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.

IMG_2290 
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.

IMG_2299

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.

IMG_2298
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!

IMG_2297 IMG_2303IMG_2296 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_2309

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:

IMG_2316

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 🙂

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

How sweet it is…

Have you ever visited a place that makes you so excited that part of you wants to tell everyone about it, yet at the same time, you want it remain your own little secret?

Well, that’s how I feel about Sweet Art. It’s a cute little bakeshop & art studio in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis, MO.

IMG_2319 

I’ve been here before, but this is my first time blogging about it! Thanks to an awesome Groupon, I was able to eat lots of yummy food for next to nothing – and tell you all about it! Double win!

Before I get to the food, let’s talk about atmosphere. This little neighborhood shop is SO cute and inviting. It just feels like home, in a way. I snapped a few photos, but not nearly as many as I wanted to. I just started to feel weird after a while! One thing about food blogging – people tend to think you’re a little crazy when you start snapping photos willy-nilly!

 

IMG_2320

IMG_2322

IMG_23211  

IMG_23231

One little thing – I forgot to mention that Sweet Art is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant! As a former vegetarian, this didn’t bother me in the least; I may be a meat-eater now, but I’m not afraid of fake meat products! Food is food, right?

Honestly, though…Sweet Art does such a good job of preparing their food that you don’t even think about the fact that they’re meat free. Everything is THAT tasty!

Okay, enough of the blabber…let’s get on to the food, shall we?

I started with the ‘39th’. (Sweet Art names most of their sandwiches after St. Louis street names…cool, huh?) It is their BLT w/smart bacon (soy), organic mixed greens, tomatoes, and vegan house spread. I added avocado for an extra buck. It came with the choice of chips or organic fruit. Want to guess which one I went with?

IMG_23241

Mmm mmm MMM! The sandwich was delicious and HUGE! The ‘bacon’ was deliciously chewy, the organic greens were fresh, and the creamy avocado mixed with the vegan spread made my mouth SO happy. This was very tasty, and super filling – I could only eat half! Well, okay… maybe I was saving room for this…

IMG_23321

Why, hello there, yummy red velvet cupcake! You sure are looking mighty tasty there…

This was GOOD. I will say it once: Sweet Art has THE BEST cupcakes in St. Louis. Period. The cake was moist and light. The cream cheese frosting was rich and creamy. Red velvet is my fave cupcake flavor, and this one certainly didn’t let me down! Oh, it was so good!

Of course I couldn’t just stop there, now could I? I was stuffed, but I ordered a few goodies to go; a girl’s gotta eat dinner, right?

IMG_23421

The name of this spectacular wrap escapes me. I checked Sweet Art’s website, and it wasn’t on there, either! All I know is that is contains organic mixed greens, a wonderfully delicious spread, and faux chicken. Maybe a few more goodies. I don’t know. I’m useless! This was DELICIOUS, though!

And now, for the grand poobah of the event. The most exquisite, fantastic, rich, gooey, chocolate-y thing that will ever cross your lips…

 

*drumroll*

 

IMG_2357

Three words. Homemade. Vegan. BROWNIE. You can stick a fork in me, because I’m done, folks! How they managed to make this decadent brownie with no eggs, milk, or traditional chocolate will forever be a mystery to me. Dare I say that this is better than any brownie that I’ve ever tasted in my life?!!? Yep, I just went there. And for the naysayers, honestly, this tastes JUST like the real thing. It will blow your mind!

Okay, so now that I’m done waxing poetic about this wonderfulness that is Sweet Art (and I PROMISE you, the owners didn’t pay me to write this glowing review!) I can give you guys some scores (just in case you’re still confused about how I feel about this place).

Food: 5 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Value: 5 stars

Yep, this received the nearly impossible-to-get straight 5 stars from me! If you’re in St. Louis and you haven’t been to Sweet Art yet, what are you waiting for!?!? Hightail it here, NOW (and take me with you, please!). You can thank me later.

August 29, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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.

IMG_0973

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!

IMG_0984 

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!).

IMG_0985

It. Was. Perfect.

IMG_0988

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…

  IMG_0999

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!

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