Latest on 1111 Mississippi in StL
I need some candid and CURRENT appraisal of 1111. I know it's been the rage, at least in some quarters, since it opened a few years ago; however, my one experience there a while back was that, although it was a great space and a fun scene, the food was only so-so - not of the same caliber as Atlas, Pomme, Harvest or Arthur Clay. I thought it was more like Monarch and Savor, i.e., more style and form over quality and substance. Nonetheless, because it's our, and our close friends', 11th wedding anniversary in a few weeks, I wanted to go to 1111 for dinner - for the same reason we flew to Chicago for dinner at Nine on our 9th anniversary [which was on 9/9]. But, friends and relatives, some of whom provide somewhat trustworthy commentary on restaurants, said that, lately, 1111 has been absolutely awful! Many dishes have been sent back and others deemed inedible. I don't know if it's because the management is focusing on their new venue, Vin de Set, but we are presently unwilling to try 1111 because we've been hearing that it is now horrible. Anyone have any recent experience to share? I guess we can always go to 1111 for a pre-dinner drink [and thus get our "11" fix] and go to Niche, which I've been anxious to try, for dinner.
Couldn't agree more about Savor and Monarch. The level of arrogance at Monarch is especially astonishing. When they opened, they kept talking about how Brian had worked at Aureole but they never specified what he had done there. Plenty of people have worked there, but some of them have been pot-washers......
anyway...The original Chef left 1111, and it's left us with Bruce Piatek helming the kitchen. Nice as he might be, (and he really is a super nice guy) he's more a cook/sous chef then an exec chef.
1111 is a St. Louis upscale restaurant in it's truest form. Everything is done to enhance profit with them staying away from the types of ingredients that are going to call for a lesser profit. Tim Mallet is the master of this formula (Blue Water, Big Sky, Remy's) and it's no surprise that 1111 fell into this as well, because the original chef/chefs came from Mallet's establishments as I recall. In this type of establishment, Bruce will probably do ok, but I too have heard it has faultered a bit.
I've never seen that the menu has changed one bit really in the years they've been open, and I would think, that would leave you in search of something a little more exciting for such a special occasion.
It's a shame too, because the room is one of the coolest in the city with the exception being, that those seated on the inside of the floor on the upper level get bounced a bit as people walk through the dining room.
We're at an exicting time in St. Louis. It used to be that we had good chefs in ugly restaurants (Cary at The Crossing...when he was still with them of course), or great looking restaurants with awful chefs (Truffle's). We're finally starting to blend the two together, and it's made it possible get get a true dining experience in a great space without having to leave the city.
oh....and niche has failed to disapoint in all the visits I've had there. You can certainly find more adventurous or more exicting restaurants, but it'd be tough to find one so consistant given the price.
Our only gripe on our first visit (the 2nd day they were open) was that they were trying to not offer wine by the glass with the exception of a house wine, and the service was dicey. We'd had no idea I'd found out about the restaurant so quickly and forgave them for the service. They have since fixed the wine issue. Still, with a $15 corkage, it'd be a great place to take your own bottles.
Well, based on the 3 or 4 posts in which we've exchanged views today, I'd say you and I feel similarly about many of the restaurants and the StL restaurant scene. Replying to your belated post, about, about Niche vs. Melange, it's ok that you didn't reply when I first posted it months ago - we couldn't get into Niche and a friend warned me that Melange sucks. Went to Harvest again, which was good but not as good as in the past. I also agree wholeheartedly about the Tim Mallett chain - none would pass muster in the long run in a more discriminating food city [e.g., SF]. But, it's nice that we have places like Niche now and I will shoot for that for our 11th anniv. dinner. BTW, re one of our earlier exchanges, do give Pomme a second chance. Like Atlas, I have found consistently excellent preparations, reasonably modest sized portions [as opposed to too much food] at a reasonable price in an environment where substance is clearly more important than form.