Tuesday, September 20, 2011

truffles - st. louis, mo

9202 clayton road
st. louis, mo 63124

although truffles has been a mainstay in the clayton/ladue dining scene for the past ten years or so, it was only recently that it seriously entered my restaurant radar. i had browsed the menu a few times in the past (which if i recall correctly relied heavily on steaks), and nothing offered seemed any different from what one could have elsewhere. within the last year, however, truffles has switched its concept to modern italian fare, and enlisted chef john griffiths to achieve that goal. griffiths' philosophy is to source as many local ingredients as possible, and to keep things fresh and seasonal. all of these factors coupled with multiple tweets from gerard craft prasing the excellence currently happening at truffles bumped the establishment up to first on our must try list.

arrving about twenty minutes early for our 8pm reservation, we made our way through a parking lot full of german cars and checked in with the friendly hostess who seated us immediately. although maybe a bit dated, truffles large dining room is attractive and comfortable. i had read a few reviews on yelp commenting that the lighting was too bright, which made me chuckle. while i definitely place a lot of value in romantic quality time with my wife, when dining, food is the priority, and i like to actually be able to see what i am eating. we were greeted promptly by our server for the evening, and upon selecting house water, were given some time with both the menu and wine list. having perused the online menu prior to our arrival, ordering was done in no time.

for wine, we opted to begin with a nice bubbly gruner veltliner. this was our first encounter with a sparkling veltliner, and it was lovely with sweet and acidic notes of apple, peach, and citrus. for the heartier courses, i had a nice california zinfandel with flavors of jam and spice, while carrie selected a light bodied pinot noir.

served before our starters was a fresh from the oven and piping hot bread offering. accompanied by a nice pesto spread, the bread boasted a perfectly crispy crust and wonderfully soft interior, and was gone very quickly. we were offered more later on, but declined as we knew we had a lot more eating to do.

moving along to the starters, pictured above was the dramatic presentation of roasted bone marrow with pistachios and capers. served on large wooden plank, the unctuous marrow was characteristically fatty and was great on its own or spread on the bread provided.

our second starter came with high praises from our server, and did not disappoint. here we have beets with
petite greens, spiced pistachios, goats milk dressing, caciocavallo. beets are not something i order often for some reason, and after this dish, i may have to reassess my choices in the future.

after the starters, we opted for a pair of pastas. this was the course i was most excited for, as one of my favorite things is a well executed fresh pasta dish. above is the spaghetti carbonara with guanciale, pepper, egg yolk, and pecorino romano. cracking open the egg yolk and digging in with high hopes, i was not let down it the least. the jowl bacon was salty and savory, the pasta was perfectly toothsome, and the cheese and egg yolk added a welcomed final layer to the dish.

our second pasta selection was the maccheroni verde with lamb ragu, pesto trapanese, and pecorino romano. this dish fared just as well as the carbonara, with a savory lamb ragu and a slightly sweeter than standard pesto sauce. carrie deemed this one her favorite of the duo, but i would have to call the pasta course a draw, with both offerings being phenomenal.

after the successful starters and pastas, of main entrees had a lot to live up to. i opted for the beef shortrib plated with ragu genovese, golden tomatoes, and chanterelles. with all the entrees choices sounding excellent, my selections came after much deliberation. served with the bone still connected, the short rib was very tender and flavorful, and was delicious on its own or eaten in combination with the sweet golden tomatoes and rustic chanterrelle mushrooms.

entrees come with the choice of one side, and i went with the gnocchi romano with smoked ricotta. expecting the standard preparation of gnocchi which is firm and made with potato, i was initially a bit confused when this arrived in front of me (i read romano in the description and thought cheese as opposed to roman style). after one bite, however, any uncertainty i had was gone. the gnocchi was fantastic with a great creamy texture and ricotta cheese flavor.

being in the mood for seafood, carrie's entree was the day boat scallops with a blueberry mostarda. well cooked and full of flavor, the scallops were delicious, and the sweet blueberries really elevated this offering from good to great.

for her side, carrie had the polenta with pancetta, honey, and chives. being very full after finishing my entree and some of carrie's, i did not taste this dish, but carrie said it was "good."

after finishing our mains and chatting with our server for a bit, a pair of desserts was sent out on the house to show appreciation for my photo taking and future review. often times i am a bit let down by dessert, but that was not the case on this night. pictured above is the buttermilk panna cotta with compressed melon, mint, and pistachios. while the melon was a little bit lacking in flavor, the smooth panna cotta was fantastic, and seemed to have a slight orange flavor to it.

along with the panna cotta, we were served a fantastic dark chocolate tort with espresso crumbles and gianduja gelato. featuring a crisp chocolate crust with a creamy interior, the tart was further enhanced by the espresso crumbles, which did much in terms of both taste and texture. the geltato was just icing on the cake with a sweet and slightly nutty chocolate flavor.

after our meal, our server asked me if i could offer any constructive criticism, and at the time, i was unable to come up with anything negative to say. reflecting back at our meal a day later, i am still struggling to find something to take issue with. from a service standpoint, truffles delivered, with everyone from the hostess to the food runners to the manager being extremely welcoming and friendly. our water was always full and our server was knowledgable and had a good grasp on the menu. as for the food, we obviously really enjoyed everything, and the prices for both food and wine were more than fair. this meal without a doubt ranks in our top five in the st. louis area, and truffles has definitely earned a spot in our restaurant rotation.

Truffles St. Louis on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Good review. I haven't been to Truffles for ages - it had gotten kind of long in the tooth, IMO. I've heard good things about the new chef, though, and your review certainly confirms it's worth going back there again. Thanks.