Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Taytro’s Bar and Bistro

343 N Creek Dr.
 Festus, Mo.

My turn to choose. My original thought, Bob Evans’ was universally frowned upon. I gave it some more skull-time and realized that we’d not been to Taytro’s in quite a while. It was pretty new when we first went, enough time had passed to see if they’d managed to keep up the good work or if they’d spiraled into decline.
The Place:
On a hill next to an ATT store and a couple of other ubiquitous strip mall shops, Taytro’s parking lot allocation was less than half full, this wasn’t an indicator of anything other than that we dine earlier than most people. We were seated immediately at a table next to the door. The place hadn’t changed much at all. Bright, festive red walls, lots of Mardi Gras gewgaws and artwork. The overhead chalkboard exclaimed something I already knew, that Ed Null would be performing live later that evening. I don’t know Mr. Null personally, but I am familiar with some of his likely ancestors, there’s quite a few Nulls populating the local cemeteries.
 When I’ was checking my Facebook earlier in the day (Taytro’s has a page there) it had announced that the evening’s special would be Tilapia and rice, and that Mr. Null would be performing at seven. It was only a little past five when we arrived, we wouldn’t last that long, we’re not lingerers.
There were only a dozen or so people in the joint, a couple of mid-sized, mid-aged women sat at the bar. Both hosted tattoos, one on her lower back (you know the kind), the other with one on either shoulder. I made out one of the two fading tattoos peeking out from her tank top as a panther, the other was either a crying clown, the scarecrow from ‘The Wizard of Oz’, or maybe Kurt Cobain. It was hard to be sure as the black ink was thick and a little smeary, or maybe the ‘canvas’ had shifted a bit since the art was first put there. I asked Adam to turn around discretely and verify, but he couldn’t quite tell either. Angel just told me to stop staring at the women at the bar. This didn’t faze me much since she simply refuses to get a tattoo herself and therefore apparently doesn’t want me to stare at her instead. Her loss.
We were handed menus, laminated this time (plain paper copies on our previous visits). They were not complicated, Taytro’s limits itself to a small selection.
I asked the waitress if they served beer, she looked at me a little funny, I guess because I was sitting facing the bar, but instead of calling me an idiot, she just launched into a recital of those they carried on tap. I almost stopped her at Sam Adams Amber Ale, but waited until finished the list with ‘Blue Moon’. I’d had that brand before, though I couldn’t recall when and where, but the wispy memory did hint that I’d liked it.
She added: “Good choice, I like mine with lemon!”
“That’s really peculiar” I answered, thinking that was the exact response she would like. It wasn’t. Apparently in some circles it is perfectly kosher to squeeze lemon into beer, who knew?
All for naught though, she returned in just a couple of minutes to tell me they were out of Blue Moon. I settled for the Sam Adams. Angel and Adam got tea and Coke respectively, no lemon.
The Food:
There were several great sounding options. I really, really wanted another Po’ Boy, but I’d already critiqued those and felt an obligation to you, my loyal fans, to try something else.
‘Smothered Catfish’ with rice and crawfish sauce. Oh baby, sauced crawdads!!
Angel Asked for the ‘Shrimpalaya’ A shrimp laden jambalaya dish.
Adam went for the house burger, no tomato, of course, with fries, no cheese.
We also asked for an appetizer, the fried (toasted) Ravioli, it’s a St. Louis thing.
As we waited we tuned into the provided music, at first it was Cajun style, but progressed (or regressed) to other fare including a tune by Led Zeppelin that caused Angel to hark back to her teen years. She talks little of those times, though I recall sparse stories of candles, dark poetry, Goth-like loner behavior, if not actual ritual sacrifice and blood letting. I don’t know the all the details.
As we reminisced the small, young hostess with no observable tattoos stood on one of the barstools and updated the ‘Specials’ with a steady hand and a discerning eye for pastel chalks. I recalled that she was the same girl I once compared to Kirsten Dunst, but in a good way. Dunst is cute (it’s the eyes), but her choice of movies to star in is simply awful.
The ravioli arrived with a small bowl of red dipping sauce. We dug in, each of us quietly screaming as the fried pasta released its scorching meaty innards into our mouths. It was quite good though, once it cooled down to a mere three or four hundred degrees, crispy and thick.
The salads came, simple greens topped with their delightful, sweet poppy seed dressing. Just a small bowl, not enough to fill anyone.
The main courses arrived just as were ready to nod off. The only thing on the large TV above the bar was a golf match of some kind. The only thing in this hemisphere duller than the game of golf itself is watching golf on TV.
The entrées arrived, steamy and appetizing. Taytro’s pays attention to plating, feeding the eye before the palate. My large filet rested alongside a mound of rice, it was all slathered in thick, chunks of crawfish in a creamy, light-brown sauce. Angel’s meal looked enormous, big blackened shrimp alongside more traditional sausage, chicken, celery, onion, bell pepper, etc. all Cajun-spiced and coupled with rice. She dug in, as did I. Hers came with three slices of grilled toast, mine with only one. I was jealous.
The spiciness of Taytro’s offerings is about as perfect as I can recall ever having. The taste is indeed spicy, but in a good way. The heat was not overpowering but it did build up. A full course will send you into a mild sweat and clear your sinuses, but not immediately. The heat does not at all steal the show from the food itself. “Loving it!” Angel remarked, adding: “Need more tea!”
Neither of us were able to finish our ample portions. We tried, but it just wouldn’t all fit.
Summary:
The bill came in at just over fifty bucks. Fifty bucks at ‘TGI Friday’s’ is a rip-off, at Taytro’s it’s a bargain.
 We were completely full but actually wanting more. The food at Taytro’s is absolutely first rate. The fact that they don’t try to cook/offer everything under the sun probably helps. They concentrate, quite successfully, on making a few things and making them very, very well. The staff was dutiful, attentive and responsive. There were no fights, spillage or disgusting incidents. The place was clean, well tended and family friendly. We simply love this place. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t have exposed tattoos that I can stare at.
Taytro's Bar and Bistro on Urbanspoon

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