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Dine on a Dime
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Dine on a Dime: Riverbend Restaurant and Bar
By Dan and Anne Marie Lodholz | Photos by Wesley Law
Posted On: 06/01/2011   

Riverbend, a new Creole bar and restaurant in Soulard, brings the tradition of New Orleans cooking to St. Louis with a local river city flair. Although significantly renovated from the previous watering hole that filled this space, the building retains much of its historic charm – on a recent Saturday night it felt as though the restaurant had always been there. With black ceilings, the original bar, new shiny mirrors and brightly colored New Orleans posters, Riverbend strikingly synthesizes old and new. But the restaurant’s real draw is the care and love poured into the food and the hospitality offered by the staff.

Starters are found on the menu’s Temptations section. It includes peel and eat shrimp, but before you think, as we did, “It’s boiled shrimp, how good could it be?” let us reassure you: The large, head-off shrimp were fresh and masterfully cooked and arrived with a house-made, Louisiana-style remoulade whose kicky Creole mustard, subtle spice and bright acidity paired beautifully with the shrimp. The Doc Sewall Oysters, shucked, seasoned and baked with breadcrumbs and cheese, arrived at the table piping hot. This simple dish needed only a fresh squeeze of lemon and a little patience, so as not to burn oneself. Don’t miss the oyster bread, a concoction of oysters, green onions and other goodies, puréed and spread on crusty French bread, then baked till warm; it left us yearning for another helping.

The menu features a selection of sandwiches, paninis and salads, but we suggest passing over these in favor of the Creole fare – the chef is a New Orleans native, after all. Po’ boys, Louisiana’s version of a sub sandwich, are traditionally dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo. Riverbend offers several versions. Cochon de Lait, traditionally made from suckling pig but more often featuring pork shoulder, features wonderfully seasoned, slow-roasted, porky goodness. The Roast Beef and The Riverbend, identical except for the latter’s addition of ham and Swiss, were very messy – and by messy, we mean awesome and messy. The warm brown gravy was rich and savory and the house-roasted beef so tender, you almost wouldn’t need to chew if not for the bread. We would and will order all of the po’ boys again.

The specials vary daily. We tried the crab cakes featured on one of our visits; they were a bit too mushy but had a pleasant flavor with a spiciness that was nicely cut by the creamy aïoli. One evening’s fish special, baked pompano topped with oyster dressing, was delicately roasted, finished with a light sherry-cream sauce and served with inviting peas with garlic and lemon. Unfortunately, a chicken breast special was unrelentingly dry; the meal was saved by a side of corn and sweet roasted red peppers and a memorable cornbread and crawfish pudding. If we could order tubs of this, we would.

Riverbend’s delightful Creole cooking, neighborhood feel and laid-back simplicity make for a very enjoyable dining experience; we’ll be back for more.

Where: Riverbend Restaurant and Bar, 701 Utah St., St. Louis, 314.664.8443
When: Lunch: Mon. and Wed. to Sat. – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner: Mon. and Wed. to Sat. – 5 to 10 p.m.
Dine-in-Ability: A laid-back vibe and occasional live music make this neighborhood spot a great place to go for a beer or dinner with friends and family.
Try it, You’ll Like It: Any po’ boy, oyster bread, house-made stuffing

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DATE: 06/05/2013 01:32PM    POSTED BY: MattMan
The Cochon de Lait po’ boy was amazing!!!
DATE: 06/21/2011 09:31AM    POSTED BY: bluesworld
I have spent extensive time in New Orleans. Based on the red beans and rice on Monday this place is the real deal. I'll be going back to try the rest of the menu. They don't have a deep fryer (yet) so no oyster or shrimp po' boys but I'm sure they are working on it. Really good, authentic New Orleans food. The chef is from New Orleans. His wife is from here. She finally convinced him to move here. Lucky for us. Highly recommended.
DATE: 06/20/2011 10:23AM    POSTED BY: DiningDames
Based on the glowing review, friends and I tried this place last Saturday. At 6:30 they were arleady out of Oyster Bread......so we got the Doc Sewell Oysters (if you have oysters, why don't you have Oyster bread??) The Doc Sewell Oysters, they cam with nothing, no crackers or bread. When we asked for bread, we got one peice. The roast beef po-boy was good, not greate but who has a NOLA sytel restuarant with out oyster or shrimp po-boys? We won't be going back and you shoulldn't bother..
DATE: 06/01/2011 01:44PM    POSTED BY: cinstl
I agree wholeheartidly! The food was fabulous when we visited. Especially all the temptations. I loved the Doc Sewall and the oyster bread. Their sandwiches are great too. Didn't have room for dessert, but it sounds like I should next time. Stop by Riverbend on the way to a cards/blues/rams game! Or after or pretty much anytime.

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