire Smoke House! This restaurant has taken barbeque to another level with gourmet sides, vegetarian dishes, fish options, and desserts. Sugarfire opened its first location in Olivette but has become so popular that it quickly expanded to St. Charles and Wing Haven. The lights on the front patio caught my eye one evening when I was driving by so I decided to check it out for dinner.

The restaurant is set up cafeteria style with a fast moving line that wraps around the outside of the dining area. Large, ever changing menus are set up on two walls and can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know what you are looking for. While waiting to place my order, I first came to the soda machine featuring several Excel Bottling brands that I had never seen before and it took a few samples to find what I actually wanted. After settling on lemon-lime, I scanned over the menu featuring turkey, brisket, pulled pork, ribs, sausage, burgers, salmon, and portabella mushrooms. Most items can be ordered as a plate or sandwich and some have side dishes included. If you are hoping to eat your meal off of a plate you will have to keep wishing because meals are served on a large metal tray covered in butcher paper which I think just adds to the experience. Once you are seated, you can top off your meal with one of the many sauces that are waiting for you on the table. There is everything from sweet BBQ to white horseradish to coffee sauce.

Being a non-meat eater, I chose the salmon sandwich as my entree. The salmon had a great smoky flavor and was really tender but I found the portion to be a little small. What really made the sandwich great was the bun which was lightly buttered, grilled, and served warm. My husband ordered the Big Muddy which is a sandwich made of brisket, sausage, horseradish sauce, BBQ sauce, lettuce, and pickles. This huge sandwich is definitely not first date food but is well worth the mess.

While we both loved our main dishes, the sides were a huge disappointment. I ordered the quinoa caprese salad made with quinoa, kale, tomatoes, and mozzarella. It was swimming in dressing that filled half of dish leaving me with soggy kale and tomatoes that I ended up throwing away. My husband ordered the jambalaya and he was originally told they had run out. However, someone found one last portion sitting on the counter already in a plastic container. When he opened the lid, the top was dry, crusty, and unappetizing. Having ditched my side, I was still hungry so I went back for mac and cheese. It was fresh, creamy, and while less interesting, a much better choice. My only other complaint about my experience was the attitude of the workers. While the restaurant was busy, some of the workers acted rushed and inconvenienced. A little smile can go a long way!

Next up for this fast growing BBQ empire is dessert. Sugar Fire Pie is slated to open in October just a few doors down from their current BBQ location in Olivette and you can bet I will be in line for that one.


 

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Sugarfire Smoke House on Urbanspoon

Melt

My pick for this week is definitely the most interesting restaurant that I have been to on my food journey. Melt is the result of a coffee and ice cream shop that were “melted” together to create an eclectic spot specializing in waffles. Having moved its location from Cardondolet to Cherokee Street about a year ago, this restaurant offers food, coffee, and bar service and is open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Whether you come for brunch or in search of a late night snack after the bars close down, there is something here for you.

Menu at Melt
Menu at Melt

Walking into the restaurant, I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff around me. To best describe it, imagine having brunch in a thrift store. Lighting is made from old bike wheels, none of the tables and chairs come from the same set, meals can be had on couches or oversized chairs, and the menu is written on the wall in boxes separated by windows, door frames, and headboards. If you are looking to add a little excitement to your meal, you can play ski ball, pin ball, or choose from one of the many board games that are scattered throughout the restaurant.

Coffee bar at Melt
Coffee bar

We arrived on a Sunday morning for brunch and while it was crowded, there was surprisingly no wait. We were given the option of being seated at a high top table but we chose the oversized chairs with a small table in between.While comfortable, it was not the best spot for enjoying a meal. We had great service the entire time and were able to order right away. I chose to start with coffee and I was instructed to help myself at the coffee bar. The mugs were hanging on hooks on the wall and each one was more different than the last. The cup I chose was in the shape of a peanut that had a huge red smile and feet on the bottom. I filled my cup with Kaldi’s coffee (my favorite) and was able to return for a refill when I needed more. The rest of the coffee menu was large but not overly imaginative and the prices were better than we often pay. They also offer smoothies, a full bar, and a long list of beer.

Psycho Monkey waffle
Psycho Monkey waffle

I had an incredibly hard time making a decision from the menu which is divided into sweet, savory, and vegan waffles as well as bowls and scrambles. The bowls and scrambles allow you to make your own egg or tofu creation with whatever toppings and sauces you would like. As for waffles, you can choose whether you would like them to be made with a biscuit, buttermilk, cornmeal, vegan sweet potato, or gluten free base. I chose to have the Biscuits and Gravy special which was a biscuit waffle topped with potatoes, onion, scrambled eggs, cheese, and vegan sausage gravy (which I substituted for regular gravy). Once I added Siracha for a little extra flavor, I was in heaven. My husband chose the Slinger which was a waffle topped with chili, onions, cheese, and a sunny-side up egg. While he liked it, he thought the potatoes on my waffle would have been a good addition to his. We couldn’t leave without trying a sweet waffle so I chose the Psycho Monkey. This waffle, topped with peanut butter, chocolate sauce, bananas, and whipped cream, made me go from liking to loving my meal. Want to get a little more creative? Check out the Elvis with bacon cooked into the waffle or the Honey Badger topped with honey, peanut butter, and honey whiskey.

I finished my meal completely full and loving this restaurant for both the food and atmosphere. Prices are reasonable and the portions are large. The games make it a great spot to bring kids and conversation on a first date would never go dry because the décor leaves so much to talk about. While Melt may not be for everyone, if you are a lover of waffles or are in search of a new late night spot, you need to come down to Cherokee Street to check it out.

Melt is located at 2721 Cherokee St. St. Louis, MO 63118

Follow me on Twitter at @myweeklybite

Melt on Urbanspoon

Planter’s House

I came across a list of hot restaurants in St. Louis and noticed that Planter’s House was one of the few that I had not been to so I decided to head to Lafayette Square to check it out. This restaurant, located at the corner of Mississippi Ave. and Choteau, offers both indoor and outdoor seating as well as a large bar. The restaurant has a similar late 1800’s charm to many of the homes in the Lafayette Square neighborhood with old architectural details such as arched doorways and ornate wood carvings. Although it pained me to not sit inside the beautiful restaurant, we chose to eat outside since it was such a nice night. The decently sized patio is nestled between two buildings and has a covered area that is supported by large brick archways. With soft music playing in the background, you almost forget that you are right in the middle of a city.

Planter’s House places a large focus on their extensive drink menu, likely due to owner Ted Kilgore’s status as one of St. Louis’ premier mixologists. We were presented with several pages of beer, wine, spirits, and cocktail options. The waiter was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and was able to provide some guidance through the many choices. I chose to have a My Paloma which was a refreshing grapefruit drink. I appreciated that only half the rim was salted so I could choose whether or not I wanted salt.

Mushroom appetizer at Planter's House
Mushroom appetizer at Planter’s House

The food menu on the other hand is more limited and I had a fairly easy time making my decisions. As a starter, my husband and I shared wild mushrooms which were sautéed in pureed lemon zest, basil, grapefruit, and parmesan reggiano. You wouldn’t think that mushrooms, basil, lemon, and grapefruit would be likely friends on a plate but the dish worked perfectly. I would have left completely happy if this had been the only thing I ordered. But then it happened, Olio’s burrata finally met its match. Planter’s House created a mussel dish that would completely satisfy me if it was the last thing I ever ate. The large, perfectly tender mussels were served with a creamy coconut curry sauce that had just a bit of a kick. Cornbread accompanied the dish and was perfect for soaking up the extra sauce and left me feeling more full than I normally would feel after a bowl of mussels. Although I could go on and on, it wouldn’t be fair to the other, almost equally delicious, dishes we had. For my husband’s main course, he chose the duck burger served on a challah bun with remoulade sauce, Irish cheddar, mixed greens, onion jam, and a duck egg. He was surprised how much he loved the duck but said that the burger could have used just a bit less salt. His burger was served with seasoned fries and homemade ketchup. For those of you who don’t know me, I HATE ketchup so much so that I would rather eat mud. However, my husband kept raving about this particular ketchup so after several minutes of convincing I finally dipped a French fry in it and took a chance. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and that I may have even had a few more bites. I chose to end my meal with doughnuts for dessert. I was served two, very light doughnuts topped with a lemon sauce and toasted coconut. They were light and fluffy, perfect for sharing, and just the right end to our amazing meal.

Visit Planter’s House at 1000 Mississippi Ave St. Louis, MO 63104 or at Plantershousestl.com

Planter's House on Urbanspoon