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

Hi,

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.

Thanks!

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  1. 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

      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

        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.

        1. I'd offer the following suggestions:

          The Crossing
          Harvest
          Five
          Sidney Street Cafe
          Elaia

          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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                      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

                      Hi,

                      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?

                      Thanks!!!

                      1. re: glickjor

                        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

                          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. 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. 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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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

                                    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.

                                    Thanks!

                                    1. re: glickjor

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

                                      1. re: lemons

                                        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

                                          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

                                            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

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

                                              FOTD

                                                1. re: glickjor

                                                  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

                                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.