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Aug 28, 2008 08:12 PM

St. Louis Restaurant reccomendations please

Hi All,

I will be in St. Louis next week for a family wedding. I am looking for a nice place for dinner, not too dressy or formal. We will be staying at the Four Seasons Hotel and a few family members will be coming from the Edwardsville area to meet us.
My husband and I do not eat meat; but, do occassionally eat fish and seafood.

Also, my family was all originally from the Granite City area. I grew up eating nut and poppy seed rolls from the Busy Bee Bakery in Madison,IL. Luckily they shipped very well! However my heart was broken when I heard they closed a few years ago. Does anyone remember this bakery and know of some where else which would be similar?


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  1. I am a vegetarian like you folks.

    First, I suggest drinks at the Four Seasons bar which is on the swimming pool level of the hotel. Wonderful views of the Mississippi.

    In the adjacent casino, the Burger Bar does a couple of non-meat burgers - its a cute retro place, but you do get casino noise in the restaurant.

    In the Lacledes Landing area, Hannigans is a decent place - I like it because it is a replica of the US Senate dining room.

    Heading up Washington Ave, things get trendier at Kitchen K, which has veggie things on the menu. Corner of 10th Street.

    But I would heartily suggest a visit to the gem of Washington Avenue. It is called An American Place. It is elegant and in a classically spectacular room. Website is

    1. I would not suggest An American Place at this time. It was announced yesterday that the chef was leaving and it may not be operating at its potential. It is still a beautiful restaurant though.

      The restaurant at the hotel, Cielo, has received a decent response so that is always an option. Other ideas near downtown would be 1111 Mississippi or Vin de Set. You could also inquire on reservations at Sidney Street Cafe or Niche.

      All of theplaces I've mentioned have vegetarian/seafood items so you should have no problem finding something that suits your needs.

      3 Replies
        1. re: michaelstl

          My wife and I had dinner at An American Place recently and it was wonderful. Our server told us that they were opening a place in Las Vegas and the head chef was there.

          1. re: Richard 16

            The chef that the staff member was likely referring to was executive chef Larry Forgione who opened An American Place, but he does not actually work in the kitchen on a regular basis. The chef who had been in charge of the kitchen until recently was Josh Galliano and he annouced on 8/28/08 that he was leaving An American Place to work at Monarch.

        2. For vegetarian options, I recommend Harvest. It is west of the downtown area, on Big Bend not too far from Washington University. It is an easy ten minute shot west on Highway 40, which is closed for renovation further west of Clayton so traffic from downtown will be light and very easy. Check their website which has a detailed menu.

          Don't forget to get to Ted Drewe's, a St. Louis institution serving wonderful frozen custard. Either get a hot fudge sundae or a "concrete," a shake so thick it can be held upside down. Nearby is a good casual place with vegie options called The Pitted Olive. And whether you end up loving it or hating it, do try some St. Louis pizza, ultrathin crust, provel melty cheese, most toppings under the cheese layer, and cut into squares. Imo's is the local chain, but St. Louis is an Italian town and it is served at a number of places. Also try some toasted ravioli as a starter, deepfried and served with the marinara sauce on the side for dipping. Note -- it is often served with meat sauce, so specify, and almost always with beef-filled ravioli. Do any St. Louis 'hounds know of places serving toasted ravioli with cheese filling? Go Cards!

          11 Replies
          1. re: nosh

            Do you really consider St. Louis an Italian town?

            My estimation is that there is an Italian neighborhood (The Hill) and some restaurants that are Italian but that St. Louis is not Italian in tone or sentiment or by virtue of having more Italian restaurants than any other type.

            And the food is certainly Italian-American, or more accurately, Sicilian-American or Sicilian-St. Louisan. If one's definition of Italian food was formed in Italy, or Manhattan or San Francisco or Boston, St. Louis's Italian food will as a whole be much, much different, and perhaps very disappointing.

            Henley, just read your reviews of Philly's Italian restaurants. Might be tough to find that type of autentico Italian food in St. Louis.

            And though I love St. Louis, I very much dislike Provel cheese and toasted ravioli. Provel has little flavor and is processed -- it doesn't even meet the legal definition of cheese. Other than the cost savings, I don't understand Provel's appeal over mozzarella, fontina or any other non-processed Italian cheese. And I have never understood what compels St. Louis pizza restaurants to cut their pizza into squares rather than into pie-slices. Toasted ravioli has always seemed (to me) to be a fried doughy thing with little flavor. However, I know there are others who enjoy it. You could easily avoid these two items. I would never seek them out were I were visiting St. Louis -- sorry, nosh.

            Where we are in agreement is Ted Drewes. Amazing frozen custard. Freshly made, great ingredients. You could search far and wide for a better dessert and not find it.

            I believe Busy Bee Bakery -- run by the Gitcho family -- in Madison, Ill., may still be open. Give them a call to see if they still make the nut rolls you like. Perhaps you can revisit them -- wouldn't that be a blast from the past -- or your relatives can pick up some of the rolls you love and bring them to you.

            Busy Bee Bakery
            (618) 876-6468
            806 Madison Ave
            Madison, IL 62060

            1. re: maria lorraine

              I'd refer to STL as little 'c' catholic - a mash-up of traditions and flavors, not to everyone's taste (so to speak) although I suppose largely large 'C' as well. lots of German, French and Italian influences among many welcome others.

              sorry maria, I understand why some don't care for the quirks, but if one grew up with it, well... even I find some of it odd.

              funny how Drewe's draws most together.

              too bad 905 is no more.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  glad you took the post in the well-intended manner intended.

                  I wish I coulda snatched up the 905 globe when they tore down the Market st. store. classic. but it was the Delmar near Union store and later the one off Grand that would sell to us underage crowd.

                  henley - when were you last in STL? many areas in the last few years have changed massively for the better (despite some griping I hear on blogs)

                  1. re: hill food

                    Goodness! I haven't been to St. Louis in many years. It has probably been at least ten years.
                    I moved from the area when I was very young; but, for a long time I would visit every few years. At this point, I really do not feel as if I have any familiaritywith the city.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Maria Lorraine- I think you are right about me and St. Louis's Italian restaurants. Here in Philadelphia we too have an Italian district, South Philly. There are many Americanized Italian restauants here; but, luckily we have a few exceptional Italian restaurants as well (Vetri, Osteria, Melograno, Savalo, etc.).

                Ted Drewes is definitley on the list. I wish Busy Bee was as well. It did indeed close probably about 2 years ago. That was when I received the last poppy seed and nut rolls!

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  >>And I have never understood what compels St. Louis pizza restaurants to cut their pizza into squares rather than into pie-slices.

                  Ed Imo and his wife started Imo's pizza. Ed was a tile-layer, and in his honor his wife cut the pizzas into tiles (squares.)

                  1. re: klgalie

                    So that's how that got started!
                    A good story -- thanks for shaing it.
                    Sweet of his wife to honor Ed that way -- a few times.
                    It doesn't make good eating sense, though -- you need the edge of the pizza to grip it with!

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      Long before Imo's, places were making pizzas on old cafeteria trays (which in those days were metal), and thus a square or rectangular shape was much more logical. And for those of you who haven't seen the squares, they're relatively small, maybe 2 inches across, which means they're easy to pick up.

                  2. re: maria lorraine

                    Generally I think I see thin crust pizza in squares and thicker crust cut into pie slices. I always thought it was because the thin crust pieces would be difficult to handle in the long slices.

                    1. re: occula

                      That's what I thought, too, Occula. I've seen that on thin-crust pizza that's not from St. Louis as well. Personally, I like it that way. It makes me slow down and savor the pizza more.

                2. My family and I enjoyed the City Coffee Shop and Creperie in Clayton. They make crepes with just about anything inside, either savory or sweet. The Riverfront Times had a review:

                  Here are some photos of Ted Drewes:

                  And Fitz's Rootbeer on the Delmar Loop:

                  I tried Imo's Pizza last week. It must be an acquired taste that I haven't acquired yet. I still prefer NY style.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: frankradio

                    frank, admittedly the cheese is sorta weird to many (who didn't grow up with it and even weirder variations), but the crust is good, right?

                    1. re: hill food

                      If it's a good thin crust you're after, don't waste your time on Imo's but instead go to Pi on Delmar, in the ever-expanding eastern part of the Loop. Great thin crust and no trace of provel "cheese." There is no reason to acquire the taste for provel when there is so much good cheese readily available these days. I've lived here 32 years and I've yet to find a good reason to eat provel.

                      6144 Delmar Blvd, Saint Louis, MO

                  2. Trattoria Marcella has true Italian food without any provel, also the chef has always been happy to make inventive dishes for my cousin who is vegan.