My collection of Memorable Dishes of 2014 was one of the favorite posts on this blog last year. So I pulled together another list for 2015. There are a couple repeat restaurants, but with different dishes. The list is in no particular order.
5-Star Burger: Mushroom Burger
5-Star is Clayton’s citadel for robust burgers. Beef, lamb, bison, and veggie patties come with fries, soups and salads to match. The Magic Mushroom Burger with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and Swiss cheese ($9.50) is my favorite, though I can seldom eat the whole thing. 5-Star proudly boasts their all-natural, hormone and antibiotic free Angus beef.
Old Standard: Pimento Cheese
In the South, pimento cheese—like grits—has a special shelf on the nutritional pyramid. Come to think of it, Dr. Ben Carson may have gotten his food storage idea from the Department of Agriculture’s pyramid chart. He just got his pyramids confused. But I digress. Chef-owner Ben Poremba’s pimento cheese ($7.25) is a good pairing for his excellent chicken and side dishes. Poremba modestly refers to Old Standard as the gold standard for chicken. No argument here. Look for Ben’s new Italian place, Parigi, to be opening soon in Clayton.
Banh Mi So 1: Salmon Curry
This mom-pop-son restaurant on Grand, featuring a Vietnamese-French fusion menu, may be the city’s best kept culinary secret. After favoring the Meatball Bahn Mi sandwich, the Tilapia Spring Rolls, and the Beef Bun for years, I’ve moved on to this smooth, mildly-flavored Salmon Curry (also available with chicken).
Costco: Stuffed Peppers
I know Costco isn’t a restaurant, but the giant grocery sells lots of prepared foods. A friend recommended the Stuffed Bell Peppers with Ground Beef and Rice, ($12) and they’ve since become a quick, go-to item in my freezer.
Salted Dulce de Leche: Ices Plain and Fancy
This corner creamery in the historic Shaw neighborhood not only offers up boozy and regular flavors of ice cream, but you get to watch the quick nitrogen freeze take place. It’s an entertaining wait for a delicious product.
Canyon Café: Three Taco Platter
These designer tacos come from a selection on Canyon’s Southwestern-style menu. As you can see, there’s a bounty of goodness going on inside these mini tortillas.
Gringo’s: Cuban Sandwich
Citrus-soaked pork, hickory ham, chipotle mustard, sweet pickles, and fundido cheese, (melted cheese), nestle warmly on a telera roll for this Cuban classic ($9.95). The corner haven in the Central West End has great atmosphere and eats to match. The CWE may be a long way from the border, but your taste buds will think you’ve climbed the wall.
The artistry at the St. Louis Art Museum extends into their trendy, relaxed restaurant overlooking Forest Park. Each dish is as enticing to photograph as it is to eat.
Giovanni’s Kitchen: Bucatini All’ Amatriciana
The Clayton-Ladue outpost of the classic Hill restaurant specializes in fine Italian food served well, on white tablecloths, and in friendly, comfortable surroundings. Pasta shown: $9.50 small/$17 full-size portion.
Randolfi Italian Kitchen: House Salad
This sassy Italian salad matches up pear, radish, and fig with a dressing of goat cheese-white, balsamic vinaigrette ($7).
Salt + Smoke: Pulled Pork Sandwich
When completed the new Delmar Loop Trolley will take you right to the door of Salt + Pork, where barbecue reigns supreme. Pull Pork Sandwich with Cole Slaw and one side dish ($9).
Lucky Buddha: Porkalopasis Sandwich
Along with the typical bahn mi vegetables, this pan-Asian sandwich has four types of pork : braised char siu, pork liver pate, gochujang pork loin and pork belly. ($11)
Lona’s Lil Eats: Five Star Platter
This Five Star Platter ($15) is sprawling with tasty meats, vegetables and sauces. Lona’s unique pan-Asian cuisine served up without MSG or preservatives packs a powerhouse of flavors that will keep you coming back for more.