Tag Archives: restaurant St. Louis

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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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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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.

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