Looking For the Best of the Best in St. Lou
Paying a visit to a friend who recently moved to the 'Lou in a month, but she has yet to penetrate the food scene so we're looking for suggestions. Price is not an issue, but I'd rather not have to pack my jacket. We're well traveled foodies just looking for the highest quality of food we can get our hands on, and prefer if it was on the inventive/exotic side. Any suggestions?
There are a few places that are consistently regarded as some of the best restaurants in the St.Louis area.
Niche, in the Benton Park area, is the restaurant with the most acclaim as the chef received national attention from Food and Wine Magazine. Niche features contemporary American cuisine with both creativity and excellent ingredients in a elegant, but casual setting. (www.nichestlous.com)
Erato on Main in Edwardsville,IL just outside of St. Louis features unique seafood options and fresh local ingredients in a very comfortable setting. (www.eratoonmain.com)
Monarch in Maplewood just recently updated its menu as the restaurant elcomed Josh Galliano, a talented chef formally of An American Place. A more formal atmosphere than Niche or Erato, but not too stuffy either. (www.monarchrestaurant.com)
Personally, I don't think there are any restaurants in St. Louis that I would described as being especially inventive or exotic compared to Chicago or New York where the preparations and ingredients used are more varied. Niche and Erato are the locations that have demonstrated the most variety in ingredients and preparations though.
You could also go to www.saucemagazine.com and see the Reader's Choice winners for 2008 to get an idea of what places are well regarded in the St. Louis area.
Here is a thread from last month to help get you started:
As mentioned above, there is a St. Louis restaurant free newspaper and website called Sauce that is worth checking out. Another free entertainment paper, the RiverFront Times, also reviews and advertises restaurants and also just came out with their "best of" list. Finally, the Post-Dispatch is the local newspaper and is accessible online at stltoday.com -- if you click on "Entertainment" and then on "Restaurants" you can find recent and archived reviews. There is also a Chowhound-like site there called "Eat at Joe's" (Joe Bonwich is the paper's main restaurant reviewer) that concentrates on the St. Louis dining scene. I do not have personal experience to corroborate them, but there are recent "downhill alerts" about Kreis' and, sadly, The Fatted Calf since its recent ownership change.
If you're going to some of these sites be sure to have your cynicism securely buckled in and read what people liked and did not like. These site's ratings and individual reviews can be great all the way to very misleading. Except, of course, Chowhound - where you can trust us implicitly.
OTOH, trying things is a good hallmark of a chowhound!
St. Lou. "the 'Lou".
Isn't that like calling San Francisco "Frisco"?
Meaning, nobody who lives either here or there ever does uses those terms.
Also meaning, the city name of "St. Louis" is missing from your original post and title, so that the greatest number of people who could help with recommendations may not be reading your post at all. The Midwest Board covers a huge area, and many people read the board by pre-sorting it by their city's name or airport code in the title.
I agree with The previous posters about Niche. They are really trying hard to break the mold, and people are loving it.
Some of my favorites around town are (in no particular order)
1. Mangia - on Grand, fun atmosphere, good specials, homemade pastas, cheap sandwiches, great beer list
2.Annie Gunns-in Chesterfield. Tasty high-end steaks, inventive fish specials, cool atmosphere. Think duck confit and japanese kobe. incredible wines.
3.Atlas- on Pershing. cool food
4.Five -in the grove area. New chef doing cool, but limited menus
5.Vin de Set-Great atmosphere, rooftop dining
6. Franco in Soulard-I love this place, the look, the menu, the olive, the cassoulet, the wine.
7.Pappy's smokehouse-near SLU. You've got to eat lunch, right? Not high-end, but great BBQ, done by a very cool guy, an owner that really wants to please.
Really, the list could go on and on. Be sure to report back, we love hearing about ourselves!