Off the Eaten Path

Exploring St. Louis, one meal at a time…

3 Monkeys!

So what happens when a foodie (yours truly) plans a dinner date with her dad (also a foodie!) and her sister (who happens to be EXTREMELY picky!)?

You end up at 3 Monkeys near Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, MO. I’ve been wanting to try the place for quite some time, and it seemed interesting enough to satisfy me and my dad, while having ‘normal’ things on the menu to please my sister.

I was hoping for some mind-blowing food, and instead I left with a feeling of ‘meh’. Let me explain.

It was a nice night, so we sat outside. Fine, right? Other people were sitting outside too, so it wasn’t like we were the only souls out there. Well, our waitress seemed to forget that we were out there, because she dropped the menus off, and DIDN’T COME BACK. After about 15 minutes, I had to run inside (I was a little miffed) and remind her that she had (hungry) customers outside who felt a little neglected.

Water was finally brought out, and we started with some apps. Lobster rangoon and calamari.

lobster rangoon

fried calamari

I love crab rangoon, and lobster rangoon sounded CRAZY delicious! I was expecting to have my mind blown. Honestly? This wasn’t fantastic like I was hoping. It was just OKAY. It tasted like the lobster rangoon at Crazy Bowls & Wraps (a fast food chain in St. Louis).

The calamari was decent. A little tough, but I wasn’t expecting much from a non-Italian place.

For the entree, I went with the turkey burger and fries.

Now this was pretty good. The fries were nothing to write home about, but the burger was DELICIOUS! It was seasoned very well, and is actually one of the best turkey burgers I’ve had in St. Louis.

My sister and dad both ordered the ribs and fries, which they both seemed to enjoy.

So even though the food was average, I was left feeling a little disappointed about 3 Monkeys. It reminds me of an Applebee’s. Not bad, but not GREAT. Just…meh.

Scores, anyone?

Food: 3 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 3 stars (we sat outside…I’m not sure what the ambiance was like inside)

Service: 1 star

Value: 4 stars

I love the Tower Grove neighborhood, so I’ll definitely be back. 3 Monkeys is really known for their pizza, so I think I’ll try that next time.  Hopefully that’s better than what I had tonight. And hopefully the service is a little better, too!

June 24, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tempura overload!

So I’m going to start this post off by saying that I’m obsessed with sushi. OBSESSED! I love it. However, at the same time, I’m a huge sushi snob. All-you-can-eat sushi spots? No thanks. Grocery store sushi? No ma’am. Sushi at a BUFFET? (Yes, it happens!) Hecky no!

But I’ll definitely snack on sushi from a reputable restaurant, as evidenced here and here. Mmm. I love it!

So when my mom and sister wanted to hit up Asia @ Lumiere Place in STL for some eats, I was down! Sushi heaven!

This trip was sort of interesting, because my mom and sister already had an idea of what they wanted me to try. I’ll try just about ANYTHING, so I’m a guinea pig of sorts, I suppose! Oh well…I love it. 🙂

We started out with grilled shrimp. The menu described it as ‘honey glazed shrimp skewered and glazed to perfection’. It was served with a sweet and tangy sauce.

Yes, it was just a delicious as it looked! So yummy and flavorful. Too bad I had to share and couldn’t eat it all myself. 🙂

Next, we (or should I say ‘I’?) had the tempura vegetables and the tempura soft shell crab. Tempura overload, anyone?

tempura veggies

tempura softshell crab

The veggies came with a thin soy sauce, and the crab came with a thicker, sweeter teriyaki sauce.  I was in love with the teriyaki sauce, but honestly, I don’t think tempura covered foods are my thing. I would rather just eat grilled or steamed vegetables. Tempura batter just adds unnecessary crunch (and calories!) that aren’t needed, in my opinion. What’s this? Stephanie likes the HEALTHIER option? Check this girl’s temperature!

The tempura soft shell crab suffered from the same tempura overload. It was just unnecessary. The crab wasn’t too tasty, either. I’m usually a big crab fan, but this tasted super fishy. Weird.

Time for the main courses! My sister was dying to try the Kumo sushi roll. It included soft shell crab, tempura shrimp, cream cheese, avocado, fried asparagus, and was topped with spicy mayo, eel sauce, and tobiko (flying fish roe). Sounds intense! And it looked intense:

Kumo Roll

Look at all of that yummy roe! I love the stuff.  The presentation was kind of cool, but we had to stare at it for a bit and decide exactly how we were going to conquer the thing. Finally my sister knocked the tower over, and we went to town.

So how did it taste? It was just ooookay. The entire thing was coated in tempura, so it was hard to distinguish the different components of the sushi, which was a little frustrating. It was also really hard to eat. The individual pieces of the roll were HUGE, and it was hard to fit the entire piece in my mouth (TWSS!). I tried biting it in half (which I NEVER do with sushi), and it ended up making a mess (which is why I never try to do that!). It was bad. I could only eat two pieces before I had had enough.

The others in the party had better luck with their food. My mom had plain fried rice, which was pretty good.

There was also beef and broccoli:

And general Tso’s shrimp:

I didn’t try either dish, but they looked tasty!

I did have a few complaints about Asia. First of all, they had a lot of popular Chinese and Japanese appetizers and such, but NO MISO SOUP. Oooh. That’s a huge strike. You have an entire sushi menu, and no miso soup? Bad.

Secondly, they don’t have a dessert menu. Nothing would have made me happier at the end of the meal than some mochi ice cream, and they didn’t have any! Double strike.

Enough complaining. Time for some scores!

Food: 2 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 3 stars

Service: 3 stars

Value: 3 stars

This time around the food wasn’t so great, but I would definitely give it another shot in the future! And no tempura this time. 🙂

June 20, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

La Dolce Via!

If there’s one thing I love, it’s desserts. Nothing makes me happier than a rich dessert after a satisfying meal (or before a meal, if you roll that way!).

Anyway, it was a nice summer day and I was craving something sweet. Me and my boyfriend decided to make the trek over to La Dolce Via. It’s located in the Forest Park Southeast area of St. Louis, MO.

We walked in and looked around a bit. The guy that was working there was SO nice. He greeted us immediately, and took the time to explain every single dessert that they had (and they have a LOT!), which was a nice touch.

Everything looked SO good. They make every single dessert on site, which is pretty awesome if you ask me.

I decided to go with the Torta di Tara: Chocolate buttermilk sponges layered with amaretto and chocolate mousse, frosted with a cinnamon-amaretto buttercream. MMMM! It was so decadent, dense, and rich! I loved loved LOVED the buttercream icing. The hint of cinnamon at the end was subtle, but delicious.

I savored every bite!

I will definitely come back, because I want more dessert! And I’d like to try their lunch/dinner menu.

They also have a wide array of coffee drinks. And free wi-fi! You can’t beat that!

Score time!

Food: 4 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Value: 4 stars

Yum yum in my tum!

June 12, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ice cream quickie!

What’s better on a hot St. Louis summer day than ice cream? NOTHING! I was craving something rich, sweet, and cold, so I went to Serendipity in Webster Groves, MO.

This place has yummy homemade ice cream, and LOTS of different flavors to choose from. Some of the flavors they have available: (per the website)

Coffee Almond
Bordeaux (Black) Cherry
Egg Nog
Marker’s Mint Chip Chocolate
Clark Gold Star Swirl
Chocolate Almond Swiss
Chocolate Chip
Pumpkin Pie
Caramel Apple
Strawberry Cheesecake
Cake Batter
Dulce de Leche
Cotton Candy
Sweet Cream
English Toffee
Chocolate Peanut Butter
Chocolate Orange
Gold Coast Chocolate
Butter Pecan
Banana Nut
Bailey’s® Irish Cream
Vermont Maple Walnut

Drooling yet?

I had the Gold Coast Chocolate. It was RICH and tasty!

It was just what I needed on a hot summer day.

The place itself is pretty cute. Lots of seating, so you can cram all of your friends in here for a cool treat!

Time for scores already?

Food: 5 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 4 stars

Service: 4 stars

Value: 4 stars

Sorry for such a short review, but did you really expect me to wax poetic about ice cream for more than a few paragraphs? 🙂

June 8, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Failure of epic proportions!

Okay, so if you’re from St. Louis, chances are you’re going to be offended by this post. And for that, I’m sorry (maybe!). But I have to be real with you — some things in St. Louis are just a little bit (okay, a LOT) overrated. Ted Drewes, anyone? Don’t get me wrong; some of the overrated places aren’t BAD. They just aren’t as good as people make them out to be.

However, when it comes to this place, in my opinion it’s not only overrated, it’s just downright BAD.

Enough beating around the bush. I’ll just get around to it. The place I’m talking about is…

Yep…I said it! Imo’s Pizza.

Now, if you do a little bit of digging around the web, you’ll see that there are two groups of people: people who LOVE Imo’s, and people who know what good pizza is (zing!).

What’s the big deal, you might ask? Why are there such loyal devotees to pizza place? Why are there people who absolutely LOATHE it? One word. Provel.

Yep, you read that right. Provel. Not provolone. Provel. It’s a really popular cheese in St. Louis (and not used much elsewhere). It’s a processed mix of cheddar, swiss, and provolone. It has a low melting point. It’s not stringy. And it’s what Imo’s uses to top their pizza.

I’m not a big fan of provel (if you couldn’t tell by now!). I like my pizza to be stringy. I like this:

Look at that stringy goodness. Provel doesn’t give you that! It’s a clean bite. It’s like putting American cheese on your pizza. It’s processed GARBAGE.

Now that I’ve pissed off half of St. Louis, let’s talk about my experience here. Prior to this review, I hadn’t had Imo’s in YEARS. I just dislike it that much. Fortunately, my boyfriend enjoys provel. We went to Imo’s so I could blog about it!

We ordered a 14 inch supreme pizza. I thought it would be interesting to order half with provel and the other half with mozzarella. So we did! Let’s do some experimentin’!

the top half is provel. Bottom half is mozzarella.

I tried a slice with provel. Yuck. Just as I remembered it. Clean bite; no stringy gooey cheese. In fact, you couldn’t even taste the cheese. That’s the thing about provel. It doesn’t have a distinct taste; just a gummy texture that holds all of the toppings in place. It’s like eating paste.

I tried a slice with mozzarella. It was slightly better (and definitely stringy!), but not great.

And that’s the thing about Imo’s. Their pizza is just not good. Even though we ordered the supreme pizza (with every topping imaginable on it!), it was still bland. Their vegetables are obviously frozen before they throw it on the pizza (which results in a watery mess when the pizza is baked). The meats aren’t seasoned well (if at all!). It’s just bad.


Food: 1 star (out of five)

Ambiance: 2 stars

Service: 3 stars

Value: 4 stars

Don’t believe the hype! It’s a run of the mill pizza joint that is WAY overrated, and you can find much better in St. Louis for a comparable price.

P.S. If you like my blog (and don’t hate me after this post bashing Imo’s!), please please PLEASE follow me on Twitter and subscribe to the blog! (How to subscribe? Scroll down, and you’ll see a spot to put in your email address on the right-hand side of the page! I promise you won’t get any spam!) That way you’ll be the first to know when I make new posts! Pretty please with sugar on top! 🙂

June 4, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , | 4 Comments