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

The science of CHEESE!

So ever since Cheese-ology opened up in the Delmar Loop (in St. Louis, MO…of course!) I’ve been DYING to try it. A restaurant entirely devoted to macaroni and cheese?!?! Count me in!

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Me and my boyfriend stopped by around 8:30pm on a Saturday night. It wasn’t too crowded, but there was a nice amount of people in there.

I heard a few things about flights (3 smaller portions) from some people, so we asked the cashier if we could order a flight. Sadly, they no longer offer that option — they said it wasn’t cost effective on their end and led to a lot of waste.

Oh well — on to the food!

I ordered the ‘Bacon, Bacon’ — according to the menu, it contained "Mozzarella and Gruyere cheeses, and a generous amount of thick cut Bacon."

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Wow. This was by far my favorite. The salty chewy bacon complimented the gooey creamy cheese PERFECTLY.

Andy had the ‘Shrimp Scampi’ – "a mixture of Mozzarella, Provolone and Parmesan cheeses, paired with strong flavors of lemon and garlic".

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This one was just okay. It was decent, but not my favorite. Nothing about it really stood out to me. It looks pretty though, right? 🙂

We were enchanted by the menu, and being the mac and cheese fiends we are, we really just had to have more, so we ordered two flavors to go: ‘Black and Bleu’ and ‘Buffalo Chicken’ (the special of the day).

The next day we tore into the leftovers!

The Black and Bleu had American and Bleu cheeses, Steak, and cajun spices. This was tasty, but it reminded me of hamburger helper. Really tasty hamburger helper, but still….hamburger helper.

The Buffalo Chicken was much better. It was spicy, creamy, cheesy…it was just an explosion of flavors in my mouth! SO. GOOD. If they have this one on special, ORDER IT.

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It was nice to know that even the leftovers held up really well. They were just as delicious as the stuff we had in the restaurant!

Even though the food was fantastic, the atmosphere of Cheese-ology left a lot to be desired. I feel like they could have put a lot more care into the place. It really looked thrown together — concrete floors, white walls, hard uncomfortable chairs — get this place a designer, stat!
But I didn’t come to be wowed by the decor. I came for the food — and Cheese-ology definitely delivered on that!

Time for scores!

Food: 5 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 2 stars

Service: 3 stars

Value: 3 stars

I can’t wait to come back and try more of the menu! This place gets two (cheese-stained) thumbs up!

August 18, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

So my last post about KFC was sort of lame, right? I know, I know…but I’m making up for previous transgressions by presenting you with my experience at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse. Oh, it was EPIC.

My mom treated my sister and I to a dinner at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse the night before mother’s day (what’s wrong with this picture? Shouldn’t it have been the other way around? Oops!). I was super super pumped, especially after looking at their online menu. I studied it and knew what I was going to order weeks in advance! 🙂

Anyway, Jeff Ruby’s. It’s in the River City Casino in South County, St. Louis.

First of all, the place was absolutely beautiful. The ambiance was amazing: the lighting was dim and romantic, and there were chandeliers everywhere! My heart was racing in anticipation.

I’m not going to waste any more time. Let’s get on to the food! Are you ready for lots of pictures?

We flipped through the wine menu first and settled on a dessert wine: Moscato. Dessert wine with dinner? Sounds like a great way to start the night if you ask me! I’m not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, so I’m not going to pretend to be. All I know is that I like sweet bubbly wines, and this one hit the spot!

guess who drank most of the bottle? *hiccup*

On to the food. We’ll start with appetizers. My mom wanted us to try a little bit of everything, so we ordered quite a few appetizers. We started with the HUGE tiger shrimp cocktail:

This picture doesn’t adequately show just how HUGE these shrimp were. They were gigantic! And the flavor was amazing. Definitely a nice start to the meal.

Oh, but we didn’t stop there. Next on the appetizer list? Pan roasted mussels. They were accompanied with a white wine, applewood smoked bacon,  taragon and lemon sauce. MMM. These were divine. The mussels had a nice, light taste. Not too bogged down with spices. Clean…just the way I like it.

I ate a few mussels before I took this picture! Oops!

Next I wanted to try an oyster on the half shell. I’ve never tried raw oysters before. What the heck…might as well try it now!

I topped it with some cocktail sauce and horseradish before I slurped it down. Not bad! I don’t know if I’d do this again, though. Not a huge fan of the texture of oysters, even though the flavor was crisp, clean, and amazing.

We also had bread. I believe it was Jewish Rye. Not too shabby. The butter was the star of the show for me! There was regular butter (BORING!), and then there was mushroom and truffle butter. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! It was yummy. I could eat that butter with a spoon. YUM.

look at that butter! Delish. Plain butter on the right, HEAVENLY mushroom and truffle butter on the left.

We noticed that they had sushi on the menu, and as a self-proclaimed sushi snob, I knew we had to try it. We went with the Dragon roll. I don’t remember exactly what was on it, but there was eel involved. And cucumber. And I think there was some crab in there somewhere. It was not bad at all! Quite delicious, actually. It gets the sushi stamp of approval from me!

Can you believe we still had room for our entrée after all of those appetizers? Well, we did. I went with the steak and lobster. 11 ounces of cold water lobster tail paired with 9 ounces of dry aged filet mignon? YES PLEASE! I had my steak topped with crab meat and béarnaise sauce, just because I was feeling a little fancy. 🙂

you can't have lobster without butter sauce!

The food was AMAZING. The pictures just don’t do it justice. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and it was amazingly tender. It melted in my mouth. The crab and bearnaise sauce were decadent and rich. The lobster was tender and so so SO juicy! I promise you that I will have dreams about this meal. It was cooked to perfection.

Of course I can’t hog the spotlight; my mom and sister’s entrees were fabulous as well:

Mom ordered the U.S.D.A. Prime Dry Aged New York Strip...14 ounces of meaty perfection!

my sister also ordered the steak and lobster. She topped her steak with peppercorn shrimp scampi.

Everything at Jeff Ruby’s is a la carte, so of course we had to order some sides to go with our meal.

We had baked macaroni and cheese:

baked macaroni and cheese

Potatoes Anna:

potatoes anna

Creamed Spinach:

creamed spinach

And grilled bacon (because who DOESN’T love bacon?!?!) :

grilled bacon!

Whew! So how was everything? The baked macaroni and cheese was tasty, although I admit that it looked better than it tasted. The Potatoes Anna were delicious! Think fried potatoes, minus all of the grease that weighs you down. They were delicious, and seasoned with the perfect amount of salt and spices.

The creamed spinach was, well…creamed spinach. Didn’t knock my socks off, but it was decent.

My favorite side by far was the BACON!! Who would have thought, right? It was delicious applewood smoked bacon, and it was thick, thick, THICK! Oh, it was perfection. Chewy, flavorful, salty, spicy…it had it all.

So after stuffing my face with appetizers, entrees, and sides, how in the world did I find room for dessert? Well, my friends…Stephanie ALWAYS makes room for dessert.

I went with the flourless chocolate torte. It was topped with sliced almonds and accompanied with house-made cherry sorbet.

Twas muy delicioso! It was rich and decadent (I’ve been using that phrase a lot throughout this review, haven’t I?) The raspberry sauce that was smeared on the plate was sweet and tart at the same time. The cherry sorbet was SO good, and went perfectly with this cake. It was just delightful. Perfect way to end the meal!

Or did I really end the meal there? Can I tell you a secret? I also had a piece of gooey butter cake and some amaretto ice cream to go with it. I’m so sad I didn’t take a picture, because this was the BEST gooey butter cake I’ve had IN. MY. LIFE. It was freaking fantastic!

So thus ends the journey of a thousand plates. Needless to say, we had plenty of leftovers. I’m munching on a piece of bacon right now. Nomnomnom. So good.

Service was very good. Our waiter was very attentive and friendly. No complaints there!

Ready for some scores?

Food: 5 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Value: 4 stars

Jeff Ruby’s almost received a perfect score from me. However, one could have easily purchased an iPhone for what our meal cost us. However, good food is worth the money, so I’m giving it 4 stars for value anyway!

I can only hope to be so lucky to return to Jeff Ruby’s again someday. THANKS TO MY MOM FOR TREATING ME TO AN AMAZING MEAL!!

I will have sweet dreams tonight. And then I’ll be hitting the gym HARD tomorrow. Oy vey.

May 9, 2010 Posted by | food, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments