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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