Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Jefferson Square is on the north side of DeSoto on Highway 21. The Square is a shopping center anchored by a Queens Supermarket and an Orscheln Farm and Home store*. There’s an Eagle Bank and a few other shops as well. Inside the main building toward the rear there’s the Jefferson Square Inn. An Inn I didn’t know existed.
Over the main entrance to the center of the complex is a single door that subtly mentions the Bistro. Inside this door is a large open area like the center of a small mall. The Bistro is on the right and tables spill out into the indoor courtyard. The spillover seating is surrounded by faux gaslight topped brick columns and iron gating. We found the ‘Please wait to be seated’ sign and approached. Along side the hostess station was a shelf bearing a small stereo. The music was a little out of place for a place called a Bistro, it was 70’s funk. Fortunately it wasn’t very loud, I didn’t really care for 70’s funk back in the 70’s and my opinion hasn’t really mellowed much since then. It’s better than country music though, that crap should be totally banned.
We were seated promptly since there were no other diners in sight. It was early though. The tables were unremarkable, wooden with inexpensive wooden chairs. The table was covered with a crisp white linen tablecloth and the silverware was wrapped in less-than-cheap paper napkins and there were lavender paper placemats at each setting. There was a small folk-crafty fake flower arrangement in the center of the table. The overall décor was tasteful but not pretentious.
I’d prescreened the menu at home on the interwebs and decided there was something for everyone. I didn’t need to look at it again though. As we were waiting to be seated we spied a fluorescent marker board describing the daily specials, today’s was steak and shrimp. Angel and I decided right then and there. We ordered our drinks, tea, tea and Pepsi and accepted the offer for dinner rolls. Adam studied the menu. The rolls arrived, big ones slathered in a thick coat of butter. They were served with several condiment tubs of real butter.(Finally!) The big rolls were warm and cloud-like. Soft, very light and fresh, they soaked up the butter like I soak up compliments.
Adam said he’d decided so we ordered our steaks, Angel went for medium, I asked for slightly pinker than medium. The young waitress did not even pause writing down my one-off preference. Of course we wanted butter and sour cream with our potato. As for the salad Angel asked for French dressing, I made the young lady list the options. They were all pretty standard until she said two words that had both Adam and I dropping our jaws: “Honey Bacon”. I thought about it for about the time it takes a photon to pass through a raindrop. (pretty fast, like .0000000003 seconds).
Adam ordered the Buffalo Chicken sandwich and Home Fries. He was tempted by ‘Breakfast served all day’ but decided otherwise.
The waitress, dressed like the other staff in black slacks, a crisp white long sleeve button down shirt, wrapped in a black apron, wandered off toward the back. We enjoyed the rolls sipped the tea, which Angel said tasted flowery. It had flavor, it wasn’t bitter I couldn’t complain, so I just politely insulted her, her taste buds and her entire family line in general.
The salads were impressive. Served on a small plate, almost saucer sized, there was a mix of at least a couple of different kinds of greens, a couple of rings of red onions, and freshly toasted croutons. I appreciated the smallness since I can’t control myself. At Ruby Tuesdays’ where that have a salad buffet, I tend to pile it on till it scrapes the ceiling then gorge myself before the main course. This was much better, even if I ate it all I would still have room. Angel and Adam didn’t care for the croutons; they were fresh and lightly toasted. They prefer theirs to be thick and heavy, roughly the consistency of radial tires. Adam whined that the croutons were too cracker-like. I liked them since I have the ability to enjoy the finer things in life.
The Honey Bacon dressing was absolutely brilliant. It tasted of honey, and bacon, need I say more? I let Adam and Angel dip one crouton apiece in it and they agreed. This was certainly what a fairy princess’ tears of joy must taste like.
The main course arrived shortly, the steaks still sizzling, the potatoes bundled tightly in foil, and the three large shrimps lightly battered and dutifully lined up, ready to be devoured.
Either by omission or presumption, we were not offered steak knives. I tried slicing into the twelve ounce rib eye with the butter knife, but it just would not do the trick. I caught the attention of our waitress as she was seating another, less important group. She sped away and returned with apologies. The new knives made all the difference. The steak came apart nicely. The potatoes soaked up the butter and sour cream beautifully, the potato skins had been lightly salted, not too much. Angel left hers in the foil, I undressed mine completely, ravenously, ripping and tearing away little bits and big chunks of foil in a fury, like a sailor on shore leave. I didn’t just want to daintily scoop out the innards; I wanted the crispy baked skin as well since that’s where they put all the vitamins.
Adam was impressed with his sandwich as well as the diced fried potatoes. That’s saying quite a bit since he’s not much of one to vocalize his likes and dislikes.
The steak was a little tough, but they had seared and peppered it perfectly, it didn’t even occur to me to ask for steak sauce. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and the potato was smoking hot and perfectly done, tender, not dry.
Angel announced after consuming about two thirds that she was full, Adam a bit further along said the same. I agreed, saying I too was full, the only difference being that I didn’t let a trivial thing like that stop me. I didn’t actually finish, but I certainly crammed as much of it in as I could find nooks and crannies to do so.
The waitress came around and brought the bill, then disappeared for about ten minutes, about eight minutes too long for my liking. Somewhere during this time the music switched from 70’s funk to 70’s soft rock, Elton John, etc., still not my favorite genre, but completely ignorable, unlike country music which should be destroyed.
We were delighted. Even with the slightly sluggish service at the end the entire experience was quite positive. The food was surprisingly good, the portions superb, the ambiance was relaxed yet dignified. The wait staff was friendly and professional, the owner even stopped by to check on us. The bill came in around fifty bucks, comparable with the chain joints. It never did get very crowded, maybe ten tables, I would have thought there would be more. This chunk of southern Jefferson County doesn’t have many restaurants to begin with; a quality gem like this one should be crowded open till close.
Highly recommended, we’ll be back!
* After we ate (stuffed ourselves) we decided to walk a little of it off at the farm store. We don’t own a farm, but having five to fourteen dogs around creates problems that can only be resolved with livestock-scale solutions. Farm stores are neat even for the non-farmer. Clothing, boots, tools, gallons of livestock medicines and salves, John Deere themed toys, real spurs and tack, rabbit hutches, chicken feeders, gopher traps, and miles and miles of electrical fence wire along with chargers with enough voltage to make Nikola Tesla jittery. They also have pet supplies, Angel picked up a couple of reflective collars for Blue and George. They run free outside a few times a day and tend to chase after scurrying monsters in the woods. The dogs, Blue especially, blend in with the foliage and can be stubborn when called away from their quest. The bright orange collars help them stand out and look much less like stumps. We also looked at stable mats, thick, heavy rubber mats that Angel is considering for use around the gates to her pens. The dogs have turned all of them into mud pits. We’ll let you know if it works.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This past weekend was a three day affair what with Independence Day and everything. I’d announced plans already to grill everything in sight on Sunday and Monday. I take grilling very seriously.
Saturday however was our night out. It was Adam’s choice and it was a good one. Fairly fresh off our visit to Waffle House a few weeks ago, he declared IHOP.
In the strip of restaurants that front Gravois Bluffs this is the last one left to be reviewed, not counting a tiny Deli and a Q-Doba, which we will probably not be doing, ever.
The place was clean and sparkly, etched glass and wood panels segregated areas cutting down on the noise. Angel answered “booth” when queried about preference. My section of the booth was lumpy and uneven. I said as much and Adam shot back; “You’re lumpy!” Which is currently our families standard retort style to everything anyone says.
I.e. “That TV show was boring”
“The dogs are barking.”
We do this instead of actually trying to be funny or clever, it’s much simpler, but man does it get old.
The place was less than a quarter full, most of the patrons were families spread out thinly.
The wait staff scurried about, busily attending to the coffee refills and table cleanings. The staff, with only one exception was young and very skinny. I mentioned this to Angel, she replied “They must not eat here”. I looked around at the patrons and was forced to agree, the customers all seemed to be of greater girth. The one staff member that was of normal Midwestern pudgy build turned out to be the manager, obviously required to eat there fairly often.
The place did not smell like syrup, which I found to be nice. I’ve discussed this before and won’t burden you with the details again other than to say, mumps and lockjaw.
We ordered our drinks, tea, tea and Pepsi. They came while we were still drooling over the menu.
We took quite a while to finally decide. We considered just telling the skinny waiter to just start on page one and bring the table one of everything till we couldn’t take any more. Everything on the menu looked great, it wasn’t at all a problem of finding something we wanted, it was that we didn’t want to not have something else.
I knew I had to get pancakes, since this was the “International House of” You know my rule on that. I opted for the combo, double blueberry pancakes with a blueberry compote (fruit, cooked with sugar and used as a syrup-like topping). The combo came with eggs, over-easy (like me) two breakfast meats (one each bacon and sausage) and a pile of hash browns.
Angel opted for the steak tips which came with eggs (scrambled) and hash browns. She also asked for a side of gravy, because Angel loves gravy. Adam ordered the chicken fried chicken, accompanied by two eggs cooked as they looked in the picture (sunny side up).
While waiting for the food the many children in the room started behaving more and more sugared up. There was jumping and shrieking and yelling. I considered telling the parents off, but they were all much, much larger than me.
Adam sniffed the syrup decanters, couldn’t decide what one of them was, asked his mom, she whiffed and declared boysenberry. A ten minute discussion ensued, a small tiff about the origin of boysenberries. We finally agreed that it was a combination of berries.*
The food arrived, none too soon. The eggs were perfect, clean, brilliantly so, the hash browns were crispy through and through, the way Adam prefers them though he didn’t order any.(Haha!) The one slice of bacon was crispy but not burnt, the sausage was succulent and flavory.
The picture in the menu depicted a dollop of compote on the pancakes, the reality in front of me was quite different. Instead of what I assumed would be a couple of tablespoons was in fact more like a half cup. It completely covered the stack. It also completely masked any flavor the actual pancakes might have brought to the plate. I still finished them but it was quite a bit sweeter and more syrupy than I would have wanted.
All around the table there were grunts of joy and delight. I stole a pinch of Angel’s regular, buttermilk pancake and wished I’d ordered the same. They were light, fluffy, and buttery tasting.
Angel’s steak was excellent though with perhaps too much mushroom and onion sauce. Adam was very satisfied with his chicken, nice and crispy, and perfectly cooked eggs.
Near halfway through I asked for coffee and they brought out a fresh carafe. It was dark and delicious. It cut through the sweetness of the compote and brought the universe into balance and order.
The food was excellent and then some. Highly recommended, great value. I know now that they tend to over-sauce things, which can be dealt with. The service was very good, attentive, sincere. When taking our order the waiter read it all back to us, a move I don’t mind since it assures that the order was taken properly. The food was all fresh and nicely cooked, the tea was very good, the coffee even better. The place was clean and tended to well, almost shiny. The bill came to just under forty three dollars, not too bad for the quantity and quality of food. I tipped well, these skinny kids need to eat more.
We left even though I was reluctant. They had brought me a full carafe of coffee, I’d barely finished a third of it. But Angel insisted since we were on a mission. It was time to buy explosives.
*Boysenberry: A blackberry, loganberry, and raspberry cross developed in the 1920’s by Rudolph Boysen.