Tuesday, March 22, 2016


1220 Big Bill Road
Arnold, Mo.

On the Web

This choice was planned well in advance. We were celebrating Adam's new life. Bandana's is his favorite smoky meat place, so we took him there. Actually, we met him there. He's now independent, on his own. He moved out of our compound this week and into a nice little apartment in south St. Louis County, near Jefferson Barracks.
We're proud of him, of course, even though the compound is just a little bit quieter.
There was no argument, Bandana's was the only logical choice.
The Place:
In Arnold, a town I don't particularly care for. It's too much like a really busy subdivision to me. Too many cars and roads and stop lights. However, I wasn't driving. Angel doesn't seem to mind it so much. There used to be a much closer Bandana's in Festus, but it burned down  a few years back, the lot remains vacant.
Inside it is smoky smelling and quite comfortable. Plenty of tables and booths, Plenty of staff as well.
We were taken to a booth in the back, sandwiched between two very large and muted, wall mounted TV's . Basketball, (yawn). The same game on both. UK vs. Indiana, some sort of finale or championship or something at stake if I read the jittery captioning right. The screen also showed they were in the 2nd . . . something, the score flip-flopping back and forth around forty something scores apiece. I knew however that my mom would be watching. She's suddenly a UK basketball fan. When I talked to her earlier in the week she went on and on about SEC's or something. At the time I thought we were discussing the Securities and Exchange Commission, but my younger brother cleared that up in a subsequent call from him. Her SEC was a 'conference' involving college athletics. Who knew? Mom, or as I call her, 'The Reverend Doctor Hilda Bentley' has lots of degrees. Two from Murray State, another from Vanderbilt, and her Doctorate in Divinity, I believe, from a leg of UK. Why the latter deserves her sports devotion, I'm not sure. She didn't always follow sports so much, this anomaly occurred long after I was gone from the home.
We sat down and scanned the menu. There's not a mountain of choices. Smoky meat, that's what they do.
I decided to do it a little different this time. Apparently so did Angel.
The Food:
When our orders were taken.
Me: Loaded BBQ Baked potato and BBQ beans + tea.
Angel: Brunswick Stew and BBQ Nachos + tea.
Adam: Take two, turkey and beef, baked beans + Pepsi.
One nice thing about Bandana's is that everything is pretty much already prepared, so order to table time is relatively quick. Another great thing about the place is that most meals come with complimentary Texas Toast, some of the best I've ever come across, thick, crisp, buttery.
The tea wasn't bad, not great, but not as old or bitter as most places serve up.
Sure enough, the food came pretty quick.
Angel's eyes went wide when she realized she hadn't specified 'small' to that nacho order. It was a big platter full of cheese and barbecue meat. She had intended to have a small platter to go with her stew. The three of us could never finish off that many nachos. There would be boxes later.
My baked potato was almost completely covered by melty, gooey cheese. I carved into it and found that it was stuffed with sweet, moist barbecue. There was hardly any potato in comparison to the cheese and meat. There was no real use for the sour cream and butter that were provided. Then there were the two slices of toast, Yummy! The beans were, as always, quite good. Not too fussy or polluted with other things.
Angel let me taste her stew. It was thick with lima beans, tomato, corn, onion, barbecued meat and probably a bunch of other things. In the southern tradition, Brunswick stew is made with squirrel meat. I don't think Bandana's version did, but I could be wrong. It was quite good though, savory, smoky, not too strong or overly
spiced. The ingredients blended to make a comfy, satisfying taste profile. Brunswick stew usually includes okra, which would be a deal killer for me, even more than squirrel. Okra is not food. It is the plant version of a slug. It is slimy, bitter and I'm pretty sure it causes people to hate each other and to behave badly in social settings. It should not only be banned as a food, it should be destroyed as a form of life.
Not much to say about Adam's. He usually orders the same thing, and it's a simple plate of turkey and beef, smothered in one of the many sauces Bandana's offers on the tables. I've had that combination before. Simple, tasty and as Adam said "Good."
I could have written most of this review ahead of time. We knew it would be good, we knew the staff would treat us professionally and courteously. Bandana's is very consistent.
There are many locations in the area, if you have not already, you should certainly give them a try.
The bill came in at around fifty bucks, not fast food pricing to be sure, but very well worth every dime. There's something for everyone, as long as they enjoy meat.
Congratulations and good luck in your new life Adam! Remember to drop by sometime! Call or write, or something. . . We already miss you.

Bandana's Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, March 7, 2016

Trattoria Giuseppe

5442 Old Missouri 21
Imperial, MO 63052

On the web

Happy Birthday Angel!
Well, actually the day after her birthday. . . just the way we do things.
Obviously, she chose the destination, hardly a surprise. In the many years of doing this silly effort, reviewing local eateries, TG has always been our #1 favorite.
It's a little high end, a little pricey, but worth every penny whenever you can budget for it.
The Place:
A bizarre location really,very much out of the way. Old Highway 21 is completely bypassed by
'new' highway 21. New 21 is four lanes, no stops, more like a 20 mile stretch of interstate than a highway.
Old 21 is where things used to be. It is rural, rustic, more Route 66 than anything else. Near Highway M, also a wide and clear beauty, TG sits in a rural, somewhat industrial area. It shares a building, an old fashioned strip mall, with a bar and an auto parts store and not far from a salvage yard and concrete business.
From the outside, no pretense or prettying up. Inside, the charm of the old building has been tidied up, but not covered over. Striped wallpaper, nice colors and textures, wood tables and chairs, modest table cloths and place settings. A little art on the walls, subtle lighting. Nice, but not presumptuous or fancy. The dress code is also casual, however, men's shirts must have sleeves. I was good in a polo, clean jeans and sneakers, the group nearby chose what I can only describe as church clothes, if that's still a thing. Slacks, button down shirts (with sleeves) and the ladies in slacks or dresses. TG is a place that accommodates both.
The Food:
Minta stopped by with menus, more on her name later. A fresh, smiling young lady. We ordered drinks, Angel made it complicated. "Do you have sweet tea?" Minta apologized and said no. "Okay, I'll have tea, but with only very little ice."
"Okay." Minta answered and scribbled on her pad. Adam and I looked over at Angel. "I'm cold." was all the explanation she felt necessary to offer.
I looked up at Minta. "I'll have tea, but I'm not nearly as demanding."
Adam ordered a pop. Angel piped in before the server could walk away. "Could we have the ravioli appetizer too please?"
Of course she could.
On the table was a fresh basket of bread. Nearby there was a cruet of olive oil. In front of each of us was a small saucer.
Here's the way do handle that stuff. Sprinkle some oil into the saucer and toss on a dash of pepper, Tear off a bite of bread and dip. Mmmm, luscious.
Before long the drinks were served. TG is among the few places we've been to that actually seems to care that the tea is as fresh and proper as the rest of the meal. Sure enough, it was bright and fresh.
By then we were ready to order. Angel decided on the meal she'd been thinking about for a couple of days, Tutto Mare, a seafood/pasta dish that she gets nearly every time we dine at TG's.
I went out on a limb and ordered the day's special, a seafood stuffed filet. Adam chose a repeat as well, the Pepper Loin Filet. We all asked for the salad, because the house salad at TG is a work of art.
The ravioli was served, light and crispy, the sauce, impeccable. We happily munched away on the St. Louis favorite appetizer, before long the salads arrived.
The house salad has lettuce, of course, but it also contains a few cherry tomatoes, red onion, some 'authentic' olives, note those bright green, pimento stuffed things you get in a jar at the store. Also, a pepper and always, a bit of artichoke heart. The vinaigrette is slightly sweet, but definitely Mediterranean. Slivers of white cheese top it off.  This is about as good as it gets for Mediterranean salad in the area. Since we've been coming here, the salad does not change, the same attention to detail every time.
It was early in the day so the place was not yet crowded. This meant that the kitchen would not be rushed taking care of our order. It also meant we didn't need a reservation, though if you're planning a visit, it would be smart to go ahead and make one.
In not too long the food arrived on a big tray. My eyes popped wide when I saw my steak. It was a thing of sheer beauty. A perfectly cooked steak, split open and stuffed with what I can best describe as crab cake. Surf and turf turned up to eleven.
There was also a baked potato wrapped in foil. That was an afterthought really. I'd already carbed up on bread and ravioli, but from the list of 'sides' it seemed the most appealing. I wouldn't eat it all.
I sliced into the steak, it carved like butter. The light, buttery sauce around the meat was a beautiful compliment.  Steak is hard to get right. I've never considered myself very good at cooking steak. I do know this though, it all starts and ends with the cut and quality of the meat. Even exactly correct done-ness cannot fix an inferior cut. Giuseppe always gets this right though.
The first bite was simply amazing. It snapped me out of the anxious fog I'd been in most of the day. The cut, perfect, the cooking, perfect, the addition of crab-cakey filling? Oh man, it does not get better.
Adam launched into his steak with vigor, it didn't last long. Angel plucked out and dissected the clams and snails and whatever else they put into that plate. I'm not a clam or oyster guy and can't be bothered with the difference between them or the varieties within. Angel likes the stuff, though so that's okay. She did have some of the pasta, but mostly it was hunt and pick.
I delighted in every bite, I hope they offer it again.
As always, a wonderful experience. Minta was up to her tasks. Oh yeah, I asked her about her name as it seemed a bit unusual. When I asked she took on a look that indicated that I was not the first person to ask her. She explained though, it was not short for something or part of a longer name. Minta, that's it. "It's made up, it doesn't mean anything."
I thought that was just fine.
The food, you may have gathered was splendid, awesome, I'm running out of superlatives here. We all enjoy  it, everything we've tried. Giuseppe runs a good ship as well. The staff is always professional and attentive, the attention to detail and service are always superb.
The price? Well, it's certainly not discount food. This is not a place many of us can afford to frequent. That in our case is also what makes it special. It's not that much more than a similar meal at Ruby Tuesday's or the other places like that. Those other places end up costing about $22 each, TG, more like $28.
It's not a question of will we go back or can we recommend. Of course we will and do. It's actually stronger than that. I'm willing to shout it to the masses. Try this place!

Trattoria Giuseppe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato