St. Louis has, for the most part, avoided being pigeonholed into one type of regional cuisine. The city's restaurants reflect the food fancies of the entire country, and at the Shaved Duck (2900 Virginia Avenue; 314-776-1407), the soulful tastes of the South reign supreme.
This tiny Tower Grove eatery specializes in rustic food such as wood-smoked meats paired with house-made rubs and a choice of three styles of barbecue sauce. This isn't a sauce-on-your-face, loosen-your-belt kind of place; this is refined barbecue served on small plates and retaining a big smoke flavor.
The flatbread dough is made fresh daily and once cooked resembles the thinnest thin-crust pizza -- on the edges it's as airy as a cracker. Tender chopped shrimp nicely balance the big, meaty flavor of the andouille sausage. Green pepper and celery add pops of flavor, but the real star of the dish is the smoked-tomato jam. It might look like marinara sauce, but here the sweetness of the tomatoes is set off with a big aromatic smoke flavor.
Beginning last year, RFT restaurant critic Ian Froeb counted down -- in no particular order -- 100 of his favorite dishes in St. Louis. Now Gut Check has taken up where he left off. Check back frequently as we detail our 100 favorites, and don't hesitate to send us yours, too, either via the comments thread or at email@example.com.
#83: Vegetarian Pasta at Terrene #84: Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms at Zia's #85: Legend Club at LeGrand's Market & Catering #86: City Coffeehouse & Crêperie's Nutella-Banana Crêpe #87: Raw Vegetable Lasagna at Scape #88: Quesadilla Azteca from Tower Tacos #89: The Perfect Pear at Foundation Grounds #90: Banh Mi Sandwich from Sweet Art #91: Chicken and Dumplings at Yummies Soul Food Cafe #92: Cuban Sandwich from La Tropicana #93: The Prosperity at Ruma's Deli #94: Cherry Cheese Danish from Missouri Baking Company #95: Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse #96: Egg Salad Sandwich at Township Grocer #97: Cheeseburger and Fries (Extra Crispy) at O'Connell's Pub #98 Mussels & Fries at Brasserie by Niche #99: Beef Taquitos Mexicanos at El Indio #100: Spinach Artichoke Dip at Cafe Eau
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