The first restaurant I ate in was Howard Johnson’s. I had the fried clam roll with tartar sauce. The roadside tavern was a convenient place for travellers to stop for a meal or an ice cream cone (28 flavors). Put HoJo’s has gone the way of the dinosaur. Both dining and travel have moved into the 21st century with a big bang and lots of glitz.
Historic and Whimsical
To see cutting edge hotel and restaurant service, you need look no further than the new Grand Tavern by David Burke, the signature restaurant at the Angad Arts Hotel. The artsy, luxurious hotel enlivens the Grand Center Arts District and is just a stone’s throw from The Fox Theater and Powell Symphony Hall. What was once the Missouri Hotel, built during the late 1920s, is open for guests and diners once again. This time with 146 rooms and 38 suites.
The work of local artists line the walls throughout the building. Hotel guests get in on the act, too. They can pick which room color suits their mood: red (passion); yellow (happiness); green (rejuvenation); and blue (tranquility). Hmm. . . I’m wondering if they have a room, or two, in warm beige for those who want nothing more than a good night’s sleep.
Lunch in the Lounge
Cyndy and I dropped by Grand Tavern this week at midday. The spacious hotel restaurant has an Art Deco feel with the original terrazzo floors, oversized mirrors, funky art and an array of tables and banquettes, enough to seat 123 in its bar and front lounge.
The menu offered what the chef calls “modern American tavern fare.” Cyndy picked the St. Louis Salad, a colorful and tasty mixture of fruits and vegetables, but absent lettuce. I was enticed by the lobster dumplings, but went with the skewered crab cakes and a share of their signature Hipster Fries. All well prepared and presented.
With Thanksgiving still under our belts (literally), we skipped dessert. Even so, our delightful server set out a gratuitous and tasty pair of shortbread cookies topped with a tad of chocolate mousse. The Gooey-Butter Donuts, a take on St. Louis’ famed cake, is available only on the dinner menu, she said. Same for the Cheesecake Lollipop Tree.
The Art Part
Co-developer Steve Smith was having lunch at the next table and stopped to visit. He insisted that we take the elevator to the 12th floor after lunch. So when we finished our shortbread cookies, we wandered down the hall, passing the bathrooms denoted by a pair of red stilettos (women’s room) and black wingtips (men’s room) mounted on the wall.
The elevator ride amused, as well, with it rotating video of animals and humans, all peering at you through a window pane. Stepping from the elevator into the Sky Lobby of the hotel, we came face to face with a humongous, overhead chameleon lamp, that dominated the space. Down the hall, another lounge offered board games and a wall of string instruments for guest to amuse themselves.
Rather than confine your evening to a meal at a table, you can eat at the street floor restaurant and wander about the 12th floor Sky Lobby and onto the rooftop lounge for a more quixotic evening. You might even decide to spend the night in one of the mood-enhancing guest rooms.
Grand Tavern by David Burke, 626 N. Grand Blvd. Open Daily: Breakfast 7a-11a; Lunch 11a-3p (Mon-Sat); Midday 3p-5p; Dinner Mon-Thu: 5p-10:30p; Fri-Sat: 5p11p; Sun: 4p-9:30p. Sunday Brunch 11a-3p. Also before and after theater specials. Chef: David Burke; Menu.
Angad Arts Hotel. Take a look at this wild and wonderful website.