Red Kitchen and Bar
315 Chestnut Street
Most of us don't think of dining at a hotel unless we are on the road. I associate hotel food with mediocre breakfast buffets and overpriced steak-and-potato dinners.
But some St. Louis hotel restaurants are becoming destinations for locals. Cielo
(atop the Four Seasons) can't be beaten for a nightcap with breathtaking views of the city. Even newer to the city, Red Kitchen and Bar
in the remodeled downtown Hyatt has a décor and menu that far exceed the image of a dated dining room with bland food.
Eating at a Hotel
As far as group dining goes, hotel restaurants can be a stellar choice. These eateries are designed to handle the masses. They are used to huge parties coming in for conventions and family celebrations and should know just how to treat them.
The downside of heading to a hotel for dinner is often parking. In the case of Red, most of our members were able to find walkable street parking -- though this might not have been the case if there had been a ballgame the night we went. To make things easier and to encourage local diners, it would be nice if Red validated parking in the hotel lot for their patrons. No one wants to add seven dollars to the cost of a meal just to park the car.Fixed Price Meal
Our group headed to Red for Downtown Restaurant Week, when many downtown restaurants offer three-course meals for $25. Downtown Restaurant Week is always a great excuse to get a group together and head out to eat -- just be sure to make advanced reservations to ensure that you get a table. (The same advice applies to many of the charity dining events offered in this town, like Dining Out for Life.)
Service sort of like this.
The Red experience was positive from start to finish. We were seated around one large table with trendy Asian-style low-back chairs and faux candles. Our peppy server never stopped smiling and made us feel completely welcome. Food arrived at the table by caravan (reminiscent of the "Be Our Guest" sequence in Beauty and the Beast
, minus the singing), and we were automatically given separate checks, each on its own cute red clipboard. Who says every restaurant has to use the overdone black money holder?
With just one small exception, a member who found her chicken pasta to be bland, our group thoroughly enjoyed the food. The roasted beet salad and the risotto cakes with spicy chicken and jalapeño were big hits, as were the mini desserts (apple bread pudding and strawberry shortcake).Don't Wait
Don't wait until next Downtown Restaurant Week to bring your group to Red. The prices on the regular menu are not at all outrageous: Small plates range from $4 to $11, pizzas are about $10, and entrees run from $12 to $18.Letter to Red Management
Dear Red Management,
Please answer your phone. I'm telling people to make reservations with you, but that's hard to do when your voicemail answers and says, "We're closed," during times that you are open. This happened to me on several occasions. At the very least, change the message to indicate that you are simply busy, not closed.
StefStefani Pollack is the author of the food blogs Cupcake Project and Food Interviews. She is also a member of the St. Louis Dinner Club. She blogs about her large-group dining experiences twice a month for Gut Check.