Review: Lascelles Brings Stylish, Upscale Dining to, Yes, Granite City

Mabel Suen
Sea scallops, the "Farmhouse Burger," tomato bisque, lemon soufflé.
Lascelles Granite City
1324 Niedringhaus Road, Granite City, Illinois; 618-709-7375. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Head east across the McKinley Bridge from St. Louis into Illinois, and the change in scenery is palpable. As the buildings that make up the downtown skyline grow smaller in the rearview mirror and you make your way into Granite City, it's as if you've been transported to another time. But it's not a nostalgic view.

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Review: At HandleBar, Eastern European Treats Mesh with Comfort Food

Mabel Suen
Russian flatbread, a "Baltic" banh mi and borscht.
4120 Manchester Avenue; 314-652-2212.
Tues.-Sun. 11-3 a.m. (Closed Mondays).

George W. Bush famously stated that he looked Vladimir Putin in the eyes and could see his soul. Even if the former president famously misjudged Putin's character, I imagine the dinner party that might have precipitated those comments would have been a lot like dining at HandleBar: an odd blend of Russian fare and Southern-inspired comfort food.

Here is borscht as well as pork-belly hash, and Eastern European ground pork and bacon dumplings served alongside pimento cheese. And hummus. And...St. Louis-style pizza? Yes, that too.

- See also: Taco Circus Is an Affordable Tex-Mex Delight

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Review: Taco Circus Is an Affordable Tex-Mex Delight

Mabel Suen
Pork-steak and choizo-breakfast tacos.
Taco Circus
4258 Schiller Place; 314-808-2050.
Mon.-Thurs. 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

When Christian Ethridge told his loved ones his business plan, he may as well have told them he was running off to join the circus. You're moving to St. Louis? From Austin? To open a taco joint in a Bosnian neighborhood? Saying he was going to take up the trapeze with a bearded lady might have seemed more plausible.

- See also: The Little Dipper Is Too Small for an Oven, Plenty Big to Kick Ass

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Review: The Little Dipper Is Too Small for an Oven, Plenty Big to Kick Ass

Mabel Suen
The "Carolina Reuben" with turkey, cole slaw, Thousand Island and Swiss.
The Little Dipper
2619 Cherokee Street; 314-625-3230.
Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11-1:30 a.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed Mondays)

While Thomas Eversmann was working as a bartender at Hammerstone's in Soulard, his long-time friend and bandmate Jason Paul was being groomed to work for the Hammerstone family's small soap business. The gig was selling dishwashers and cleaning chemicals to some of the best restaurants in town, and though Paul instantly knew it was the wrong fit, he felt an obligation to stick it out. The owner himself had tapped Paul to follow in his footsteps — and it just so happened that the owner was his girlfriend's father.

- See also: Review, United Provisions Cafe

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Review: United Provisions Café Is a Great Fast-Casual Restaurant Inside a Grocery Store

Mabel Suen
Ramen, sushi and fried chicken.
United Provisions Café
6241 Delmar Boulevard; 314-833-5699.
Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (lunch) and 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m. (dinner); Sat.-Sun.11 a.m.-9 p.m.

I had first planned to check out the Dining District at United Provisions on October 29 last year, roughly two months after the ambitious international grocery store and café hung out its shingle in the Delmar Loop.

See also: Review: The Gramophone

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Review: The Gramophone Says Goodbye to Music and Hello to Damn Good Sandwiches

Mabel Suen
The "Alcatraz," the "Mississippi Nights Club" wrap and the "Frenchy."
The Gramophone
4243 Manchester Avenue; 314-531-5700.
Tues.-Sun. 11-3 a.m. (Closed Mondays).

The Gramophone opened as a music venue in 2008 — before Urban Chestnut began brewing beer, before coffee shops and yoga studios sprung up along Manchester Avenue, back when the Grove's reputation as a nightlife hot spot was still a whisper. There were no tables to speak of in this intimate concert hall; the closest thing to nutrition was the lime garnish on your gin and tonic. It's not that owners Andrew "Roo" Yawitz and Scott Swanston didn't care about food service. It just wasn't their business.

See also: Review: If You're Into Over-the-Top Food, Busch Stadium Doesn't Disappoint

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Review: If You're Into Over-the-Top Food, Busch Stadium Doesn't Disappoint

Mabel Suen
"Ultimate Tots," "Shrimp Walking Taco," a chicken-and-waffle sandwich, and popcorn.
Busch Stadium
700 Clark Avenue; 314-345-9600.
Weekdays, gates open 90 minutes before game time; on weekends, gates open two hours before game time.

I clearly remember my first stadium hot dog. I was nineteen, on my first solo trip to the ballpark, and jumping out of my skin at the thought of eating something that had actually been cooked on-site.

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Red Lotus Spa & Bistro Combines Spa Treatments with Food

Mabel Suen
Combination vermicelli bowl with grilled pork, grilled shrimp and egg rolls.
Red Lotus Spa & Bistro
9737 Manchester Road, Rock Hill; 314-918-8868.
Mon. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Wed.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (Closed Tuesdays)

Walk into Red Lotus, look to the right, and you'll see a bowl of bubbling liquid. The fragrant steam perfumes the air of this Vietnamese bistro, but it's not pho. Oddly, it's not even edible.

It's a footbath.

See also: Last week's review of Seoul Q

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Review: Seoul Q Nails the Korean Barbecue Experience

Mabel Suen
"L.A. Style" short ribs on the grill.
Seoul Q
6665-A Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-863-1148.
Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Does St. Louis really need another barbecue restaurant? Before dining at Seoul Q I would have answered that question with a very loud and emphatic "no." This town's ribs-and-brisket market has gotten so overcrowded, you can't swing a rack of baby backs without hitting an Ole Hickory smoker. For aspiring restaurateurs looking to do something new and exciting, barbecue isn't it.

See also: Review: Winfield's Gathering Place Shows Jim Edmonds and Mark Winfield in Winning Form

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Review: El Burro Loco Tries Hard to Be a Good Time, But That Doesn't Translate to the Food

Mabel Suen
A sampling of El Burro Loco's Mexican fare.

El Burro Loco
313 North Euclid Avenue; 314-224-5701

Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-11:45 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11-1 a.m.

A guy in a donkey suit was playing a guitar when I walked into El Burro Loco. Standing on the patio, this six-foot-tall furry creature pitifully strummed his instrument, even though he clearly didn't know how to play. It was a sad caricature, though not as sad as the pale shadow of Mexican cuisine served at this three-month-old Central West End restaurant.

El Burro Loco is not going for authenticity. Obviously. Upon entering the sprawling restaurant, a former Pasta House, you need only observe the décor to catch the tongue-in-cheek attitude that owner Salvador Alonso and team are trying to convey: the Mexican wrestling masks and Dio de los Muertos artwork that decorate the shockingly colorful space, the giant painting of Speedy Gonzalez that adorns one of the walls, the mural of a braying burro that screams out over the main dining room. El Burro Loco checks all of the boxes for a typical Americanized Mexican restaurant.

See also: Review: Winfield's Gathering Place Shows Jim Edmonds and Mark Winfield in Winning Form

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