Hit List: March 2016Olive & Oak
Webster Groves residents have been waiting for this restaurant – the time it takes to get a table makes that clear. Step up to the bar while you wait and order the No. 36 for a sweet-tart, herbal treat with Yellow Chartreuse, Amaro Nonino, lemon and cardamom. The menu is full of thoughtful, well-constructed dishes you’d expect from former members of the Annie Gunn’s team. Beef tenderloin, so yielding you won’t need your knife, is served on a pool of cracked pepper grits and rounded out with a simple arugula salad. Don’t miss the light, fluffy gnocchi resting in rich lamb ragu that’s cut through with the tart tang of herbed goat cheese. The flavors and textures of each element complement the others with a balance worthy of Michelangelo’s most daring contrapposto.
102 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314.736.1370, oliveandoakstl.com
The Muddled Pig Gastropub
The Muddled Pig Gastropub has joined the ever-growing ranks of Maplewood restaurants. Start with a local craft brew or house cocktail like the boozy Cherry Rye-It, filled with Bone Snapper rye, vermouth and fernet, or a zippy Spice Trade, with gin, ginger shrub and pink peppercorns. Support your libations with a bar snack of Pork Wings (fried bits of pork shank tossed in a soy-whiskey or sweet and spicy glaze) or opt for a healthy starter of Missouri Mushroom Farro Salad, which sees a generous bowl of the toothsome grain mingled with roasted local mushrooms, pickled red onion, creme fraiche and crunchy popped farro. The juicy house-ground burger doesn’t hold back with peppery bacon, thick-cut cheddar and a house pickle. And dinner appetites can try one of six entrees like a tender beer-braised pork steak slathered in house barbecue sauce with mashed potatoes and a crisp apple-blue cheese slaw, or get your caffeine fix with a coffee-braised pork shank served with grits and shaved Brussels sprouts.
2733 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, 314.781.4607, Facebook: The Muddled Pig
Experience a bit of Italy at Parigi, the newest restaurant from owner Ben Poremba. Start things off with the sweet and spicy Beauty School Dropout (a mix including vodka, local Big O ginger liqueur and orange bitters) and Parigi’s take on a grilled Caesar salad: lightly charred romaine lettuce topped with an oil-cured anchovy fillet and Parmesan. Other highlights include a New York strip – order it with a glossy red wine reduction. Red wine also serves as the braising liquid for rich veal plated with creamy mashed Japanese sweet potato. Desserts include a selection of ice creams from Clementine’s Creamery – we’re partial to the pistachio – and a cookie plate compliments of La Patisserie Chouquette.
8025 Bonhomme Ave., Clayton, 314.899.9767, parigistl.com
Boundary, formerly The Restaurant at The Cheshire, has opened after a conceptual overhaul. The new restaurant offers a variety of dishes to share. The mussels frites features the meaty shellfish nestled under a crown of crispy fries suitable for eating by themselves or sopping up the vermouth-based broth, studded with smoky bacon and sweet, subtle fennel. Spicy Peruvian ceviche is served in a coconut shell, each spoonful giving a quick hit of intense heat up front, cooled by chunks of creamy corvina whitefish. Buttery rainbow trout is served atop a roasted cauliflower steak and sunchoke puree with barely roasted leeks to provide a bright bite.
7036 Clayton Ave., St. Louis, 314.932.7818, boundary-stl.com
It’s out with the Eau and in with The Preston as the newly renovated and rebranded eatery in The Chase Park Plaza. The Preston’s menu features a long list of shareable small plates like pillowy gnocchi with charred octopus or the sweet and meaty Pei mussels. Dessert takes the cake with the Melted Chocolate; served tableside, hot caramel is poured over a hollow sphere of chocolate that melts away to reveal salted peanut gelato and peanut brittle. Save room for the bread plate, especially when it comes with the ultra-flaky pretzel croissant. Order up a round of cocktails like the frothy, gin-based Mayfair or the boozy, bourbon-based Goodnight Mr. Preston, then pick a few plates and pass them around the table.
212 N. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314.633.7800, theprestonstl.com
Ol’ School Smokehouse
Ol’ School Smokehouse aims to teach you a lesson about from-scratch barbecue. Start with tender wings, brined in beer, slow-smoked over apple wood, then fried; we opted for dry-rubbed to savor the tender, smoky bite. Most meats are available in smaller portions as sandwiches or larger plates. Order the charred, shredded pit beef or chopped chicken, which is soused in a house-made whiskey sauce, or slice into the house-made garlic-pepper Polish sausage studded with fresh garlic. Fluffy garlic biscuits and sweet cornbread assist with soaking up extra sauce. Toothsome Chuck Wagon beans are savory, not sweet, with bits of pulled pork, and house-cut french fries are crisp, well seasoned and thin enough to eat five at a time. Class dismissed.
7565 S. Lindbergh Blvd., Mehlville, 314.845.8585, olschoolsmokehouse.com