Category Archives: Events

Hard Rock Cafe New Menu Preview

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Hard Rock Café new menu preview media event   last night at Hard Rock Café in St. Louis. This restaurant, located at Union Station, is part of a chain of over 170 venues that has been in operation since the 70’s. Since opening in St. Louis 16 years ago, there have been no significant menu changes until January of this year. The company surveyed diners in 14 cities and ended up with a menu of 30 new or modified food and drink items. This event gave me the opportunity to sample about 15 appetizers and entrees, three desserts, and 10 different drinks.

The night started with signature drinks and appetizers. The cucumber gin mojito below on the left was the star drink of the night for me. Although the drink didn’t taste like a traditional mojito, it was light, refreshing, and very drinkable. There were several traditional appetizers including spinach artichoke dip, balsamic tomato bruchetta, and chicken wings as well as the clever Air Mexico which included a flight of margaritas with a side of chips and salsa (below on the right).

Next up were three flights of food including salads and entrees. Of all of the things we tried,  the grilled chicken arugula salad was my favorite (minus the chicken). The salad is served with grilled chicken, spicy pecans, dried cranberries, oranges, and feta. It is tossed in a lemon balsamic vinaigrette which was created specifically for this dish and compliments the arugula really well. I also enjoyed the grilled salmon wrapped in cedar paper. However, it was topped with small scoop of garlic butter which I thought was unnecessary for a fish that is already fairly high in fat. Although I did not partake in the smokehouse flight, I learned that all of the meat is smoked in-house, some of it for up to 24 hours. People sitting at my table did really like it though.

As far as dessert, I thought that the warm apple cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream stole the show. The two dessert drinks we were given to try included the warm, Caramel Cafe topped with caramel popcorn and the Twist and Shout Cafe Milkshake. Both would have been dessert enough on their own and it was hard to choose a favorite.

Although I tend to be a fan of unique, local restaurants, Hard Rock is a good option for a place to eat before or after Blues and Cardinals games, especially with their happy hour deals. I can only hope that the revamped menu rubs off on the rest of Union Station to bring it back to the exciting area that it once was.

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Centennial Beer Dinner

Looking for a way to make your average dinner just a bit more exciting? How about a beer dinner where each course of you meal is created to complement a specific beer. I have gotten the chance to attend two of these dinners and I would recommend them to anyone who has even the slightest interest in beer. The first dinner I attended was hosted by PW pizza and featured beers by Deschutes Brewery. Each beer course was paired with a different pizza creation and served family style to tables of eight. One of the best things about these dinners is that guests can be seated with people they know or at random. At both dinners, this has made for really interesting conversation with people I would have not otherwise met.

Last week I got to check out the Centennial Beer Festival Brewmaster’s Dinner held in the space typically used by Moulin Events. It is a part of the Centennial Malt House building which is home to several spaces you may have heard of such as Vin de Set and Moulin Events. Little did we know, this building used to be the Schneider Brewery back in the late 19th century. The dinner was the kickoff event to an entire weekend of beer tasting bliss. Each of the five courses was paired with a delicious beer from 4 Hands Brewing Co. Chef Ryan Luke created a delicious meal and was even generous enough to make me my own vegetarian version of a few dishes that had meat. The evening was hosted by two brewers from 4 Hands, Martin Toft and Andy Burgio, who told stories about the brewery and gave us insight to the beers we tasted. We were lucky enough to be seated at a table with Martin and Andy which made the night even more interesting.

Below are the courses we got to sample at the Centennial Beer Dinner

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Sweet Tooth Tour

This past weekend I got to spend the day with my amazing friends walking the streets of Maplewood sampling sweet treats as part of the first ever Sweet Tooth tour. This self-guided tour took us to 9 different shops over a period of several hours. For $15, we were given a ticket to show at each shop and in return, we received a beverage or sweet treat.

Stop one was a chocolate shop called Kakao Chocolate. This shop offers delicious, all-natural sweets that are made right in front of you. Each person on the tour was served an Irish Rocky made with layered pecans, caramel, dark chocolate, vanilla bean marshmallow, and Schafly coffee stout chocolate cake. This was, hands down, my favorite treat of the day.

Foundation groundsNext, we stopped by Foundation Grounds, a green, eco-friendly coffee house and cafe. This coffee shop had far more flair than your average chain store and we couldn’t stop talking about the paintings on the wall. We were served a no bake Goo Ball made with butter, oats, espresso, cocoa powder, and dried coconut. This rich dessert was a little much for me but I will definitely be back for brunch sometime soon.

The third stop was Vom Fass, a chain of stores specializing in specialty oils, vinegars, and spirits. Everything in the store is available to sample and I happily left with garlic oil and pumpkin seed oil. We were served our choice of sweet wine or an original liqueur creation along with an oil infused lemon cookie.

Stops four and five shared one building. At the front of the store is La Cosecha, a fair trade coffee shop that roasts coffee to order. They were offering mini espresso floats with Serendipity ice cream and a Calley’s truffle. The second half of the store, occupied by Great Harvest Bread Co., served oatmeal cookies. They were also handing out samples of their delicious fresh bread.

Number six was traveling Tea where we were served samples of Chai tea and candied tea leaves which I am still not sure I quite understand. However, the Chai was perfect for a cold, rainy day.

Strange Donuts was stop seven. This was the only shop I had been to and I will have a separate post devoted to them.

The eighth stop in our tour was Pie Oh My. We were served mini chocolate cream pies which, if I had not been to seven stops already, would have been a the perfect dessert. However, I had to surrender after one bite.

Finally we went to Encore baking company where we were given a raspberry-filled white almond cupcake. I enjoyed this cupcake at home and it was still perfectly fresh the next day.

Although it was cold and raining, each of us had a great time and we all agreed that we got to see a side of Maplewood that we did not even know was there. Check out Maplewood’s website, http://www.cityofmaplewood.com, for links to all of the shops listed here and for a calendar of all of their upcoming foodie events!