As we told you yesterday, Clayton Restaurant Week runs from Monday, January 23, through Sunday, January 29. Participating restaurants have three-course prix-fixe menus for $25, tax and tip excluded. You can see the full list of those restaurants and their menus on the official Clayton Restaurant Week website.
To save you time, I've looked over all of those menus and selected the five that I think have the most promise of giving you maximum bang for your twenty-five bucks. This is no guarantee that the meals will be stellar, of course, but these restaurants seem to have gone above and beyond in offering multiple choices -- interesting choices -- for each course.
Chez Leon (7927 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-361-1589): Leon Birnbaum's French warhorse offers some classic, hearty French dishes like potato-leek soup, coq au vin and choucroute garnie on its prix-fixe menu. Housemade pâté and steak frites are available for supplements of $5 and $10, respectively.
The Crossing (7823 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-721-7375): Can you ever really go wrong with a meal at the Crossing? Jim Fiala's restaurant, under the stewardship of chef Matt Abeshouse, has beet salad and tagliatelle with a Bolognese sauce among its prix-fixe first courses; main courses include porchetta as well as short ribs with potato purée and roasted Brussels sprouts.
The Grill at the Ritz-Carlton (100 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton; 314-863-6300): You don't see squab on many St. Louis menus, so its inclusion among the Grill's prix-fixe menu is especially notable. Braised short ribs and applewood-smoked salmon are the other main-course options on a menu that emphasizes interesting selections over quantity of choices.
Jimmy's on the Park (706 DeMun Avenue, Clayton; 314-725-8585): See, you can participate in Clayton Restaurant Week without actually going to downtown Clayton. Jimmy's offers numerous prix-fixe choices for starters and main courses, including smoked duck, shrimp with a roasted barley-arborio rice risotto and (for $5 extra) beef tenderloin with a goat cheese potato pancake and pancetta-braised spinach.
Oceano Bistro (44 North Brentwood Boulevard, Clayton; 314-721-9400): Unsurprisingly, seafood dishes dominate the prix-fixe choices at Oceano. Starters include pan-roasted freshwater prawns and hamachi ceviche. Among the main courses are lobster risotto, grilled salmon and a steamed shellfish sofrito of mussels, prawns and scallops with lemon, garlic and tomato.