De Soto, Mo
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I've described De Soto before. Historically it's a railroad town. In 1859 the St. Louis Iron Mountain Railroad built a repair center there, today it is owned by Missouri Pacific. The tracks are still in use, the repair shops still functioning. Main street runs along the tracks, the old buildings reminiscent of an earlier time, which the city works hard and proudly to maintain.
I took this photo from the parking lot of Fountain City Grille. Directly behind the guardrail in the foreground are the tracks, the buildings are on main street. Directly behind main street, the land and city rises quickly and steeply. The various streets behind Main terrace the community.
Fountain City, De Soto's nickname of old, reflects the many small but ornate fountains that can be found around the town. The Fountain City Grille is located across the tracks from Main Street in a big, old building known as the Arlington Hotel. Yes they offer rooms for rent, pretty nice ones I am told.
The first floor of the Arlington though, is the Grille itself.
You enter from the front and walk down a hallway filled with antiques, most of them more industrial than delicate, reflecting the iron horse industry.
We were seated and told that Heather would be waiting on us. Sure enough, this prediction was accurate. A young lady with long black hair twisted into a ponytail and pulled forward draping her left shoulder arrived. She welcomed us, brought us rolls in a cloth napkin covered basket and asked about drinks and appetizers. Looking around I was pleased to see that they'd stayed with the decor, walls painted black, the old trim in white, the rough wood floor painted a very dark brown. Sitting in this place makes you feel like you're posing in an old black and white photo.
We declined the appetizer, but asked for tea, Pepsi and Pepsi. The drinks were delivered promptly, we were ready to place our meal orders.
I was intrigued by the second most expensive item on the menu, the prime rib. Fans will recall that a few weeks ago at Tanglefoot in Festus I'd ordered prime rib for the first time I could recall. I didn't care for it one single bit. The prime rib at the Grille was listed as the evening's special, and described as 'melt in your mouth'. For the sake of my fans I felt obligated to give the meat another try, to see if it actually was the cut I didn't like or just Tanglefoot's version of it. I sided it with mashed potatoes and also like at TF, green beans. This would be pretty close to an apples to apples comparison.
Angel asked for the seafood fettuccine and a side salad. Adam ordered a filet mignon with corn and mashed potatoes.
I had one of the rolls in case the meat was awful. They were light, fluffy, and delivered with actual butter.
Angel's salad came soon, a small, simple thing, yet fresh and crisp. The dressing she opted for was a sweet vinaigrette, and it lived up to its title, it was very, very sweet.
Sometime during the twenty or more minute wait for the main courses, someone pointed out the silverware. It was a mix of several different old patterns. Quaint, charming.
The wait was indeed rather long considering that they weren't really terribly busy. The music didn't help much, a local radio station 'Fresh' 102.5 out of St. Louis. An eclectic mix of pop music from the 70's through the 00's. Frankly I think a pop radio station playing at a pricey restaurant is a bit tacky, but I guess it's not that big of a deal. There would be live music later, outside on the patio.
We chatted and watched people come and go, the staff was all dressed head to toe in black. Tasteful and consistent with the decor.
I pushed the serrated knife into the meat, a portion fell away as if fallen by the mere suggestion of being sliced with a knife. The whole steak was that way, tender, moist, meaty. Buttery tender, it did indeed melt in my mouth. Now I get what all the fuss is about when it comes to prime rib. The potatoes were perfect as well, a little bit of rough texture. The green beans were sauteed very well, a little tooth, a simple flavor, I actually wanted more.
She said the sauce had a tomato-soupy taste to it, but she didn't know what a vodka shrimp sauce was supposed to taste like. She really liked the big shrimp and lobster chunks but would have preferred a simpler sauce, maybe an Alfredo. She ate most of it, but said she'd probably not order it again.
Heather stopped by and refilled our drinks, I almost switched to water, but she'd already filled my glass. The tea was not very good. Old, a little bitter, and I detected an old, stale perfumey aftertaste.
Chef Tremyane (see the Grille's Facebook page) made an appearance. When he asked, I told him I liked his food very much. I wasn't lying, this meal was quite delightful.
The food was flawless, except for maybe the pasta sauce, but since going in we didn't know what it was supposed to taste like, maybe it was something quite good to someone else.
The meat was astounding. I don't think I'll order the prime rib often, it is quite pricey and quite large, but at least I now know what it is when it is done well.
Heather did a great job, she'd even responded confidently when I ordered and had asked for her recommendation for the done-ness level. Adam did the same, her recommendations were spot on, she knew the menu and the capabilities of the kitchen. She was friendly and quick to smile.
The service itself was a bit slower than I generally like, but we don't do fine dining very often, it may just have been the chosen pace.
Although the dress code was casual and the place is more folksy charm then stuffy, snooty, high end dining, the price put this place clearly on the high end. The bill came to a shocking seventy one dollars and change, making this clearly one of the more expensive places we visit.
At twenty two dollars each, the two steaks certainly drove the price up, but I have to say, it was worth it in quality.
The drinks, at two dollars each, should have been of pretty good quality. The tea simply was not. I've had worse, but not by much. On the PJTea scale I'm going to give it a -3. I sort of expect that at a fast food place, a fine restaurant though, I expect much better. The drink is a palette cleanser, when it is awful it does not help an otherwise great meal.
Great food, seriously good. A bit pricey, service a bit sluggish, but certainly not a waste of money.