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Looking for Great Restaurants to Take Clients (2 lunches, 2 dinners) during Conference in St. Louis

glickjor Aug 26, 2013 02:06 PM


I will be in St. Louis for my first time for a 2 day conference. Looking for regional specialty places that would impress clients. Looking for 50-80 dollars pp, all-in. I don't know much about clients eating preferences, but also don't know much about what St. Louis does well.

I will scan this board, but wonder if anyone can get me started with an overview of local St. Louis cuisine and where I can take clients to impress.

I believe we are staying at the Hyatt on Chestnut (315), if that helps. It would be helpful to stay within a 10 minute cab of that location.


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  1. l
    lemons Aug 26, 2013 06:25 PM

    A little more info would help us focus. Is this a group of maybe 6 people or a two-top table? Any insight into age possibilities? And when? Monday is a difficult night with lots of closings, for instance.

    St. Louis is small enough gastronomically that a 10 or 15 minute cab ride will get you lots of places. Possible neighborhoods might be Clayton, the Central West End and The Hill.

    Off the top of my head, The Hill, an Italian neighborhood, your two best bets would be Gian-Tony's, for which you should have reservations, trad Italian, and Lorenzo's, more modern Italian. (Modesto, a tapas place, might also work.)

    Not far away, very unfancy but very much an institution with huge fat hamburgers and atmosphere is O'Connell's, a good place to talk when it isn't crowded.

    Clayton, the nearest 'burb (STL is like Baltimore, it's not in a county), well in your price range is Pastaria, new, good, not very quiet but very tasty.

    I've got a time problem tonight, but folks will chime in.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lemons
      glickjor Aug 27, 2013 07:54 AM

      Hi - my clients are woman in the range of 45-60. I have no idea about eating preferences, and would like to stick to safe choices (Italian, American, steakhouse, French) without getting into too much ethnic food.

      We would like upscale ambiance, but conservative. We NEED to be able to talk to our clients, and therefore places that are trendy, but loud would not work.

      Wish I could be more helpful. I actually don't know the clients very well, yet have been tasked with food planning.

      1. re: lemons
        glickjor Aug 27, 2013 08:02 AM

        Adding to my post below - I am advised that since my firm is treating, "excellent food and wine" is a must. The picture is becoming clearer. Upscale places with great wine lists where we are able to hold conversation with people at our table without worrying about too much sound interference.

        Thanks for your recs.

      2. a
        Anne Aug 27, 2013 10:34 AM

        Can't go wrong with Tony's.

        1. m
          michaelstl Aug 27, 2013 11:10 AM

          I'd offer the following suggestions:

          The Crossing
          Sidney Street Cafe

          All are "adult" restaurants that offer a nice atmosphere and a noise level that should work well for business discussions.

          Five, The Crossing and Elaia also have good wine lists.

          10 Replies
          1. re: michaelstl
            lemons Aug 27, 2013 11:21 AM

            Good suggestions - but check online for prices. The Crossing and Harvest are Clayton-ish, Five is on The Hill, and Elaia and Sidney Street are south of downtown, southwestish.

            Tony's, as Anne noted, is downtown, quiet but pretty steep on prices. still, VERY used to business dinners.

            But we need to get this chap some lunch places, too. How about the Tap Room near downtown, very casual but good food, and you can hear across the table? Gio's is surprisingly good, and the dining room is a nice lunch spot. (I love the grilled Caesar salad.)

            1. re: lemons
              glickjor Aug 27, 2013 01:01 PM

              Thanks - these look great. I'd definitely appreciate a few more lunch spots, and also an orientation - as I indicated, I am staying at the Hyatt on Chestnut. Which of these areas is close, and which is far from me?

              BTW - I'm coming from Toronto - I perused Tony's menu and for our experience here, that pricing is not intimidating.

              Tony's website makes the place look a little stuffy. Is it?

              Thanks for all the help!!!

              1. re: glickjor
                michaelstl Aug 27, 2013 01:54 PM

                The Crossing and Harvest are approximately 15 minutes west of the downtown area where your hotel is located.

                Five is 10-15 minutes southwest of your hotel.

                Elaia is around 10 minutes southwest from your hotel.

                Sidney Street Cafe is less than 10 minutes south of your hotel.

                For lunch, check out Pi Pizza and Robust which are both downtown and close to your hotel.

                Regarding Tony's, personally I would not recommend it as I think it is very dated and unexciting in terms of it's style of cooking. It does offer the most full service experience (tableside preparations, captains, etc.) in St. Louis which I suspect is much of the reason it get's praised as few (if any) restaurants in the midwest attempt this. If you or any of your clients have much fine dining experience in major cities or Europe, this aspect of the experience at Tony's won't seem nearly as impressive and the food alone doesn't make it a destination (in my mind). It is well-known and well-loved among native St. Louisans though.

                This may be a bit of stretch for a business dinner, but if you want to be adventurous, another option closer to downtown for dinner would be Blood and Sand. This is typically a members only restaurant/cocktail bar, but I believe one can visit/reserve once as a non-member. The chef is quite talented and the food here is very good. This would only be a 5 min cab ride from your hotel.

                1. re: michaelstl
                  glickjor Aug 27, 2013 06:02 PM

                  I looked at Blood and Sand and it looks really great. Can someone speak a bit more to the ambiance, and whether this is really the type of place to take a conservative, older group?

                  1. re: glickjor
                    lemons Aug 27, 2013 07:08 PM

                    Well, you can tell I'm from St. Louis, more or less; when you say "business" I think "conservative". Which is why Tony's would be good. The food I've described as elegant nursery food, absolutely exquisitely sourced and plated. If you have folks who are intimidated by servers bowing and scraping it isn't your type of place. I tell very young diners going there to pretend they're princesses or princes and act accordingly to the people who will take care of them.

                    If the cost isn't a serious concern, Elaia is wonderful. I'm not personally a fan of Sidney Street so much - food is good but much of the whole ambience seems out of the '70's.

                    Robust downtown (there are now 2 other locations) would be perfect for lunch, certainly, or dinner, too.

                    1. re: lemons
                      shannonstl Aug 27, 2013 07:39 PM

                      I hadn't been to Sidney Street for a long time until about 6 weeks ago and it looked like the decor had changed quite a bit. Much more current.

                    2. re: glickjor
                      alan Aug 28, 2013 11:17 AM

                      Blood & Sand is a club so you'd need to check whether you could eat there as a non-member. I also don't think of it as a conservative place.

                    3. re: michaelstl
                      glickjor Sep 4, 2013 09:48 AM


                      Thanks for all of the recs - I have booked Elaia and the Crossing for our dinners, and Robust for lunch.

                      I am still looking for a second lunch spot that is closer to to the downtown core. I think that I need something a bit more formal than Pi Pizza, even if it looks so great. Any other recs?

                      Is there such thing as an upscale barbecue joint?


                      1. re: glickjor
                        lemons Sep 4, 2013 12:42 PM

                        A question like that reveals that you don't come from barbecue country, of course. I still would offer Gio's, either in the bar or the dining room (nice view from the latter). Are these all the same group? If not, why not a second round @ Robust?

                        1. re: lemons
                          glickjor Sep 5, 2013 04:12 AM

                          I knew I was going to sound ignorant with that question.

                          Toronto only has a handful of barbecue joints, and I am sure none as good as in St. Louis. We have one that is positioned as a more upscale restaurant, good for urban hipsters and their families. A place where you can grab and go with a pulled pork sandwich, but you could also dine-in and drink a manhattan while eaten barbecue on white plates.

                          I'd prefer to try a second place for lunch, if only for my own desire to try new places in a new city. I will look again at Gios.

              2. s
                shannonstl Aug 27, 2013 07:44 PM

                For one of your dinners (or maybe even a lunch), you could consider Home Wine Kitchen which is in Maplewood, a close-in suburb. The owners also recently opened a new place on Cherokee in the city called Table which I really like. IMHO, Home represents a more fine dining experience while Table is more whimsical.

                1. hill food Aug 27, 2013 08:46 PM

                  regional favorites are usually served in places not designed for entertaining clients.

                  however more and more, regionally sourced (big difference) items are gaining presence on menus and labelled as such. and we have some good ones.

                  but for a glam factor moment, some afternoon I want to have a cocktail on the roof of the 4 Seasons - Cielo? (is that the one with the big terrace maybe 4-6 stories up?) or the new-ish Hilton by the ballpark. and pretend I'm in a really strange vision of some more flashy city as penned by Elmore Leonard and Bret Easton Ellis in a really bad mood.

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: hill food
                    lemons Aug 28, 2013 05:11 AM

                    Well said, hill food. Barbecue spots, which we often do very well, and toasted ravioli, which are a bar snack, don't seem, uh, optimal for what you want. (There's a better chance that you could find gooey butter cake on a dessert menu, though.)

                    How about Eleven Eleven Mississippi which does both lunch and dinner, 5 minutes from downtown, or its sibling Vin de Set, in an interesting building with an outdoor terrace if the weather is clement? Dinner only, unless things have changed, and not far from Eleven Eleven.

                    1. re: lemons
                      glickjor Aug 28, 2013 05:21 AM

                      Thanks - I scoured menus last night. Most impressed with the menu for the Crossing and Robust, as a dinner and lunch. Up in the air about the second spots for lunch and dinner, though I think I will likely choose between Elaia and Blood and Sand for the second dinner.

                      On another note - I am hoping to sample some regional food while away from clients (and I have a dinner on the front end and a lunch on the back end for that). What should I hit for barbecue and other regional specialties (Triple D style in St. Louis?)

                      1. re: glickjor
                        lemons Aug 28, 2013 05:52 AM

                        You do know that barbecue is the constant source of argument, yes? Closest to downtown is probably Pappy's or its sibling Bogart's, not near each other. Crowded at lunch and very popular. Crown Candy Kitchen for lunch is an experience, with immense BLTs and good ice cream specialties like ice cream sodas, although this is very basic ice cream. Iron Barley is a ways from downtown but is a DDD spot; you can look it up, as whatsisname the baseball sage used to say. And Sauce on the Side downtown is awfully good, not a regional specialty but really tasty.

                        I'd certainly vote for Elaia, personally, but YMMV.

                        1. re: lemons
                          glickjor Aug 28, 2013 06:01 AM

                          I bet that barbecue is a huge source of argument. I have never been through this region, but presume (I really don't know much about barbecue - we have very limited options for it in Toronto) that the style is similar to that which is offered in Kansas City (which, without wanting to offend, is a style that is mentioned in Toronto barbecue places).

                          I presume that ribs are a big thing in the region - and so would love to know where to get the tastiest ribs.

                          1. re: glickjor
                            michaelstl Aug 28, 2013 07:47 AM

                            I'd vote for Elaia over Blood and Sand for the second dinner as I think it will work better for business discussions.

                            I second the recommendation for Bogart's for a BBQ lunch. I prefer it to Pappy's, but both are great options for ribs and BBQ in general.

                            1. re: glickjor
                              lemons Aug 28, 2013 08:02 AM

                              I am personally of the opinion that pork 'que trumps that from other critters, and if I don't want to get too messy, pulled pork on a sandwich is a good alternative to ribs. But you'll find both at the spots we talk about. Even the turkey at Pappy's is incredibly moist and smoky. And I'm staying out of the style thing completely!

                              1. re: lemons
                                shannonstl Aug 28, 2013 10:20 AM

                                One thing to keep in mind about Pappy's is that the lines are always very long. (Just in case you and/or members of your party don't have the time or inclination to wait.) Personally, I always call ahead for carryout there, but that does not seem to be an option for you!

                                I really like Elaia, as long as someone else is paying. Even I, no wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination can tell they take great pride in their wine program.

                                One other rather bare bones suggestion for lunch is Salume Beddu, our very highly regarded artisan cured meats company. Chef Ben, the owner of Elaia, was (is?) a founder.

                                1. re: shannonstl
                                  lemons Aug 28, 2013 10:36 AM

                                  Well, he (she?) was talking about solo lunches rather than with the group. Yes, Ben is still with Salume Beddu, and yes, it's a great wine program @ Elaia.

                                  1. re: lemons
                                    glickjor Aug 28, 2013 12:05 PM

                                    Thanks for all the recs - I am confirmed at the Crossing for Dinner on Thursday, October 3rd and for lunch on Friday at Robust.

                                    I have tried Elaia, but they will only do 6 or 8 - my party needs a 7 or 7:30 reservation. What is the next best thing - now that Elaia is out of the picture - for something that is great, and different to the Crossing.


                                    1. re: glickjor
                                      lemons Aug 28, 2013 12:58 PM

                                      There are quite a few suggestions above. None of those hit you, I take it? Niche in Clayton, then.l

                                      1. re: lemons
                                        glickjor Aug 28, 2013 01:29 PM

                                        Quite the contrary - lots spoke to me. I got the sense from the above list that The Crossing and Elaia were the two most coveted suggestions. Hmmm...okay - I just realized that I can probably switch my thursday and Friday night, and maybe get Elaia.

                                        I was just now looking for the next most suggested on this list. For example, onle one person suggested "Five" - though good looking place - I'm wondering what else on the above lists people are feeling.

                                        1. re: glickjor
                                          michaelstl Aug 28, 2013 01:47 PM

                                          I'd go back to two of my original suggestions of Five and Sidney Street Cafe. Both are in neighborhoods that are different than where The Crossing is located- more urban and character. Both are closer to your hotel than The Crossing as well.

                                          Sidney Street Cafe has some of the best food in town, but the service could be more refined (sometimes it feels a little too TGI Friday's) and the wine list is disappointing, but the care that goes into the cooking is evident. The pastry chef there is also very talented. They have updated the decor inside recently which was an improvement.

                                          I think Five is not regarded highly enough in St. Louis and is much better than many more lauded local places. Great farm-to-table cooking, often very simple, but with great ingredients. Great wine list in terms of both value and variety.

                                          I thought about suggesting Niche (I think it's the best overall restaurant in town), but it has a limited menu- either a 4 or 9 course menu with little option for the diner to choose. It also can be quite loud. Those two reasons made me think it wouldn't work well for the occasion the OP mentioned. It's definitely the restaurant that's received the most national attention/acclaim.

                                          1. re: michaelstl
                                            glickjor Aug 28, 2013 02:12 PM

                                            I think that my problem is fixed - I just needed to switch nights - now I Have Aleia on the Thursday and the Crossing on the Friday.

                                            I am going to look into Niche as well - based on how you have described it above.

                                            Is it worth it for a visit on my own, the night I fly in - or should I stick with some local bbq fair - I think the latter.

                                            1. re: glickjor
                                              FriendOfTheDevil Aug 28, 2013 02:53 PM

                                              Local BBQ fare at night is going to be real tough....


                                              1. re: FriendOfTheDevil
                                                glickjor Aug 28, 2013 07:36 PM

                                                do bbq places close early?

                                                1. re: glickjor
                                                  lemons Aug 29, 2013 07:09 AM

                                                  It's not so much that they close early as they run out of food, esp. Bogart's and Pappy's. Sugarfire not so much, in my experience. I've gone by Pappy's @ 6 and found them out of several kinds of meat.

                              2. re: glickjor
                                hill food Aug 29, 2013 04:05 PM

                                re your question on the style of STL BBQ: it's closer to Memphis style (bit sweeter and wetter) than KC (Mississippi river culture has the the historic upperhand after all) KC is more like Texas BBQ (hotter and sauce on the side), it's good too, but a different beast.

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