Off the Eaten Path

Exploring St. Louis, one meal at a time…

De Palm Tree

Jamaican, mon! Okay, now that I got THAT out of the way (I’ve been dying to say it ever since I dined here!) I can get into the nitty gritty.

De Palm Tree is the one and only Jamaican restaurant in the city of St. Louis. So I knew I had to try it. It’s nestled in a little strip mall of sorts, so unless you’re specifically looking for it, it’s super easy to miss.

sorry about the dark picture!

Inside, it was very cozy; it probably could fit 15 people comfortably. Tiny! But it was beautifully decorated; it looked like a little hut! So cute.

Our server was very friendly and personable. He immediately greeted me and my friends as we walked in, and was quick to serve us water and present us with menus.

Having looked at the menu online before the visit, I knew exactly what I wanted to try: the oxtail stew! I had never had oxtail before, but I knew I wanted to try it. Maybe it’s the Andrew Zimmern in me. But I like unique foods.

The oxtail stew came with a vegetable (tonight, it was cabbage), and the choice of either red beans and rice or a baked potato. I went with the red beans and rice.

oxtail stew!

Everything (except for the cabbage, which I didn’t try) was delicious. The oxtail meat literally fell off of the bone. For those who haven’t tried it, it tasted like a very tender pot roast. The seasonings were perfect! Not too spicy, but there was definitely a bit of a kick toward the end. The vegetables that were mixed throughout the stew were tender and delicious. I especially liked the butter beans that were in the stew!

The red beans and rice were also a hit. Once again, they were seasoned SO well.

Unfortunately, I was too stuffed by the end of the meal to try dessert, but I’ll be back for sure for some rum cake!

Overall scores?

Food: 5 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Value: 4 stars

I absolutely cannot wait to come back. The menu at De Palm Tree is extensive, so I’ll be back again and again to try everything. Yum!

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March 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cyrano’s Cafe

I went to a cute little place called Cyrano’s today.

It’s a cafe and wine bar, but it’s most well-known for their extravagant desserts. Think gigantic ice cream sundaes, pies, and bread pudding.

One thing you’ll get to know about me as you read more and more of my blog is that I absolutely adore bread pudding. It’s one of my favorite desserts…next to tiramisu and peach cobbler. I just love it.

So I ordered their caramel brioche bread pudding. At $7.50, it was sort of expensive, but I’m willing to fork out some money for good food!

The bread pudding was very good. The brioche was very light and fluffy, and the caramel sauce was sweet, but not so sweet that it was overpowering. And the whipped cream was airy, light, and creamy. It was perfection.

yummy whipped cream!

Although dessert was fantastic, service at Cyrano’s left a lot to be desired. When I walked in, it took a while before I was greeted and seated. And then it took a while for the waiter to acknowledge us and take our order. It was just surprising, considering how empty the place was. But I guess the fabulous food made up for it.

In summary:

Food: 5 stars (out of 5)

Ambiance: 4 stars

Service: 2 stars

Value: 2 stars

I’ll definitely be back to try some other desserts.

Oh, and lovely readers, do you think you could answer this poll (and elaborate in the comments, if necessary)? I don’t know how often to update this blog. Right now I’m trying to do it every three days, but would every other day be better? Let me know.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Porter’s Fried Chicken

Do you ever get a craving for some greasy, bad-for-you, artery-clogging food? Well, I do. I like to think that I’m a pretty healthy eater; my blog says otherwise, perhaps, but on those days when I’m not eating out, I do eat pretty healthy!

But anyway, today I was craving something crunchy and greasy, and well…Porter’s is right around the corner, so I decided to stop by for a visit.

So this place is definitely off the beaten path. It’s located in a little strip mall, right next to a dry cleaner’s. If you blink, you’ll miss it. And admittedly, it seems a lot of people do; a KFC is less than a block away, and I’m pretty sure people flock to that instead of Porter’s. But that’s their loss! Because in my opinion, Porter’s is most definitely the superior chicken eatery.

I decided to go with the 4 piece chicken dinner. It comes with four pieces of chicken (duh!), mashed potatoes, cole slaw, and a roll. Because I was feeling super hungry, I also ordered a side of corn fritters.

So how was the food? For the most part, it was really tasty. The mashed potatoes weren’t my favorite; they were lumpy and came with a white gravy. I’m a brown gravy girl. So those didn’t really do much for me. The cole slaw was very good. I believe it was mayonnaise based, and it had a very sweet flavor.

The corn fritters were also amazing. Think hushpuppy with corn inside. They were deep fried, and had a crispy crunchy shell. They were like little bites of heaven in my mouth!

corn fritters!

inside of the corn fritter

Although the sides were very good and added a lot to the meal, the star of the show was definitely the chicken. This is some of the best fried chicken I’ve had in St. Louis. The breading was flour based, and it was just flavorful enough not to overpower the juicy, tender meat of the chicken. Adding a little bit of Porter’s hot sauce on top just made it all the more delicious.

Service was very fast and friendly. While Porter’s does have some seating inside, this is primarily a take-out sort of place. And the ambiance of the place does leave a lot to be desired. So you’re better off calling in your order and taking it to go.

Prices were also extremely reasonable.  My total for all of the food came to about $9.25, which I think is pretty good, considering the amount of food I received.

So in summary:

Food: 4 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 1 star

Service: 3 stars

Value: 5 stars

Would I go back? Most definitely!

March 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

P’sghetti’s Pasta and Sandwiches

Okay, okay. Don’t laugh. Nevermind. You can laugh. At the name. P’sghetti’s? I know I did. I laughed hard. I compared it to Fazoli’s. But then I reminded myself that P’sghetti’s is NOT a chain, and it couldn’t possibly be as bad as Fazoli’s. And I walked in.

The place was, well…it was surprisingly nice. And clean. And welcoming! I pushed all of my previous judgments of the place aside and stared at the menu. I finally decided to go with the Mostaccioli Dinner, which, for the surprisingly low price of $7.60, came with a huge bowl of mostaccioli, 1/2 loaf of garlic bread (!!!), and a tossed salad. Wow. Yes, please!

The mostaccioli itself was pretty good. Like I mentioned before, the bowl was HUGE, and would easily be enough for two people to share. It was covered in a sweet red sauce and lots of meat sauce. Yum.

The garlic bread was unbelievable! The bread they used was similar in taste to a sweet hawaiian bread. Oh, it was like manna from heaven. Just delicious! It was so delicious and soft. I could have eaten a full loaf !

yummy garlic bread

The salad (not pictured) was your basic run of the mill salad. Not special enough to deserve its own picture, that’s for sure!

So, P’sghetti’s…I’m sorry about making fun of your name. I’ll probably still chuckle a bit whenever I hear it, but you’ve earned my respect. Delicious, delicious food. And FANTASTIC bread. I’ll be back.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 5 Comments

Mr. Wizard’s Frozen Custard

Springtime is here! I LOVE early spring. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and best of all…it’s frozen custard season!  I went to Mr. Wizard’s to celebrate.

It’s definitely a little off the beaten path, and not nearly as popular as another frozen custard place in St. Louis (although I will be reviewing that one later, so keep your eyes peeled!). But it definitely gives that ‘other’ place a run for it’s money, if you ask me. 🙂

I ordered the S’mores sundae, which consisted of vanilla custard, topped with chocolate sauce, marshmallow fluff, graham crackers, whipped cream, and a cherry! Phew! That’s a lot going on in one little cup!

S'mores sundae

with a cherry on top!

The custard was thick and creamy, and didn’t melt easily, even underneath the warm summer sun. Of course, I scarfed it down so quickly that it didn’t have a chance to melt! Hah!

The graham crackers were crunchy and slightly sweet, and the marshmallow fluff added a lightness to the sundae that I really enjoyed. The chocolate sauce and whipped cream brought it all together to create a wonderful, WONDERFUL sundae. And the small size was just enough to satisfy me without making me feel too guilty.

I will definitely be back. This custard really hit the spot!

March 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Seamus McDaniel’s

Okay, so I don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but when a couple of friends suggested that we go out for some down and dirty burgers, I HAD to pick Seamus McDaniel’s. It’s in St. Louis, MO, in the heart of Dogtown (our Irish district). I had never visited, but after hearing so many things about their giant burgers, I knew I had to try it out.

We walked in, and were immediately surrounded by green. Green shirts on the walls, green memorabilia, green beer, green EVERYTHING. Yep…definitely an Irish bar. A HUGE Irish bar. Lots of seating, both indoor and out.

We started with some of the tastiest garlic cheese bread I’ve had in a while. I’m not sure what type of cheese was used, but it was gooey, hot, and it stuck to the roof of my mouth (in a good way, I promise!). Mmmm.

closeup of the cheesy goodness!

Next, it was time for a burger. I went with the BBQ burger, and added some bacon for good measure. I ordered it medium cooked, and it came out PERFECTLY. And it was huge. 10oz of meaty goodness on a bun!

And the fries. Oh, the fries! They were hot and crispy and perfect.

So, in conclusion, you must go here. It was messy, BBQ sauce covered, meaty goodness. I personally can’t wait to come back. Yum. YUM!

March 16, 2010 Posted by | food, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Oh my, Mai Lee!

So after my 5 mile run through the streets of St. Louis, I decided to reward myself with a huge steaming bowl of pho. I went to one of my favorite Vietnamese places, Mai Lee.

I started with the same thing I always start with: the egg roll appetizer. I’m a sucker for a good egg roll, and Mai Lee doesn’t disappoint. Since everyone knows what an egg roll looks like (hopefully!) I’ll just post a picture of the yummy goodness inside:

I’m going to be 100% honest and say I don’t know exactly what is inside of Mai Lee’s eggrolls. But I’m pretty sure love is in there somewhere. And happiness. Maybe pork.

Next, I had the Bun Bo Hue. Otherwise known as spicy beef pho. Otherwise known as YUMMYNESS IN MY MOUTH!

It had vermicelli noodles, spicy medium-rare beef, and a bunch of different herbs and spices (I definitely tasted cilantro, among other things). It was delicious, warm, slightly spicy, and the perfect way to reward myself for running five miles in the cold. Mmm. Perfect.

My boyfriend will probably disapprove of this blog post, because I wasn’t very descriptive about the food. I don’t really explain WHY I like it. Well…sometimes, that’s just how it is. You don’t know exactly WHY you like something, but you know that you do. That’s how Mai Lee is for me. And honestly? I’m okay with that. 🙂

March 13, 2010 Posted by | food, running | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sushi sushi sushi!

Mmm…I love sushi. It’s too bad I live in a landlocked state like Missouri. I long for the day when I can move to the coast and have really fresh stuff.

Until then, I’ll settle with what we have here in St. Louis. Today I went to Kampai Sushi in the Central West End. I had heard so many things about their sushi and how lovely their fish was. Lovely, fresh fish? Count me in!

The place was very nice. No frills at all. Very simple. Very welcoming.

I walked in a little after they opened for dinner and was seated at the sushi bar. Yay! I was hoping for some fun interactions with the sushi chefs.  I was sorely disappointed. Maybe they were having a bad night. Not a single word was exchanged between us. Is this normal? I thought sushi chefs were supposed to be chatty and fun! I saw a tip jar sitting on the table, and it was full of single dollar bills. Well…how am I supposed to tip someone who won’t even talk to me?!? Psssh.

Luckily, they made up for their silence with some GREAT food.  I started with the complimentary miso soup and house salad.

you've seen one, you've seen them all...

I spy tofu!

The house salad was typical. Nothing to shout about. Tasty, but run of the mill. The miso soup was actually quite delicious. One of the more flavorful ones I’ve had in St. Louis. Very yummy broth that had just the right amount of saltiness. I could have used more tofu, but I’m never happy with the paltry amount that most restaurants give you in their soup. Oh well…it was free. Enough complaining, Stephanie!

For my meal, I ordered the Dynamite roll. It had cucumber and spicy tuna inside, with seared albacore tuna, ponzu sauce and scallion on top. I also ordered a few pieces of nigiri to round out my meal. Salmon, unagi, white tuna.

dynamite roll on top, unagi, white tuna, salmon nigiri on bottom

The Dynamite roll was, well….DYNAMITE. It was very tasty, and packed just the right amount of punch to my tastebuds. Very flavorful, and the fish was very fresh. I enjoyed the crunch of the cucumber in the roll. The albacore tuna on top of the roll melted in my mouth. It was very smooth. It’s hard to describe. But it was delicious.

Dynamite roll

This is what the roll looked like inside

The salmon, unagi, and white tuna nigiri were very good, too. The fish used was obviously quite fresh, and this stuff also melted in my mouth. It was like buttah, yall! BUTTAH!

delicious unagi!

yummy salmon and white tuna

Finally, to finish my meal, I had the red bean mochi. It was VERY good, although I’d prefer a different presentation. It was a little tricky trying to figure out how to eat it. They gave me a teeny tiny fork, which wasn’t of much use at all. It would have been easier if they would have cut the mochi in half to make it easier to eat. Ah well. It was VERY good mochi ice cream. And they have tons of flavors! Red bean, strawberry, banana, coffee, mango, etc. I’m probably missing a few.

red bean mochi ice cream

All in all, it was a great meal at Kampai. I left feeling very satisfied and not disgustingly full. Success!

March 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Bittersweet Bakery

Bittersweet Bakery. Ahhh.

It is located in the lovely Benton Park neighborhood in St. Louis, MO, which is a rapidly changing, growing, and soon to be AMAZING neighborhood. Hell, some might say it’s amazing already! It is definitely unique. And filled with little gems like this place.

Before I even get to the food, let’s talk about the space. It’s in a HUGE building. The inside almost looks like a loft, with exposed bricks and ductwork. It’s very very cool. I wish I could have captured that on film.

When I walked in, I noticed something that I’ve never seen in a bakery before. All of the pastries and goodies were out on display. No sneeze guard, nothing to keep you from getting up close and personal with everything on the menu. Of course when you actually order, they give you something fresh that ISN’T sitting out! What a nice way to get a look at everything.

look at all of those treats!

I had to take some close ups of the pastries out on display.

three different types of quiche!

Okay, on to the food. I started with the sauteed wild mushroom and gruyere quiche.

It was topped with a citrus herbed salad (not pictured) that amounted to a few leaves of spinach and a couple of dried cranberries; it was quite forgettable. The quiche itself was creamy, and there were plenty of mushrooms spread throughout. The crust was my favorite. It was rich and buttery. Although tasty, the quiche was honestly too rich for me, and I could only eat half. But it was still pretty to look at.

super close up of the quiche!

this is what it looked like inside. Look at all of those mushrooms...

Next up was the bacon and cheese savory pastry.  It was probably the highlight of my meal. It had a nice flaky crust, and the warm gooey cheese went along nicely with the thick, chewy bacon. It was probably the tastiest thing I had at the bakery. I could have eaten two! Or three! Mmm.

bacon and cheese savory pastry

A view of what's inside...

I saved what I thought would be the best for last. The sticky bun bread pudding. I am a bread pudding FANATIC. I love the stuff. Even when it’s bad, it’s usually pretty good.

Well…this wasn’t BAD, per se…but it wasn’t quite as good as it looked. It was topped with caramel and candied pecans, which were pretty yummy, but it didn’t have that ooomph I’m looking for. Even though the girl working the counter popped it in the microwave, it could have stood to be a little warmer.

sticky bun bread pudding

Even though I was too full to eat the whole thing, I made sure I ate every last one of those candied pecans!

So…would I come back? I’m not itching to come back, but if a friend wanted to go, she wouldn’t have to drag me. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll be back. I can’t resist a good pastry. Hell, I can’t resist a mediocre pastry either! Yeah…I’ll be back.

March 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 17 Comments

I’m breaking all kinds of rules here…

ahh...Chicago at night...

So…for those of you who have noticed (hopefully ALL 3 of you!), this blog is called ‘Off the Eaten Path’. It was originally going to be a food blog about hole-in-the-wall type places in St. Louis.

Well…I decided at the last minute that I don’t go to enough hole in the wall places to fill up this blog, so I’m going to make it about food. Period. I’m all about breaking rules, people!

So while I’m breaking rules, I’m just going to go ahead and break one more. I’m going to talk about food…in Chicago.

*gasp*

I know…I know. This is a St. Louis-based food blog. And that’s not changing. But I went to Chicago this past weekend with some girl friends, and well…I had some pretty good food. And I have to share it with you all. Because I love you that much.

First things first. Gino’s pizza.

It was literally right next door to our hotel. And it was pizza…deep dish. You can’t go to Chicago without eating deep dish pizza! Our concierge told us about the lunch special: A personal sized deep dish pizza, a salad, and a drink for less than 7 bucks. SOLD!

I LOVE deep dish pizza. Mmm. I’d eat it everyday if I could. But did I LOVE Ginos? No. Personally…Giordano’s is a lot better. But this is a close second!

We ordered an antipasto tray to nosh on while we waited for the pizza to come out:

All in all, I give Gino’s a solid C. I’ve had much better.

Next on the menu? A Chicago dog!  We heard lots of good things about Portillo’s, so we headed there:

According to wikipedia, a true Chicago dog has mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers, and celery salt:

chicago dog and french fries from Portillos

Oh, it was DELICIOUS. The hot dog had a nice bite to it, the sport peppers were nice and spicy, and the relish balanced everything out with a touch of sweetness. The fries were crispy and hot.  Everything was SUPER cheap!  As you will come to find in this blog, cheap food = happy Stephanie. Oh yeah.

Of course me and the girls went to a few more fun eateries, but I thought I’d just cover the two highlights of the trip. Pizza and hotdogs! Yum yum yum.

Once again, sorry for the shoddy picture quality. My friend Jane Linders told me that the macro setting on my point and shoot digital camera is best for closeups of food, so I’ll be using that setting from now on. Thanks Jane!

March 5, 2010 Posted by | food, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments