Thursday, April 28, 2011

Farmhaus Restaurant

Back again. We can't seem to get enough of a good thing and that is what the Farmhaus Restaurant is.  Kevin Willmann has been voted one of the   NEW BEST CHEFS 2011 by Food and Wine Magazine. This is a very prestigious honor and well deserved.

We were lucky to be able to sit at the bar tonight so I could watch Kevin and his crew at work in the kitchen.

It's Spring and the menu reflects the beginnings of this glorious season. Tonight I started with the Grilled Asparagus Salad.  Hurry over to the Farmhaus before the asparagus season is over! This salad is a winner.
It's described on the menu as" Hearty Terra Bella Farms greens,Baetje Farms Goat Cheese, Crispy Shallots, Grilled Ramps (baby wild leeks), Caesar Dressin'". It is the perfect melange of the fresh tastes of Spring plus the texture of the crispy shallots with the smoky grilled asparagus and the creamy goat cheese is perfect.

For my main course I had Pensacola Cobia, Grilled, with Spoonbread( and no one makes spoonbread like Kevin!) Grilled Ramps (I love them, and they really have a short season)  Savory Creme Anglaise, with a Radish and Herb Salad.  It was superb. Flaky and perfectly grilled, cobia is a fish that has a slightly sweet finish and with the swiss chard and sorrel that made up the herb salad, it gave it just a hint of bitterness that made it even more interesting,  and then this incredible sauce gave you the feeling of pure luxury in your mouth. Wow.

Dessert was Strawberry Rhubarb Tart. This consisted of a small fluted fried empanada tart filled with the strawberries and rhubarb in an orange confit, and strawberry semi-freddo with orange marmalade on top.

My Honey had his perennial favorite, Kevin's famous Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Sweet and Yukon Smashed Potatoes, Pearl Onions and Tomato-Merlot Reduction.  He started with Conch Fritters. There were three of them served with a Roasted Corn, Jalapeno, Sriracha Mayonnaise. I forgot to ask about the Srirach, so the next time you're there be sure to find out what it is and let me know. All I do know is that we loved them.

Farmhaus Restaurant
3257 Ivanhoe Avenue

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bocci Bar

Last night we decided to try out the "new kid in the block" Bocci Bar at 16 North Central Avenue in downtown Clayton.  It's always exciting when a restaurant opens and this one promises to be a welcome addition.  Frank Schmitz, the owner of the highly popular tapas bar Barcelona, has created an informal northern Italian dining experience that gives a modern spin to Italian comfort food.

I particularly liked the way the floor to ceiling glass doors open to the sidewalk.  It was a beautiful, warm night, and the excitement of finally having some decent weather was reflected in the number of people eating outside as well as those seated inside the open doors inside the restaurant.

We were seated at the banquet that runs most of the length of the north wall. It was extremely comfortable and even though we were seated next to a larger party, the acoustics were fine; my Honey and I did not need to shout at one another in order to have a conversation.

I started my meal with a Caprese Salad. The tomatoes were enormous! Even though they were winter tomatoes the creaminess of the house made mozzarella and the balsamic dressing made it a very good choice. I followed that with Veal Scalloppini with Sweet Peas, Spring Onions and Ramps. Ramps are actually wild leeks and are only available in the very early Spring, so this was a real treat.  The veal was thicker than the usual scaloppini, but it was tender and had the most delicious gravy that I had to use a slice of the ciabatta, that is served in a cone cylinder at every table, to sop it up.

Chuck opted for the Italian Fish Stew. It was a generous serving of halibut, mussels, calamari and shrimp in a tomato saffron broth.  He loved it. The broth was heavenly ( I got a taste ) and it was loaded with seafood.

For dessert we shared Citrus Tiramisu. It's listed as a "modern spring twist on the Italian classic", and it was. It is light and quite refreshing. It was served with two delicious cookies that were made by Frank's sister, Ellen Schmitz, who runs Mosaic Bistro and Market next door to Bocci. They are made with white chocolate and orange and they're really good, plus there was a chocolate dipped biscotti.

The coffee at Bocci is really wonderful. Each cup is made individually on a wonderful European espresso machine that dispenses a shot ( or two for a double ) of either regular or decaffeinated espresso.
The flavor is fantastic. I hadn't had coffee like that since my last trip to Italy.

Chuck and I decided to have full dinners, but you can choose from crostini, antipastos, salads, soups, pizzas, flatbreads, pastas, and full entrees and just mix, match and share from all of these items.

So do come and try out our new neighbor and see what all the excitement is about.

Bocci Bar
16 North Central Avenue

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Salume Beddu

For our regular Friday date, Chuck and I went to Salume Beddu,  which had just announced that they will be serving lunch this week.

I had been buying their products at the Clayton Farmers' Market for a couple of years and was delighted that they had found a permanent location. These two young men, Mark Sanfilippo and Ben Poremba, are immensely talented.

I was so happy to find them. Mark makes these unbelievably wonderful homemade crackers that I hoard during the winter months when I had not been able to get them. Now all I have to do is to drive to their new place of business and voila' there they are.

Ben is dedicated to curing and creating delicious salame, coppa, speck ( a kind of proscuitto), salsiccia, soppressatas, roasted pork belly, whatever. All the meats at Salume Beddu are made in house.  In fact, right on the sign over their establishment  it says, Salume Beddu, Artisan Cured Meats, Established 2007.

What they have created is a place where you can get not only delicious house cured meats and fabulous crackers, but very special, interesting cheeses, antipasto ingredients, imported pastas, Zursun heirloom beans grown in Idaho, Mediterranean inspired side dishes, and amazing bread from Red Guitar, by the baker, Alex Carlson. The crust is incredible.

Mark and Ben have put up a communal table at one end of their establishment, so while you're enjoying your delicious meal, you can visit with the other diners. There were some very serious foodies there when we were there and every one of them was delighted with his or her choices.

Chuck and I tried a bunch of the offerings.  He had Coppa and Fresh Mozzarella with Pears and I had Speck with Ricotta Salata, Preserved Lemons and Toasted Hazelnuts.  If you're not familiar with Ricotta Salata, you should get acquainted. It's nothing like the ricotta you get in a carton at the grocery store. It's a white solid cheese with a slightly salty finish that goes beautifully with fruity flavors. I adore it.

Both our plates were absolutely yummy and wonderful looking. Chuck's pears were thinly sliced lengthwise so you could enjoy the entire silhouette of the pear.  My preserved lemons were also thinly sliced and looked elegant on the plate plus they added a special note to the speck and ricotta salata that was just the right note. The toasted hazelnuts added crunch and flavor that enhanced the entire dish.

Next we had Bruschetta that today was a Lamb Sausage with amazing secret sauce and herbs. It was served hot on Alex Carlson's terrific bread.

For dessert we had a Creamy Sheep Milk Cheese with Honeyed Preserved Figs.  Lovely.

Do yourself a favor check this place out. You won't be disappointed.

Salume Beddu
3467 Hampton Avenue

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Last night our friends Audrey and Larry joined us at Acero, which is a charming Italian restaurant in Maplewood.

I really like this place. There's sort of a golden glow that reminds me of Italy whenever we go there.
The dining room is under the direction of Sam Foley, who is not only extremely nice, but a super manager.
The wine list is devoted to Italian wines and Sam can direct you to the perfect one. I had a Liveli 2008 "Passamante". It was not expensive and it was delicious.

The chef, Adam Gnau, is really gifted. He is also extremely personable. You will enjoy his food and his company.

Three of us ordered the four course tasting menu. Here are my choices:

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onions, and Honey
Ravioli with Roasted Cauliflower,Pancettta, and Parmesan
Pan Seared Day Boat Halibut on a Bed of Wilted Mizuna, with Black Trumpet and Oyster Mushrooms and Topped with Black Truffle Butter
Stuffed Figs ( Almond, Hazelnut,Lemon, GorgonzolaDolce, and Local Honey.

Yum. It was a treat from start to finish.

Chuck started with Mixed Field Greens Grana Padana Cheese, Pine Nuts with a White Balsamic and Citrus Dressing that he really liked. He wanted to know if I could duplicate it!
He followed that with Spaghetti Alla Chitarra, Amatriciana which was a tomato based sauce. He had the same entree as I had and then Chocolate Panna Cotta for dessert.

Audrey had the Acero Salad-Romaine,Egg, Tomato, Genoa Salumi, and Herb Vinagrette. For her main course she chose Tagliatelle with Wild Mushrooms, Brown Butter, Shallots and Parmesan. Her dessert choice was Banana and Caramel Bread Pudding.

Larry started with the special soup of the day which was Carrot, then had the special pasta of the day which was an Egg Ravioli that had Three Cheeses, Spinach and a Farm Fresh Egg Wrapped in a Delicate Pasta.  He raved about that. His entree was Rainbow Trout with Roasted Cauliflower, Spring Onion, Lemon and Capers. 

As you can see, the menu is interesting and the kitchen delivers. We were all very pleased with our choices.

Acero is a wonderful, relaxing, informal place. It is another of Jim Fiala's restaurants that offers a warm atmosphere and delicious food. Make plans soon to go there.

Regional Italian
7266 Manchester Road
St Louis, MO 63143

Friday, April 1, 2011


If you're looking for a delightful experience do yourself a favor and go to the bistro FIVE at 5100 Daggett Avenue on the Hill.

Chef Anthony Devoti and his staff ( which includes his mom and dad who are the host and hostess of the restaurant) have created a very special dining experience.

The name comes from our five senses, Taste,Smell, Feel, See and Hear, which is printed at the top of his daily menu.

We were there before a St Louis Symphony performance recently with our good friends, Mary and Tom.  Naturally we notified our server that we had a time limit and it was honored graciously.

My husband chose two appetizers Tagliatelle Bolognese which was described on the menu as Braised Benne's Farm pork sausage, tomato, mirepoix( a combination of finely chopped onion, carrot and celery) and parmigiano-reggiano.  He followed that with Steamed Bar Harbor Mussels with white wine, garlic caper butter, toast and tarragon pickle aioli. 

Tom had the Farrar Farm Rabbit Saddle which came with house made pork sausage and pistachios, Ozark Forest mushrooms, roasted carrots, Rissi Farm potatoes,and braised local black turtle beans.

My friend Mary chose Benne's Farm Pork Braise and Polenta Prarie Breeze white cheddar, rosemary, black pepper and trumpet royale mushrooms. 

I had the Troutdale Farm Trout, with local sweet potatoes, white turnips, yellow foot chantrelle mushrooms, Claverach Farm sunflower shoots, roasted shallot and caper vinaigrette.

We all enjoyed our dinners. We happened to order a la carte, but Five has a four course prix-fixe with or without wine pairings that is a great way to sample the menu.

It's a most pleasant, small and intimate dining place. I think you will enjoy it and keep coming back for more.

It was voted having the Best Hamburger in this year's St Louis Magazine article and if you want to try that, come for lunch.

5100 Daggett Avenue