Off the Eaten Path

Exploring St. Louis, one meal at a time…

BBQ, Booze, and Good news…

So I’m going to be honest. I had heard some not-so-good things about Smoking Joes online, so when my mom suggested we go here for our monthly girls night get together, I wasn’t too thrilled. However, after giving the place a try on a busy Friday night, I can safely say that Smoking Joes is legit.

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Smoking Joes is located on Washington Avenue in St. Louis, MO. It’s a really hip place (gosh, I just said hip…am I getting old?) with lots of bars, clubs, lofts, and awesome eateries.

I was expecting it to be somewhat crowded with the dinner rush when we arrived at 6:30, but to my surprise, it was mostly empty. The bright side? We could sit wherever we wanted! There was a live band playing that night, so we chose a table close to the stage, naturally. More on the entertainment in a bit.

Our waitress was pretty friendly, and quickly handed us menus and drinks.

As far as food goes, we decided on the large combo platter to split between the three of us:
– 1/2 rib
– 1/2 chicken
– 1/2 pound beef brisket
-choice of 3 sides

We subbed pulled pork for the brisket and chose mac and cheese, baked beans, and sweet potato fries for our sides.
While we waited for our food, I was able to get a good look at this place. Usually, when I think about barbecue joints, I think of a down and dirty type atmosphere. Grungy, dirty, farm-like. But this place was actually REALLY nice! It was very swanky and lounge-y. I liked it!

Our food came out pretty quickly, and boy was there a LOT of it! The waitress brought out three BBQ sauces (hot, mild, and sweet) and we went to town.

I started with the pulled pork, which was definitely my favorite part of the meal. Tender, juicy meat which knocked my socks off! Adding barbecue sauce only magnified the yummyness.

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I tried the ribs next, which came off the bone very easily with a slight tug. Once again, tender and moist, albeit a little too fatty for my tastes. Nonetheless, these are the types of ribs I’m accustomed to, not the ribs at Pappy’s (review coming soon!), which are good, but remind me of beef jerky.

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Next? Chicken! This was tasty as well, although a little dry for my tastes. That’s what BBQ sauce is for, right? It was seasoned very well, and it’s hard to get BBQ chicken right, so they get a pass on this one.

On to the sides! The mac and cheese was yummy after I added a touch of salt. The baked beans were sweet and perfect. And the sweet potato fries were hot and crispy, just the way I like them!

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Smoking Joes has a pretty decent drinks menu, so I ordered the Smoking Joes sweet tea, which had jeremiah weed sweet tea vodka in it. Yumtastic! My sister ordered the ‘Brazilian Blast’, which contained Malibu, Blue Curacao, Triple Sec, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, and Mango Schnapps. My mom ordered something green. With a cherry on the bottom. I forgot what it was (darn!), but it was mighty tasty.

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I said I was going to get back to the entertainment, so here goes. The live band hit the stage around 8pm, and they were FABULOUS. Very smooth and jazzy. Love love LOVED it. I didn’t want to leave! The live entertainment knocked up what would have been a 4 star review to a solid 5 stars. I was snapping pictures like a fool, and this was the best one out of the bunch:

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Okay, so not the best picture, right? I kept taking picture after picture, fumbling around with the settings, and it was just a challenge! The lighting was tricky. And I’m not very proficient with my camera yet; I use the auto setting a LOT, and I’m trying to experiment with others. It’s just a huge fail. Help!

Anyway, the entertainment was FAB.

Okay, score time!

Food: 4 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 5 stars

Service: 3 stars

Value: 4 stars

I can definitely see myself coming back here on a Friday or Saturday night when they have live music. And because the food is cheap, I’ll probably come here more often than I should!

Smoking Joes, you’ve won my heart. Congrats.

Oh, so you’re probably reading the title of my post and wondering what the good news is. Well…Off the Eaten Path is getting a (much needed) makeover VERY soon! I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. Everything will be organized by cuisine type (BBQ, Mexican, Italian, etc), and the site will look a lot cleaner and will be easier to navigate overall. I don’t have an exact date on when all of this will happen (this is just a part-time hobby, after all!), but I promise it will be soon.

One more shameless plug: if you’re on Facebook, you can keep up with Off the Eaten Path by becoming a fan (do it…pretty please!). You can also follow me on Twitter and get up-to-the-minute updates on what I’m doing, and more importantly, what I’m eating! So clickety-click away!

P.S. By the time you all see this post, it will be September 4th, so I just want to wish my mom a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Love you mommy 🙂

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September 4, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayuri Indian Restaurant!

I’m sorry, everyone. I’ve been seriously slacking when it comes to going out to eat! Darn you, diet! I still manage to make it out every now and again, but I still struggle with finding healthy things on the menu that I want to eat. Salads just don’t appeal to me when I’m going out! Le sigh.

Anyway, moving on. Me and my friends went to Mayuri! I’m a HUUUUGE fan of Indian food, and luckily there are tons of amazing Indian restaurants in St. Louis. This was certainly no exception.

Mayuri is nestled in a strip mall in Creve Coeur, St. Louis.

There must be some correlation between strip mall eateries and REALLY good food. Hmm. A little bit of research is in order!

Anyway, the food. I went with the Chicken Vindaloo: curried chicken with potatoes. It’s one of my FAVORITE Indian dishes! I requested it to be made very spicy…because I’m a spicy kind of girl. It definitely didn’t disappoint! It was SUPER spicy, and super duper flavorful. It came with fluffy basmati rice. Delish!

don't let the neon-orange sauce fool you! This stuff is GOOOOD!

I received a LOT of food with my order (definitely enough for leftovers!) and it all came to about 12 bucks. Not bad!

The atmosphere was nice and clean, and the service was friendly and attentive.

Was this a short review? Yes. But sometimes you just have to let the food speak for itself! And after my Jeff Ruby’s megapost, I’m sure you all are sick of me. 🙂

Time for scores…

Food: 4 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 4 stars

Service: 4 stars

Value: 4 stars

There are so many Indian restaurants in St. Louis that I’ve yet to try, so I’m not sure when I’ll be back to Mayuri. However, I highly recommend it for those who live in the area!

May 16, 2010 Posted by | food, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Judge Me!

It’s okay…you can go ahead and judge. I’m going to show you where I went a few weeks ago (April 12, to be exact!) and you can try to guess what I ate:

Have you guessed yet? Let me give you one more hint:

Yes…I tried the infamous Double Down. I’m hanging my head in shame right now.

So why the huge gap between my consumption of the Double Down and my blog post? Well…I wasn’t going to post about it on here, to be honest. I don’t typically eat at chain restaurants, and I DEFINITELY limit how often I eat fast food. Why waste money at McDonalds when I can go somewhere nice and have decent food?

But all of the hype surrounding the thing had me intrigued. I’m a scientist at heart (and by trade!) so let’s just call this an experiment of sorts? If I say that I did this in the name of science, will you promise not to judge me so harshly?

Anyway, I tried it. Ready for pictures? Here we go.

Caution: consumption of this product may lead to a heart attack!

What’s in this thing, you ask? Well, I think KFC describes it best, so I’ll take an excerpt straight from their website: “The new KFC Double Down sandwich is real! This one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel’s Sauce. This product is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun!”

Wow.

The important question: how did it taste? Well…it wasn’t bad. It was exactly what you’d expect. Two pieces of fried chicken surrounding bacon and cheese. Nothing more, nothing less. I didn’t drop dead after taking a bite, but I wasn’t eager to eat more. In fact, I could only eat about half of it before I started feeling queasy. Maybe the thought of it all was finally getting to me.

The next day I felt seriously ill. I felt like a bloated whale. Perhaps it’s the 1380mgs of sodium this little bugger contains? Whew!

So there you have it, guys. I did this so no one else will have to. And trust me, you really shouldn’t. Taste-wise, it wasn’t anything to go crazy about. And the after effects were definitely not worth it.

I promise I’ll have a real blog post coming up soon. I’m going somewhere super special this Saturday…I can’t wait to share it with you all! Good food will be in GREAT abundance. Mmmm.

May 6, 2010 Posted by | food, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 4 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

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

Mmm…Vietnamese

One thing you will undoubtedly notice over time in this blog is my undying love of Vietnamese cuisine. I swear I could live off of pho and sushi for the rest of my life. Oh, I know sushi is Japanese. Let me reword my original statement: I love Asian cuisine. Yum. But this post? This post, my friends, is dedicated to Mekong.  Located on South Grand Avenue in St. Louis, it’s one of many ethnic restaurants lined along this busy street.

I went here on a blistering cold Saturday afternoon (actually, I don’t remember if it was cold or not — let’s just pretend that it was!). Like most places that I dash into, I had passed by Mekong dozens of times. This time, I decided to finally venture in.

It was around noon. Lunchtime, right? Right? RIGHT?!?! Hmm…so why was I the only person in the restaurant? And why did the restaurant SMELL FUNNY?!!? The average person would have walked out right then, but not me, my friends. I have a tummy of steel. I was craving Vietnamese. And I surely wasn’t going to let a funny smell separate me from some delicious food.

I’m not a huge fan of spring rolls (I like egg rolls much better), but after reading all of the glowing reviews of Mekong’s spring rolls, I decided to bite the bullet and try them. They came out quickly, with some sort of peanut sauce that was just heavenly. The rolls were pretty good. Spring rolls still aren’t my favorite thing, but these were probably the best I’ve had.


For my entree, I had the fried chicken in Mekong sauce (I think it was some sort of fish sauce). Oh my goodness. When I say that this was DELICIOUS, I really mean it. Just wonderful. Orgasmic. When my plate arrived at the table, I swear my heart skipped a few beats. I immediately fell in love. It just LOOKED good.

And boy, it tasted amaaaaazing. It must be the American blood coursing through my veins, but I couldn’t stop eating it, even after I was disgustingly full. It was THAT good. The portion was HUGE. Definitely enough for two nice meals. How I managed to stuff it all into my belly? The world may never know.

Service was fast and friendly. My waiter was quiet, but nice. He always kept my water full, he was very attentive, and when I ran out of fish sauce, he quickly brought me some more. Nice.

Food is really cheap here. All of my food came to less than 15 bucks, which isn’t bad for a huge lunch. Cheap food = happy girl!

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