#87: Duck Burger at Planter's House

The Planter's House duck burger. | Jennifer Silverberg

It was a given that I was going to be dazzled by the drinks at Planter's House (1000 Mississippi Avenue; 314-696-6203). After all, owner Ted Kilgore is the town's undisputed mixology master. With such a high-profile cocktail program, Planter's House could have phoned it in on its food menu. Patrons are coming in for the drinks, right? Heck, they'll probably be so liquored up by the time they get hungry, they'd be fine with some Ritz crackers and Cheez-Whiz.

That's not how Kilgore operates.

See Also: Planter's House is built on a foundation of mixology magic

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#88: WildSmoke's Smoked Chicken Wings

The smoked chicken wings at WildSmoke. | Jennifer Silverberg

Choosing a favorite chicken wing is like selecting a favorite song: With so many different styles, it's an impossible task. Sometimes, the tangy, Louisiana-style heat of the Buffalo wing dipped in funky blue cheese is the only thing that satisfies. Other occasions call for some thick, molasses barbecue sauce, or perhaps an Asian-inspired glaze. Everyone has their favorite; it's what makes crowning a champion so controversial -- different strokes for different, very opinionated, folks.

See Also: Stick to Your Ribs: WildSmoke succeeds at barbecue basics, but stumbles when it goes off-script

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#89: The Duck Proscuitto Flatbread at Bella Vino

The duck prosciutto flatbread at Bella Vino. | Jackie Miller

If the bed-and-breakfast-style charm of Bella Vino (325 South Main Street, St. Charles; 636-724-3434) isn't enough of a reason to make the trek across the river, then the duck prosciutto flatbread should be.

See Also: Bella Vino, in historic St. Charles, is a meal worth driving for

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#90: The "Dam Burger" at the Dam

The "Dam Burger" | Jennifer Silverberg

If Pulp Fiction's Jules Winnfield thought his "Big Kahuna" burger was tasty, he would be downright out of his mind for the "Dam Burger" at the Dam (3173 Morganford Road; 314-771-3173).

See also: The Dam Cooks Up Bar Food Fit for the Fried

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#91: The "Hog Mess" at Blind Tiger

The "Hog Mess" pizza at Blind Tiger" | Mabel Suen

After shooting photos at the Blind Tiger (7376 Manchester Road; 314-646-8822) for Gut Check, my colleague returned to the office, eyes filled with the raptures. "Oh my goodness. You have to have the 'Hog Mess,'" she said.

See Also: Blind Tiger serves great pizza in a space with a split personality

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#92: Khao Soi at Fork & Stix

Fork & Stix's khao soi | Jennifer Silverberg

Gut Check is counting down the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now.

My relatively limited exposure to Thai cuisine typically leads me to a plate of pad thai and some spicy papaya salad. However, my predecessor, Ian Froeb (now food critic at the Post-Dispatch), said that I had to try the khao soi at Fork & Stix (549 Rosedale Avenue; 314-863-5572), the Northern Thai restaurant located on a small side street just east of the Loop. Froeb also included this dish in his Gut Check 100 -- as I would soon find out, for good reason.

See also: Small and unassuming, Fork & Stix is unlike any other Thai restaurant in St. Louis

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#93: The "Smokehouse Club" Sandwich at Bud's Smokehouse

The "Smokehouse Club" at Bud's Smokehouse | Jennifer Silverberg

Gut Check is counting down the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now.

The words "club sandwich" typically evoke visions of cold cuts on white bread, triple-decker style. Maybe it's classed up with those toothpicks that have the crinkly plastic on top. Lunch meat, mayo, iceberg lettuce. But not at Bud's.

See also: Bud's Smokehouse & Grill serves great barbecue, but can it break the curse?

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#94: Cafe Natasha's Yogurt Dip

Cafe Natasha's homemade yogurt dip | Jennifer Silverberg

Gut Check is counting down the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now.

When it comes to food, I don't do well with change. Sure, I like to try new things, and experiment with exotic ingredients. However, where my favorite, go-to dishes are concerned, I'm less flexible. When Café Natasha's (3200 South Grand Boulevard; 314-771-3411) changed its homemade yogurt dip last year, I nearly had a panic attack. I've been going to the Persian restaurant for nearly two decades and get the same thing every time I'm there: yogurt dip and shirazi salad for appetizers and the beef shish kabob with saffron basmati rice and two charred tomatoes for the main course. This was my order when I dined there last December, so I was shocked when the yogurt dip arrived covered in a garnet-colored sauce. "What's this?" I politely asked, trying to hide my horror. "It's the yogurt dip," the server replied. "We changed it a little. It now has pomegranate molasses and ground thyme. Enjoy!"

See Also: All Growed Up: Cafe Natasha's celebrates its 30th year with a laudable rejuvenation

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#95: Macarons at La Patisserie Chouquette

Jewel-colored macarons at La Patisserie Chouquette | Mabel Suen

Gut Check is counting down the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now.

Simone Faure is an artist. Not in the empty, overused way of describing anyone and everyone in the restaurant business, but in the truest sense of the word. Sure, she makes delicious pastries, but her genius is in her mastery of aesthetics. Faure paints with butter, sculpts with marzipan and enriches her flour canvas with colors and textures that belong in a gallery.

See also: Best Bakery 2013: La Patisserie Chouquette Pastry Chef Simone Faure Takes the Cake

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#96: The Libertine's Fried Chicken

       Josh Galliano's famous fried chicken | Cheryl Baehr

Gut Check is counting down the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now.

Josh Galliano is not afraid to divulge the secret to his fried chicken. As our server at the Libertine (7927 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-862-2999) said, "chef has published his fried chicken recipe for everyone to see. He figures that if someone wants to spend the week that it takes to make it, more power to them."

See Also: The Libertine: Clayton's "neighborhood eatery" is more like St. Louis' best new restaurant

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