St. Louis is no stranger to veggie burgers -- from the divine at SweetArt to the pedestrian at too many places -- and it's important to understand this context. In fact, the owners of PuraVegan first started making veggie burgers at their old restaurant, VegaDeli, and they've been perfecting this raw recipe ever since. The point here is that if you're going to be slinging veggie burger into the St. Louis foray, you'd better bring a big stick.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, PuraVegan (307 Belt Avenue; 314-282-5834) has delivered a truly exceptional patty. As one would expect, there are vegetables everywhere, with mushrooms, zucchini, carrots and a blend of herbs and spices holding the patty together, and tomatoes, lettuce, red cabbage and a whole slew of other veggies resting on top. So, yeah, this sandwich is about as healthy as you'll find, particularly considering that many of the ingredients come from PuraVegan's own hydroponic garden.
What really cements this veggie burger in our Gut Check Favorites list is the homemade cashew cheese. It's rich and decadent, with a consistency reminiscent of nacho cheese. Of course, this "cheese" is raw, too, so the temperature rests just below 115 degrees, but there's plenty of comforting warmth here to convince you that, just maybe, food doesn't need to be cooked in Hell's furnace to be devilishly good.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
#61: Hot Chick On-a Stick at Fast Eddie's Bon Air #62: Mixed Grill Platter at Flaco's Cocina #63: Arancini From Mangia Mobile #64: Three Coins in the Fountain at the Fountain on Locust #65: Pan-Fried Noodles at Pho Grand #66: Pastelitos at Fritanga # 67: Bento Box at Blue Ocean Sushi # 68: Lamb Burger at The Scottish Arms #69: Crispy Pork Spring Rolls at Bobo Noodle House
#70: Turkey Melt and Field Greens Salad at Schlafly Bottleworks #71: The Vegetarian Platter at Ranoush #72: Vegetarian Meatballs at Lucas Park Grille #73: Sizzling Rice Soup at Hunan and Peking Garden #74: Straw and Hay Pasta at Trattoria Marcella #75: Spaghetti Pomodoro at Babbo's Spaghetteria #76: Shrimp Fajitas at El Matador #77: Vegetable Quesadilla at Chava's #78: Companion Rustic Olive Bread #79: Salt and Pepper Shrimp from Wei Hong #80: Ba-Mee Mhoo Dang at Basil Spice #81: Catfish Platter at the Gumbo Shop #82: Shrimp & Andouille Flatbread at the Shaved Duck #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