Friday, November 19, 2010

Cafe Provencal

If you're looking for a cozy spot to enjoy French comfort food a good spot to consider is Cafe Provencal in Kirkwood.
Eddie Neill has created a warm environment with a really nice menu and wine list that's affordable and very tasty as well.

We were there last night and enjoyed our visit alot. It happened to be a wine tasting party night and the place was jammed. Since my Honey is a non drinker we didn't partake of the wines and the amazing buffet of foods that were available to the participants, but it sure looked good.

However, we were well taken care of by the staff.  We had a lovely table in a quiet alcove, an attentive waiter, and a responsive kitchen.

I had a really cold, crunchy and well dressed Caesar Salad to start, and Chuck had his favorite Escargot. The menu describes the dish as follows," Six Naughty Little Snails, Swimming Naked in a Pool of Fennel Garlic Butter." I think the word "naked" does it every time-no shells to wrestle with, the snails are served in a round snail dish with six round depressions filled with these very nice sized snails and plenty of that delicious fennel garlic butter that can be sopped up by the excellent bread that is on the table.

For dinner Chuck had Poulet DeBergerac,Chicken Breast in Puff Pastry and White Wine Cream Sauce.  I had Porc Grille Poivre Verte which consisted of Grilled Pork Loin with Green Peppercorns and Red Wine Reduction.  Both entrees were served with a medley of broccoli, carrots and asparagus.  This is homey, delicious food that was perfect on a cool Autumn night.

We opted for the 3 course dinners at $34 per person.  Dessert was our next choice.  I had a wonderful, soothing Mousse au Chocolat with Creme Anglais and my husband had the Creme Brulee. 

This is a pleasant and peaceful place to have a really nice dinner and actually be able to talk and hear your companion(s), and relax.

Cafe Provencal
427 South Kirkwood Road

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rue Lafayette Cafe' and Boutique

Yesterday was one of those gorgeous Fall days we've been having lately: blue, blue skies, warm temperatures, plus the maples have finally turned brilliant colors. How can you beat it?

My friend, Peggy and I decided to try this cafe' on the edge of Lafayette Park. It was the perfect day to take advantage of this glorious weather by having lunch outdoors at Rue Lafayette Cafe' 2026 Lafayette Ave. that overlooks the gazebo in Lafayette Park.

We had a delightful experience, not to mention a very good lunch.

We both chose the same lunch; Homemade Chicken Salad on a fresh Ciabbata Roll.  It came with a side of delicious Potato Salad.  The chicken salad was unlike any I've had.  It had pimientos, herbs, eggs, and a wonderful dressing.  The potato salad was also unique with a mustardy dressing, herbs, bacon; really, really good.  The portions are generous.  Peggy and I both commented that we should have shared our sandwich.

The menu is small and changes often, so there's no menu per se, but next to the register that is behind a case of delicious looking ( and sounding!) sweets, where you place your order, is what looks like little rectangles of paper with what is available that day.  We had our choice of a quiche and a pulled pork sandwich besides the chicken salad. There was also a pomegranate green iced tea available that they refill at no extra cost. Since it was a warm day there was no soup available, but it will reappear with the cooler temperatures, we were assured.

There's a big board on one wall that lists their coffee drinks. The coffee is wonderful. It's Caffe' Trieste, North Beach Blend from San Francisco.  It's full bodied yet mellow, a great combination.

We met and talked to the beautiful owner, Araceli Kopiloff-Zimmer, who comes from Uruguay, and her son, Pablo, who is the chef. They have traveled all over the world.  Araceli is a fashion designer who used to work for  Levi-Strauss in San Francisco and her job made international foodies out of them.  
So much so that they import Chocolate Croissants from Paris which they finish baking and glazing in the cafe' and serve warm. Yum!

We asked her what brought them to St Louis.  She came here to work for Macy's, met her future husband here, who is a St Louis native, and they moved into the Lafayette Square neighborhood which they love it.

What they have created here with very good food and a charming, eclectic shop, is a treasure.  Be sure to meet them both and hear their great stories. It will only add to your enjoyment of this delightful place.

Rue Lafayette Cafe' and Boutique

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sidney Street Cafe

When was the last time you tried Sidney Street Cafe'?  My answer until last year was maybe 15 years. Why was that?  Sidney Street had consistently been on the top favorite restaurant lists in St Louis publications, yet it wasn't on mine.  Then one night a year ago last April, Chuck and I decided to try it again. We walked in without a reservation, sat in the bar, luckily found a table and were blown away by the food, and the service.

What had changed?  Well, for one thing the restaurant had been sold to Kevin Nashan, a young chef with ambitious plans. Those plans were to keep the best of this popular place, like the menu favorites, the professional wait staff that had been with the restaurant for years and years, and then gradually add his own touches in the daily specials, but to do so slowly; to wait and watch.

When Chuck and I walked in that first night, Kevin had owned the restaurant five years and his touch was already working.  Since then he has added a vegetable garden in raised beds at the edge of his parking lot that he planted with the aid of his Sidney Street neighbors, whom he enlisted in the project. They even helped him weed, pinch, and harvest, which helped keep those beds from being vandalized.  Kevin has also remodeled the kitchen and added a smoke room in the basement so he can smoke his own meats and make his own sausages.

We've been back many times since. Sometimes we make reservations, sometimes we take our chances in the bar.  I love the bar area; it's a great people watching area, the light is a bit higher and the noise level most nights is lower.

We went again last night and here's my report.  This is a must-go-to place.  Not only is the food outstanding but the wait staff is amazing.  These are dedicated people, not people who are waiting tables until something better comes along. You only see this kind of devotion to the philosophy of a restaurant very rarely.

I was very hungry last night, Chuck had a late lunch and he was not, so he had an appetizer for dinner.  His was a Confit of Sweetbreads on a Bed of Celery Root Puree' with Apple Cider reduction, Spiced Pecans on Swiss Chard greens.

I had Grilled Honey Mustard Shrimp consisting of 5 bacon wrapped shrimp and a yummy honey mustard dipping sauce.  My Honey had a couple of those and we both loved them. Instead of the usual bread basket, they serve a basket of hot beignets that are addictive.

My main dish was Pecan Encrusted Rabbit and Rabbit Sausage on a bed of the most incredible Farm Vegetables; Brussell Sprouts, carrots, radishes, turnips, etc., in a delicious au jus with micro greens from Claverach Farms on top.  This was a remarkable dish.  I've never had better rabbit.

I'm perfectly aware that there are folks who cannot tolerate the thought of eating rabbit, so allow me to assure you that there are many, many more scrumptious dishes to be enjoyed at Sidney Street Cafe'.
Take a look at the menu on their website which you will find at the end of this entry; you won't be disappointed.

For dessert we opted for the Maple Flan with Chestnut Blini, Bourbon Pecan Compote, Apples and Maple Sugar.  a perfect Fall dessert.

This is a special place.  Kevin's wife, Mina, who is lovely, is there every night to see that everything runs smoothly.  His brother, Chris, is the manager, and we've only had the most friendly and accomplished waiters and waitresses.

So, if, like us, you haven't been there in a while please give it a try.  Let me know what you think.

The Sidney Street Cafe'
2000 Sidney Street