Off the Eaten Path

Exploring St. Louis, one meal at a time…

The Shaved Duck

So Andy and I went to The Shaved Duck the other day…and yes, that’s actually the name of the restaurant! It located in the Tower Grove neighborhood in St. Louis, MO.

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As you may (or may not) imagine, The Shaved Duck is mostly a BBQ joint, but on the upscale side? That’s not to say that anything was expensive – actually, it was quite reasonable! But the atmosphere is a lot different than what you might be used to at a barbecue place. It was nice, chic, warm, and inviting.

When we arrived, our server was SO nice! Sweet and bubbly, but not annoyingly so. It was very refreshing. She quickly went over the specials of the day: two orders of chicken wings for the price of one, $3 draft beers, and half off smothered fries.

She had me with ‘smothered fries’. It sounded like a pretty good appetizer – pulled rib meat over crispy, hand cut fries, smothered in cheese sauce. MMM!

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The fries were just as good as they looked. The rib meat was juicy and tender, the fries were hot and crispy, and the sauce was rich and creamy! I’m drooling just thinking about it.

After we snapped out of our post-french fry food coma, it was time to order our entrees. I went with the duck and blue cheese flatbread. House made flatbread topped with tomato, spinach, a sweet bourbon drizzle, and duck (of course!).

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It. Was. Perfect.

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The flatbread was thin, buttery, and crispy. The duck meat was tender and flavorful. The bleu cheese was creamy and light. And the sweet bourbon drizzle was PERFECT! It brought everything together in the most wonderful way. I inhaled every single piece.

Andy ordered the beef brisket sandwich with a side of macaroni and cheese. I was too busy enjoying my flatbread to take a picture of his food, but I really wish I would have! I’m not a huge brisket fan, but this was AMAAAAZING. Tender and juicy (that seems to be the theme of the night here!) meat hugged by the softest croissant roll EVER. Topped with sweet and smoky BBQ sauce, this absolutely knocked my SOCKS off.

The mac and cheese he ordered as a side was good, too. Thick gooey cheese wrapped around little shells of HEAVEN. Yes, I’m being overly dramatic, but this was SO. GOOD. Why didn’t I take pictures?!?! I’m kicking myself now.

After our meal, we were so stuffed that we could have rolled home. But when the waitress mentioned that bread pudding was on the dessert menu, I HAD to order some! And I’m so glad I did…

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There’s no description of the dessert on the site’s menu, so I’m going from memory here. I think it was an almond brioche bread pudding with an amaretto sauce. It tasted a little like a cinnamon roll and a LOT like heaven. Oh, it just melted in my mouth, it was so good.

Time for scores!

Food: 5 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 4 stars

Service: 5 stars

Value: 5 stars

Needless to say, I’ll definitely make a return visit to the Duck. I want to explore more of their menu! Please, if you’re in St. Louis, don’t pass up this little gem. It’s absolutely AMAZING!

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August 24, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

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

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

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