Tag Archives: Central West end

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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Cucina Pazzo

Cucina Pazzo 7 I will admit that I am not the biggest fan of Italian restaurants. While the food is almost always delicious, tradition seems to be a point of intense pride and I tend prefer a little more creativity to my meals. Normally the idea of spending a date night at an Italian restaurant would do anything but excite me but hearing buzz around this week’s restaurant, I was willing to have an open mind.

Cucina Pazzo is a cozy little romantic restaurant located in the Central West End serving Italian food with a modern twist. While the menu is based on typical traditional dishes, this menu is anything but ordinary. For example, the Maine lobster risotto is served with a fried egg while the fettuccini alfredo comes with spicy Italian sausage. Our meal started with drinks and I chose the Frutta martini made with vanilla vodka, peach liqueur, peach puree, cream, and cinnamon. This sweet drink tasted just like a dreamsicle and went down easy. We were also presented with rosemary focaccia served in a hot cast iron skillet served with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce. For an appetizer we went with the Sicilian style artichoke stuffed with Parmesan, seasoned bread crumbs, and lemon (crab can be added for an additional charge). Although there was not a lot of meat on the artichoke leaves, the real treat was the artichoke heart at the bottom of the dish. The seasonings were great and the dish was perfect for sharing.

I felt like I needed to try one of the fresh fish options on the menu for my main course so I chose the pistachio crusted barramundi served with garlic broccolini, butter poached potatoes, and a spicy lobster sauce. The light, flaky fish was fresh and the broccolini was nicely cooked but the star of the dish was definitely the lobster sauce. I could put the sauce on almost anything or even eat it with a spoon and I would be happy. My husband chose the chopstick pig pasta served with pancetta, Kalua pork, pork belly, bacon, Brussel sprouts, wok vegetables, and a butter sauce. This hearty pasta dish was served with an amazing Asian inspired sauce which was quite a nice surprise given that we were at an Italian restaurant.

 

Although all of the food was delicious, the highlight of the meal was dessert. We chose the freshly baked cookie which came out in a hot cast iron skillet since it was highly recommended by our waiter. This warm, half-baked cookie was topped with ice cream and almond whipped cream mousse and was a great way to finish the night.

 

If you are looking for a unique dining experience be sure to ask for a seat at the bar of the open kitchen so you can enjoy a little show while you eat, reservations not required. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can come back to enjoy a meal on the nice sidewalk patio out front.

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