The 40 Best Restaurants in St. Louis—Plus One 2010 Restaurant of the Year
Photographs by Kevin A. Roberts
OK, we’ll let you in on a little secret: Dining critics loathe “Best of” lists. They’re so relative, so arbitrary, so hard to defend…but we’ll concede they’re helpful. Just choosing where to dine out is complicated. Appetites, moods, locations, dollars in the wallet—they all play a part. With this in mind, our staff discussed, debated, dissented, and finally compiled the list of the 40 Best Restaurants for 2010: the best one for every day and the best for a few visits each year. —George Mahe
Banh Mi So #1
In a town blessed with more than its fair share of Vietnamese restaurants, this one’s the best. (Or rather, the #1.) And the No. 1 reason why? The spring rolls. Light and pliant, airy and crisp, fresh as can be, and like everything else on the menu, made to order. Follow them up with some pho bo soup, a tofu dish, or one of the establishment’s namesake sandwiches.
4071 S. Grand, 314-353-0545, banhmiso1.com
Blues City Deli
There is a small (too small) faction of St. Louisans who, upon hearing the words “Blues City Deli,” immediately begin rolling on the floor, drooling, and speaking in tongues, so insanely reverent are they of owner Vince Valenza’s mile-high sandwiches. The supreme po’ boys and Italian deli-style stackers are beyond any others this city can offer. As for the muffuletta sandwich, it’s a Louisiana delicacy that, thanks to Valenza’s secret recipe, has become a St. Louis institution.
2438 McNair, 314-773-8225, bluescitydeli.com
If you’re lucky, Grandpa took you to Carl’s when you were a kid. If you ain’t got that kinda luck, take your adult self to Carl’s and marvel at how your mind starts to retroactively contort your childhood memories, and how easily it shoehorns Carl’s in there. Counter stools are legendarily hard to come by at this burger stand, where the root beer is made in small batches and the beef patties are spatula-smashed until they’re delightfully slender. It’s a throwback to days we all wish we once knew.
9033 Manchester, 314-961-9652
The Good Pie
At this point, it’s redundant to mention how owner Mike Randolph was the first person to bring true Neapolitan pizza to St. Louis—we’ve covered that ground before. So this time, we’ll simply say that among pizza aficionados, few pies stand out like those you’ll find in the brick confines of this Midtown Alley parlor. Paired with one of the revolving lineup of—often extreme—craft beers, there’s no better flavor bang for your buck in the city.
3137 Olive, 314-289-9391, thegoodpie.com
For years now, traveling gourmands have been making hundred-mile pilgrimages to Iron Barley to sample such culinary curiosities as barley paella, hot smoked salmon, oak-roasted prime rib, and Blender Blaster pie. They do this because the Food Network tells them to—seriously, you can’t go more than a long weekend without one or another program on that channel singing chef-proprietor Tom Coghill’s praises. So why are you still sitting on your couch reading this?
5510 Virginia, 314-351-4500, ironbarley.com
Local Harvest Café
Many chefs tout letting the food “speak for itself,” but few have conveyed that message as seamlessly as Clara Moore. While the décor might be repurposed inside the slick Tower Grove South café, the flavors are anything but: You will always find the season’s freshest bounty ungussied and displayed in a manner that ensures tomatoes will simply taste like tomatoes and beef will taste…well, you get the idea.
3137 Morgan Ford, 314-772-8815, localharvestcafe.com
As authentic Mex-Mex continues to make a favorable impression in this town, let us pause to acknowledge what a Tex-Mex temple we have in Nachomama’s. Its enchiladas are simultaneously smooth, firm, tangy, cheesy, and tomatoey. The guac is vibrant and fresh and comes in the shell of the avocado from which it came. Tacos are straightforward delish. The condiment bar is a mild-to-hot masterpiece. Why, there’s even rotisserie chicken. (Of course, what Nachomama’s is probably best known for is serving up salty-sweet, ice-cold margaritas.) Take that, Taco Hell!
9643 Manchester, 314-961-9110, nachomamas-stl.com
There are folks who think it makes no difference whether a restaurant owner is a working owner. Well, it does. And it takes one trip to Pappy’s and one shake of Mike Emerson’s hand to prove it. You’ll make a friend long before you sink your chops into the now-legendary dry-rub ribs and pulled-to-order pork. If you can get past those (and most can’t or won’t), order up some pulled chicken or brisket. Then thank Emerson on the way out—if he doesn’t thank you first.
3106 Olive, 314-535-4340, pappyssmokehouse.com
While our home is cluttered with unopened mail and recycling that needs to be taken out, the general store/locavore deli Winslow’s Home is in charming disarray, with a variety of old-fashioned toys and quirky cooking accoutrements for sale. While we succumb to cereal for dinner far too often, at Winslow’s Home there’s always a perky egg dish ready to be whipped up or a brisket sandwich far too delicious to pass up, and an artisanal soda and a warm, homemade cookie within arm’s reach to wash it all down. We want to live at Winslow’s Home.
7213 Delmar, 314-725-7559, winslowshome.com
Jim Fiala’s triumphant take on Tuscany and Piedmont is brilliantly executed by chef Adam Gnau, in a small storefront on a street lined with restaurants. Appetizers feature house-made salumi, its spicy, garlicky delicacies often served on an individual cutting board. Italian specialties and international classics with Italian flair are served with sauces that are difficult to top. The pastas are exemplary, the menu changes seasonally, and regional providers are emphasized.
7266 Manchester, 314-644-1790, fialafood.com
Brasserie by Niche
Imagine it: a brasserie that’s actually that. This is the real thing, a fin de siècle–lively, always-crowded gathering spot with a continually changing menu featuring informal French classics. Braised short ribs, fragrant steamed mussels and fries, salted cod and potato brandade, cheesy/poufy gougères: The place is so French you’ll leave wanting to pronounce “Chouteau” correctly. A dinner alone at the beautiful bar here is wonderful. Even better: sharing a meal with friends at cozy, comfortable tables.
4580 Laclede, 314-454-0600, brasseriebyniche.com
A trip to Bowood Farms Nursery soothes all five senses: Witness the half-acre vegetable garden, the last known address of your lunchtime tomato; listen for the birds and perhaps some bees; feel the warmth of the sun through immense, mullioned windows; smell a bison burger (from Bowood’s own bison) sizzling on the grill; and taste, yes, please taste the big, pure flavors only a small, fresh-focused menu can provide.
4605 Olive, 314-454-6868, bowoodfarms.com
Eleven Eleven Mississippi
Napa Valley cuisine is a trend that’s never managed to untangle itself from the larger, amorphous knot of New American/California/farmer’s market/locavore cooking—except at Eleven Eleven Mississippi, where renowned dishes like wild boar Bolognese, slow-braised rabbit, and arctic char have been developed with richness and texture in mind, all the better to match wits with a big, velvety vintage chosen from the restaurant’s resplendent wine selection. Which, of course, is the most Napa thing about Eleven Eleven Mississippi.
1111 Mississippi, 314-241-9999, 1111-m.com
As his dogs frolic in the garden out back in an almost too-perfect neighborhood setting on Ivanhoe Avenue, chef Kevin Willmann effortlessly executes the intricacies of a farm-to-table approach, resulting in small plates of full-flavored simplicity. It’s all served by a staff led by Willmann’s fiancée, Jess Hanzlick, whose touch extends to the walls as well, with framed photos placed into repurposed windows. The pair has created something special—it’s like a dear friend’s home.
3257 Ivanhoe, 314-647-3800, farmhausrestaurant.com
Black-tie waiters and a casual crowd fill this modest Hill spot, a series of dining rooms in a former private house. Absolutely nothing is chic or trendy—it’s just fine, traditional Italian fare, including veal, pasta, and interesting seafood treatments, all prepared to perfection. Patrons walk out beaming and smelling of garlic, neither of which is unusual in this part of the city.
5356 Daggett, 314-772-4893, gian-tonys.com
A tiny, cramped location taught St. Louisans about the wonders of sticky rice with mango, Vietnamese soups (pho), omelet-style pancakes (banh xeo), beautiful roast duck, and other delicacies, at student-budget prices. Mai Lee’s recently moved to much larger quarters below a local favorite—a free garage—but food quality has remained high and arrives faster from a huge kitchen ready to wok and roll. State your preferred spice level—it will not be ignored.
8396 Musick Memorial, 314-645-2835, maileerestaurant.com
Endless debates about just how authentically Chicagoan Pi’s Chicago-style pizza may be are no longer relevant—because at this point, Pi has entirely moved beyond the original cachet of Chicago-style pie available locally. Pi has become its own empire, lording over St. Louis with multiple locations, a mobile pizza truck, and un-freaking-believably awesome milkshakes. And for what it’s worth, once cornmeal is ingeniously added to dough, the resulting pizza automatically surpasses whatever they’re doing up in Chi-town.
Four locations, restaurantpi.com
“Tapas” gets tossed around like the cows in Twister. Try Robust for the real thing: a buttery, triple-cream Belletoile cheese, perfect with a flinty chardonnay, or paprika-smoked Spanish chorizo slivers, paired with a lusty Malbec. Nibble and sip, matching tapas with wines—or match a wine flight with your tapas. Larger offerings, like a rich vegetable torte or roasted halibut, make for satisfying meals. The place is attractive and glowing, with a magnificent bar.
227 W. Lockwood, 314-963-0033, robustwinebar.com
Stellina Pasta Café
News of this neighborhood spot’s fine, house-made pasta has led the small, quiet location to be invaded by fans from all over town. A recent expansion took it from tiny to almost mid-size. While Stellina is ready to satisfy St. Louis’ seemingly never-ending appetite for noodles, the restaurant’s first-rate sandwiches—including an unexpected but dazzling pulled pork—and imaginative desserts also inspire repeat visits.
342 Watson, 314-256-1600, stellinapasta.com
Taste by Niche
If ever a city needed a late-night spot to nosh on something a little more highbrow, St. Louis was it. And though the pig is now off the wall, and the wait is over—thanks to a new reservation policy—Gerard Craft’s staff continues to tease our taste buds in this cozy 16-seater made even cozier by bartender Ted Kilgore’s award-winning libations. Go now, before Taste wins any more national honors.
1831 Sidney, 314-773-7755, nichestlouis.com
This proper French bistro, tucked away in a quiet corner of a suburban shopping area, has the correct south-of-France appurtenances, like outdoor seating, an inexpensive wine list displaying a series of French delights, and a blend of lunch and dinner offerings that changes almost as often as a flighty mademoiselle’s mind. Flavorful choucroute garnie and elegant lamb shank braised in red wine lead a menu where the $34 prix fixe could be the best deal in town.
427 S. Kirkwood, 314-822-5440, cafeprovencal.com
Cardwell’s at the Plaza
Bill Cardwell began his St. Louis run in Union Station and became a leader in the group that led the city out of decades of dining doldrums. The hostesses here sometimes think they’re in New York, but a top-flight kitchen pays close attention to local producers and offers special care to vegetables. Chinese chicken leads the salads. Don’t sneer at the mall location—after all, there’s plenty of free parking.
Plaza Frontenac, 1701 S. Lindbergh, 314-997-8885, billcardwell.com
Erato on Main
The kitchen was originally helmed by Kevin Willmann, then by long-time employee Jonathan Olson. We trust this Edwardsville restaurant and wine bar will continue its dominance due to its dedication to sourcing outstanding local products. Locals pack the comfortable, brick-lined bar throughout the week, absorbing one of the area’s most underrated wine and beer lists, while west-siders in the know make the drive on weekends to sample one of the East Side’s best.
126 N. Main, Edwardsville, Ill., 618-307-3203, eratoonmain.com
Consider: an aromatic roast half-chicken, paired with a slab of succulent, smoky pork jowl, sitting beside a tumble of potatoes and turnips, splashed with pan juices. Or tagliatelle tossed with chunks of zucchini and squash and wild mushrooms, all glistening with fresh pesto; house-made charcuterie; hickory-smoked trout salad; or potato and cauliflower soup. The question isn’t whether this graceful, handsome bistro is among St. Louis’ best. It’s why you haven’t yet been.
5100 Daggett, 314-773-5553, fivebistro.com
If thoughts of the cassoulet here—with duck confit, sausage, and pork belly rendered meltingly tender in a glossy stew of white beans—don’t inspire instant craving, you’re reading the wrong article. Exposed brick, wooden floors, and wide, comfortable tables make Franco eminently appealing. Bistro classics like grilled steak, fried frog legs, garlicky escargot, and a stunning sweet, gooey apple tarte Tatin make you happy you accepted the invitation. A licorice-spiked après-dinner pastis is mandatory.
1535 S. Eighth, 314-436-2500, eatatfranco.com
Because Europe is many, many hours away and nobody really lets you fly standby anymore, we dine at I Fratellini when that sudden, inexplicable yen for the Continent surfaces. We revel in the Fellini-esque environs, which exude a sort of nonconformist lustiness (we can’t get enough of those dangling–light bulb chandeliers); we relax into the evening aided by the professional yet unstuffy service; we indulge in the risotto, bruschetta, Caprese salad, lobster ravioli... and cherish its location, as central as the town square.
7624 Wydown, 314-727-7901, ifratellini.com
Miso on Meramec
Recipe for sushi success: Hire a major chef (with a minor in culinary artistry); build him a dramatic sushi bar; fill the room with equal parts bamboo, steel, and stone; add in nu-jazz music that spills onto sidewalk tables through sliding windows…oh, and then ban smoking. The credit goes to visionary owner Brad Beracha (with an assist to the city of Clayton). Miso has finally provided a legitimate reason to revive some sullied descriptors—like fancy, trendy, hip, and chic.
16 N. Meramec, 314-863-7888, misolounge.com
The life span of an average butterfly is but a year: a mere four seasons to flit about, alight on the ground, cast a bit of gossamer-winged prettiness, then perish unceremoniously as an identical butterfly arrives to take its place. Nobody told this to the folks at Monarch, a butterfly that has perched itself royally at an intersection in downtown Maplewood for close to a decade. The restaurant’s second incarnation just hatched—more casual, more New Orleans—but it’s still dining at its finest: The quality has never wavered, and the service remains seamless.
7401 Manchester, 314-644-3995, monarchrestaurant.com
If the seafood here were any fresher or more authentic, you’d be seasick. An expert kitchen gives every fish, mollusk, and crustacean careful, delicious—and different—attention. A bigeye tuna is skillet-blackened. Salmon’s grilled. Rock snapper is pan-roasted, and buttery yellowtail is served exquisitely raw. Accompaniments like golden beets, flavorful ragouts, and sweet-corn risotto add to the party. With its spacious front windows (try to wangle a streetside table), the central Clayton location is convivial. The service? Top-notch.
44 N. Brentwood, 314-721-9400, oceanobistro.com
There must be nights when there isn’t some sort of celebration going on here, but it’s rare. Recent expansion now allows the possibility to—occasionally—dine without a reservation, but not on weekends. The pride of the Komorek family provides warm hospitality and cuisine at the junction of familiar and exotic. Flash-fried spinach is a trademark; house-made salumi, a joy. Hope that the feather-light gnocchi is available.
3600 Watson, 314-352-7706, trattoriamarcella com
Vin de Set
Almost single-handedly establishing rooftop dining as an experience here, this place, with its arched windows and dramatic ceiling, is equally enjoyable inside. A good wine list entices; matching Provence-inspired food to the wine is part of the enjoyment. Savory crepes are a specialty, and a wide array of cheeses makes for splendid starters, but don’t overlook grilled quail, seared duck breast, or a fried eggplant Napoleon. The fish-loaded, fennel-laced bouillabaisse is the best in town.
2017 Chouteau, 314-241-8989, vindeset.com
Yia Yias Euro Bistro
Like Jimmy Webb’s lineman, this mini chain began in Wichita, Kan. It now includes five Midwest cities, offering a wide variety of well-prepared, properly presented American food from local sources. There’s tasty pizza and pasta, but also Berkshire pork, grass-fed beef, farmed trout, and every vegetable one can imagine from in-state sources, all treated just right by chef Rob Uyemura. And on the patio: a waterfall more soothing than Grandma’s touch.
15601 Olive, 636-537-9991, yiayias.com
Meat and potatoes don’t get much better than this. Fine beef, good respect for pork, and chef Lou Rook’s fondness for potatoes await. (And finding the right wine here is easy.) Try the smoked shrimp for an appetizer before your favorite cut of beef. The bar area’s often busy, but worth the effort of pushing through for quieter dining. Reservations are advised, but a few tables are held for lucky walk-ins.
16806 Chesterfield Airport Rd., 636-532-7684, anniegunns.com
It’s hard to know where to look. There’s that dramatic riverfront vista outside. On your plate, it’s purple slices of crisp, fresh beets tossed with spicy arugula. Outside, the most spectacular reflecting pool in town. On the table, braised lamb shanks in their own anise-spiked juices. Take your time. Enjoy both. From the steaks to the soaring interior space, from spectacular pastas to a magnificent lounge and bar, Cielo remains a must-try.
999 N. Second, 314-881-5800, fourseasons.com/stlouis/dining
Consistently superb dining, a splendid atmosphere, impeccable service…Harvest is the dining equivalent of that person your mother told you to marry. Not a note is missed here, from crispy, sweet crab cakes atop black bean–and–roasted corn salad to the crusty, herby cheese toast with field greens to a slab of thick, succulent, pan-seared barramundi. Ingredients shine; presentations are delightful. An excellent wine list adds to the reputation of this St. Louis dining institution.
1059 S. Big Bend, 314-645-3522, harveststlouis.com
Herbie’s Vintage 72
A major contributor to the Let’s Make the CWE Cool Again Fund, Herbie’s invariably crowded, bistro atmosphere reflects an ambitiously achieved approach to great fare. Imaginative presentations like shrimp dumplings and crepes stuffed with duck confit compete with formidable dishes like filet mignon with crispy gnocchi and a flaky, pastry-wrapped beef Wellington. Streetside parking’s convenient; service is excellent. Herbie’s is delightful always (including a fabulous Sunday brunch), but this is the near-perfect Saturday-night dinner destination.
405 N. Euclid, 314-769-9595, herbies.com
How lucky St. Louis was to land Gerard Craft. Just when we thought nothing was new in New American cuisine, he arrived with an urbane dining room and local ingredients in palate-teasing dishes. Niche has had two offshoots, but it’s the mother ship to which we take visitors from the coasts, just to watch them eat their words. Pay special attention to offbeat menu items; Bessie Smith never had Niche’s pig foot with her bottle of beer.
1831 Sidney, 314-773-7755, nichestlouis.com
Get the “…but it’s in a strip mall” apology out of the way early, because once you’re inside this minimal-space, maximum-vibe homage to traditional Italian cooking, you’ll fugget all about it. There’s a good chance Manno will attend to your table personally, and as soon as he lovingly runs through the litany of daily specials, you’ll wonder why the place even bothers with a menu. Trust us, you’ll feel thankful you were even able to secure a reservation…at the strip mall.
75 Forum Shopping Center, 314-878-1274
Sidney Street Café
Though this is the landmark that has kept Benton Park top of mind for about a quarter century, it wasn’t until chef Kevin Nashan purchased the restaurant and slowly began renovating the menu that things really got cooking. Backed by arguably the best kitchen crew in the city, it has gone from being merely a romantic, special-occasion restaurant to one of the city’s finest culinary outposts.
2000 Sidney, 314-771-5777, sidneystreetcafe.com
Formal dining. Remember it? Dining in a place where they know the difference between eveningwear and a “tuxedo.” Where service and silverware glow. Where linen is starched, crystal sparkles, and everything from your chair to the wall decor is plush. Where unapologetically extravagant meals like veal cutlet alla Milanese, a Chianti sauce–slathered filet mignon, or meaty osso buco are du jour dining. If the memory’s vague, visit Tony’s. A dinner there will bring it all deliciously, elegantly back.
410 Market, 314-231-7007
Restaurant of the Year 2010
Stone Soup Cottage
By Dave Lowry
Not often, but occasionally, our dining editor has a good idea. Try Stone Soup Cottage, he insisted. We did. You should. In a quarter century of restaurant writing, never has the naming of the year’s most remarkable restaurant been so easy.
It’s in an 1850 house on a Cottleville side street, with its own herb garden. Inside, past an apartment-sized kitchen, the dining area has two dozen seats, with a single seating nightly, and Sunday brunch. Candles provide the only light. From embroidered linens to the original wooden floor, the atmosphere is irresistibly gracious, inviting, gloriously formal.
The chef and a tiny staff greet and serve, explaining each extraordinary dish of a continually changing, multicourse tasting menu. Lobster consommé wafts the herby aroma of fresh dill. Squash blossoms, plucked that afternoon, are stuffed with a house-made, fennel-smacked sausage and fried tempura-style. Bread arrives with pinwheels of lavender-perfumed butter. Wines are perfect. A puffy papillote encloses a succulent chunk of sea bass, steamed with a ruinously rich anise butter. Golden chanterelles—brought to the kitchen that morning by a local forager—are smoked, enhancing their meaty flavor, then loaded into ramekins with potato slices in a silky cream-sauce gratin. When it arrives, the chef appears tableside to dribble a spoonful of white truffle oil on top. An ethereally fluffy, verbena-scented soufflé for dessert signals the end of a three-hour meal. It seems far too short in what is unquestionably the most elegant, outstanding, and delicious restaurant in our area.
Too Soon to Call
Restaurants get tweaked a lot in that critical first year. Here are six we predict will survive the twists and turns.
Sanctuaria: Mildly irreverent yet classy surroundings and a mixologist who pairs a cocktail to every dish that flies out of chef Chris Lee’s head give this location staying power. The bigger question is how to grow its customer base in the still-maturing Grove neighborhood.
Bistro 1130: If one could combine an accomplished French chef with an accomplished French general manager, would the result be an accomplished French bistro? We say “Oui” to this Town & Country eatery.
Peppe’s Apt. 2: In Kirkwood, owner/chef Peppe Profeta is preparing many of the same Italian classics he made 20 years ago…when Gian Peppe’s was crowned one of the top 100 restaurants in the country.
Lola: Expanding too quickly is either brilliant or foolhardy. Here, adding an absinthe lounge and a rooftop deck could send this downtown spot to the top of the charts.
Bridge: Locals crave Baileys’ Chocolate Bar and cackle about Rooster. Can David Bailey go three for three in the city? We’d bet his 200-plus beers and 100-plus wines on it.
Bixby’s: Spectacular presentation and vibrant color combinations are only the beginning. No way they’ll be the end of this Missouri History Museum stop. —G.M.
It’s hard enough to achieve restaurant success one time. Can a reincarnation do it again?
Atlas: After polling Atlas’ loyal CWE customers, new owner Bryan Carr wisely kept some of its popular dishes on the new menu. One problem: They were all popular.
Balaban’s Wine Cellar & Tapas Bar: Spot-on, scaled-down versions of signature classics transplanted to less urban environs make this not-a-café iteration plausible.
Chez Leon: Is it ever a bad idea to drop a classic bistro into the middle of the city’s busiest suburb, then make it even more romantic than it was before?
Copia: It’s got the same chef, same vibe—plus a new, retractable roof on what was already the coolest patio downtown. —G.M.
Trends to Try, Trends to Die
By Dave Lowry
Don’t tell us you don’t like trends, because we know you do. So do we—most of the time.
Trends to Die:
• Overreacting to the latest hand-wringing concern of the hypochondriacal, self-obsessed faddist, like rolling out entirely “gluten-free” menus. Studies, like one just done by a University of California, Los Angeles immunologist, indicate while 30 percent of us claim serious food allergies, only about 5 percent actually have ’em. We pray daily for anyone afflicted, but might we 95 percent enjoy a slice of crusty, house-made batard without feeling like we’re contributing to a pandemic of suffering?
• “Sharing” plates. Sure, we share. We’re the Mister Freaking Rogers of sharing. We resent, though, restaurants exploiting uncertain political and economic times to convince us to huddle head-to-head together over a meal like teensters watching a slasher flick. One restaurant consultant advises that the sharing-sized plate “responds to consumers’ needs for comfort and safety, for intimacy and friendship.” To which we say: “Table for one, please.”
• Acai, guarana, goji, and assorted other berries. Drupes, hesperidium, and exotic pomes. All added to drinks to render them “healthier” and give a new, particularly attractive meaning to “fruit cocktail.”
• Ironic foods. Kobe beef sliders. Idiazabal cheese and macaroni. Gourmet s’mores. Yeah, très hip. Not.
• Agenda-driven food blogging. Snide, largely anonymous attacks against restaurants. Unverifiable allegations about food and service. Criticism that sounds suspiciously like it’s coming from a jealous competitor. Reminders that along with the welcome, fresh winds blowing through food-related blogs, there is also way too much hot air.
Trends to Try:
• Innovative ways to fry chicken—like the Korean method, using a fine flour and thin batter—that are making the Colonel’s staple trendy once again. Korean joints specializing in this incredibly tasty poultry are a growing trend in New York and other cities, and we’ll see them here soon.
• House-pickled vegetables offer a piquant and tart jolt to jaded taste buds. Everything from spicy green beans to vinegary cauliflower is getting the pickling treatment, a flavorful alternative to snacks and side dishes.
• The return of bread. Now that a whole-grain stake has blessedly been delivered to the heart of the Atkins diet, people are remembering the aromatic, oven-baked joys of panem nostrum quotidianum.
• Like Eddie Albert, a lot of restaurateurs have packed up their culinary Eva Gabors and left the city for the countyside. Cheaper rent, lower costs and, oh yeah, full-size parking places have accelerated this trend. (The gnashing of teeth you hear is from the Urban Sophisticates who’d rather die than point the Audi west of Skinker Boulevard.)
• And the hottest new dining-related trend of 2010? Restaurant critics—the new sex symbols.