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 Fatted Calf – Best Burger in St. Louis?

I absolutely love burgers.  Always have, always will.  That being said, I’m well overdue for my first St. Louis burger place.  This weekend I finally tried The Fatted Calf in Clayton.

The Fatted Calf has a simple menu that focuses primarily on burgers.  I ordered their namesake “Calf Burger” with grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, and their famous soft cheddar.  The person taking my order clearly was not happy to be at work.  Not a great way to start the experience.  The server that delivered the burger was much more personable.

Calf Burger with grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, and cheddar cheese.

The burger was cooked to order.  I prefer medium-rare, and it had just the right amount of pink.  The grilled onions and mushrooms were slightly salty and made a great topping.  Onto their famous cheddar, it reminded me of the cheese in the Handi-snacks I ate as a kid.  Yes, that’s a little harsh, but that is the best way I can think to describe it.  The burger without it was good, but I wouldn’t call it the best in St. Louis.

The Fatted Calf is part of a dying breed.  It’s an old “mom and pop” shop.  It’s legacy is built on generations being raised on their food.   Maybe the soft cheddar is an acquired taste?  We all have a soft spot in our heart (stomach) for some simple comfort food or place we liked growing up.  I’m sure this is that place for many.

Dive 2 Five Scale – The Fatted Calf scores a 3.  It’s kid friendly.  You walk up to a counter and order and then take a number to your table.  The inside is clearly unchanged for many years.

Fatted Calf on Urbanspoon