Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Weekend of Eating in St. Louis

The Strange Folk Festival happened to be only a 20 minute drive away from my lovely friend, Sarah, who lives in St. Louis. My lovely friend, Sarah, was lovely enough to let my mom and I stay for the weekend. We had a great time being in St. Louis with her. We ate and ate and ate some more - my favorite kind of vacation! I had a list of places to eat, given to me by Karli, a STL native. We did indeed go to each place. What can I say? The girl's got good taste.
Our first meal in STL was at Mangia Italiono - walking distance from Sarah's house. When Mom heard "fresh, handmade pasta," that's all she needed to know, so we headed straight here. Above is my port-soaked fig salad. I dig fruity salads with salty cheeses.

This was mom's (blurry) pasta and veggie dish. It was very light and fresh. I snagged some of her sweet peas and bell peppers.

Dinner on the second night: a delivery of Imo's Pizza. I guess that this pizza is pretty common, but in Indiana, it's unknown. Sarah said that people either love it or hate it. I would like to meet these haters face to face to inquire what the hey they are thinking. How could anyone NOT like this pizza?! The thin crust is perfectly crispy with a bit of chewiness. The cheese is softer and not stringy like your average pizza. I was completely satisfied and wished I had more stomach room to fill.

Warning. Addiction ahead. Ted Drewes frozen custard, just off of Route 66, is a landmark. A very popular landmark. The line was insane! I've never seen such a line for dessert. Choosing what to get was the hardest part. I was deciding between three concoctions and decided at the last split second.

I had a pumpkin pie concrete. Sarah had an apple pie concrete, and Mom had a cup of vanilla custard with pralined pecans...or was is macadamia nuts...either way, delicious.

Mom, Sarah, and I had a wonderful dinner at Schlafly's Tap Room. This, so far, is my favorite restaurant in St. Louis. The atmosphere is perfect; relaxed, open, breezy, comfortable. If I lived close to this place, I'd be here at LEAST once a week. The menu had soooo many delicious looking items, it was very hard to choose. We ended up getting quite a variety even though we weren't very hungry.

The air was slightly chilly and we ate outside, so a steaming bowl of onion soup hit the spot. Under the stringy cheese was house-made beer bread. I wish I had a refill right now.

We split this poached pear and candied walnut salad. The chevre cheese was a great balance to the sweetness, and I got some much needed spinach in my mostly carb and sugar diet...tsk tsk, I know.

Steak chili, chunky mashed potatoes, and German-style potato salad were passed around the table, shared between the three of us. I love dining like this, when everyone shares with everyone. I love that sense of community. It makes the moment very personal. In the middle is Sarah's tall glass of hefeweizen. She approved.

I couldn't go home and face Karli without trying this Sticky Toffee Pudding. I'm pretty sure Karli dreams about it. It did not disappoint. The freshly whipped whipped cream was a perfect mate. I would bathe in that carmel sauce.

A bootleg-esque photo of a giant bottle of beer: a present for my dad. Local beer is a fun gift for any beer lover. We had to pick up a bottle before we left the Tap Room.

This is a picture of the best chai tea latte I've ever had. All four times I've had the pleasure of drinking this liquid heaven, I'm reminded every time how superior it is to all of the others with it's name. Mom had a cup of Earl Grey and that tiny cup of happiness is gelato: half pumpkin and half mascarpone. A breakfast for champions! If you are ever in the neighborhood, Gelateria del Lione is the place to be.

Ahhh, the Courtesy Diner. I had so much hope for you. Yes, I knew you were a greasy spoon diner, but you were recommended to me. (I LIKE greasy spoons and hole-in-the-walls.) When I dragged my mother inside your smokey walls, I reassured her that your food and service would be great. This was not the case. After waiting for 45 minutes for a plate of scrambled eggs and a biscuit with gravy, all the while watching EVERY other customer get their food, patience runs a BIT thin. And when your glorious, very belated eggs were put in front of me, not scrambled, but over-easy, my high expectations plummeted rather quickly. The ONLY saving grace this diner had was our waitress. She knocked our bill down to $2.75. Oh, a nasty blog this could have been!

While introducing Mom to The Loop, we stumbled across a Bubble tea cafe! (St. Louis Bubble Tea to be exact.) I thank my good friend, Natalie, for introducing me to this fantastically fun beverage. It's a cure-all drink for oral-fixated folks. Drink and chew, drink and chew. (The black bead-like things are tapioca balls.) Mom liked it, too. The little girl in the background was staring at me; probably wondering why I'm taking photos of tea.

Our last eating adventure was at this fine establishment in Highland, IL. Again, Mom was hesitant to try a strange new place, but I insisted. It's funky, road-side stops like these that MAKE road trips so much fun. This IS American dining. This IS America. (And suddenly a Simon and Garfunkle song popped into my head.)

I immediately felt at home at this restaurant. It was the definition of "small town." Our server was probably still in high school, the decor was severely outdated, and the dining room was filled with old couples. The Blue Spring is apparently known for their foot high pies. We just had room for solid, home cookin'.

Our spread of fried chicken, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans was enough to feed a family of four. Not pictured biscuits and beets. Boo beets. Note the giant piece of pork fat in the green beans. Fat = gross, but makes verrrry tasty beans. I ate the leftovers for two days, and it was still good.
So, until the next gastronomic vacation! Note to self - next time, bring the stretchy pants!


  1. I love your sense of adventure! Your descriptions are so vivid and great- it almost feels like I'm experiencing the tasty food you are writing about. Holy crap, do I need some gelato now.

  2. Yummm! Your blog makes me a little homesick for all of that yummy food and fun places to eat. If you are ever back in St. Louis, here are a couple of places I recommend:
    Pho Grand yummy vietnamese food;
    Crown Candy Kitchen
    to die for ice cream candy and soda shop
    Blueberry Hill
    my favorite place to get a cheeseburger and the best place to see a concert
    Worlds Fair Donuts. This place is a tiny little donut shop near the Missouri Botanical Gardens that has been there forever. There is an old man behind the counter that rolls out the dough right there, The lady that runs the counter has a small beehive who can be sweet but if you don't hurry with your order, she can get a little snippy.