#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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#56: Cafe Natasha's Beef Shish Kebab

A platter of Cafe Natasha's beef and chicken shish kebabs. | Jennifer Silverberg

When Behshid Bahrami came to the United States in the late 1970s, he was culinarily dismayed. He simply could not find lamb that tasted like what he had in his native Iran. American lamb, Bahrami will tell you, has a gamey taste compared to its mild Persian counterpart. Rather than swearing it off altogether, he developed a marinade that he hoped would soften the meat's flavor. What he ended up developing is the ambrosial nectar that turned out to be perfect for Cafe Natasha's (3200 South Grand Boulevard; 314-771-3411) beef shish kebob.

See Also: Chef Chat: Hamishe Bahrami is Cafe Natasha's Persian Cowgirl

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#57: The Maine-Style Lobster Roll at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.

The Maine-style lobster roll at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. | Nancy Stiles

Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.
(1831 Sidney Street; 314-772-8858) was the most anticipated restaurant opening this year, with so much hype it was the St. Louis equivalent of a Hollywood premiere. No one doubted that chef Kevin Nashan could pull off a classic lobster and crab shack in the middle of America, but just how well he has done it proves there is substance behind the sensation.

See Also: Review: Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. Is a Delicious, Transportive Experience

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#58: Panorama's Croque-Madame

The croque-madame sandwich at Panorama. | Jennifer Silverberg

When chef Ivy Magruder took over the kitchen at Panorama (1 Fine Arts Drive; 314-655-5490), the restaurant was -- to put it kindly -- not doing so well. Plagued by a series of bad reviews, financial troubles and guest complaints, the Saint Louis Art Museum knew it had to completely reinvent its less than year-old restaurant if it was to become the dining destination it was intended to be.

See Also: SLAM Dunk: The St. Louis Art Museum's Restaurant Revamp is a Success

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#59: The Italian Beef Sandwich at Vinnie's Italian Beef & Gyros

The Italian beef sandwich at Vinnie's Italian Beef & Gyros. | Corey Woodruff

Matthew "Vinnie" Mulholland was such a die-hard football fan that he would regularly travel to Chicago to catch Bears games after the football Cardinals left St. Louis for Arizona. Little did he know, these trips would inspire him to bring a little bit of Chicago cuisine back home.

See Also: Vinnie's Italian Beef and Gyros Brings Chicago-Sized Flavor to St. Louis

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#60: The Egg Rolls at Bek-Hee Chinese Restaurant

Bek-Hee's handmade egg rolls. | Jennifer Silverberg

I'd driven by Bek-Hee (10200 Page Avenue, Overland; 314-426-4773) hundreds of times without giving the place a second glance -- the hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant looks like just another Overland chop suey dive. Then I got a tip from a trusted colleague that the restaurant is under new ownership and that the family now in charge is churning out delicious handmade cuisine. He said their egg rolls are the best he's had in town -- a bold statement from a man with a discerning palate.

See Also: Bek-Hee Brings Sha County Chinese Cuisine to St. Louis: Review

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#61: Pumpkin Maple Latte at Kaldi's Coffee

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The pumpkin maple latte at Kaldi's Coffee. | Zoe Klein

This time of year, pumpkin spice lattes are about as ubiquitous as falling leaves and decorative gourds. There's something about that first chill in the air that whips folks into a squash-guzzling frenzy -- and everyone from beer brewers to dog-biscuit manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon.

See Also: The Five Best Pumpkin Spice Lattes in St. Louis

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#62: Casconcelli at Giovanni's Kitchen

Giovanni's Kitchen's casconcelli. | Mabel Suen

"Luxurious" is the word that kept coming to mind as I savored bite after bite of the casconcelli at Giovanni's Kitchen (8831 Ladue Road, Ladue; 314-721-4100). Chef Alessandro Bozzatto's handmade half-moon-shaped pasta is like edible silk -- good enough to be enjoyed on its own, but positively decadent when he tosses in a treasure trove of goodies.

See Also: Giovanni's Kitchen has all the quality of the Hill without the bill

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