Wednesday, October 31, 2007

dining out

In an effort to move on from my recent funk, I'm going to write about the other thing that is mildly interesting in my life. I dine out a lot - at least 3 days a week. I've been to the vast majority of "fine" dining restaurants in St. Louis (well, except Tony's, but honestly, I hear its not worth the hype).

Anyway, on Monday night I tried a place that's relatively new for the first time - Sage. I think my expectations were overly high because one of my top five ever restaurant experiences was at a different restaurant named after an herb
(Thyme in Chicago). Sage a nice little restaurant, located across the street from the AB brewery in Soulard. The atmosphere is relatively nice, although its a little too bright for in there for me and I can't really agree with the decision to have a TV in the dining room of a restaurant that charges $20 an entree. Its not like they don't have a separate bar area. The nicest element of the decor/atmosphere, in my opinion, is the stonework. It makes it very earthy (something that the metal chairs detract from - why not go with wood when you are doing an earth tone restaurant).

Moving on to the food - I order the spinach salad. The greens were fresh and it wasn't overdressed. The bite of the sundried tomatoes were a great contrast to the dressing and the salty-sweet pretzel croutons made a nice "local" touch (they were made with pretzels from a local pretzel maker). All around a good way to start the meal.

The entree was a disappointment. When I order seafood at a restaurant, I have high expectations - fish should not have bones and shellfish should not have shell. Getting a half peeled shrimp grossed me out. I have no objection to peel and eat shrimp, or fried shrimp with the tail on, but when its clear that the shrimp were meant to be peeled (umm...all the rest of them were), I do not want to have to either pass on the shrimp or get my fingers all saucy to take the tail and legs off my dinner. Plus then you have tail and legs still sitting on your plate. I felt bad about mentioning it to the waitress (did not expect to get anything free, but if I worked in a kitchen at a new restaurant its the kind of thing I would want to know). She appologized and gave us free desserts, but it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I'd go back to the restaurant, but probably will not order that otherwise tasteless pasta again. The pasta really was pretty uninteresting - I was expecting more seafood and its texture was a huge letdown. It was just very mushy and bland - fine for oatmeal,not so great for pasta.

The desserts were more interesting. They come in little shot glasses, and you can take them right off the waitress's tray. We order the key lime pie, the pumpkin, and a brownie thing. The pumpkin was by far the best, but it didn't really meet its description - described as a pumpkin gooey butter cake but there was nothing resembling gooey butter cake in it (gooey butter cake is a weird St. Louis thing that most resembles extra buttery under cooked sugar cookies). The brownie was a bit dry, and the key lime pie was almost inedible. The first taste was yummy and good - the smooth creamy sweetness you expect from key lime pie, but then immediately after that first taste there was an explosion of sour, as though it was lacking the right amount of sugar or too much lime juice had been added.

Anyway, while I wasn't impressed with this place, I'll probably go back. We had heard that the sandwiches were good and they are more reasonably priced.

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