Off the Eaten Path

Exploring St. Louis, one meal at a time…

CJ Mugg’s!

So my boyfriend was feeling hungry on a rainy Saturday afternoon, and I had passed by CJ Mugg’s a few times while in the area, so I thought it would be worth a visit (and blog post, of course!).

CJ Muggs has a few locations around the St. Louis area, so I suppose it would be considered a local chain? I suppose this sort of breaks my rule of not dining at chain restaurants. Oh well!

I didn’t take a picture of the entrance because I didn’t want to get my camera wet. Boo. Sorry. 😦

Anyway, on to the food!  We were seated and some nice warm bread was brought to the table. It had a really interesting butter that went with it. I’m guessing it was jalapeno butter? I could be way off, and in that case, I apologize! It was so tasty.

nice warm bread...

AMAZING butter!

For food, I had the hummus plate. It’s an appetizer, but I wasn’t very hungry, so I just had that for my entree. It’s pretty good! Lots of pita bread, a huge amount of hummus, and olive tapenade and feta cheese. YUM!

feta cheese!

delicious olive tapenade

Andy had pizza, and opted for andouille sausage and broccoli for his toppings. I had a bite,and it was pretty good. Not amazing, but decent.



Service was alright. Our waitress wasn’t super attentive, but I’m fine with that. The place was pretty empty on a Saturday afternoon, which may or may not say something about the place.

I’m not dying to come back here, but I wouldn’t be opposed to visiting again.

Scores?

Food: 3 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 2 stars

Service: 3 stars

Value: 3 stars

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April 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Dewey’s Pizza

So you all have probably figured out by now that I’m not the healthiest eater on the planet. I keep in pretty good shape, and I’m definitely not overweight, but my eating habits are pretty bad. I’ve known for quite some time that I need to change the way I eat.  It’s just hard when there are so many good food eateries in the St. Louis area! But I’m going to try.

Don’t worry, this blog is still going to continue…just expect to see less artery-clogging stuff, and more healthy eats! Of course, I’ll still splurge from time to time…*wink*

Anyway, my boyfriend and I went to Dewey’s Pizza. While this place isn’t unique to St. Louis, it’s one of my FAVORITE pizza places.

I normally go with pizza, but since I’m on my ‘eat healthy’ kick, I went with the seasonal salad, The Harvest. According to the menu, it had “A mix of Field Greens and Romaine Lettuce, with Figs, toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Boursin Cheese and Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, tossed with our Apple Cider Honey Vinaigrette”. I had chicken added to it for a couple bucks more, just to make it a little more substantial.

One word: MMM. The apple cider honey vinaigrette? I wish I could BATHE in it! It was sweet, with just a hint of tartness, and it went perfectly with the salad. The greens were super fresh, and there was enough bacon to make me feel better about eating a salad. Oh, and the toasted pumpkin seeds! I found myself digging through the salad toward the end to make sure every last crunchy seed went into my belly. YUM!

The salad came with figs, but since I’m not a huge fan, I asked for them on the side. I nibbled on one, and they weren’t bad! They were chewy, sweet, and dense — like a savory raisin.

The service at Dewey’s is always top notch, and this visit was no exception. Our glasses were always filled, and the staff bent over backwards to ensure that our visit was pleasant.

The scores?

Food: 5 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 4 stars

Service: 5 stars

Value: 3 stars

So if you’re on a diet, like me, don’t be wary of trying salads at pizza places…especially if that pizza place is Deweys! Their pizzas are amazing, but their salads don’t disappoint, either. Mmm.

April 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Murdoch Perk

Every month I get together with my mom and sister for brunch.We take turns picking places to eat. The only stipulation? It has to be somewhere none of us has visited before.  This time around it was my turn to pick, and I really had to rack my brain for someplace new! As a (self-proclaimed) foodie, I really do get around! There was one place on my radar that I had been wanting to try, though: Murdoch Perk.

It’s a cute little corner cafe in the South Hampton area of St. Louis. Sort of in the same area as Ted Drewes. We arrived at 11am, and it was PACKED. I was surprised that we found a corner table to sit in. I recommend coming around noon or shortly after if you want someplace to sit.
I ordered the bacon egg and cheese croissant: the menu described it as ‘fluffy scrambled eggs topped with crispy bacon and american cheese on a flaky croissant.’ Mmm…I do love bacon! I had to try it.  It came with your choice of fruit or potatoes. As much as the fat kid inside me wanted the potatoes, I went with the fruit (I’m trying really hard to eat a little healthier here!).

The sandwich itself was pretty good. Didn’t blow me out of the water, but it was solid. I could have used a little more bacon and a little less egg, but that’s just the bacon lover in me coming out. The fruit? Don’t let the pretty picture I took fool you! It was a mess, simply put. A few apple chunks, some pineapple chunks, a few grapes, and smushed up mandarin oranges.  I LOVE fruit, but this didn’t look appetizing at all! And it wasn’t in a nice little cup or anything, either; it was all over the plate, where the juice from the fruit had the potential to get on the bread for my sandwich! I know…it sounds silly, but I don’t like my wet foods and dry foods to touch. Maybe I’m a little OCD.

My mom ordered the belgian waffles. She really liked them. I tried a bite and they were fluffy and very light.



The service was slow, but that’s understandable since they were SO busy. I would have appreciated a little more friendliness as well, but once again…they were busy. I guess I can understand.

On to the scores!

Food: 3 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 3 stars

Service: 2 stars

Value: 3 stars

I know the scores are pretty low, but I wasn’t really blown out of the water by this place. I live pretty close, so I’m sure I’ll be back, but I’m not itching for a return visit or anything. Oh well…you win some, you lose some, right?

April 22, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kota Wood Fire Grill

Although I go to some tried-and-true places around the St. Louis area, nothing excites me more than trying a place that’s relatively new. I love being able to visit a place without any expectations one way or the other. I get a strange thrill out of it.

With that said, I KNEW I had to visit Kota Wood Fire Grill, and soon. It opened just a few months ago, and I hadn’t heard much feedback about the place.

Me and my boyfriend went on a Friday night. I made reservations for 7pm, and it was a good thing I did — there were so many people here that were heading to The Fox theatre afterwards for the show! So keep that in mind if you come on a Friday or Saturday night. Those without reservations had a 20 to 30 minute wait.

Our waitress was very bubbly and friendly, but she was rather incompetent. More on that later. She seated us, brought us water, and handed us our menus.

I looked through the drink menu, and the milkshakes with booze really caught my eye. YUM! I went with the caramel milkshake. It’s not on their online menu, so I’m going from memory here; it had caramel sauce and some sort of really yummy liqueur. It was served in a pretty martini glass, and it was absolutely delicious. So rich and tasty; it felt like dessert! Before dinner! Naughty Stephanie 🙂


Foodwise, we started with the Kota BBQ Duck and Wild Mushroom Quesadilla as an appetizer. The menu described it as a quesadilla with monterey jack cheese and cilantro cream. Oh, it was REALLY good. The duck was tender and juicy, and they definitely didn’t skimp on how much they stuffed into the quesadilla! The cilantro cream sauce was SO good, and this is coming from someone who typically hates cilantro. Wowza!



For the entree, I went with the Voodoo Shrimp Pasta; it had squid ink fettucini, jalapeno cream sauce, and a few other things that I don’t remember. But it was very tasty.

Finally, for dessert, I had…BREAD PUDDING! Mm. It was verrrry good, and almost tasted a bit like a cinnamon roll. It was warm, gooey, and the caramel sauce surrounding it was so rich and buttery and GOOD. Dare I say this was better than Cyrano’s? Hmm. Better not go there. 🙂

Now onto the bad. It pains me to say this, because the food was really so good, but the service was SO bad. Our waitress, like I said before, was super friendly, but she was extremely incompetent. Why, you might ask? Well…here’s a list for your reading pleasure:

1. When she brought out our milkshakes, they were filled so high that they were overflowing. It was a gooey, sticky mess on the outside of our glasses. And you know what? That would have been okay if she apologized or tried to make it better. But she set our overflowing drinks on the table and quickly walked away. I had to wait until she came out minutes later to flag her down and ask for some napkins to clean up the mess. Ridiculous.

2. Bread! The tables to our left and right both received bread, and we didn’t. Mind you, it was the same waitress serving all three tables. Why didn’t she bring us bread? We flagged her down after finishing our appetizer and asked for bread. She didn’t apologize for forgetting, and instead promised to bring it out ASAP. The bread didn’t come out until AFTER our entree arrived. While the bread was tasty (yummy cheddar biscuits!), it would have been nice to receive it at the beginning of our meal like the other guests in the establishment.

3. Our food was brought out cold. Once again, she placed it in front of us, ran away, and didn’t come back until the meal was nearly finished to ask us how everything was. Hmm.

Now I understand that we came on a Friday night, and it was busy. But that’s no reason to receive sub-par service and cold food. The food was delicious anyway, but I can only imagine how awesome it would have been if it had been served hot.

Overall Scores?

Food: 4 stars (out of 5)

Ambiance: 5 stars

Service: 1 star

Value: 3 stars

Despite the poor service, I’ll be back. I want to try more things on the menu. And next time, I’ll come on an off night.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ted Drewes!

So after a 12 mile bike ride on Grants Trail in St. Louis, I had a craving for one thing, and one thing only: frozen custard! Anyone who grew up in St. Louis knows that the best place to get frozen custard is Ted Drewes. Do I think it’s the best? Well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out.

open on Easter Sunday!

Ted Drewes has a couple locations in St. Louis, but the most popular (and original!) location is along historic Route 66. It’s a cute little shack, but don’t be fooled by it’s rough exterior; there’s some good stuff being made inside!

Now I’m an ice cream purist; I don’t like nuts, fruit, etc. in my ice cream. But how interesting would a picture of plain vanilla custard be? Not very. I scoured the menu and found something that sounded tasty: the strawberry shortcake sundae! It was described on the menu as shortcake, with vanilla custard, strawberries, and whipped cream on top. Sounded pretty yummy!

So the first thing I noticed were the strawberries. Hmm. They looked a little suspect to me, and this is exactly the reason why I don’t like extra “stuff” in my ice cream. I’m very picky about ingredient quality, and these strawberries looked like the frozen kind with weird syrup all over them. Not very fresh. The syrup was sickeningly sweet, and had a weird aftertaste. However, I wasn’t going to give up just yet! I ate around the strawberries, and instead focused on the shortcake, the custard, and the whipped cream. Yum. The custard has an amazing consistency that I love.

However, the strawberries were overpowering the whole thing. If you like your strawberries like this, then go for this sundae, because they really load them on! But I wasn’t happy. So I dumped it and tried again with a different flavor. This time I went with the new Pomegranite custard flavor, in the “mini” size.

First of all, this was HUGE for a mini size! Not bad for two bucks and some change.

I tried it, and it was creamy and sweet, but not too sweet. The flavor of pomegranate was there, but it wasn’t intense or overpowering, which is always a plus in my book. I really enjoyed it.

Now if I had to pick one thing to gripe about with Ted Drewes, it would be this:

sad and melty...oh, and that's my boyfriend's thumb. Say hello!

That’s the same cup of custard, less than two minutes later. In 68 degree weather. If there’s one thing I HATE, it’s soupy ice cream. And Ted Drewes melts pretty easily, even in not-so-hot temperatures. Boo.

Service at Ted Drewes is speedy and efficient. On a warm summer night, the lines can be 20 to 30 people deep. But you’re never waiting in line for more than 5 minutes. It’s quick!

Prices are also extremely reasonable. You can get a pretty huge amount of custard for a couple bucks; can’t beat that!

With that said, it’s onto the scores:

Food: 4 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 2 stars

Service: 5 stars

Value: 5 stars

Ted Drewes isn’t my favorite custard, but it’s not terrible either. And if you’re in St. Louis, you MUST visit, just for the experience. And who knows? You might just fall in love with it! 🙂

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mas tapas, por favor!

So I recently went to Mosaic with a group of friends. It’s a tapas restaurant in downtown St. Louis. I used to work downtown, so I would pass this place all the time; it was nice to finally be able to step foot inside and try the food!

I started with the lobster salad: lobster, guacamole, valencia oranges, and chive sour creme. It was very light and tasty. I’m normally not a big fan of chives, but it actually worked here. The presentation was neat as well. I loved how it was stacked so neatly! I didn’t want to mess it up…but of course I had to dig in.

lobster salad

Next were the pot stickers: suckling pig (!!), shaved celery, thai peanut sauce. This wasn’t my favorite. The potstickers were okay, and I liked the crunchiness of the shell, but come on, Mosaic — if you’re going to be bold enough to call the filling ‘suckling pig’, you gotta back it up with some bold flavors! It was just missing something. It wasn’t BAD, it just didn’t have that wow factor. And I didn’t like the peanut sauce. It just tasted like creamy peanut butter. Ew.

One thing I love about tapas is that they’re so small, you can sample a wider variety of food! More food = happy Stephanie. Next we went with the short rib mini burgers next: maple smoked white cheddar, truffled brioche bun, smoked ketchup, potato croquettes.

Now THIS had wow factor, guys! Definitely one of the best parts of the meal. The burgers were tiny, which sucks, but I suppose they were supposed to be tiny (we are talking tapas here). It was so good. The meat was fantastic! And the smoked ketchup was amazing. I’m not a huge ketchup fan, but this was NIIIIICE.

The potato croquettes were like nothing I’ve ever tried before. They were fluffy and light and went nicely with the smoky ketchup.

Last but not least *drumroll please*….BREAD PUDDING! I’ve been on a bread pudding roll lately, and Mosaic did a really nice job with theirs. It had tequila soaked raisins (!!!), romepope anglaise, and dulce de leche ice cream. I have no idea what romepope anglaise is, but whatever it was made the bread pudding all the more delicious. I have to add this to my top 5 bread pudding experiences of all time.

The service was super friendly, and our waiter was nice and helpful and refilled our drinks promptly. He also had no problem splitting the checks for us.

Overall scores?

Food: 4 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Value: 2 stars

For me, this will be more of a special occasion place (because $55 for dinner is not cheap!), but I will definitely return. Yum!

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hendel’s Market Cafe

So I started a new job recently. Instead of working downtown (where good eateries are abundant!), I’m now working in St. Louis county, which is a  food wasteland of sorts. Lots of chain restaurants, and…not much else.

Or at least that’s what I thought before I visited Hendel’s! Located in Old Florissant, it’s a cute little blast from the past.

It’s very old fashioned and cozy. Lots of indoor (and outdoor!) seating as well, which is always a plus.

Now it’s time for the food! I had the spinach salad — Fresh spinach, mushrooms, red onions, smoked bacon and chopped egg with hot honey bacon dressing. Mmmm, it was delicious! The dressing was pretty fantastic as well. And the salad was pretty large for a lunch portion. Definitely enough to fill me up.

I was going to skip dessert at first, but then the waitress told me that they have homemade bread pudding. BREAD PUDDING?!?! And it’s homemade?!? Yes, please!

It was absolutely delicious. Warm, gooey, and flavorful. I didn’t even mind that there were raisins in it. The whipped cream on top was sweet and fantastic. And the piece that was brought out to me was HUGE! Totally one of my top 5 bread pudding experiences.

My only complaint? Our waitress could have been a lot friendlier. She was pleasant, but she looked and acted like she secretly hated her job. Don’t rain on my parade, woman!

Despite that small complaint, I’ll be back.

Overall Scores?

Food: 4 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 4 stars

Service: 2 stars

Value: 3 stars

April 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

1904 Beerhouse? FAIL. Huuuuge fail.

I go out to eat a lot. A LOT. Way too often, probably. But believe it or not, I don’t really experience many food failures. Usually I can come up with some sort of redeeming quality for a place. I try really hard. I’m a huge optimist — what can I say?

However, my visit to 1904 Beerhouse (located inside the River City Casino in South County, St. Louis) can only be described in one way: An epic FAIL. Oh, it was so bad. So, so bad.

Now this part right here is where you imagine the front of the establishment. Silly me deleted the photo off of my camera. Drats.

The decor was really nice. That part was really well thought out. There were really cool sculptures, photos, and other knickknacks all over the restaurant. And it had really cool chandeliers hanging from the ceilings.

Our waitress was very friendly as well. She answered most of our questions concerning the menu with no problem, and she was very pleasant.

Now onto the food. Oh, the food.

Since they were out of the Kobe Beef Corn Dog appetizer, we started out with the Crispy Dungeness Crab Fritters. It was like a beer battered crab cake. It was pretty tasty, and the chipotle tartar sauce that came with it was pretty tasty.

crab fritters with tartar sauce

The side of cole slaw, however, was DISGUSTING. It was vinegar based, which I usually like, but something tasted way off about it. It was really sour.

For the main entree, I settled with the Big and Cheesy Chicken Sandwich. The menu described it as ‘crispy thigh chicken, sweet and spicy onions, extra sharp cheddar cheese, St. Louis style BBQ sauce on an onion roll’. Pretty tasty, right? Well, it sounded appetizing to me.

doesn't look very appetizing, though...

Well, it came out, and it was TERRIBLE. First of all, there were way too many slimy onions on the sandwich. I removed those immediately. What was left was a rectangular block of fried chicken on a bun. Hmm. ‘Where’s my cheese?’, I wondered. I bit into the sandwich, and quickly figured out that the cheese was STUFFED into the chicken. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve bitten into in quite some time. The cheese just oozed out. And there was way too much of it. Oh, and is ‘St. Louis style BBQ sauce’ really ketchup? Because that’s what it tasted like. Ugh.

fried hunk of chicken, minus the gooey onions

I could only suffer through two bites of the sandwich before I decided I had had enough. The fries were laughable. They looked like McDonald’s fries, and tasted like they had been sitting out for a while. Not hot, not crispy, just blah.

My mom ordered the pizza, and it was not bad. It tasted like the kind you can get frozen from the grocery store, but whatever. She seemed to like it okay. And it definitely looked appetizing to me!

yummy pizza!

My sister ordered the basket of fried chicken, which might have been palatable had it not come with three pieces of thigh meat. Maybe something like that should have been mentioned in the menu. Personally, I like a variety of pieces.

The chicken came with a potato cake of sorts, as well as watermelon salsa. Fried chicken with watermelon? Oh…I see what you did there…*raised eyebrow* The watermelon salsa was pretty bad, by the way. Imagine sweet watermelon bits with crunchy onions, all drenched in a sour vinegar sauce.

watermelon salsa

My sister ended up sending the chicken back,  and instead went with the ribs (not pictured — sorry!), which were decent but forgettable.

Overall scores?

Food: 1 star (out of five)

Ambiance: 5 stars

Service: 4 stars

Value: 4 stars

Okay, I did think of ONE good thing about the Beerhouse: this bad experience has made me really appreciate when restaurants get it RIGHT. Never again. Sorry!

April 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment