Guerrilla Street Food, St. Louis, MO – Do You Even Brunch?

“I was seven before I realized that you could eat breakfast with your pants on.”
Christopher Moore, Fool

Who doesn’t love brunch?  It’s this amazing meal where you can be totally lazy, sleep late, and eat either breakfast or lunch  items while drinking!  I recently experienced a great brunch called “Linggo” at Guerrilla Street Food.  This is a brunch worth putting on pants for.

This isn’t my first post about Guerrilla Street Food, I posted about their food truck back in August of 2012.  A lot has changed since then.  They have opened a storefront 1 block off Grand on Arsenal and now are offering brunch once a month.  Their brunches are always on Sunday which is where the name Linggo comes from, it’s the Tagalog word for Sunday.  Each month they will feature a different menu but it’s always a fun blend of Filipino favorites mashed up with St. Louis diner style.  One great example was the Southeast Sider.

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This dish had a base consisting of hand made Longanisa sausage and crispy fried rice hash browns.  It was topped with pork Sugo gravy and sous vide eggs.  It’s a “stick to your ribs” kind of meal.

My favorite dish I sampled was the Pandan French toast.  For those that like something more decadent, this is right up your alley.

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It featured Pandan angel food cake French toast (proof that God loves us) topped with Calamansi Curd, pickled green strawberries, and powdered sugar.  I know I said that they plan to change the menu monthly but I hope this one stays on the menu.

During my visit, Guerrilla Street Food teamed up with Cocktails Are Go!  Each of the items included a drink.  They had a Bloody Mary with Kim Chi, a version of a Hemingway daiquiri, and an excellent Hurricane.  The choices had a nice range to cover pretty much any palette.

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After one brunch visit I’m hooked.  The mixture of flavors makes it stand out above your standard brunch fare.  I look forward to see what new items are on the menu next month.  Hope to see you there!

Dive 2 Five Scale: 3.  Family friendly but you never know what music you will hear. 😀  It’s my first brunch with King Diamond but it brings back memories of the late 80’s.  It’s a small space but there are dining options both inside and outside.  Everyone is extremely friendly.  They are proud of their work and it shows.

Vincent Van Doughnut – Clayton, MO – Calorie Counters Beware!

With the TV all a buzz about the latest workout and health trends, you can rely on one thing:  it doesn’t have a place in my blog.  I may choose to work out and watch calories occasionally, but I’m going to enjoy life and all the tasty food possible.  I’m not going to do it locked away in my house where no one can see.  I’m going to eat high calorie, fattening food, and share it with you.  Treat yourself once in a while!

Now that I have that off of my chest, I’m going to tell you about treating myself to some doughnuts at Vincent Van Doughnut.  This is not my first time enjoying their doughnuts, I had a few from their food truck a while back.  However, I was long overdue for visit to their storefront in one of my favorite parts of town, Clayton.

The shop is super cute and when you walk in you see a great display of the main attraction, doughnuts!  Luckily I brought along a couple helpers so I could try a few; these bad boys are large!

First up, the chocolate salted caramel.  IMG_0999

This is one of their yeast raised donuts.  It’s a chocolate glazed doughnut with caramel and sea salt.  Chocolate and caramel are two of my favorite things so this was a must have. It did not disappoint.

For those that really don’t care about calories, how about the chocolate covered chocolate cake?  I think they should call it C4 because it’s a sugar bomb that will rock your world.  If you prefer subtlety, this won’t be for you.  CAUTION:  If you feed this to a four year old, be prepared for the sugar rush that comes with it.

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Lastly, my favorite of the day and back to the yeast raised doughnuts for the blueberry cheesecake.  
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This was the most balanced of those that I had.  I liked the sweet treat in the middle.  It made it worth the effort to consume the whole thing.

Vincent Van Doughnut is another great addition to the restaurant scene in Clayton.  They have a great selection of unique doughnuts.  If I were to wish for one thing, it would be to be there when they were freshly made.  Sometimes I get that craving for a fresh warm doughnut.  For me, their blueberry cheesecake is a new favorite.  So St. Louis, what’s your favorite doughnut shop?  Vincent Van Doughnut, Strange Donuts, World’s Fair?  What a great topic to debate and I look forward to some recommendations for the next time my sweet tooth dominates my breakfast routine.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  Very family friendly place.  Most people grab their doughnuts and go.  There are a few tables and the staff was very accommodating while we were there.

Plank Road Pizza – Cottleville, MO – Rollin’ in the Dough

“Pizza makes me think that anything is possible” – Henry Rollins.

With all this talk of superfoods in terms of their health benefits, it’s sometimes easy to forget about the other benefits of “superfoods”, like pizza.  I’m sure the Tony Horton’s of the world cringe at a statement like that, but let’s face it, we need to indulge in things every once in a while.  Like that one time in Topeka, Kansas where I ate 19 slices of pizza at a buffet…no wait a minute, that was just GROSS.  Clearly I indulge in high calorie foods more than I should, but foods like pizza are good for the soul.

Anyway, enough about me and my thoughts on how pizza improves life and the universe.  This review is about an extremely smart choice I made recently to have lunch at Plank Road Pizza.  Plank Road Pizza recently opened in Cottleville and hasn’t broken onto the scene quite yet, but their time is coming.  All the key parts are there:

  • Cottleville is adding new restaurants quickly and is making this area in St. Charles relevant in the food scene
  • They are focused on being local and are damn proud of it
  • Last, but not least, they make a killer pizza.

Using my typical MO, I went for the namesake “Plank Road Pizza” for my inaugural visit.  It’s a chicken bacon club pizza that includes everything you would expect from a chicken bacon club sandwich, but piled on a pizza.

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Maybe better yet, a view from my mouth:

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So what makes a pizza “killer”?  In my opinion it comes down to how the toppings are paired and having the perfect dough.  What I noticed first about this pizza was the dough.  It was crispy on the bottom but had some tooth to it, just the right amount of chew.  This dough and its’ preparation is key for Plank Road Pizza’s success.  The toppings were paired together nicely and I appreciated the presentation.  However, I did spread them out once it arrived to get the proper coverage.  If I had to pick a negative, a few pieces of the chicken were a little dry. I’ll admit though I had to be nit-picky just to find anything negative to say.

So there you have it, you have been warned.  Plank Road Pizza has all the items in place to be a force in Cottleville.  I would suggest you give it a try while it is still new and somewhat of a hidden gem.  I don’t expect that to last long.

Seriously, stop reading and go there now!

Not so subtle subliminal messaging.

Not so subtle subliminal messaging.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  Plank Road Pizza makes great use of one of the oldest buildings in Cottleville.  I love the use of reclaimed wood throughout the building.  I really want to come back and hang out on the patio with one of the local beers they serve.

Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In – Crystal City, MO – Quadzilla, King of the Burgers!

The word is out about this place and it’s one of my favorite stops heading south on I-55.  Of course I’m talking about the one and only, Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In in Festus!  Yes, I’m on a burger binge – this is my third burger related review in a row!

For those that love Carl’s Drive In, these burgers are pretty similar.  They are small balls of ground beef that are smashed onto the grill.  They are very thin patties so you will need multiple to make a reasonable size burger.  The double seems to be the standard, but I always like to take things up a notch. For that reason, I went for the…Quadzilla!

Quadzilla with fries

Quadzilla with fries

As you might expect, the Quadzilla is a meal that has a burger with four patties.  It also comes with fries and a drink for $8.88.  Not a bad price and it does fill you up.  You have options for all the standard ingredients for burgers, but they also offer mayo.  I have had it with and without, and actually prefer it with mayo.  Insert Canadian joke here…

Quadzilla with onion rings

Quadzilla with onion rings

These burgers come out piping hot.  You must resist the urge to take a bite immediately.  I have tried both the onion rings (for an upcharge) and the fries, but I would suggest sticking to the fries.  I think the fries need more salt, but that is obviously something you can correct.

This is my go to “fast food” restaurant when heading down I-55 to see family.  It’s not a huge detour off of I-55 and it’s worth the extra few minutes.  The people are friendly and the food remains unchanged for years.  My only regret is that I still have never tried one of their shakes.  Be on the lookout for an update on Twitter or Facebook because I will complete that task soon!

There isn't a lot of info online about this place.  Here is the lunch / dinner menu.

There isn’t a lot of info online about this place. Here is the lunch / dinner menu.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  This is a family friendly restaurant.  There are only bar stools for seating, or you can place a carry out order at the window.  It is cash only but there is an ATM in the corner in case you forget.

RJ’s Bob-B-Que – Lamb Ribs, Pig Tails, Bison, and More!

During a recent road trip to Kansas, I was slowed by an ice storm on my way back.  While passing through Kansas City, I decided to get fuel for both the car and myself before getting back on the treacherous roads.  Since it was Kansas City, the choice was clear.  It’s time to try a new BBQ restaurant.  This time, I tried RJ’s Bob-B-Que.

When you pull up to RJ’s, you will find that it is a shack on a side street.  Once you are inside, it’s a small shack.  The walls are decorated with lots of ribbons and awards from competitions and there are oldies playing in the background. They have so much love for John Wayne that an entire wall is dedicated exclusively to the face of “The Duke!”

Enough about the decor, I was there to check out their “Bob-B-que”.  Their menu will set them apart from most barbecue joints, with interesting features such as lamb ribs and pig tails.  As you all know by now, I’m a very adventurous eater, so I was excited.  I ordered the pig tails, brisket soup, and lamb ribs.

I must admit that any place serving pig tails is going to struggle to impress me after what I’m used to from the Libertine.  They are battered and fried, which reminded me of calamari.  Definitely use the Sriracha that they put on the edge of the bowl to give them some kick.  I prefer them to have a crisper outside; these were much chewier.

pig tailsNext up was the brisket soup.  This reminded me of a creamy minestrone but with brisket.  On a cold day like the one I was experiencing this was a great way to warm back up; a very solid choice.

One of their highly acclaimed dishes is the lamb ribs.  I am a huge pork fan so it was a stretch for me to try this rather than going with what I love.  There is a pretty clear difference between pork and lamb ribs.  These were very tender and yes, “fall off the bone,” but they were also very fatty.  For some reason I couldn’t stop eating the cheesy corn bake.  It is nothing fancy, but it reminds me of something someone would bring to a family gathering.

lamb ribs

RJ’s is not your typical Kansas City barbecue place.  They feature some unique menu items like pig tails, lamb ribs, bison, and many other palatable offerings.  It would not be a place to which I would make a special trip.  There is just too much other barbecue to sample and some old favorites that are too hard to pass up.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  It’s a shack so it’s definitely a 2. You are getting barbecue in a dive, but the service is quick and friendly.  There are plenty of TV’s showing sports, plus it is family friendly.  I think I could do without the golden oldies.  🙂

RJ's Bob-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Melt – St. Louis, MO – Waffles Aren’t Just for Breakfast Anymore

Looking for something completely different?  Melt on Cherokee street could be just what you are looking for.  Melt specializes in waffles, but not your frozen Eggo waffles.  They serve both sweet and savory types of waffles.

From my preliminary research, I was set on getting the Wake ‘N Bake.  The Wake ‘N Bake has bacon or sausage cooked into the waffle.  It’s topped with cheese and an egg, cooked to order.  The server stated that it was a “safe choice” for a first visit.  She also shared that repeat customers quickly start to trust them and move on to something more adventurous.  DAMN…I think she was trying to pull my man-card.  I quickly changed my order to the Little Piggy.  Not only that, but I had her throw an egg on top!  The challenge was on!

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The Little Piggy is a waffle topped with pulled pork, homemade coleslaw, and cheddar cheese.   While the BBQ sauce was sweet, the green onion really shined on the dish.  One piece of advice; just because there is syrup on the table it doesn’t belong on all waffles!  Luckily that was only a one bite mistake so it didn’t ruin my meal.

Melt has an exciting selection of waffles.  The combinations range from fruit or chocolate on some of the sweet waffles to chicken, pork, or brisket on some of the savory varieties.  I look forward to exploring the menu more on future visits.  How brave will you be?

Dive 2 Five Scale: 2.  Time for me to step on my soapbox.  Cherokee Street is a great area in St. Louis.  I recently was discussing this restaurant and I instantly received an eye-roll when I mentioned its’ location.  I don’t understand people who limit their options by singling out an area for one reason or another.  What a waste!  Stepping off soapbox…

When I walked in, I can honestly say the eclectic atmosphere and mismatched furniture was overwhelming. There was a lot to take in, including pinball and shuffleboard! However, once I was settled at the table, the atmosphere was very laid back with a knowledgeable and helpful staff. If this is your first visit to Cherokee Street, take some time and explore! STL Style  and Firecracker Press are just two of the fun stores that have a lot of St. Louis pride.

Melt 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.

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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

Olivette Diner – St. Louis, MO – Don’t Forget to Bring Cash

If you stumbled across this post while searching for a recommendation of a healthy breakfast dish, go ahead and hit the back button.  This post is about the bananas foster waffles at the Olivette Diner.  This is as close to eating dessert for breakfast as I have tried.

So what is the bananas foster waffle breakfast?  It’s hot waffles topped with bananas, vanilla ice cream, and Olivette Diner’s homemade banana, brown sugar, and cinnamon sauce.

bananas foster waffle

Wow.  The first bite was intense.  It’s sweet and extremely decadent.  If you can resist the urge to tear through it quickly, let that ice cream melt some.   I must say it was big enough that I almost couldn’t finish it…almost 🙂

I will definitely be back to try this meal again.  The booth I sat in faced pictures of the backside of people sitting on the diner stools.  There were some big butts and I cannot lie. With an calorie packed breakfast like these waffles, I could see how you could end up like that.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  2.  This is your typical greasy spoon awesome American diner.  They were efficient and the food was quick.  Make sure you bring cash or a check, they don’t take anything else.

Olivette Diner on Urbanspoon

Strange Donuts – Coming Soon!

Obviously I love trying new restaurants.  It’s even better when you have a chance to have a sneak peek at a new restaurant.  Last night at the Post Sports Bar and Grill, Strange Donuts handed out samples for their upcoming shop in Maplewood.

Each person was given 2 of the 3 to try:

  • Chocolate peanut butter: a chocolate cake donut topped with peanut butter icing and more chocolate.
  • Crunch Berries: a donut topped with Crunch Berries cereal.
  • Maple bacon: not one that I sampled 🙁

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I am always a fan of chocolate and peanut butter together so it was a given I would try this.  The Crunch Berry donut was more out of my comfort zone.  It surprised me and was actually my favorite of the two.  I think the change in texture is what I liked most.

If this is a taste of things to come, I’m very excited to see what other flavors they create.  My two challenges for them are: Samoas (Girl Scout cookie) and Gooey Butter Cake (after all this is St. Louis!).  Those should provide a good enough sugar rush to thwart the worst Monday morning ever.

By the way, they have a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for some equipment needed for their new shop.  You can read about it here.  Show them support!

World’s Fair Doughnuts, St. Louis, MO – A Step Back In Time

What’s the perfect pick me up on a dreary morning?  For me, nothing better than a fatty, sugar filled doughnut.  On a recent morning like that, I found myself at World’s Fair Doughnuts.

When you pull up you notice a few things: 1)  This is a tiny place.  2) There is limited parking. 3)  There is an older Mercedes outside with “DONUT” on the license plate.  Now that’s dedication!

outside 2

Once you walk in you will see there is no seating.  There was a good selection of your typical doughnuts (glazed, twist, apple fritters, long johns, iced, etc.).  There wasn’t anything too adventurous like you might see at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, OR or Doughnut Plant in NYC (my two all time favorite doughnut shops).

I ordered a chocolate long John and a small twist.  The chocolate long John had just the right amount of icing.  I even let my 1-year-old son try a few bites.  When I asked him if he liked it, he smiled and waved his arms wildly.  I’m pretty sure he gave it his seal of approval.  After eating the long John I tore into the small twist before even remembered to snap a picture.  Both were very tasty.

long john

My visit to World’s Fair Doughnuts brought me happiness in two ways.  First, a full belly from good doughnuts.  Secondly, it was nice seeing a family shop with such a long history still thriving in today’s culture.  I would definitely recommend a trip by WFD if you are in the area or you can do as I did and make it a special trip.  You will be happy you did.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  2.  This is basically just a small building that cranks out good doughnuts.  You can see one guy in the back making doughnuts and two women up front helping customers.  There are no frills and nothing to hide.  It doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t.  It’s very reasonably priced.  Just make sure you bring cash, that’s all they take.

World's Fair Doughnuts on Urbanspoon