He Said | She Said: Sopping up biscuits and gravy

Russ: Is it an entrée? Is it a side dish?
Kathy: And why is it only relegated to breakfast and brunch?
R: No doubt. St. Louis is Southern enough that you can actually get biscuits and gravy, but Northern enough that no one’s thinking outside the box about it.
Russ’ biscuits and gravy profile: Warm, soft biscuits that hold up after being sauced with creamy, spicy gravy.
Kathy’s biscuits and gravy profile: No gluey gravy – keep it thin enough for crispy biscuits to soak it up.

Sunrise Café
24 Four Seasons Shopping Center, Chesterfield
Daily – 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

R: The first sign something was amiss was in the presentation. This was like no biscuits and gravy I’d ever seen.
K: Oh, come on, it was a perfectly delightful presentation: two biscuits split, with their tops nestled on their bottoms, with the gravy poured over the whole thing.
R: Well, that’s just it; why split the biscuits and then reassemble them? This was like … getting a pack of Oreos and the two cookie halves are stuck together with the creamy filling on top. And there was parsley!
K: You’re just a purist. The portion was generous, but the gravy was just a bit bland and, for my taste, not quite meaty enough.
R: It needed more pepper, and the sausage didn’t have much taste on its own.
K: The biscuits would appeal to many. They hold the gravy well. The consistency is exactly what I expected.
R: They’d be great biscuits if you were eating them with butter or jelly. But they were too fluffy for gravy. Fluffy biscuits soak up the gravy too fast, and then you’re eating sponge. Who eats sponge?

Goody Goody Diner
5900 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis
Mon. to Fri. – 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sat. – 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

R: Now this was the proper environment for B&G, at least around these parts. I love walking into diners; you’re immediately greeted with the smell of coffee and bacon.
K: Judging from the crowd that filled the place, you’re not alone.
R: You’ve got a range of biscuit and gravy orders at Goody Goody: small or regular à la carte orders, or the Biscuits and Gravy Supreme with eggs and a side. I’m glad I went for the entrée, because as good as the B&G was, there wasn’t nearly enough.
K: The biscuits were flat.
R: Not “flat,” just “short.” And a bit crispy around the edges … which isn’t always a bad thing. My guess is someone just worked the dough a bit too much. Still, a crisper biscuit stands up to the gravy better.
K: And it was goooood gravy. The sausage was pretty typical sausage, but the gravy itself had a great sage flavor and plenty of pepper.
R: The eggs and hash browns filled in the gaps, but I’d have much rather had just one more biscuit. I guess Goody Goody lives up to the old showbiz edict: Leave ’em wanting more.

1415 S. 18th St., St. Louis
Brunch: Sun. – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

K: Maybe upscale places shouldn’t do down-home cooking. Or if they do, they need to put a unique spin on it.
R: Dress it up a bit? Shave a truffle over your biscuits and gravy? Ostrich sausage?
K: Something. Anything! For $8 I think we should get better than we got. It’s not that SqWires’ biscuits and gravy were bad, they were just so … ordinary.
R: The biscuits themselves were OK (if a bit undercooked) but the gravy – which is where all the flavor should be – was really weak. What little sausage I could find was minced to bits. That leaves … pasty white stuff.
K: SqWires is the kind of place that could take B&G and run with it. Maybe sausage gravy isn’t its thing. That’s fine. Instead, how about a beef daube at dinner, and instead of potatoes, serve it with biscuits for sopping up the rich gravy?
R: Biscuits and gravy at night? That’s visionary thinking, dear.
K: Someone’s gotta spark the next dining trend. Might as well be me.

Van Goghz Martini Bar & Bistro
3200 Shenandoah Ave., St. Louis
Breakfast: Mon. to Fri. – 7 to 10:30 a.m., Sat. – 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

R: So our editor sez, “You should go to Van Goghz,” and I sez, “But it’s a martini bar,” and she sez, “Yeah, but they’ve got B&G,” and I sez, “But it’s a martini bar.”
K: Sure enough, it’s a martini bar that serves biscuits and gravy. And oatmeal. And other breakfast stuff. But only during brunch hours, when it’s expected. Don’t go in some Friday night expecting Stoli and biscuits.
R: Honestly? I wouldn’t want to sully the subtle nuances of the sublime biscuits and gravy with some palate-killing cocktail.
K: Oh, yeah. This was hands down the best B&G experience of the batch. They took something really basic and tweaked it enough to make it special.
R: The biscuits weren’t just baked, they were split and finished on the grill. You could even see the grill marks! I would never have thought of doing it, but that little sear made them hold up against the gravy and added an extra toasty flavor to the biscuits themselves.
K: Plus they had nice, creamy gravy … and you didn’t have to hunt for the sausage; there was plenty of it, in big chunks.
R: Van Goghz uses Italian sausage from Caldarello, here in Missouri. Gotta say I was a bit weirded out by the thought of Italian sausage, but the spices were subtle. I didn’t feel like I was eating “Italian biscuits and gravy.”
K: Hmm. Maybe you can’t get biscuits and gravy on a Friday night, but there’s nothing says you can’t get a screwdriver on a Saturday morning, is there?