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Couple of quick Qs about St. Louis - hotel location, etc

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nickblesch Mar 27, 2012 01:16 PM

Hello all,

My wife and I are going to be in St. Louis over Easter weekend. I'm not terribly familiar with St. Louis (a couple trips to the science museum and the zoo, like, 20 years ago).

The primary purpose for our trip is a concert in a bar by SLU on Sat night, and since it's like a block from Pappy's Smokehouse, that seems like destiny. Delicious, smoked destiny.

Question 1: I'm between Moonrise Hotel (which looks funky and cool) and staying in the Central West End. We like walkable / shoppable areas - rather it's hippeish vintagey stuff or more urbane - and I'd like a hotel where we can head out Saturday morning / afternoon and go exploring. Is there a location between those two that is better? Or somewhere else entirely?

Question 2: I'm guessing Easter Breakfast/Brunch plans should have been made, like, a year ago, but I didn't even start planning the trip until like a week ago. Oops. :P Brasserie and Home Wine Kitchen, if open and if available, seem consistently highly rated but we're down with good greasy spoons as well. Any other suggestions?

Thanks!

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    brownhound RE: nickblesch Mar 27, 2012 02:03 PM

    Hmm, lots of questions there.

    1. Pappy's will be packed; perhaps an hour wait to get in. Just so you know in case you're trying to make a concert time. Bogart's is basically the same food and never as long a wait, but may not be open as late. It's also about 2 miles from Pappy's. If Pappy's doesn't work, The Good Pie (wood oven pizza) is across the street and never an hour to get into.

    2. Hotel right next to your venue is Hotel Ignacio (http://www.hotelignaciostl.com/). I've never stayed, but you might investigate.

    3. Deciding between the Loop and Central West End: I think the Loop is a little livelier for walking around, but more student-y, whereas the Central West End is a little more grown up with nicer walking neighborhoods. (And I say that living next to the Loop.) That's my take, fwiw. For staying in the City, I think those are your best choices.

    4. I've stayed at the Moonrise, and liked it. If you prefer the Central West End, you might try Chase Park Plaza (http://www.chaseparkplaza.com/), which is about as well located as you could get, or the Parkway (http://www.theparkwayhotel.com/). There's also a Comfort Inn in the Central West End; my in-laws stayed there and liked it.

    5. For brunch, the standard fancy brunch place is the Piper Palm House in Tower Grove Park, and you might have trouble getting in (http://palmhousestl.org/). Home Wine Kitchen has a decent brunch, as does Brasserie. You might try Cafe Osage, which is in the Central West End too. I don't think you'll have reservation troubles at any of those spots. Local Harvest Cafe also does a good brunch, but is busy on any typical Sunday.

    1. f
      FriendOfTheDevil RE: nickblesch Mar 27, 2012 02:33 PM

      Question one, those are the two best areas. The loop is much younger, thrift vibe with some Rasta mixed in.
      The Central West End is not really near as many shops in my opinion. More restaurants and bars but much prettier and spread out. Like a Brownstone vibe.

      In the West End, I hear good things about Majestic for Breakfast but have never been. If you want a splurge brunch (at least on non easter days), the Ritz in Clayton is outstanding.
      In the West End I would also be up for trying Brasserie.

      FOTD

      1 Reply
      1. re: FriendOfTheDevil
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        ddfry3 RE: FriendOfTheDevil Mar 27, 2012 03:47 PM

        Since you're nearby, I'd do Pappy's, but while the onwership is related, I think the food and especially sides are better at Bogart's, and it's in a more attractive neighborhood.
        I was just at Good Pie and it is, um, good. Neaoplitan pizza cooked in high temp oven with San Marzano tomatoes and the like. Locally sourced mozzarella that is especially good.

        Agree with previously mentioned "takes" on the vibes in the CWE and Loop. More, and more eclectic shops in the Loop. Generally bigger $ for the stores in the CWE, it's the high rent district and has been for well over a century.

        Hotel Ignacio is highly thought of, I've toured it but never stayed there. Also, not too far from Midtown is a great area called Lafayette Sqaure, great bed and breakfast there called Napoleon's Retreat, at which I have stayed. Some of the best restaurants in the city are nearby in that area and in Benton Park (Niche especially). I should add that there is nothing wrong with staying downtown, the new Embassy Suites is in a nice part of downtown, very convenient to the light rail system (Metrolink) and Washington Ave has many places to choose from and is one of the only areas that's pretty much active 24/7.

        The high end brunches would be at the Ritz Carton and Cielo at the Four Seasons, expect to pay $60-75 pp for those. I would look at Nadoz in the Hotel Coronado in Midtown.

      2. n
        nickblesch RE: nickblesch Mar 28, 2012 05:50 AM

        Thanks for the tips, everyone. I'll make my reservations this afternoon and do my best to report back with any useful information afterward!

        1. hill food RE: nickblesch Mar 28, 2012 06:43 PM

          somebody (lemons?) had nice things to say about the brunch at the Historical Society museum in Forest Park (I know, yeah interesting food in a museum? right.)

          but both are interesting areas. CWE is more laid-back and the Loop livelier. both are arty and casual and have interesting shops and cafes. depends on your demographic.

          2 Replies
          1. re: hill food
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            lemons RE: hill food Mar 29, 2012 07:44 PM

            Yo, here I am. Majestic: Diner food. MoHist has a better brunch than you'd think now that they've changed caterers. Ignacio isn't in much of a walking distance. The brunch at the Chase is very good; a serious brunch is not within walking distance of the Moonrise unless I'm having brain freeze. Excellent brunch at the Brasserie by Niche, probably my first choice for visiting VIPs.

            1. re: lemons
              hill food RE: lemons Mar 29, 2012 08:09 PM

              aah the MoHist ref WAS you! I thought so. glad to know my memory isn't completely slipping! may have been a comment of yours on someone else's but it sounded like not one's typical brunchiness.

          2. n
            nickblesch RE: nickblesch Apr 13, 2012 12:53 PM

            Hey all, thanks for the assist here. I hadn't really spent time in STL since I was old enough to drive and we'll definitely be going back.

            Moonrise was a great hotel - cheap and clean and cool, which is really more than I ever expect from a hotel.

            Dinner on Friday was at Five Bistro - We both did the tasting menu with the wine pairings. Very happy with the meal overall - morels in the first course were great, lots of goat cheese with the salad, first time I ever had fiddlehead ferns (reminded me of a milder asparagus), and the dessert was this maple panna cotta with candied bacon that was very simple, sure, but one of the best desserts I've had. My only complaint with the meal was that I felt the trout in the third course could have been a bit better - the fish was cooked correctly but the skin wasn't particularly crispy and I think it could have been. Well worth the price of admission and if there weren't plenty of other places to try on our next trip we'd definitely go back.

            Breakfast on Sat was at some hippee cafe (Meshuggah?) near the hotel - nothing special but tasty and cheap, which is fine by me.

            Lunch on Sat was at Pi - We were eating a late lunch and wanted to save room for a relatively early dinner so we got the thin crust Cherokee St. Pizza. Great flavors that all mixed well together, a healthy dose of the toppings, and the crust was So. Good. I haven't had many thin crust pizzas that succeed so well at getting crispy & crunchy like that. I'm from Indy and we've got some solid pizza here (esp Pizzology), but I would love to have a place here that could do that kind of thin crust.

            Dinner Sat was at Pappy's Smokehouse - Got to chat with the exec chef in line; he talked a big game and backed it up. I'm not sure that STL BBQ is my favorite (I have a gigantic soft spot for Carolina-style with gallons of vinegar), but this was solid. Between my wife and I we had ribs, brisket, pulled chicken, and pulled pork, with potato salad, green beans, sweet potato fries, and baked beans. The ribs and the chicken were the standouts - pulled chicken is rarely so juicy, in my experience - and the sides were all good. I think the green beans were frozen, given the texture, and they could've used a bit more seasoning, but given that I wasn't going to be joining the clean plate club anyway I didn't fret about leaving a few of them.

            Then we went to the Eve 6 concert at Fubar, a block from Pappy's. The concert was great, the venue was even more divey than I expected. The only good thing about the venue was that they didn't gouge on drinks, and that's something anyway.

            Brunch on Sun was at Brasserie by Niche - Wife had the quiche du jour, which sounded like it had too much stuff crammed in it (chicken, mushrooms, spinach, and like 4 other things) to be good (imho) but was easily the best quiche I've ever tasted - perfect crust, tender eggs, etc. I went with the french toast with lemon curd on the server's rec over the waffles, and I tipped him double what I would have because the french toast was good enough that it was worth paying for twice. We also split an order of the beignets and they were as good as everything else.

            Other notables:

            Slar Clipper comic shop was the nicest comic shop I've ever been in, and I can't wait to go back. It's got a great mix of American comics and manga, which is perfect for my dorky self.

            Women's Closet Exchange is a consignment shop on the south side that my wife fell in love with - she got several super-fancy dresses for less than 20% of the original price, making it a shopping trip that left us both happy.

            3 Replies
            1. re: nickblesch
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              tonifi RE: nickblesch Apr 13, 2012 01:26 PM

              THANK YOU nickblesch, what a great and thorough recap! I absolutely agree about the quiche at Brasserie, and I have been trying for a couple of years to match their lemon curd, I just can't figure out how they are getting the texture so creamy...Brasserie is now my second-favorite brunch spot (Home Wine Kitchen wins), but those two items, in particular, just can't be beat. You must be have a knack for ordering well, huh? Of course, if you take the Pappy's philosophy, which seems to be 'order everything on the menu' you can't go wrong, either! I'm really happy to see our burg begin to produce some quality barbecue, for years we didn't have too many good choices. For decades, the best bbq in the Lou was to be found in backyards, with everybody's dad having some super-secret recipe for pork steaks...the only thing that would make me even happier would be the availability of a Carolina-stye vinegary sauce, which, thankfully, is easy enough to make at home.

              1. re: tonifi
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                nosh RE: tonifi Apr 20, 2012 08:00 PM

                Great of you to report back. Glad you had good staying, eating, partying, and shopping in St. Louis.

              2. re: nickblesch
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                FriendOfTheDevil RE: nickblesch Apr 22, 2012 09:02 AM

                I also want to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH for the detailed report. I as a local have not been to several of these places. It is always nice to hear a fresh opinion on both the ones I have not been to, as well as the ones I have.

                Thanks and hope you enjoyed the visit overall!

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