#95: The Monte Cristo at Three Flags Tavern

The Monte Cristo sandwich at Three Flags Tavern. | Corey Woodruff

My love affair with Three Flags Tavern's (4940 Southwest Avenue; 314-669-9222) brisket burger is still hot and heavy, but I am beginning to come to enough to realize the restaurant's other gems. I could close my eyes, point my finger randomly and arrive at a perfect dish -- the menu is filled with them -- but one in particular stands out: the Monte Cristo sandwich.

See Also: High-Flying Three Flags Tavern: Is this the best restaurant opening of 2014?

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#96: The Meatloaf Blue Plate Lunch at Farmhaus

Wednesday's Blue Plate Lunch at Farmhaus. | Cheryl Baehr

The aroma of smoky bacon wafting out of Farmhaus (3257 Ivanhoe Avenue; 314-647-3800) on any given Wednesday afternoon announces a glorious event: meatloaf day.

The Lindenwood Park restaurant, headed by Kevin Willmann, is known for its self-described "edgy" takes on Southern and Midwestern cuisine. At night, the small dining room buzzes with guests eager to sample the acclaimed chef's upscale fare. During weekday lunches, however, the place transforms into a casual eatery, serving up daily blue plate specials that look and taste like Grandma's home cooking.

See Also: Thursday Throwdown: The Quincy Street Bistro-Farmhaus Meatloaf Battle

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#97: Comet Coffee's Chocolate Chip Cookie

Comet Coffee's chocolate chip cookie with milk, of course. | Cheryl Baehr

Stephanie Fischer is as quiet and unassuming as they come, but her chocolate chip cookies proclaim her greatness in the loudest possible voice. From her micro-bakery inside of Comet Coffee (5708 Oakland Avenue; 314-645-7158), this pastry genius turns out one delectable treat after another -- buttery croissants, sweet blueberry muffins, Momofuku Milk Bar-inspired birthday cake -- but it's her simple chocolate chip cookies that are her claim to fame.

See Also: Comet Coffee's Mousse Cakes: Gluten-Free Tortes With Distinctive Fruit Fillings

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#98: Canestri Cacio e Pepe at Pastaria

Pastaria's Canestri cacio e pepe. | Jennifer Silverberg

Wander away from the throngs of tourists, down a side street off any number of Rome's small piazzas and you'll likely stumble upon a tiny trattoria that serves incredible cacio e pepe ("cheese and pepper" in Italian). But if you're looking for a similar experience closer to home, just walk into Pastaria (7734 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-6603) for a version that is every bit as authentic -- minus the ancient ruins.

See Also: Thrillist Names Pastaria the Best Pizza in Missouri

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#99: The Granola Pancakes at Whitebox Eatery

Whitebox Eatery's granola pancakes. | Jennifer Silverberg

Like the sleek, lovely restaurant from whence they come, Whitebox Eatery's (176 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton; 314-862-2802) granola pancakes are a sight to behold. Jewel-colored mixed berries set in cloudlike dollops of whipped cream adorn the golden cakes, and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon-flecked granola makes one's mouth water just from looking. It's a visual breakfast masterpiece that tastes every bit as delicious as it looks.

See Also: Whitebox Eatery Brings Sleek Style to A.M. Dining: Review

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#100: Chicken Noodle Soup at Grove East Provisions

Housemade chicken noodle soup from Grove East Provisions | Jennifer Silverberg

Today Gut Check relaunches one of our favorite recurring columns for 2015: an accounting of the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now. These are the best dishes at the newest restaurants and the signature dishes that are still blowing our socks off. They're the 100 dishes that define St. Louis dining in 2015.

We will compile our 100 selections over the course of the year, culminating in a ranked list in late 2015. May our year -- as well as yours -- be filled with delicious food and drink. Cheers!

I'm sorry Aunt Mary, but Barry Kinder has you beat.

One of my fondest childhood memories was going to my great-aunt's house in rural Illinois for some of her homemade chicken soup. It was nothing fancy -- just chicken, aromatic vegetables, broth and a few noodles -- but I thought it was the best. That is, until I had Barry Kinder's version at Grove East Provisions (3101 Arsenal Street; 314-802-7090).

See Also: Critic's Notebook: Red Fox Baking & Catering at Grove East Provisions Is a Slice of Heaven

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#52: The Cheeseburger at Home Wine Kitchen

Last call for Home Wine Kitchen's iconic cheeseburger. | Jennifer Silverberg

Look closely at the above image. In just five short days, this will no longer be in your life.

I'm still in denial that Home Wine Kitchen (7322 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-802-7676) is closing. The Maplewood restaurant has been a mainstay of the St. Louis dining scene for what seems like forever (actually, it's been around for just over three years), but on December 31st, chef Cassy Vires and her husband Josh Renbarger will be serving their last guests. The announcement of Home's closure "for circumstances outside of our control" sent shock waves through the town's food community -- and ever since, sad patrons have been packing the small dining room and bar for their last chance to nosh on Vires' signature comfort food.

See Also: Home Wine Kitchen to Close December 31

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#53: The Smoked-Turkey Nachos at Grapeseed

Smoked-turkey nachos at Grapeseed. | Jennifer Silverberg

When the smoked-turkey nachos arrived at our table there was an audible gasp. We had expected to receive a simple twist on bar food. Instead, chef Ben Anderson and his team at Grapeseed (5400 Nottingham Avenue; 314-925-8525) produced one of the most visually impressive dishes of the year. One bite of a turkey-covered sweet-potato chip later, and it became clear that this dish was much more than a pretty plate.

See Also: Review: Grapeseed Serves Earnest, Seasonal American Cuisine in Southampton

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#54: The Pig Wings at Mathew's Kitchen

Pigs can fly at Mathew's Kitchen. | With compliments of Mathew's Kitchen

Had someone asked Mathew Unger early on in his stockbroker days if he would open his own restaurant, his response would have been simple: when pigs can fly. It's fitting, then, that the signature dish at Unger's two-year-old Mathew's Kitchen (5625 Hampton Avenue; 314-351-1700) is the pig "wings."

See Also: Chef Mathew Unger on Following Your Dreams and the Virtues of Mustard

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#55: Freshly Baked Bread from Red Fox Baking & Catering

Red Fox Baking & Catering's bread on display at Grove East Provisions. | Mabel Suen

Jake Marks, Chris Scheets and Jenny Wilson are on a mission: to bring St. Louisans real bread. Crusty bread. Rich, yeasty bread. Wake up in the middle of the night needing a baguette and a side of butter bread.

And they're succeeding.

See Also: Critic's Notebook: Red Fox Baking & Catering at Grove East Provisions Is a Slice of Heaven

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