The Libertine, Clayton, MO – The Return of Chef Josh Galliano

The Libertine in Clayton is a collaboration between husband and wife team Nick and Audra Leudde with James Beard semi-finalist Chef Josh Galliano.  Chef Josh Galliano caught my attention after I moved to St. Louis and started to explore the culinary scene.  I stumbled across his Twitter account and quickly became one of his followers.  Not only did his Tweets about food grab my attention, but his mentions of music seemed to be as if he had access to my iTunes library.  But I digress…

sign

The Libertine opened back in mid-May and I have visited twice.  I already have some favorite dishes.  This post will focus on my most recent visit.

Their menu is divided into vegetables, meat, and seafood.  At the top of each category are smaller items that could be ordered as an appetizer.  The lower part has items that are more the size of entrees.

The cocktail, beer, and wine selection provides plenty of choices.  I have been on a bourbon kick lately and would like to introduce you to Monseigneur Bocephus.  Bocephus and I quickly became friends.

Bochephus

Let’s jump right into the meal with my favorite appetizer, the crispy pig tails.

crispy pig tails

By now you shouldn’t be surprised that I ordered a pork dish.  The pig tails have just the right amount of crunch and are served over polenta.

During my most recent visit I ventured out of my typical carnivore ways and ordered something from the “vegetable” section: the scorched twisted peppers.

twisted peppers

Ok, maybe there is some bacon in the dish 🙂  The first thing you notice is the smokey smell when they arrive.  It had a very earthy flavor.  Enjoyable even for a meat eater like me.

Both times my entree has been the three little birds.  The entree has been slightly different each time, but both were excellent.  From the first visit during their first week of business:

three little birds orginal

 

From early July:

three little birds

The basis of the dish is the same.  It’s a trio of roasted game hen, quail, and chicken.  Some of the vegetables change but it’s always a masterful accompaniment.

For dessert, I left it up to the waiter for a recommendation.  His choice was the “Little Boy Blue Cheese Plate”.

blue cheese

I’ll admit that I wasn’t overly excited at the thought of cheese as a dessert.  I’m a self-proclaimed chocoholic.  This dish was surprising, the jam and cheese were a great combination.

The Libertine has vaulted itself on my “must-do” list.  I’m pretty sure Chef Josh could find a way to serve me cardboard and I would like it.  You can sense the excitement from talking with the staff.  I look forward to working my way through the rest of his menu soon.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  4.  Libertine is a new gem in Clayton.  The service pace is leisurely.  I wouldn’t consider it “a dinner and movie” place but more of focal point for your evening.  You want to go there when you have time to enjoy the unique menu.  The atmosphere is lively but you can enjoy a conversation over dinner.  There is a complementary valet available.

Based on Chef Josh’s musical tastes, will I hear any Propaghandi in the restaurant anytime soon?  What about listening to Ska’s the Limit on Saturday night?

The Libertine on Urbanspoon

The Table, St. Louis, MO – Come Together and Eat!

I have a confession to make… I have never been to Home Wine Kitchen.  GASP!!!  It has been on my radar since I first sampled their food at last year’s Art of Food event.  I did however, make a trip to check out their new sister restaurant, Table.

One quick look at their menu, and I knew I was going to make a trip there soon.  I love trying unique foods and they clearly had plenty to offer.

After a long day’s work as well as fighting traffic, a cocktail was in order.  I started with the Basil Sidecar.  This was a perfect cocktail for a warm day.  It was light and refreshing.

basil sidecar

Remember the “Porkapalooza” blog posts from the fall of 2012?  This dinner started as a throwback to those days with orders of the braised pork belly and fried pig ears.

The pork belly had some sweetness from the maple syrup and a little tang from the orange juice.  It did not have the crispy rind you find at some places.  The texture was mainly creamy from the fat with just a bit of chew.  It was a satisfactory dish.  After the steamed pork buns I tried at Booker and Dax the bar for pork belly has been raised a bit.

Pork belly

The fried pig ears were a surprise. The dish was simple:  fried pig ears with crispy arugula topped with a fried egg.  This is a salt lovers dream dish.  The first time I had it I wished the egg was served sunny side up.  And on my 2nd visit I had my wish.  i love to use “liquid chicken” as a sauce.  The crunch of the pig ears was perfect.

fried pig ears part 2

As I often do, I will ask for a recommendation when trying a place for the first time.  The waitress said that the “fish and chips” was very popular.  The fish is actually grouper cheek.  When it arrived I first thought the batter looked very heavy.  It was much flakier and lighter than you would think.  This was key since the grouper is very mild.  It pairs well with their house-made tartar sauce.

fish and chips

Growing up I always loved my mom’s corn fritters.  I still ask her to make them for my birthday or any other special occasion.  Table has a version of their own, a little more dense than the version my mom makes. It’s a sweet corn fritter served with maple syrup… and it is surprisingly good! This will definitely satisfy those cravings for corn fritters when I cannot make the trip to see my mom.

corn fritters

 

Lastly, let me introduce you to a new favorite cocktail of mine — the Benton Park Bourbon.  It’s Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon juice, ginger beer, Angostura bitters, and caramelized local honey.  It’s well-balanced but let’s you know that you are still drinking bourbon.  It was the last drink I tried the first time I visited and the only drink I have ordered each time I have returned.

DSC00587

Table is an exciting restaurant located on Cherokee Street.  In the past month I have already visited it 4 times!  The two items that keep me coming back:  Benton Park Bourbon and Fried Pig Ears.  There is something here for everyone, not everything has to be on the adventurous side.

Dive 2 Five Scale: 3.  The decor reminds me of early Restoration Hardware.  The space is very open.  The seating is at long communal tables so it gives you a chance to make new friends.  They had a complimentary valet the first night I went but I have not seen it since.  I would suggest 3 dishes per person as they are on the small size.  I have not tried anything from the “Feast” section of the menu; it’s supposed to be larger portions.

Table on Urbanspoon