Monday, December 8, 2014

Taytro's Bar and Bistro

343 North Creek Drive
Festus, Mo.
On the Interwebs
On the Facebook

Often mentioned by locals in social media discussions as one of the most recommended eateries in Jefferson County. Trattoria Giuseppe is usually mentioned as well. I concur. These two places pop to the top of my mind when queried as well, though there's a couple of places in DeSoto that are very close runners-up.
Giuseppe's is a make a reservation, sit-down, multi-course full Italian restaurant. Taytro's, as the name suggests, is a bar and bistro. Whereas Giuseppe's is high end dishes, Taytro's is more working class food, made extremely well.
Taytro's is by design, New Orleans style. The place to go in the area for jambalaya, po' boys and etouffee.
The Place:
Top of the hill above Highway A (Veteran's Blvd) near the intersection of 67 (Truman).  An unassuming place in a stand of standard, modern strip mall shops. We got there a bit early, we had other things to do while out. We weren't dragging the boys with us this time. This allowed us to loosen up a little more than usual, let our hair down, in our own way. By that I mean we looked around the flooring department at Lowes. The kind of stuff young bucks just don't have the patience for.
We went in and were seated by a young lady. There were several tables open, we got one in the middle of the floor. There was noise coming from the nearby bar. A few adults imbibing adult beverages and whooping it up a little to a sports game on the overhead TV. Fortunately it was muted,  unfortunately, the patrons were not. As best as I could make out it was football, American style, a game between Alabama and something that was referred to as a 'Mizzou'. The people at the bar seemed to be enjoying it though.
Yes, I know what a 'Mizzou' is. I just can't be vocally supportive of the state's biggest school since I have never had any affiliation it it other than sending precious and generous tax dollars to it. It would be blasphemous to root for a college other than those where I matriculated, even though to my knowledge Wayland Baptist University, (Plainview, TX) doesn't even field a team and The university of Southern California, where I did my graduate work, is just too far away to really care about and it's a bit embarrassing to cheer for a team that is named after a popular brand of prophylactics. I can only imagine the mascot.
As is their custom around holiday time Taytro's had thrown up some tinsel and garlands, a few lights, not too much though.
Pretty soon Claire came by and asked about drinks and appetizers. We both asked for tea and said no thanks to the latter.
I listened to the music a bit, pretty good, 'Ain't No Sunshine', 'Somethin's Got a Hold on Me'. . . cool stuff. The best of the evening was undoubtedly 'The Banana Boat Song' (Day-o) that had even the bartender, a goth-y, tattooed lady, dancing around like they did in the movie 'Betelgeuse'.
I was jumping around on the menu. Truth be told, I wasn't feeling very well. I hadn't eaten since breakfast (apple pancakes! Mmmm!) but I was feeling a little queasy. I didn't want anything heavy.
The Food:
I picked at the menu selections, finding fault with everything, too bready too ricey, didn't care much for this and that. When Claire returned for the second time I said "Sure, a catfish po' boy and chips, please."
Angel opted for the shrimp etouffee, she usually gets the crawfish version. She added the house salad, which is about the best house salad in the county. They use a sweet, poppy seed dressing that is to die for.
I knew immediately that I'd be asking for a box. I wasn't nearly hungry enough to finish an entire sandwich.
Angel's salad came out promptly, I watched the people watch football.
It wasn't very long before the main courses arrived. Sure enough my sammich looked enormous. Two full
crisp, golden catfish planks, lettuce, tomato slices a light dose of chipotle mayo. The still-warm, freshly made chips were a deep brown and lightly spiced. . . these are some awfully good chips. But boy was that a big sandwich. I cut it in half.
I love catfish. It's not a western Kentucky river-kid thing. I hated it when I was young. The only kind of fish I ever ate while growing up and even into early adulthood were tuna and fish sticks. Somewhere though I discovered the earthy flavor and texture that I often crave now.
When you order catfish in a restaurant, it is probably either a channel cat or a blue cat. These fish grow fast and they grow big, up to four feet, and have been known to attack human divers. Being opportunistic eaters, they'll go after just about anything that gets their attention. Though they have relatively small eyes, even big strong eyes could not see far on a silty river bottom, they use their 'whiskers'  (barbels) as range and direction finding food antennae. They can sense vibration and chemically analyze the water for the presence of nearby food sources. A pretty amazing critter. And tasty.
I cut the sandwich and bit in. The fish was perfectly cooked. only lightly breaded, it was crispy followed by moist, flaky white fish meat. I usually prefer catfish in nugget form, to dip into tartar sauce, but even a plank is pretty good. The bread, as I suspected, was rather dense and thick. It was going to slow me down. I've gotten to a point where, even though I like bread, I even still own and use a bread maker, I don't like the trend of putting sandwiches on mile-thick buns. Half the thickness of this would have been just fine. But the fish was spot-on.
Angel's stew-like etouffee had plenty of grill blackened shrimp along with onion, celery, bell peppers, andouille sausage and garlic, in a white wine, butter and cream sauce served over a couple of ice cream scoops worth of white rice. The buttered and grilled toast they serve with many of the dishes is awesome.
Compared to the crawfish version that she usually gets, she said "The crawfish seems more authentic." But admitted the grill job on the shrimp made up for a lot of that. She cleaned her plate.
As for me, I barely made it through the first half of the sandwich, and only about a third of the chips. Like I said, I was queasy.
Claire took very good care of us. Our food arrived complete, correct and in a timely manner. Our refills were appropriate and the chit-chat was minimal yet friendly. The rest of the staff seemed dutiful and competent, down to the hostess who, between new customer arrivals, busied herself standing in a tall bar chair updating the overhead chalk board with the evening specials, which at one interruption touted only 'Stuffed'.
The bill came in at a modest and appropriate thirty bucks and change. Not bad at all. Plenty of really good food for that price.
Taytro's has been near the top of our list since it first opened a few years back. We take visiting family there and recommend it to others. The powerful combination of very well made, unique (for the area) dishes, a decent bar, good, friendly  service and of course, the frequent live music (which we've never actually heard) makes it a very popular joint. It is modern, clean and convenient.
And the tea isn't awful.

Taytro's Bar and Bistro on Urbanspoon

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