Best Restaurant in St Louis for a Business Dinner
I am leading a team of consultants that is being interviewed in St. Louis for a significant business opportunity. The night before, I'd like to have dinner with the team. Some of them I know, some of them I'll be meeting for the first time. We're looking for the best restaurants in the city, expensive is fine, something without too much noise, preferably downtown (we're urban planners by trade). Recommendations much appreciated! Thank you!
Well, Tony's is the classic, not so formal as it once was, sort of uber-comfort food, in that it's extremely high-quality ingredients, Italian and American food, family-owned, and always with a couple of members on premises. They also will cook whatever you want off the menu if they have the ingredients on hand. Swell first courses, always a magnificent soup of one kind or another, and a great scallop dish. The signature entree is lobster albanello, out of the shell and in a savory creamy sauce that doesn't overhwelm (get some pasta to swab up the last of the sauce), but the veal options are good, and, unusually, I think, for an Italian restaurant, excellent steak.
Oh, yeah, chocolate layer cake and housemade banana ice cream for dessert if you have room. (Other options, too, including zuppa inglese made tableside.)
Very comfortable with business dinners and celeb dining. Many people argue that it isn't what it used to be - it's been around more than 50 years, but not in this particular location - but the local expectations for a place like this are sky high because of its history. If you need some privacy, there's a room available if you call ahead. I know I'll get some argument about this place, but frankly, the food is the best option downtown unless you want New American (in which case, An American Place is the spot), and their comfort with what a serious business dinner requires is impeccable.
Tony's is the place for what you want. Excellent service, attention to business-people who need space and time and quiet. Upscale, on the verge of stuffy and formal but flexible enough to handle the occasion. Good food, consistent, some tableside prep and service. Right downtown caddycorner from the ballpark and near the riverfront in the bottom floor of an office building, valet parking. The leading special-occasion expensive, traditional restaurant in St. Louis for generations.
If you are looking for more cutting edge food, just south of downtown are two leading restaurants for more contemporary fare -- Niche and Sidney Street Cafe. Just to the north of the Arch and football stadium is the revived Washington Blvd., with the elegant An American Place, the Lucas Park Grille, and several other reataurants, some sushi and ethnic, and bars. One of the best oldtime Italian classics, Kemoll's, is relocating on the 40th floor of a downtown highrise and is worth a try if it is open by the time of your meeting. Note -- many St. Louis restaurants still permit smoking, at least in the bar, so ask questions and request appropriate seating if that is a concern.
An American Place opened up to great fanfare and expectations a couple of years ago, in an elegant space in a hotel in the hot, regentrified section of Washington Blvd. But there are big questions about the restaurant's current and future status; it recently lost its head chef. Their menus are schizophrenic, to say the least -- they offer perhaps the most expensive tasting menu in town, but they also added a very reasonable prix-fixe menu to attract some business, may or may not be restricted in days or times.
For what the OP requested: one of if not the best restaurant in town, a professional staff who can handle business-people coming in and meeting for the first time, expense not a concern, quiet, a prime downtown location -- all of that adds up to Tony's.