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Apr 01, 2015
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try now

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

It’s time for Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10 and some change? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

 

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1. The talented team at Red Fox Baking has just announced another day of baking to its weekly schedule. That means more fresh Pecorino Romano-black peppercorn loaves, olive oil-semolina cakes with blood orange, lemon-grapefruit bars and more baguettes, batards, croissants, tarts, turnovers, galettes and cookies. Seek out Red Fox’s exalted carbohydrates at Grove East Provisions, Local Harvest Grocery and City Greens Market.

2. If you’re gonna watch a Cardinals spring training game, why not watch it on the obscenely huge 40-foot TV screen at FOX Sports Midwest Live! in Ballpark Village? And why not dine on the Businessman Spring Training Special while you cheer? The $10 burger-and-beer special is available at Fox Sports Midwest Live! as well as the Budweiser Brew House, Cardinals Nation and Bud Brewhouse (the games are shown on TVs at each participating restaurant). The promotion includes any burger and any pint of domestic beer on any of the restaurants’ menus. Go here for a complete list of eligible pre-season games in March and April

 

 

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3. Lent is observed reverently and deliciously at Sister Cities Cajun & BBQ with a holy trinity of fish tacos. Tilapia is battered in flour, cornmeal and spices, fried and blessed with an unusual pico de gallo made with poblano and jalapeno peppers and garlic-roasted corn. The overstuffed tacos, which go for three for $9, are finished with a drizzle of remoulade and are available throughout Lent.

4. Sometimes you need just a bit-o-brunch to get Sunday rolling. Other times, you like doing some real calorie-inhaling damage. That’s where the all-you-care-to-eat Sunday brunch at St. Charles’ Bella Vino Wine Bar & Tapas comes in. Ten dollars gets you all the Eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, French toast, bacon, house-made sausage, potato hash and omelets to order you can handle. A selection of bloody marys and coffee cocktails are available for an extra charge.

 

 

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5. At Gus’ Pretzels, Twisted Tuesdays means a variety of discount offers on Tuesdays in March. The deals include two deli sandwiches for $6 (March 17) and four pretzel sandwiches for $10 (March 31). The 60 pretzel ends for $5 (March 24) and are great for surprising the whole gang at the office.

6. The clam chowder at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. is positively swoon-worthy. The $5 a bowl they charge seems like a fair price, but perhaps any price would be justifiable for this velvety, addictive soup. It’s made with clam juice, fish stock, white wine, a blonde roux, diced potatoes, half-and-half as well as heavy cream, and, naturally, steamed clams. Tell ‘em Budget Crunch sent ya.

 

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7. The Peacock Loop Diner has been sliding milkshakes down the counter for about six months now, and owner Joe Edwards is excited about the latest changes to the 24-hour diner’s menu. Budget-friendly choices now include a cheeseburger with fries ($4.50), fried pickles ($3.50), pancakes ($4.50) and French toast ($4.50) with topping options of berries and chocolate chips (for an extra dollar) and a larger, foot-long corn dog fried in house-made sweet batter ($5). New cocktails include the California Girl, made with two types of rum, pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix and grenadine ($8), and the Apple Pie Kick made with Rumchata, Fireball whiskey, vanilla ice cream, cinnamon and diced apples ($9).

8. Cinco de Vino is a monthly holiday at all three locations of Robust Wine Bar. Every fifth of the month, guests receive a whopping 40 percent off all bottles at the wine bar and in the cafe and 15 percent off everything in the wine shop.

 

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9. If you happen to hang out at Kreis’ Steakhouse & Bar while waiting for a table, be sure to ask for the complimentary cheese and crackers and have a nice little pre-prandial scarf-down. The free app is a steakhouse tradition, we understand. The cheese is soft, spreadable Wisconsin cheddar served with Ritz crackers. Everybody’s eating it – why not you?

10. They do have potato chips at Pizzino in Clayton, but for the discriminating, they also have house-made walnut/blue cheese crostini chips to enjoy with your panini or salad. They’re a little different and a lot inexpensive, just $2 a serving. Call ahead to make sure they have them, since they don’t bake them daily.

 

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try now

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

It’s time for Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10 and some change? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

 

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1. The Restaurant at The Cheshire is a classy joint, and the new Five-Under-$10 Lunch Specials make it classy and Budget Crunch-friendly. Previous dishes have included andouille and smoked chicken risotto ($10), a duck confit frittata with pickled red onion ($9), smoked chicken with sweet-potato coconut curry and sticky rice ($10), a Reuben made with the Cheshire’s own Medart’s Sauce ($8.50), and rigatoni with roasted squash and winter greens ($9). Keep an eye on the Facebook page; the special changes daily.

 

2. Why is there a portable pancake griddle next to the register at Nadoz Bakery + Café in the Boulevard shopping area? Why, so they can serve warm cookies, of course. You can order a Mountain Cookie, made with oatmeal, raisins, chocolate chips, coconut and shaved almond, or that old standby chocolate-chip, warm and ready to be devoured. Cookies are $1.75 each.

 

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3. All the menu items at both locations of Steve’s Hot Dogs have fun names, and that includes the new mac-n-cheese bowl lineup. A layer of that childhood staple is covered with pepperjack cheese, grilled bell peppers, bacon and honey-chipotle sauce in the Kevin Bacon Jamaican Bowl. The Mind Trick Bowl includes jalapeno slices, chipotle-flavored onions and roasted-habanero sauce, and the MacGyver Bowl swaps elbows for rotini and douses them with Alfredo sauce, Parmesan, cheddar, bacon and fried onions ($5.25 to $7.25).

 

4. We know this much to be true: Things go better with bacon. To wit, we present the ingenious $9 Championship Rings at Alumni Saint Louis. Onions slices are wrapped in bacon, beer battered and fried into onion-bacon goodness. Dip them into Alumni’s spicy house-made 314 Ketchup and eat like a champ.

 

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5. Attention, paczki fans: the Polish jelly doughnuts traditionally served just before Lent are available now through Fat Tuesday at both locations of Old Town Donuts. (That would be Cottleville and the 24/7 Florissant locations.) They’re filled with a choice of apple, raspberry, lemon, custard or cream and run around $1.50 each.

 

6. This week’s special Mardi Gras menu at The Dam includes chicken gumbo, Cajun-seasoned fries with spicy remoulade or Cajun aioli, Cajun sausage with grilled peppers and onions, and an andouille sausage burger, all for less than $10 each and available Feb. 10 to 17. On Saturday, Feb. 14 The Dam has a one-day Mardi Gras menu that calls for an antacid or two. Consider the Louisiana meat pie ($8), the andouille breakfast burrito ($7) or the King Cake Burger, a double cheeseburger served between two slices of King Cake ($8).

 

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7. What can you add to your bottomless chili bowl on Chilly Tuesdays at the Boathouse in Forest Park? Smoked Gouda, cheddar, Cheetos, Bugles, shoestring potato chips, pickled jalapenos, chives, tomatoes, red onions, Corn Nuts, salsa, various hot sauces, sour cream, oyster crackers, tortilla strips… The list goes on. Help yourself to the $10 buffet on Tuesdays, when you can also order $1 to $2 extras like sliders, hot dogs, macaroni, fries, baked potatoes or grilled cheese sandwiches. Finish it all off with $2 s’mores around the fire pit for dessert.

 

8. The new Sunday brunch at HotPot Smoothie Shop is geared toward two types of people: those who eat Paleo and gluten-free and those who admire their dietary pursuits but eat more conventionally. HotPot serves gluten-free biscuits and gravy made with Todd Geisert Farms pork sausage. Other items include sweet and spicy beef hash, Paleo pancakes, the Famous Three-Egg Fold-in, traditional French toast, and bacon, eggs and potatoes with onions. Each brunch menu item is $10.

 

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9. Good grief! The February BOTM (Burger Of The Month) at 5 Star Burgers is not for the faint of heart. The $11 Hangtown Fry Burger, a riff on the infamous Hangtown fry omelet, is a Black Angus burger topped with fried oysters, scrambled egg, bacon and a Sriracha-based sauce.

 

10. At Piccione Pastry, happy hour means discounted coffee drinks. Weekdays from 2 to 4 p.m., drip coffee, espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, tea and more are all half-off, dropping to $1 to $2. We heartily endorse the $3.25 rum baba pastry for dipping.

 

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try now

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

 

It’s time for Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

 

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1. Someone at Brasserie really likes bratwurst. That would be executive chef Nick Blue, who has inaugurated Brasserie Brats. Every Tuesday through March, the CWE restaurant opens for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers house-made sausages in intriguing sandwiches. The changing selection includes three original creations each week. Today’s offerings include the Avec Brat, a chorizo brat with tomato sauce, date puree and bacon; Brat in a Blanket, a cheddar beer brat wrapped in a croissant and served with Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions beer mustard; and the Lao Brat, which is topped with green papaya slaw and peanuts. All brats are served with a side of fries for $7.

2. Give winter a kick in the nards with the Bottomless Soup Bowl ($6) at Corvid’s Cafe. The from-scratch soup du jour may include tomato basil bisque, white bean-chicken chili, lentil mushroom, corn chowder, vegetarian chili, chunky peasant-style borscht or other hot concoctions. Soups are often served with crunchy Companion breadsticks. How many bowls can one diner with a bottomless stomach slurp down? “The most I’ve seen one person eat in one day was six bowls, but he did sit here for a long time,” said Corvid chef-owner Cindy Panian.

 

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3. The holidays haven’t ended at Jilly’s Ice Cream Bar. The flavors-of-the-month include December holdovers like a RumChata Eggnog Creme Brulee ice cream with plenty of nog. Ginger-Doodle is loaded with chunks of gingerbread-snickerdoodle cake in molasses-gingerbread ice cream with a ribbon of cinnamon-caramel. Scoop up your favorite for $3 to $6. Next door at Jilly’s Cupcake Bar and Cafe, the resolution busting continues with monthly cupcake offerings like Double Chocolate Chip with a dense gooey butter cake for $6, or for 50 cents more, try flavors like Butterscotch, German chocolate, Cookies ‘n Mousse crowned with an Oreo hand-dipped in chocolate and a Fireball whiskey cupcake topped with dramatic Fireball frosting flames.

4. One of the best deals in town on draft craft beers isn’t at a bar – it’s at a supermarket. Buy a $2 pint at Lucky’s Market in Ellisville and enjoy it in the store’s adjacent cafe or attach a cupholder to your cart and sip while you shop. The half-dozen daily draft choices have recently included brews like Deschutes Chain Breaker White IPA, Kona Longboard Lager, Urban Chestnut Schnickelfritz and O’Fallon King Louie Toffee Stout.

 

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5. How hard is it to part with two bucks? Unless you’re some sort of deranged paperboy, it’s nothing. Maybe that’s why $2 Tuesdays has been a success for Mad Tomato. From 5 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday, all charcuterie, cheese and conserves in the joint are $2. Choose from goodies like prosciutto, sopressata, marinated olives, white bean hummus, sausage-stuffed fried olives, soft Morbier cheese and creamy dolce gorgonzola.

6. Felix’s Pizza Pub recently moved just across the street from their old Dogtown home. The much-expanded space features a generous happy hour deal from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday stars its criminally underrated New York-style pizza. The Pint and a Slice includes a pint of a Schlafly beer and a one-topping slice for $6. The Sweet Deal is a slice, a garden salad and a soda for $9.50. Finally, the Buddy System includes two slices, an appetizer and two sodas for $15.

 

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7. What do you do when you hear the word of the day? You hop over to Southwest Diner and collect your reward. Dedicated followers of the New Mexico-style diner’s Facebook page already know that the word of the day can score you goodies like free coffee, a dollar off cherry pancakes (an off-menu special), or a free side of guacamole, amongst other recent freebies. To the vigilant go the spoils.

8. The drink that’s flying from the bar at The Scottish Arms these days is hot wassail ($5). They make it by boiling local apple cider, Strongbow English cider, orange brandy liqueur, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey and citrus fruits into a warm, fortifying winter cocktail. The alcohol boils out, so most patrons choose to add a shot of Kraken spiced rum, a bourbon or rye for another $2 to $3.

 

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9. If you like it sweet, consider the chocolaty warm happiness of the Cinnamon Toast Cocoa Cocktail ($7.50) at Big Chief Roadhouse in Wildwood. The drink is made quite simply from RumChata, Captain Morgan spiced rum and hot chocolate. It’s boozy, hot and puts a big ol’ child’s grin on your adult face.

10. The Charlie Gitto’s locations in Chesterfield and inside Hollywood Casino have introduced a new Happy Hour Menu. For $4, you can choose from meatballs in pomodoro sauce, arancini or toasted ravioli and sauce. For $6, choose from fried calamari and peppers (served with a citrus mayo dipping sauce), chicken speidini lollipops or tortellini alla panna. For $8, choose from mussels in a lobster-tomato broth, a sausage-pepperoni Sicilian flatbread or a vegetarian flatbread. Happy hour is every day from 3 to 6 p.m. in the bar area; keep an eye out for similarly priced drink selections soon.

 

 

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Lunch Dishes of 2014

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Sauce restaurant critic Byron Kerman knows how precious the lunch hour is. All year, he’s shared the highs and lows of new and venerable lunch joints around St. Louis in Power Lunch. Here, he shares his top five lunch dishes of 2014:

 

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No. 5: Buffalo Blue Burger at Lulu’s Local Eats
Lulu’s sweet potato burger has crunchy panko breading on the outside yielding to a soft, moist interior. The Buffalo Blue version adds vegan “ranch” dressing (made with lemon, cucumber and eggless Vegenaise) and a creamy hot sauce to the thickly formed patty. If you can make a better vegan burger, we’d love to try it.

 

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No. 4: Smoked Brisket at Adam’s Smokehouse
The melt-in-your-mouth brisket is the star of the show at Adam’s, where it’s sliced it thin as deli meat. The reddish trim and smoky taste were rapturous. Only a heretic would put a drop of sauce on it.

 

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No. 3: Buttermilk-Cornmeal Pancakes at Southwest Diner
Southwest Diner’s buttermilk-cornmeal pancakes with buttery-brown edges are done just the way pancakes should be: thin and crispy, not fat and fluffy. Ask for real maple syrup for an extra buck to properly anoint these babies.

 

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No. 2: Hot Pastrami Sandwich at Death in the Afternoon
I’ll just come out and say it: The Hot Pastrami sandwich at Death in the Afternoon is quite possibly the best you will ever put in your mouth. It’s crazy-good, largely because the drippings from the thinly sliced pastrami are collected and mixed into a house-made mustard-mayonnaise sauce. I know what you’re thinking: Mayo and pastrami shouldn’t mix. I didn’t care, and you won’t either.

And my No. 1 dish of the year…

 

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Kung Pao Squid at Joy Luck Buffet
The kung pao squid on Joy Luck Buffet’s secret Szechuan menu requires a good 15 minutes to pick a veritable army of dried Szechuan peppers off the plate. The struggle is worth it; pliant squid and peanuts cavort in a kung pao sauce that, like a well-aged Burgundy, takes the diner to a dark, deep, complex place. As far as I’m concerned, this is the only kung pao in town.

 

-Lulu’s photo by Elizabeth Maxson; Adam’s Smokehouse photo by Jonathan Gayman; Southwest Diner and Death in the Afternoon photos by Elizabeth Jochum; Joy Luck Buffet photo by Carmen Troesser

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right now

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

It’s time for Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

 

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1. Leftovers get some serious love with the Holiday Mostarda for around $12 a pound at Salume Beddu. With cranberries, Bosc pears, currants, fresh ginger, white wine and mustard seeds, this relish makes the average cranberry sauce crawl back in the can. Slather some on a turkey sandwich (maybe with a little stuffing, even), and you’ll become a convert.

2. About 10 steps from Kakao in Clayton, a collaboration with Pastaria has yielded a winner: maple-roasted parsnip gelato with crumbled Kakao Big Squeal Bacon Brittle mixed in is a wonder. The crunchy delight of the brittle and the strong bacon flavor in the creamy gelato make for a sweet-savory triumph. Get a double scoop for $4.

3. The newly opened Avenue Restaurant has burst from the blocks with a nighttime happy hour that offers classy eats for small bucks. The new Monday Industry Night features drink specials and half-off the items from the bar menu from 9 to 11 p.m. Check out the half-pound burger with cheese on a brioche bun ($7), grilled ham and Swiss with grain mustard on Cuban bread ($4.50), macaroni-and-cheese ($5), French onion soup gratinee ($3 to $4), Parmesan biscuits ($1.50) or a spinach salad with blue cheese and walnuts ($4.50).

 

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4. The Q-icide sandwich at Vernon’s BBQ & Catering has “one of every meat.” That’s pulled pork, brisket, smoked turkey breast, ham, corned beef, sausage and smoked bologna, all piled to a vertiginous, Dagwood, fork-and-knife-height on the bun. The Friday special weighs more than a pound and goes for $12.

5. 5 Star Burgers has officially moved beyond its namesake menu item and added a whole new tubular section: hot dogs. Wenneman’s beef-pork blend hot dogs are split, grilled, bedded in brioche buns and topped three ways. The 5 Star Dog is simplified a Chicago style with house-made sweet relish, diced red onion and tomato ($6). The Ballpark Dog reposes beneath sauerkraut, griddled onions and bacon ($6.50). The Triple Dog Dare Ya, inspired by the restaurant’s Southwestern Dad’s Green Chile Cheeseburger, is a dog under Angus beef chili, cheddar cheese and crispy New Mexico Hatch chile peppers ($7).

6. The Whitebox Coffee Break is a new, afternoon pastry happy hour at Whitebox Eatery. Pastries, muffins, scones, cookies and sometimes even those simply ass-kicking Vincent Van Doughnuts are all half-off, dropping to $1.50 to $2 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Add a medium cup of Blueprint’s drip coffee for $1.25 with your selected pastry at the cafe or the sweet little Whitebox kiosk in the building next door.

 

 

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7. Snack cakes referencing a certain childhood treat are waiting at Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop. “Twinkles” (ahem) are sticks of vanilla sponge cake filled with light vanilla fluff. They’re available on some weekends (call ahead) and for special orders at $2 each.

8. Should you find yourself at the River City Casino at 7 a.m. (and you know who you are), consider gambling on the lobster frittata. Available at the Casino’s Lewy Nine’s Café, the generous breakfast offers a big ol’ mound of lobster meat for a friendly price ($12). The dish consists of a three-egg lobster fritatta topped with a warm lobster salad with a touch of garlic and served with toast on the side.

9. Been to Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream lately? The Webster Groves scoopers have holiday flavors like eggnog, peppermint and a sugar-plum sorbet. Speaking of sugar plums, Serendipity’s new Nutcracker on Ice Cream flavor features coffee ice cream with pistachios, almonds and pecans and a fudge ribbon. The nutty creation gets its name in honor of the Metro Edge Figure Skating Club’s upcoming performance of The Nutcracker on Ice. Grab a single scoop for $3 in a cone or bowl; quarts are also available for $7 to $9.

10. The $2 Chocolate Chewy Goodness cookie, baked by Sarah’s Cake Shop, is not like other cookies. Melted marshmallow and butter caramelize around its edges for an ambrosial chewiness. Pick it up at United Provisions in The Loop.

 

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right now

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Welcome to Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

 

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1. They are literally paying it forward at Rise Coffee House in The Grove. The Coffee for the People free board is an array of cup insulators tacked to a bulletin board. Each one offers a free drink – for the right person. For instance, a customer can purchase pay for and write on the insulator “bottomless cup for anyone job-searching,” orffering liquid refreshment for the beleaguered soul who finds and redeems it. More ambiguous designations include things like a free cup “for a short poppy amongst the tall ones.” It’s a nice way to spread a touch of kindness and good karma.

 

2. Dessert for less than a dollar? That’s right in this cheapskate’s wheelhouse. Hyde Park’s Sun Cafe & Market offers peanut butter bombs for a meager 50 cents each. These cute little jawbreaker-sized guys taste like extra-dense, moist peanut butter cookies.

 

3. Pumpkin-flavored foods of autumn, you may have just met your match. The Patch Burger at Stacked is ground chuck topped with bacon, goat cheese and sweet potato puree that was braised in Ferguson Brewing’s Pumpkin Ale. Can hamburger and pumpkin be friends? The Patch Burger is the October Burger of the Month at Stacked, so you have just a two more weeks to try it out.

 

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4. Building your own sushi roll is a tech-filled good time at Flying Rolls. You choose the roll size, wrap, protein (crab, tuna, yellowtail, etc.), rice (white or brown), veggies and sauce (eel sauce, orange sauce, lemon mayo, etc.) and punch it all into the touchscreen kiosk in the dining room. The sushi chef behind the counter makes it to order for $7 to $9.

 

5. I Scream Cakes’ Kerry Soraci is having fun with fall. New beer-based autumn flavors of ice cream at the shop include Butter Pecan Ale made with Ferguson Brewing’s Pecan Nut Brown Ale and brown butter. Goat Figure is a mix of pumpkin ice cream made with Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale and pumpkin puree, plus Baetje Farms goat cheese and a citrus-fig swirl. Chocolate Milk Stout Ice Cream incorporates 4 Hands’ Chocolate Milk Stout and a caramel swirl. They’re $2.69 for a cone at I Scream, but you can order them a $6 flight of four mini waffle cones at the St. Louis Brewers’ Guild Harvest Festival at Lafayette Park Nov. 1 or the Ballpark Village Brew Fest Nov. 8.

 

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6. We like the prices of the new no-frills breakfast items at the United Provisions’ Dining District – and the mix-and-match options. You might try an egg sandwich, picking from various cheeses, meats, tomatoes, spinach, etc., on a bagel, croissant or biscuit, starting at $2.50. They also have “eggs in a basket,” two over-easy eggs on toast ($4), biscuits with sausage gravy ($5), biscuits with a pomegranate butter ($4) and a full selection of coffee drinks. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends.

 

7. Drinking margaritas is dangerous. One is a muscle relaxer; two are an invitation to board the fun train to parts unknown. They’re that much harder to resist down at Margs for a Mission at Hacienda Mexican Restaurant. Every Monday, the capacious eatery’s newly renovated margarita and tequila bar donates $1 from every margarita sale and $5 from every cocktail pitcher sale will be given to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Also on Mondays, dig into $2 street tacos to soak up the booze.

 

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8. The new Happy Hour Madness at Central Table includes some sweet deals. From 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, flights of three beer tastes or three wine tastes are $5. Half-off happy-hour treats include full-size, shareable portions of mussels ($6.50), calamari ($6), Margherita pizza ($6), meatballs ($4.50), prosciutto and burrata on warm flatbread ($4.50), and blistered shishito peppers with ponzu sauce and black sesame seeds ($4.50).

 

9. Other pumpkin coffee drinks bow down before the Baked Maple Pumpkin Latte ($3.75 to $4.75) at Kaldi’s. That’s because the local roaster uses real baked pumpkin puree and steams it with cinnamon, maple syrup, cinnamon syrup and milk for an authentic pumpkin experience. It’s topped with whipped cream and fresh-grated nutmeg, and it’s available at all Kaldi’s locations.

 

10.There are plenty of wine shops that pour free samples, but Vino Gallery is half wine shop, half art gallery, so you can ogle artsy stuff while you sip. Every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., the CWE shop pours three or four different bottles for complimentary tastings. (Pinot noirs find their way to the tasting table often during fall.) While you’re ogling, ask to see the cool Coravin wine opener, which uses a hollow needle and argon gas to remove wine from bottles without actually opening it, leaving its character intact for next time.

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right now

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Welcome to Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

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1. There are about 25 chocolate-covered blackberries to a pound at Bissinger’s, and at $42 per pound, that’s a just less than $2 a blackberry. It ain’t cheap, but thankfully it only takes one to get your fix. Oh, mama. It’s worth driving to either Bissinger’s at Maryland Plaza or Bissinger’s at Plaza Frontenac, and savoring a dark or a milk chocolate-covered blackberry through September only.

 

2. Writing about fried chicken is, as Martin Mull might say, like dancing about architecture; one medium can hardly express the pleasures of the other. But one must persevere, so here it goes. I once ate fried chicken at the monthly Thursday Night Supper Club at Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Cafe and jotted down some notes: “great, thick, savory, dense, spiced crust –wow.” Boneless fried breasts make it kid-friendly, plus fried drumsticks, for those who like dark meat. In the spirit of “wow,” we must recommend this delightful feast for Budget crunch even though $16 is a touch higher than we usually go. In this case, though, it’s a steal. Tomorrow, Sept. 18, Thursday Night Supper Club includes an unlimited buffet of this mind-blowing fried chicken, Caesar salad, deviled eggs, slaw, potato salad, cornbread, mac-n-cheese, desserts and more, all from the mind of Jilly’s chef Dana Holland.

 

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3. Forget bottomless cups of coffee; the brewers at downtown’s Alpha Brewing Company choose one of their brews every Tuesday and offer a swimming pool of it for $10. That’s all you can drink, matey. Some beers that have been included in the deal recently are Lapsided (a mildly hoppy pale ale Alpha describes as “fruity, with a smooth bitterness”) and Alpha’s Belgian pale ale.

 

4. The Taste of Benton Park Festival  on Sat., Oct. 4 at the corner of Arsenal Street and Jefferson Avenue  is offering a sweet deal: $5 gets you a plate with samples from three Benton Park restaurants. Blues City Deli, Capitalist Pig BBQ, The Choice at Something Special, Ernesto’s Wine Bar, Frazer’s, Jax Café, Luvy Duvy’s Cafe, Melt, The Mud House, Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co., Sidney Street Cafe, Spare No Rib, Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop  and Yemanja Brasil are all in on the act. Also, look for live music, a vintage Volkswagen show, and wine and beer sales.

 

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5. The Robust Wine Bar outpost in Edwardsville is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a BBQ, Bourbon & Bubbles party tomorrow, Sept. 18. The evening will feature edibles from $6 to $10, including a barbecue of land and sea cuts, and appetizer specials on items like buffalo-chicken meatballs and bacon-wrapped jalapenos. Also look for $8 to $9 specials on bourbon-based cocktails, sparkling wines and live music.

 

6. Ten out of 10 potatoes agree: they’d be happy to end their days baked into poblano au gratin potatoes ($4) at J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood. The creamy side dish is made with gruyere and pepper jack cheeses, heavy cream, roasted poblano peppers, onion, garlic and spices. It’s served in a mini cast-iron crock, and as the weather gets colder, it tastes better and better.

 

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7. The mouth-watering Cuban sandwich at Capitalist Pig starts with Companion bread, brushed with butter. Next up, a brushstroke of sauce made with mustard, mayo and more, followed by slices of house-smoked ham, Emmenthaler, smoked pork shoulder and house-made pickles. A trip through the sandwich press yields a Cubano with a crusty exterior with the sharp flavors of mustard and pickle playing off the moist, salty meats. All this flavor for $7.50? We’ll call that a steal.

 

8. The relocated Taste of St. Louis will tantalize and satiate from Chesterfield Amphitheatre, from Sept. 19 to 21. The eateries in Sauce Magazine’s Restaurant Row will offer Taste Bites, smaller-sized portions priced from $2 to $7. From Annie Gunn’s to Villa Farotto, there are more than three dozen restaurant booths. Don’t forget the free Art & Wine Walk, the Stella Artois Chef Battle Royale, culinary demos, Kid City, and big ticket items like appearances by Food Network’s Tyler Florence and Duff Goldman, as well as music by Big Head Todd & the Monsters and The Urge.

 

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9. Iron Barley’s chef-owner Tom Coghill is crazy like a fox. He makes a bacon brownie ($9) using bourbon instead of water, and bacon fat instead of vegetable oil. He then dips very thick-cut bacon in brewer’s malt extract before double-smoking it and adding chunks to the batter. The final flourish: house-made vanilla ice cream and more bacon, of course. The bold dessert is available during dinner service at Iron Barley Thursday through Saturday.

 

10. Hey, ladies! A fun new deal at Art Bar Saint Louis, Nails and Cocktails combines booze, beauty and bargains. For $10, gals get a cocktail and a manicure the first Wednesday of the month. The oft-changing cocktail, said bar owner Tatyana Telnikova, is “a refreshing and fruity special that’s not too sweet.” Telnikova does the 15-minute manicures, which are “not too complicated, but better than what you would have done by yourself.” Art Bar, which opened about five months ago, also has a food menu that includes sweet and savory crepes, pierogies and a hummus app.

 

 

 

 

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right now

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Welcome to Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 9 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

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1. The new Happy Hour Menu at WildSmoke offers all the barbecue joint’s appetizers at half off from 2 to 6 p.m. daily. We’re talkin’ garlic barbecue delta shrimp over pepperjack grits ($5.50), smoked wings ($4), jumbo “doorknob” onion rings ($3.50), deviled eggs made with cheddar cheese and “pig candy” (brown sugar-roasted pork belly) ($3), a trio of sliders featuring brisket, smoked turkey and pulled pork ($4.25), and a half-dozen other choices.

2. Is Sauce on the Side poised to take over the world? That may be premature, but the newly opened second location of the calzone kitchen certainly has a hold on Clayton. The menu stars calzones like the Costanza, a dough pocket stuffed with pepperoni, eggplant, roasted garlic, basil, mozzarella and ricotta, brushed with garlic honey oil and served with red dipping sauce, as they say, on the side ($9).

 

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3. If you’re into fruit-infused, summertime beer, check out the Rubaeus Raspberry Ale by Founders Brewing Co. ($6), currently issuing from the tap at Basso. This sweet-tart double-fermented ale is made with raspberries introduced at multiple stages during fermentation. The bartenders there also offer their take on a snakebite, a “Black Raspberry” double-pour with Left Hand Chocolate Milk Stout on the bottom and Rubaeus on top to make a chocolate-raspberry beer ($7). Yummy.

4. Take away one of the five ingredients, and this dish falls apart. Put them together, and you get the winning gestalt of a classic app. The Bacon-Wrapped Dates ($7) at Joyia tapas restaurant are suitable for sharing, but you won’t want to. The dates are stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped with bacon, and roasted with tomato chutney and a red-wine reduction. Mmm…

 

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5. It’s tough to say but fun to eat at the new Sizzle, Swizzle & Swirl Happy Hour at Ruth’s Chris. Slide up to the bar in Clayton or downtown from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and order some of the steakhouse’s signature bites for almost half price. Dig into three crab BLT sliders, normally $12, with zucchini fries, a plate of beautifully seared ahi tuna (normally $17) or even a steak sandwich and fries, typically $13, all for $8. While you munch, sip a cosmo, blueberry mojito or Ruth’s Manhattan for $8 or a select beer for $3.

6. Carondelet burger palace Stacked STL has a cure for the Sunday-morning hangover: the $8 Sunday Morning Breakfast Buffet from 9 a.m. to noon. The spread features biscuits, gravy, eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, muffins and fruit, and once you find your seat, a server will take your order for French toast, pancakes or an omelet. Order up a mimosa, bloody mary or unlimited coffee and settle in for an easy morning.

 

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7. The All-Night Happy Hour at Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant wins our Inaugural Cuteness Award. Available from 5 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the promotion is a lineup of 15 adorable one-bite samples. Consider the cerdo, grilled pork with quince (75 cents); the alcachofa relleno, artichoke stuffed with chorizo and cheese ($1); the queso frito, fried goat cheese with cumin honey ($2.50); and many more.

8. Haggis is probably eaten on a dare at least as often as it’s eaten by choice. The infamous dish – organ meats and grains encased in tripe (stomach) – gets a modern makeover at The Scottish Arms. At the CWE gastropub, house-made haggis is breaded and fried to make Haggis Fritters, and served with a whiskey sauce. You don’t have to know what’s inside to enjoy them. The end result – additional hair on your chest – is just a bonus.

 

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9. One way to try the fried fantasies at Vincent Van Doughnut is to track down “Clyde,” the vintage van converted to a doughnut food truck. Another way is to order them at Sunday Brunch at Atomic Cowboy. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Sunday, the Grove restaurant offers a rotation of two or three different varieties of Vincent Van Doughnut. Recent flavors have included Rumchata, maple bacon, salted caramel, turtle, Highlander (made with Highlander Grogg coffee), and Tuxedo (a doughnut with a vanilla glaze, chocolate-covered nuts, chocolate chips, and a drizzle of liquid chocolate). At the Cowboy, they serve the doughnuts with an ice-cold glass of milk for $5.

10. A single S’more is sold in a roast-it-yourself kit nightly at new pub Los Punk (which we told you about here). A mere two bucks gets you a pre-portioned packet of jumbo marshmallows, graham crackers and a single mini-candy bar, plus a wooden dowel conveniently soaked in water for roasting. After buying the kit, head out back to the fire pit to make your s’more. Los Punk is open every night but Tuesday and sells s’mores every night that weather permits.

Budget Crunch: 9 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right now

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Welcome to Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 9 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

 

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1. The new Cookies and Cream Frozen Toddy at Crepes Etc. is a cold, blended coffee drink that starts with dark roast cold-brewed Kaldi’s coffee. Both condensed and skim milks are added, and the mixture is blended with ice, Ghiradelli white-chocolate syrup and a scoop of freshly crumbled Oreo cookies. A second scoop of Oreo crumbles is mixed in gently, and the final product is a thick liquid dessert for $6. Mmm…

2. The new One Buck Shuck deal at Bristol Seafood Grill in Creve Coeur means oysters on the half shell are $1 each during daily happy hours. The chef selects about a half-dozen varieties of bivalve for you to hoover, and look for specials on beer, wine and cocktails, too.

3. Is there a traffic jam of cyclists outside Café Ventana for free beignets? This eco-cool promotion seems like a real winner. Just bicycle up to the cafe and tell the barista you did so, and he or she will give you a daily free beignet. This freshly fried square doughnut, dusted with powdered sugar, is the cafe’s sweet reward to for you not burning fossils fuels that day. Were I a Saint Louis University student, I’d be all over this one.

 

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4. Is the phrase “upscale slinger” acceptable? If so, try one out at Onesto. Simply called the Onesto Slinger, home fries are topped with marinated grilled skirt steak, a locally-laid fried egg, house-made smoked chili, shredded cheese and jalapenos for $14. It palliates your hangover, while also making you feel refined, yet unpretentious. Available on the new brunch menu from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. Sundays.

5. Any excuse to eat at Juniper works for us, so news of the avant-Southern eatery’s new Happy Hour is more than welcome. Available from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, the half-price happy-hour Snackies include deviled eggs in two flavors, andouille corn dogs with spicy ketchup, and a wild creation called Nashville hot fried chicken skins made with strawberry buttermilk. New $6 happy-hour cocktails priced at $6 include Tim’s Gone to the Keys made with rum, sugar, maraschino juice, and vermouth; and the Tea Julep made from bourbon, sugar, tea and fresh mint.

 

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6. The new St. Louis Bacon Meet-Up Group is celebrating the joys of bacon addiction at its first Bacon Potluck at the Heavy Anchor Friday, July 25. The free event promises all kinds of porky awesomeness, including bacon-themed games and prizes, “bacon karaoke,” and treats made with an obscene amount of bacon. Look for bacon-peanut butter cannoli (pictured), among other dishes – and bring a creation of your own. RSVP here.

7. We have tried the sorbet of the summer, and we pronounce it excellent. Both area locations of Whole Foods (Brentwood and Town & Country) are scooping up a stellar Root Beer Sorbet at the gelato counter. Does it actually have a touch of that fizzy root-beer carbonation about the edges? (No, said one sorbet-scooping dude, we are imagining things.) The root-beer flavor rotates in along with the rest, we’re told, but it is sufficiently popular that it’s usually in the lineup. Look for a Wednesday special of $4 for 12 ounces of any flavor.

 

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8. Amy’s Corner Bakeshop’s Clear the Cases deal is a two-for-one sale on everything in the joint at 2 p.m. Sundays. The staff needs to sell the day’s baked goods before they’re consigned to oblivion, and you benefit. Look for cookies in flavors like white chocolate chip-pretzel and the Monster Cookie, studded with a dozen or more types of candy. Also submitted for your consideration: the coffee cake, the turtle brownie, the tart cherry scone, and the Strawberica cupcake with strawberry cake, vanilla frosting and strawberries on top.

9. Mid-Week Martinis on the Patio at Kirkwood’s Sapore Italian Café has a lot going for it. Two Wednesdays a month, Sapore offers free passed appetizers, $5 martinis (thanks to local sponsor Mastermind Vodka), and live music, from 5 to 7 p.m. The next Mid-Week Martinis on the Patio, billed as a “happy hour, networking and business appreciation event,” is scheduled for Wed., July 23.

 

 

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right now

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Welcome to Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

 

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1. The mad scientists at 5 Star Burgers give you The Potsticker ($9.50), a melding of Vietnamese and American comfort foods. A Geisert Farms pork patty, Vietnamese slaw and peanut-hoisin sauce are sandwiched together between a bun is a returning favorite for 5 Star BOTM (Burger of the Month) fans. It’s available through June at the Clayton and Kirkwood locations.

2. Mike Shannon turns 75 in 2014, and fans of the Cards broadcaster and his eateries can celebrate during the Cardinals season. Busch on draft is just 75 cents a pint  on Thursday nights at Mike Shannon’s Grill in Edwardsville and two hours before first pitch at every home opener at The Outfield downtown.  It’s a nod to one of Shannon’s famous catchphrases about the pleasures of “ice-cold frosty Busch.”

3. You can bring your kids to all manner of story times around town, but we particularly dig the one with the free sweet stuff. At all three area locations of The Cup, Cupcake Story Time includes a cupcake-themed story read to the kiddos, complimentary Kaldi’s coffee for the parents, and a “buttercup,” a one-ounce cup of frosting for the little ones. This month’s Cupcake Story Times take place June 18 at 10 a.m. in Chesterfield, June 24 at 10 a.m. in Edwardsville and June 24 at 10:30 a.m. in the Central West End location.

 

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4. Complimentary samples of Belgian beer are part of the deal at a special free book signing this month at Left Bank Books. Author Joe Stange signs the seventh edition of “Good Beer Guide Belgium” at 6 p.m. June 20. The book is a complete guide to of Belgian beer, with information on breweries, beers and bars from around the country, with advice on traveling, where to stay, what to eat and what to bring home. The beer tasting is courtesy of the just-opened Craft Beer Cellar in Clayton.

5. Mission Taco’s new Summer Cocktail Menu is sweet, fruity, fresh and adventurous. Consider the Raspberry Caipirinha, made with cachaca (distilled sugar cane), raspberry agua fresca, lime and simple syrup ($7). The La Flor de Borracha (“the flower of the drunkard”) is mixed up with London dry gin, hibiscus agua fresca, Big O ginger liqueur and lemon juice ($7). The Delmar Boulevardier joins bourbon, Aperol, sweet vermouth and bitters ($8). Look for these boozy refreshers and 10 more intriguing elixirs on the new drink menu.

 

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6. The ink has barely dried on the inaugural Breakfast Menu for the recently relocated The Shack, and everything looks so fun. The Three Little Pigs omelet is filled with ham, bacon, pork belly, onions and bell peppers, smothered in “Shack cheese,” and served with hashbrowns and an English muffin ($8.50). The Shack’s Big Crunch is Texas french toast encrusted with Corn Flakes ($8). The New Yorker Skillet features smoked pastrami, Swiss cheese and spicy mustard over hashbrowns, topped with eggs ($8.50). The drink menu includes hangover stoppers like the Meaty Mary, a bloody mary made with cucumber vodka, bacon, a cheese cube, house seasonings on the rim, and a beef jerky straw ($9). Breakfast is served daily 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

7. The new Free Lunch @ SLCL program works with Operation Food Search to give complimentary lunches to kids ages 2 to 18 at three St. Louis County Library branches. Children can enjoy nutritious lunches and fun activities at the Florissant Valley, Rock Road and Weber Road Branches, weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. through Aug. 15. There’s no need to call ahead; just show up.

 

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8. It’s not often that Ted Drewes introduces a new concrete flavor, and frankly, any excuse to dump dessert into our custard-hole works for us. The newest excuse is Brennan’s Blend, an “Abaco mocha” and hazelnut concrete named after KMOX radio host Charlie Brennan. Abaco mocha is Drewes’ coffee-rum flavor, and when mixed with hazelnut and finished with a drizzle of caramel, it’s a winner. Depending on the size, it runs $3.40 to $6.20.

9. The new lineup of Foot-Long Hot Dogs at Wentzville’s Tattooed Dog is formidable. The all-beef dogs come in varieties like the Big Kahuna Dog, with teriyaki mustard, grilled pineapple and fresh cilantro; the Bacon Bleu Dog, with bacon, blue cheese crumbles, roasted apple and spicy honey mustard; and the eponymous Tattooed Dog, with chili, onion, shredded cheese, jalapeno and “twisted” (read “spicy”) sour cream (All foot-long dogs are $10.75.).

10. It’s tart, it’s refreshing, and we want to marry it. It’s Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Ice Cream, available this Wednesday at Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream in Webster Groves. Ice cream flavors, like mild summer nights, are fleeting. Get this one while you can for $3 a scoop.

 

 

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