Thursday, February 2, 2012

the crossing - clayton, mo
7823 forsyth blvd
clayton, mo 63105

the crossing is probably the st. louis based restaurant that has been on my radar the longest amount of time but has kept being put off for something new, more interesting, or potentially better.  i am not sure if it the lackluster website, the relatively low amount of reviews on yelp, or the similarities in menu style to acero (not necessarily bad) that have prevented me from pulling the trigger on making a reservation at the crossing, but for one reason or another such a thing has not occurred. that is until i was prompted by my father to pick a spot to celebrate my 27th birthday. still not able to fully commit to the restaurant, i put the choice in the hands of my mother and father, with the stipulation that they choose between home wine kitchen, truffles, or the crossing. the choice that was made is obvious given the title of this post, and finally i would experience a meal at the crossing.

the crossing is one of three restaurants (acero and lilluma are the others) owned by st. louis native chef jim fiala. having spent time in the kitchens of chicago's haute italian restaurant spiaggia and daniel boulud's eponymous michelin three starred restaurant on new york's upper east side, chef fiala's pedigree certainly speaks for itself. combine that with the three excellent meals i have had at his maplewood restaurant acero and it suddenly begins to seem quite silly that it has taken me this long to visit his clayton located flagship.

regretfully, this meal was eaten before i even began writing my posts on my new york city eating adventure, and as such will lack the detail it most certainly deserves.
bypassing the valet, we easily found free parking right around the corner, and my mother and father along with my brother chris and wife carrie made our way into the restaurant. we were seated at a round table overlooking forsyth boulevard, and were greeted by a very pleasant female server who proceeded to explain the menu in detail. while al a carte orders can easily be accommodated, the best way to order at the crossing is by way of their four course tasting menus. there are two available, the crossing tasting menu and the premium tasting menu (each with multiple choices per course), however not only can they be mixed together at the diners whim, but options from the al a carte menu can often be served in a smaller portion with the tasting. wine flights are also offered, and everyone in the table opted in. i am unable to comment on any other wines at this point, but they were certainly all enjoyable, and were different for each person based on their order.

i will note here that i forgot to photograph the bread offerings, which came in the form of crisps with a fantastically tangy bleu cheese souffle for dipping as well as a basic french bread with a smooth and sweet butter.

 my first course was the yellowfin tuna tartare with caviar, fennel pollen, and olive oil. this was an excellent opener with the brine of the caviar mixing nicely with the meaty tuna.

carrie's meal began with a beet salad plated with goat cheese, pine-nuts, shallots, and a cherry vinaigrette.

moving along to heavier appetizers, my choice was the foie gras with banyuls vinegar and wilted greens. expecting a cold preparation of foie, i was surprised and exciting when this seared lobe of duck liver was placed before me. unctuous, rich, and savory to be certain, i savored this course and finished well after everybody else.

similar to a dish i have had at acero a few times prior, carrie selected the egg raviolo with spinach and three cheeses for her second course.

opting for the veal sweetbread with sunchoke stuffing and celery puree, i have to say i was disappointed in this overall. the glands were tasty, but there were only a few bites of actual meat, and i found the stuffing to be mushy and unappealing texturally. this dish was not a complete failure by any stretch, and would have been a lot better if one extra gland had been added and the sunchoke stuffing switched out with a different component.

carrie selected the beef tenderloin as her entree, and really seemed to enjoy it. served along with the beef was a pomme puree, rapini, fall vegetables, and a sauce bordelaise.

for the sweet stuff, i chose the pear tarte with cinnamon ice cream. this came with heavy praise from our server, and definitely ended my evening on a positive chord!

carrie's dessert choice was the cinnamon coffee cake with creme anglaise and vanilla ice cream.

in the end, the success rate for my courses was three out of four while carrie's was a perfect four for four. to me, this makes our experience at the crossing a positive one. the rest of my family seemed to really enjoy everything they had as well, as they all left happy and satisfied. will carrie and i return to the crossing at some point? hard to say for sure. i am glad that we finally tried the place, and while most of the food was excellent, i tend to only repeat places that i find either incredibly awesome or particularly cost effective. being that there are still a few spots of interest in st. louis that we haven't tried yet (not to mention the places we would repeat ahead of the crossing) coupled with the number of trips to chicago i have in the works, i would be shocked if carrie and i booked another table at the crossing in 2012.
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