Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Farmhaus

This tiny restaurant is one of the best things that has come to St Louis this year. Kevin Willmann, chef and owner, has created a foodie's oasis on Ivanhoe Avenue between Bradley and Fyler.

His concept is simple; the best ingredients he can find, used in fresh and imaginative ways, served beautifully and when ready.

The place holds about 50 people.  There's a bar room that has about 3 more tables of 4 and there are stools at the bar that might hold 8 more.  During the warm months he has a few tables on the sidewalk in front.

Eating here is an unbelivable treat. The menu changes daily, so what I describe here may not be available when you look at the menu, but that is part of the charm of this place.

Eric Scholle is the manager and a great personality for the front of the house.  He knows all the ingredients, where they come from, and he's wonderfully helpful when you just can't make up your mind.

I have to admit that we've been there for dinner at least once a week since Kevin Nashan, chef and owner of Sidney Street Cafe, told us about it,  unless we've been out of town. I can't wait to see what's on the menu.  It's all delicious.

The menu selections are so enticing that I find myself ordering all sorts of small plates because I don't want to miss anything. For instance last week I had the Roasted Ozark Forrest Mushroom Salad.  It consisted of Terra Bella Farms greens, with goat cheese and toasted pecans and was served warm with a hot bacon vin. Then I chose the Peach Salad, after all, this is peach season and it doesn't last nearly long enough.  This was made with Grandpa's  Berry Farm peaches, house ricotta, with a raspberry-honey vin balsamic reduction. My next choice was the Fried Green Tomatoes; Fournie tomatoes and okra, with a bacon goat cheese dressing. I never got to the fish or the Chilled Roast Beef with Horseradish panna cotta, that came with a truffle espuma ( whipped cream with truffle juices), I was just too full. 

Fortunately for me, we were with friends and they shared their Blue-Green Snapper(Uku) that was roasted in duck fat, and was served over the most melt in your mouth creamed corn I have ever tasted, with tomato comfit, oven dried tomatoes and a choron sauce (which is a hollandaise sauce tinted pink with tomatoes). The other entree was the Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with mashed sweet and Yukon Gold poatatoes, sous vide pearl onions ( that means that the pearl onions were cooked for a very long time at a low temperature until they becomes creamy and yummy), and tomato sauce.  Both guys at our table loved it.

By that time we could only share dessert, and the choice was a peach dessert in a flakey pastry with a homemade peach sorbet.

This will not be my only report about this fabulous restaurant.  We have a date to introduce some other friends to it next week.  Keep tuned, and take a look at their website.

The Farmhaus
3257 Ivanhoe Ave
St Louis, MO 63139

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Terrace View

Last night was one of those rare, beautiful evenings when the temperature was perfect, there was a soft breeze, and we had a glorious view of the City Garden. It doesn't get much better than that.  This little jewel of a restaurant is a lovely spot day or night.
Jimmy Fiala and his chefs have created an oasis of excellent dining in downtown St. Louis. The menu offers all one could want if you're looking for fresh, local foods in reasonable portions for moderate prices. And who isn't?

Last night I chose thin slices of white raw tuna, dressed in lemon and olive oil with a collection of tiny red and yellow cherry tomatoes.  The tuna was delectable and the olive oil was of very high quality. It was simple and utterly delicious with tiny bits of a local yellow watermelon to give it a sweetness and texture that contrasted well with the tuna.  I followed that with scallops with a tomato and basil salad.  The scallops were crispy brown top and bottom and served on individual pieces of thick smoked bacon.  The textures and the flavors were perfect, with the tomato salad giving the whole a sweet, acidic flavor that enhanced the entire dish.
One of our friends had the gnudi, that I can only describe as a pasta that literally melts in your mouth. You must try it.

We chose a dessert called "Monkey Bread" and it was the best bread-type pudding, ever; dense, sweet and buttery.

The menu changes often with the offerings of the farms around this region.  We are so blessed to have a restaurant of this quality and moderately priced in our city that overlooks the lovely City Garden, Gateway Foundation's amazing and beautiful gift to all of us.

The Terrace View
810 Chestnut Street

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stellina Pasta Cafe

Last Friday my husband and I tried Stellina Pasta Cafe for lunch.  Years ago when the Clayton Farmers' market was on Central Ave between Forsyth and Maryland, Stellina had a booth there and I loved his pasta.  It was always fresh tasting with fascinating fillings.  Now he is located at 3342 Watson Rd. near Fyler.  All the pasta is handcrafted and it shows in the flavor and texture.

However, Stellina has other selections on its menu so we decided to try something new.  I am into salads, big time these hot summer days, so I ordered the BIG SALAD, which consists of romaine,spinach,cucumber,red onion,carrots, turkey,ham,bacon,white cheddar,sunflower sprouts,and a sweet onion dressing.  It was a fabulous salad, and so beautiful. Every component was delicious in its own right. It came with grilled bread and made for a perfect lunch.

My husband chose the HOG WILD sandwich. A great combination of shaved ham, bacon,granny smith apple, white cheddar,sweet hot mustard on a peasant bread and grilled.  He loved it.  It came with a homemade slaw that was crunchy and creamy with a touch of sweetness.

Stellina has been touted for its SOUTH SIDE SMOKE  sandwich; pulled pork with caramelized onions, smoked gouda cheese on a sea salt ciabatta.  It looked awesome.

By all means you must try this restaurant for lunch as well as dinner.  Naturally, the dinner menu has more formal entrees and I read somewhere that their wine selections are wonderful and they run specials on them from Tuesday through Thursdays.  Give Stellinas a try-soon!

Stellinas Pasta Cafe
3342 Watson Rd

Monday, August 9, 2010

Garduno's Mexican Food

My friend Peggy and I went to Cherokee Street last Wednesday. A couple of weeks ago St Louis was featured in the New York Times Travel Section called 36 Hours in St Louis where they mentioned Cherokee Street as a fun place to spend the afternoon.

I had read some time ago about a Mexican restaurant that is a favorite with many Mexicans and that many a lunch time there's a line waiting for tables. My husband doesn't like what he calls "Foreign Food" meaning anything that isn't Italian, French or American Regional ( and PS he doesn't eat all of those either!), so I had been looking for a buddy to check this place out.

So Peggy and I made this date to investigate what Cherokee Street had to offer, and to go to this Mexican restaurant for lunch. Here I need to make a confession. The restaurant I thought I was going to was not where we ended up. We ended up at a place called Garduno's Mexican Restaurant 2737 Cherokee Street 314-776-2315.  There were about 10 booths for 4 covered in orange "leather", and about 4-6 tables down the center of the room. While we were there the TV was tuned to a Spanish station. It was neither loud or obtrusive.

We each ordered a combination platter so we could try different things.

Peggy's was a Burrito, an Enchilada, and a Tamale. You have your choice of hot or mild sauce; Peg chose half and half.  I orderd a Taco, Chile Relleno, and Burrito with hot sauce. We also ordered a small Guacamole.

The Tamale was authentically wrapped in a fresh corn husk and was quite good. The Burrito and Enchilada tasted pretty much the same-we couldn't distinguish the difference between them. The taco was crisp but also indistinguishable, but the Chili Rellenos was wonderful. I also liked the Guacamole. It came with fresh tomato and chopped onion on top and was well seasoned. Although we were in the"wrong" place, we had a fine time.