Photo by Kevin A. Roberts
1 S. Broadway
Average Main Course: $32
Reservations: They don’t take ’em—and they don’t answer their phone during the day so you can ask that question.
Dress: Open closet. Find Ritz. Put it on.
Chef: Rex Hale
Let’s wait till next summer to go to Three Sixty for dinner, so we can be out on the deck.” Good idea. It’s the same one, in fact, that approximately 32,346 of your fellow St. Louisans have had—and that likely one-quarter of a kajillion tourists will have next summer. An outdoor dinner in the warmer months there is hugely enjoyable. Sunsets are spectacular; the deck provides the ultimate skybox seats into Busch Stadium. Summer nights get more crowded than the Munich concert on the pan-German David Hasselhoff tour. So listen: Have dinner this winter at Three Sixty.
Debuting a little more than a year ago, this restaurant/bar, balanced atop the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, was an instant hit: sleek, classy, with sophisticated lighting and minimalist decor. Aside from the wraparound vistas, Three Sixty has an invariably packed bar, cozy booths, and intimate nooks with a variety of chairs, some cozily overstuffed, and some rockers—so feel free to lounge.
The menu’s small. Nearly two-dozen “plates” are dealt out here (they’re appetizers), along with a half-dozen larger “house plates.” Some of the former are like supercharged bar food. You’ve had pork tacos with a beer, sure. How about pork marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic; grilled; dressed with finely chopped kimchi and cucumber; folded into a Korean take on tacos? Oysters? Here they come barbecued or with a tomato-horseradish granita.
And while far too many menus babble with details, Three Sixty’s undersells. “Smoked salmon chips” in no way covers what arrives: a couple of tablespoons’ worth of rough-ground, fragrantly smoked salmon atop a big crispy, salty potato chip, topped with tiny capers and nibbles of sweet red onions.
Roasting mussels is an inspired method, retaining the juiciness and sharpening the flavor. Tossed in red wine with locally produced fiama sausage and sprinkled with fennel, the meaty bivalves here are delectable.
Among the salads, heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella contribute to a worthy seasonal Caprese. Even better, though, is an arugula salad, an example of how a dish can make—or at least elevate—the dish. The salad arrives in a stainless-steel bowl that makes the leaves easy to negotiate and keeps them chilled, delightfully green, and crisp. And a light vinaigrette and crumbles of goat cheese are in perfect ratio.
Pizzas are quite good, pulled from the kitchen’s blast furnace–hot stone oven; the must-try is one with globs of goat cheese melted under chunks of wild mushrooms. The flavors and textures are a delicious combination. The crust, roasted brown and bubbled under the oven, is as perfect as can be found on any pizza in town.
Aside from Jersey Shore and “cancelled,” are there any two words more tantalizingly combined than “lobster” and “risotto?” Just the idea is magnificent: At Three Sixty, it’s realized extravagantly. A split lobster tail is roasted, then laid atop a mound of golden risotto, busy with golden cherry tomatoes and herbs—and slivers and slices of more lobster claw. Another house plate selection, the mushrooms and herbed polenta, is inventively presented. The polenta is stuffed into corn husks to resemble tamales, then decorated with plump morel knobs and trumpets of chanterelles. The mushrooms and herb polenta have textures that play off one another, the bland starchiness of the polenta accentuating the delicate taste of the mushrooms. It’s deceptively rich. Other house plates, such as a hanger steak and seared halibut, are large enough for a full meal, but it’s more enjoyable to share them.
Note: The pace is quick here. Small plates arrive in less time than it takes to ride the 26 stories up to the restaurant; larger plates come out not long after. All is served as it’s prepared; a table for four rapidly gets crowded. Consider yourself lucky, by the way, if you score one of the few regular tables. Most diners eat from manhole cover–size tabletops or while balancing plates in their hands. And not everything works. The meatball slider is subpar, the meatball dry and flavorless. Other sliders are much better: The BLT is ramped up with a wedge of luscious smoked pork belly and juicy slices of heirloom tomatoes. The third slider on the menu, a chunk of boneless short rib, is dressed with horseradish aioli and a spray of arugula. The crispy Baja fish tacos are average at best.
A selection of beer on tap and in bottles is wide, though not particularly extraordinary. Your best bet here is the crispy, fizzy mineral tang of Angry Orchard hard cider. The wine list is fine, but what’s most entertaining is Three Sixty’s famed selection of infused and shaken drinks. Some are baroque: The Black & Blu Gentleman combines bourbon, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, dry vermouth, blackberries, and blueberries. Others are simple, like a Hendrick’s gin, lemon, and muddled cucumber (The Wimbledon Cup). Try one for dinner, then order another for a well-deserved digestif.
Three Sixty is not only crowded, but also loud. It has the kind of vibe always present when too many people want to be glamorous and chic, but must settle for being noisy and self-conscious. You, blessedly, aren’t one of them. Remember that digestif? Take it, put on your coat, and venture out to the outside lounge. It won’t be crowded—you can bet on that during winter. Admittedly, dinner 26 floors above St. Louis in December is pretty much like a midwinter dinner at ground level: dark. Still, in those brief moments before you lose all feeling in your extremities, take in the view. St. Louis twinkles and glitters, spread out before you. It’s a different perspective at night, a different way to see what a really remarkable place our city is. Now, get back inside, you idiot. It’s freezing.
The Bottom Line: Way-upscale noshes and fine full-size plates in one of the most extraordinary settings in town.