Thursday, September 30, 2010

bailey's chocolate bar, st louis mo
1915 park, st louis mo
thursday, september 30, 2010, 11.30pm-12:15am

after an incredible performance by the national at the pageant, we headed to bailey's chocolate bar, one of our favorite late night spots. although bailey's is known for its desserts and specialty cocktails, the bar also features over 90 beers, a nice wine list, specialty cheeses, and a variety of sandwiches and personal pizzas.
we arrived around 11:30 and, as always, were seated right away. bailey's has a bar in the front, a dining room in the back, and outdoor seating as well. the dining room is a small, intimate setting, and is the perfect spot for couples to spend time together and enjoy delicious food and drinks.

our waitress introduced herself, and gave us our menus along with water and complimentary cookies. delicious!
we looked over the drink menus, and made our decisions. my wife went with one of the specials for the night, the tiramisu martini. our waitress described the drink as heaven in a glass, and we both agreed it was absolutely wonderful.
my drink for the night was the lagavulin 16, a smokey single malt scotch from the islay region of scotland. baileys price for this remarkable scotch is just $8 a dram. for a scotch that retails for nearly $100 a bottle, this is a real bargain.
after our drinks were delivered we made our choices for dessert. i opted for baileys chocolate brownie. just as you might expect, this is a very rich brownie, served warm, and topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. i have ordered this dessert a few times before, and it is always delicious.

my wife choose the blondie. like my selection, this is a pretty straight forward dessert. it is also served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel. this was the first time either of us had ordered the blondie, and we both really liked it. being that the desserts are quite large, my wife was unable to finish hers, and i was allowed a good portion of it.

upon finishing our desserts, we settled the bill, and hit the restrooms. at baileys, this can be quite an adventure.
the restrooms are located down an extremely steep flight of stairs, and the ceiling in the basement is very low. after a few drinks, making it down the stairs safely can be a real task!

as usual, baileys did not disappoint us. in the future, i would like to try baileys for a full meal. their selection of cheeses looks very promising, and the pizzetas and sandwiches all sound very interesting. look for a future blog featuring, but certainly not excluding, the non dessert side of baileys!

Bailey's Chocolate Bar on Urbanspoon

eleven eleven mississippi, st louis mo
1111 mississippi, st louis mo
thursday, september 30, 2010, 5:30-6:40

taking its name from its street address, eleven eleven mississippi features cuisine inspired by both tuscan and northern californian cooking. the restaurant is located in historic layfayette square, which is one of st louis oldest neighborhoods. we arrived around 5:30 on this thursday, and were seated immediately without a reservation.
the restaurant was originally a brick warehouse, and although it has been completely renovated, you can still tell its origins. restaurant is a loft style, with three tiers set up for dining. we were seated on the second tier with a great view of the open kitchen.
menus were delivered, water was poured, and our pleasant server gave us a few minutes to look things over. it turns out a three course menu with wine pairings is offered on thursday nights. if we were not on our way to a show at the pageant, we would have most definitely gone that route.
my wife, in need of caffeine, opted for a pepsi as her beverage. my beer choice for the evening was stella artois, a belgian lager style beer that i am very familiar with.

we kicked things off with an incredible assortment of regional cheeses and cured meats. the board featured 3 types of cheese, a white cheddar bathed in port wine, a fontina, and a cheese infused with sun dried tomatoes and basil. for the meats, salami and prosciutto were offered. also on the board was fresh bread, almonds, walnuts, strawberries, grapes, raisins, and a delicious mustard based spread. everything on the board was great, but the white cheddar soaked in port was the standout for me.  the board was easily big enough for four people, but we finished with no problems.
after the meat and cheese board, a warm bread topped with caramelized onions was brought to the table. the bread was served with olive oil and parmesan cheese for dipping. the bread was delicious on its own, as well as dipped. as usual, i consumed more of it than was necessary.
my entree for the evening was the shellfish fettuccine. the dish was comprised of mussels, scallops, shrimp, clams, tomatoes, and eggplant. it was covered in a spicy cream sauce. as you can see, there was no shortage of seafood, and the sauce had just the right amount of spice so as not to overpower the seafood's delicate flavors. overall, the dish was great. as far as spicy seafood pastas go, i would rate this amongst the best i have had.
my wife's entree for the evening was the potato encrusted alaskan halibut. the dish was served in a lobster buerre blanc, and was accompanied by roasted spaghetti squash and snow pea pods. the dish was a hit with the wife, and i was only allowed a small bite, which was good.

being that we had a show at the pageant to attend, we skipped dessert and settled the bill. this was our second visit to eleven eleven, and it definitely lived up to our memories of our first meal.

Eleven Eleven Mississippi on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 23, 2010

niche, st louis mo
1831 sidney street, st louis mo
thursday, september 23, 2010, 8:30pm-10:30pm

niche, located in the historic soulard neighborhood, features the cuisine of head chef/owner gerard craft. the menu is dynamic, with only the freshest seasonal ingredients being used. this would be our third visit to niche, and we have yet to have a disappointing experience .

after enjoying a cocktail and cheese plate at taste, the small plates style restaurant next door to niche, we arrived just in time for our 8:30 reservation. we were seated at a two top in the middle of the bustling dining room. i do not believe there was a single empty seat in the house on this thurday night. we were greated almost immediately by our very pleasant waitress, who presented us with menus and a wine list.
niche has three menu options. al a carte, a three course option, or a five course tasting menu. the five course menu was very tempting, but with trips to chicago and boston on the horizon, we decided to hold back and go for the three course.
to accompany our meal, we selected a bottle of the trenel chardonnay, a lighter bodied white wine that was versatile enough to pair with our entire meal.

at each of our visits to niche, a different house made bread has been featured. tonights bread was a wonderful focaccia. the bread was served warm, and was very soft, yet incredibly dense. no spread was offered with the bread, which was a complete non-issuse. the bread easily stood on its own, and i consumed four or five pieces over the course of our meal.

shortly thereafter, our first courses arrived. i selected the sweetbreads (thymus), which i found to be delicious. they were served with a salad of cabbage, bacon, dates, and cider. this was my first experience with sweetbreads, and i would not hesitate to order them again.
my wife opted for the green bean salad, which featured peaches, and charred fava beans. she enjoyed the dish, however, given the other options, i would have chosen several of the other offerings ahead of the salad. i tried one of the peaches. it tasted like a peach.
for our entree courses, we each selected the surf and turf. niche's take on this dish was scallops and pork belly. the white sauce is a cauliflower puree, and the strip across the bottom of the plate is a spicy serrano paste. the dish was incredible. the delicate flavor of the scallops paired nicely with the cauliflower puree, and the bold taste of the pork belly was enhanced by the spicy serrano.
after polshing off my plate, and even eating a portion of my wife's pork belly, we were presented with a list of after dinner drinks to go with our desserts. my wife had a cappucino, and i went with a scotch. my selection for the night was the balvenie 12 year doublewood, a palatable speyside scotch with a nice sweetness to it. if i can find one flaw with niche, it is their scotch prices are on the high side. $16 for a macallan 12 year is a joke.
after a few minutes of enjoying our drinks, our desserts arrived. my selection was the liquid chocolate cake. served with an espresso cardamon ice cream, the liquid chocolate cake is my favorite type of dessert, being both hot and cold. upon cutting into the rich cake, a molten lava of chocolate pours out. paired with the coffee flavored ice cream, the dessert was delectable.
my wife's dessert selection was the brown sugar cake with apple terrine and apple cider ice cream. she deemed it to be delicious, and few bites i was allowed were indeed wonderful.
after an evening of wine and rich food, carrie is overwhelmed and ready for bed!
as the restuarant emptied out, i was able to snap a few shots of niche's dining room.

the decor at niche is minimalistic and modern in design. you would never guess you were in the soulard district of st louis.

as i stated before, this was our third visit to niche. we both determined that this was the best meal we have had there to date. the service was friendly and on point, and the food on notch above our previous meals there. we hope to make it back to niche often to try new offerings as the menu changes.

Niche on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

cicero's, st louis mo

cicero's is an italian restuarant on the u-city loop, that is most well known for its beer list. they have 53 beers on tap that are constantly changing, as well as around 150 or so in bottles. ciceros is also a venue for live music, but i have yet to make it to a show there.
we parked behind the restuarant, and entered through the back door. making our way through the bar to the hostess stand, i noticed the seemingly neverending row of beer taps. being that it was around 4:30 on a thursday, the place was pretty empty. we were given the option of eating inside or outside. it was a nice day, but we still opted to dine indoors. we were led to a table in the window overlooking delmar blvd. this would make for some good people watching as we ate.
the interior of the restuarant is fairly bland, but this it not the kind of place you come to for the decor or the atmosphere. i have been here later in the evening before a show at the pageant, and it gets pretty busy.
our waitress delivered our menus along with some water, and i perused the beer menu. at ciceros, a pitcher of beer is cheaper than buying 3 beers separately, so it is hard to not go that route. i decided on the la chouffe, an unfiltered belgian blonde beer. it had a nice fruity flavor to it with a light hop taste. very nice!
being that it was approaching five o'clock, and neither of us had eaten a proper meal for the day, we were starving. we went for 2 pounds of hot wings to start.
they were everything i could ask for in a hot wing. slightly crispy on the outside, with a sauce with plenty of heat, but also flavor. we ate the entire plate with ease.
for our pizza, we chose the rajin cajun, which features andouille sausage, onions, red peppers, and a cajun alfredo sauce instead of tomato sauce. we went for the thick crust as opposed to the thin crust they also offer. the pizza was great. the cajun alfredo sauce gave the pizza a nice kick, and worked well with the sausage and vegetables. the crust had a good bite to it, and was a formidable base for the pie. we ate most of the pizza, but did have two slices left over to take home. overall, ciceros is a great place for a casual meal. the pizza and wings are slightly above average, but the beer list is what really sets ciceros apart from any other pizza place in st louis.

Cicero's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

pi, st louis mo

i had the day off today, and the wife and i were in the mood for pizza. We had heard good things about pi, so we decided to try it out for "linner". (that's lunch and dinner combined for you non seinfeld watchers)
pi is located in a great area of st. louis known as the university city loop. the loop features an interesting variety of shops, ethnic restaurants, and the best venue in st louis for live music, the pageant. we arrived at pi around 5pm, and the place was almost empty. there were a few guys at the bar, and one other table seated. pi has 3 rooms in total, with a good amount of seating indoors, as well as tables outside. we opted to sit inside and were led to a two top in the far room.
pi has a nice modern feel to it with wood floors and interesting decor.
our waitress greeted us right away, and presented us with our menus. pi has a great selection of cocktails, and over 20 beers on draft.
my wife opted for a soda, and i chose the new belgium mothership wit, an organically produced wheat beer from colorado. i very much enjoyed the nice balance of both sweet and sour flavors of this beer.
we started with the roc city wings, which we found to be decent but were expecting a buffalo style wing with hot sauce, so these were a little disappointing. pi has a few nice choices for salads, and next time we will definitely go that route instead.
for our pizza, we went for a large deep dish. pi has several specialty pizzas, but we opted to make our own, and kept it pretty simple. in addition to the mozzarella cheese, we had asiago cheese and prosciutto, as well as olives on my wife's half.
the pizza is a true chicago style deep dish, with the sauce on top of the cheese. what sets pi's pie apart from the rest is its crust. it is a delicious cornmeal crust that is a great texture, not too crispy, not too soft. i was able to finish only three pieces before feeling extremely full.
being that pi is a green restaurant, our left overs were delivered in a biodegradable box.

overall, we enjoyed our meal at pi, and will definitely return.

Pi on Urbanspoon