Tuesday, May 14, 2013


If you haven't yet been to Ben Poremba's  ELAIA, I would suggest that you do so at your earliest convenience. It is a culinary experience not to be missed.

You enter ELAIA by going into OLIO  where you ascend a chalk white stairway ( that reminds one of the islands of Greece ) into a second floor dining room with a huge chandelier made of cooking utensils that has to be seen to be believed, and some amazing art, some done by Ben himself, and some paintings collected by his family. The space is intimate and sophisticated with amazing wooden chairs which are surprisingly comfortable.

I will be describing the dinner we enjoyed, however, it will not be the one you will have, as the menu changes every day, or so it seems.

The menu is printed daily. It has four courses, with four choices in each category. You may order a la carte or you may opt for the Tasting Menu of all four courses. The night we were there the First course was $10, the Second was $12, the Third was $30 and the Fourth was $8. All Four Courses was $55 a person.  My advice, go for the Tasting Menu, the selections are wonderful, the portions are small so you won't feel stuffed, and it's part of the experience.

Chuck chose the CHILLED SUNCHOKE SOUP with APPLE and VERMOUTH for his first course. It came in a beautiful pitcher which was emptied into a lovely soup bowl. The texture was like velvet, and the flavor was lovely.  I chose PARFAIT of FOIS GRAS with RHUBARB, STRAWBERRIES,  and CELERY. The plate was a work of art, an egg shaped scoop of luscious Fois Gras Mousse, with the fruit artistically arranged in a tiny mosaic. It was memorable from every angle.

For his Second Course, CJC chose SPRING SALAD, which consisted of Arugula, Speck, Green Almonds and Marconas. He loved it.  I had POACHED HEN EGG with FREGOLA, GUANCIALE, and SWEET PEAS.  Fregola is a pasta similar to couscous and Guanciale is unsmoked pig jowl bacon.  It was a fabulous dish.

We both had the STURGEON with FAVA BEANS, CAULIFLOWER, CARROT and WHITE GAZPACHO for our Fourth course. It was everything a Spring dish should be. Crispy skin on the Sturgeon, creamy cauliflower, fava beans are one of the jewels of the Spring, brilliant green in color and a flavor that is so fabulous that no one can resist it. It is my all time favorite bean.  The entire dish was perfect.

The Fourth Course, naturally, was dessert. We opted for BAR MARSEILLE made with DULCE DE LECHE and COFFEE. A beautiful bar of cake, cream, and icing. Zowee.

As I mentioned there are at least four selections for each course, so you have many choices, and I bet they are all superb.

The wine stewart has won many awards, so be sure to let him choose your pairings, or, if you prefer, our bottles. You won't be sorry.



Last Friday Chuck and I went to see the new space on South Euclid near the Forest Park Parkway, Siteman Center and across the street from Tom's Bar and Grill.
We were alerted to its opening by both Sauce and Feast May issues. The official opening was April 30.

First of all, the 10,000 square feet of space is sophisticated and beautiful. Sauce Magazine says it is part cafeteria, part wine bar, part fine-dining restaurant. It's a bit early to characterize it as all those things yet, but I can add that it does have a coffee and "European" chocolate bar, plus a Market Place where you can pick up a few local vegetables, fancy condiments and take-out sandwiches and entrees.

The consulting chef is Cary Neff and the executive chef is Nick Martinkovic.  Open so far are the Deli Bar, where you can get very interesting salads and sandwiches, the Grill Bar, which the day we were there, was serving pastas and wood oven pizzas, that looked yummy, the afore mentioned Coffee and Chocolate Bar. In the works are an Oyster and Clam Raw Bar, and freshly rolled sushi from, according to Sauce Magazine,  "Chop Shop's own Eliott Harris".

We opted for salads and found the two we chose, a Caesar and a Farmhouse  with beets and goat cheese, to be fresh, ice cold and well prepared.  The service was unfailingly nice, courteous and welcoming.  We also had a brownie from the Coffee/Chocolate bar: don't miss it!

It's brand new, it's evolving , and it promises to be a terrific alternative Central West End eatery.
After 5PM we understand that plated service will be available.

Check it out.

23 South Euclid