Short List: Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads are popping up on more and more menus in town – although there still aren’t many places in our fair city that serve them on a regular basis. Those that do have a passion for them, and that’s a boon for those of us who love this tasty offal. Preparations vary, but we’re open to creativity, as long as the dish delivers a slightly crispy exterior; a moist, rich interior; and a super-happy-fun-time mouth party.

1831 Sidney St., St. Louis, 314.773.7755

The first thing that hits you in this dish is the salt and sweet of the bacon-apple cider gastrique followed closely by the realization of just how delicately and perfectly the sweetbreads were pan-seared. Then the profligate richness of the meat begins to smack you around, and that’s joined by another dose of lightly salty bacon from the free-form cabbage and bacon lasagna. Just then, a soft, complex bitterness arrives from the cabbage. Finally, a little sweet-tart pop from hidden preserved Meyer lemon bits rounds everything out in just the nicest way possible.

1535 S. Eighth St., St. Louis, 314.436.2500

I’d rather have Franco’s sweetbreads as my Thanksgiving meal: The rich, creamy, moist sweetbreads would sub for bland turkey; the concentrated sweetness of crunchy beet chips would replace sweet potatoes; and Stovetop would be swapped for the earthy, faintly tart chestnut-Bing cherry-cranberry-arugula stuffing. And gravy? Well, everything could use gravy, but if you have to replace it, I’m not sure you could beat the combination of this dish’s elegantly acidic sweetness from aged balsamic vinegar coupled with über-fragrant truffle oil.

Chez Leon
7927 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.361.1589

With only two components, this dish was simplicity on a plate: A sizeable portion of pan-seared sweetbreads lazed in a wide swath of beurre noir and that was it. Oh, but it wasn’t – the sweetbread’s darkly golden, crispy exterior almost crunched as it gave way to the smooth interior. The sauce’s brown butter added to the richness of the meat, but, lest your palate be lulled into submission by decadence, its few dozen capers were little briny grenades that intermittently exploded in each bite.

To see this month's Short List runner-up, visit the Extra Sauce section of