Try This Now: Bone Marrow Wine Luge at Bugatti's

Categories: Try This Now

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       The bone marrow luge at Bugatti's, with port. | Nancy Stiles

Bone marrow was one of our favorite dishes when we reviewed Central Table Food Hall a few months ago, but it's one of the few restaurants in St. Louis serving the dish. You can get marrow with osso bucco, of course, at places like Lorenzo's Trattoria which generously provide you with a marrow spoon. The Italian restaurant at the Ameristar in St. Charles, Bugatti's (1 Ameristar Boulevard, St. Charles; 636-940-4471), is under new direction with a new chef and is rolling out a new menu in a month -- including a creamy bone marrow dish that doubles as a wine luge. Obviously, we had to investigate.

See also: Central Table Food Hall succeeds as a culinary hub for all palates

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IKEA Meatballs Won't Be Here Until 2015; Here Are the Best Local Meatballs to Try Now

Categories: Meat, Try This Now

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Meatballs from Filomena's. | Jennifer Silverberg

This week, St. Louis lost its collective mind over the official announcement that, yes, IKEA is really coming to St. Louis. The opening date is projected for 2015.

One of the things folks are most excited about are the Swedish meatballs available in the chain's inexpensive cafeterias. In one report, someone went so far as to suggest that meatballs will replace toasted ravioli as the "finger food of choice for St. Louis."

WHOA. Let's not go losing our heads here. Besides, it'll be at least two years until the store is open, and guess what? There are a ton of great meatball options you can try right here, right now. Here are just a few of our favorites.

See also: Craft Beer Cellar Set to Be Our New Favorite Store

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Monte Bello: A Basement Pizza Kitchen That's About to Become St. Louis' Worst-Kept Secret

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All photos by Mabel Suen
Monte Bello Pizzeria's homemade toasted ravioli.
In what seems like a top-secret pizza lair in south St. Louis -- in a Lemay basement, to be specific -- 54-year-old Tom Nix spends six nights a week single-handedly baking up what he calls St. Louis' original thin crust pizza. That claim sounds like a tall one coming from a place that many St. Louisans aren't even aware exists, but Nix seems determined to show us how it's done.

Last April, he took over management of Monte Bello Pizzeria (3662 Weber Road; 314-638-8861), equipped with all the restaurant's original recipes from 1950. Those pies are now flying out of the oven for the first time in decades.

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Try This Now: Lamb Liver at the Kabob House

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       The Lamb Liver. | Pat Kohm

When scanning a menu, it's easy to gravitate toward the familiar, the go-to. Far too often, though, that means missing out on a specialty dish or ethnic delicacy. In this series Gut Check tracks down St. Louis' more unusual culinary offerings in hopes of expanding our collective food knowledge and answer the question: Should you really "Eat This?!"

While driving south a ways down Kingshighway, you'll pass a few neighborhoods taverns and a couple barbecue joints -- stellar south city staples each and every one -- but then, a bit unexpectedly, the Kabob House (4940 Christy Boulevard; 314-832-2977) appears and you'll pretty much have to stop, because you've just stumbled upon some excellent Middle Eastern cuisine. There's a strong chance you're thinking falafel, and with good reason: they're pretty amazing. But we decided it was time to try something new. Like lamb...lamb liver.

See also: Open Mouth, Insert Tongue: Why You Gotta Try the Tongue Sandwich at Kopperman's Deli

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I Scream Cakes Gets a Second Wind

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       How about a "flight" of ice cream? | Pat Kohm

As we enter the dog days of summer, Gut Check feels it's important -- our duty, even -- to point out our local ice cream purveyors, those oases of frozen treats spread throughout the city, waiting to provide temporary relief.

One of the best, and definitely the most unique, is I Scream Cakes (2641 Cherokee Street, 314-932-5758). Located in the Cherokee neighborhood, I Scream has grown up alongside the evolving and diverse south-city community, dishing out crazy flavors and combinations that completely overhaul the traditional scoop of ice cream.

See also:
- 8 Best Ice Cream Spots in St. Louis


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Vin de Set Partners with Bob's Seafood for a Fresh Fish Market Every Thursday

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Courtesy of Vin de Set
Land-locked pescatarians and seafood lovers rejoice -- Vin de Set's (2017 Chouteau Avenue) Fresh Fish Market returns for a second year with saltwater treasures straight off the boat from the coast. Every Thursday from now through the fall, head to the rooftop European-style open-air market to choose your own dinner adventure.

See also:
-Food Photo Essay: Finned, Scaled, Shelled at Bob's Seafood


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Where You Should Eat Tonight and What You Should Order

Categories: Try This Now

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Jennifer Silverberg
Verbatim text exchange with our s.o. on a recent Friday as Gut Check slouched home from the blogger salt mines for the weekend:

Gut Check: driving home right now

S.O.: I'm blank on dinner ideas

Gut Check: am at the whole fds intersection

S.O.: Still blank

Yes, we all have issues. Some of them, though, have relatively simple solutions. Which brings us to a new weekly Friday-afternoon Gut Check feature:

"Where You Should Eat Tonight and What You Should Order"

It's just what it sounds like: Each week we'll supply the name of one of our favorite St. Louis restaurants and a dish or two we -- in consultation with the chef -- highly recommend you try.

(Note: Significant other not required. In fact, even if you are so equipped, feel free to fly solo. Like we said: We all have issues.)

This week Gut Check suggests Sameem Afghan Restaurant (4341 Manchester Avenue; 314-534-9500). The Afghan, Persian and Indian cuisine served here is an RFT favorite, and we're pretty certain you'll love it too.

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Garlic Scape Season Is Here!

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Image via
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever..." It's what we tell ourselves during the 49 weeks of the year when there are no garlic scapes.
Yesterday marked the beginning of the best three weeks of the year, if you happen to be a garlic junkie (like, um, Gut Check). Garlic scapes, the bright green, curly offshoots of garlic bulbs, made their first appearance at the Maplewood Farmers' Market (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; 314-241-2337). You should be able to find them at the other markets, too. They're cute, they're tasty, what more do you need to know? How to cook them?

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Try the Barbacoa Tacos at Tienda El Ranchito

Categories: Try This Now

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Ian Froeb
Barbacoa tacos (and a carnitas taco in back) at Tienda El Ranchito
Tienda El Ranchito (2565 North 32nd Street, Fairmont City, Illinois; 618-875-1521) is by no means a secret. This here publication honored it last year as having the "Best Guacamole" -- and it's damn good guacamole.

Still, this Metro East grocery store and restaurant doesn't get as much attention as the taquerias on Cherokee Street or by the airport. It's time to change that.


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Blowfish: Like Menudo or a Waffle House Breakfast, in Pill Form

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Image via
Brenna Haysom is every mother's dream: She had a Harvard degree and a lucrative job in finance -- which she then quit to develop, with no pharmaceutical background whatsoever, an over-the-counter hangover remedy called Blowfish.

Gut Check was fortunate enough to receive a sample of Blowfish, and we risked life, limb and liver to see if it's the morning-after cure (er, the other kind of morning-after cure, we mean) it purports to be.


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