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St. Louis Weekend

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Brad Keeton

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St. Louis Weekend

by Brad Keeton » Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:49 pm

My wife and I recently traveled to St. Louis to celebrate our second anniversary, staying at the fabulous Chase Park Plaza for some pool lounging. Yes, we went to STL to celebrate our anniversary. Heh. I was in school there for the three years we dated/were engaged, so it is a bit of a special place to us. While not lounging by the pool in the 105 degree heat, we had two very special meals.

On Friday evening, we met friends at Harvest (http://www.harveststlouis.com/), an exceptional restaurant focusing on locally grown/raised, seasonal ingredients. The space is beautiful and calming, and is powered by wind energy to boot.

We began with the daily charcuterie plate, which on our visit had various incarnations of locally raised pork. All versions were great, but the pork pate topped with the spicy mustard was particularly good. Next was Steve's Caesar salad, which was a fairly traditional Caesar, but the ingredients were crazy fresh and the salad was excellent. For our entree, we had the Missouri grass fed beef duo - braised shortrib and sous-vide brisket, Amish blue cheese gratin, swiss chard, and bordelaise sauce. This dish was executed flawlessly, and the beef and sides kind of melded together into something spectacular. My only gripe was that there was no marrow bone to be had. Service was excellent, along with a solid cocktail list and wine list.

Saturday, we celebrated our anniversary at Monarch (http://www.monarchrestaurant.com/). This was an old favorite of ours, but we were pleasantly surprised to see an expansion of the bar/lounge area, along with a new cocktail menu that would even bring a smile to Stephen D's face. We began in the bar area with a "Gem of a Punch" for my wife (her new most-favorite cocktail ever) and a bourbon/absinthe based drink for me (the name escapes).

We shortly moved to the dining room for dinner - a beautiful room, indeed, with muted colors, elegant table settings, and an impressive wine room. Our appetizers and salad were excellent, but the highlight of the meal, no, the weekend, was the ono (wahoo) we had for our entree. This white, meaty yet delicate fish was served with perfect gnocci and a light, slightly sweet, slightly acidic sauce. Sauce, in fact, may be too strong - it was more like a broth, and accompanied the fish to perfection. I can say, truly, that this fish was not only the best fish dish I've had in a long time, but one of the better overall dishes I've ever had. It was that good.

If you travel to St. Louis, I cannot recommend either of these two restaurants enough. Both are true dining experiences worth your time and money.
"I don't eat vegans. They're too bony."
-Alton Brown

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