by Ian Froeb
Downtown Restaurant Week begins Monday, August 20, and runs through Sunday, August 26. This year, 20 restaurants are offering three-course meals for $25, excluding tax and tip.
Where to begin? You can view each restaurant's menu online, but if you don't have time to read through 20 different menus, don't worry! Gut Check studied each of them and picked out the five that we find the most appealing.
Can we guarantee that these five meals will be terrific? Sadly, we cannot.
Can we guarantee that these five meals will offer at least a few intriguing choices? We can!*
* - Guarantee not legally binding.
Cielo (999 North Second Street; 314-881-5800)
Cielo offers diners very few choices, with only two options in each of its three courses. That said, executive chef Fabrizio Schenardi might be the best chef in St. Louis whom almost no one has heard of, so a meal of chilled melon soup, roasted leg of lamb and housemade gelato sounds like a sure bet.
The Dubliner (1025 Washington Avenue; 314-421-4300)
The Dubliner is offering a good number of appealing choice for all three categories, including appetizers of Ozark Forest mushroom ravioli and a chicken-liver parfait with heirloom tomato salad. Among the main courses are a duo of Berkshire pork (seared loin and smoked-pork crepinette) with braised kale as well as hanger steak with roasted-marrow sauce.
Lola (500 North 14th Street; 314-621-7277)
As we said when reviewing last year's Downtown Restaurant Week menus, Lola earns a place on this list for offering its signature chicken and waffles dish among the main courses. Hot wings and crab cakes are among the available appetizers, and other main courses include steak and pan-seared salmon.
Mango Peruvian Cuisine (1101 Lucas Avenue; 314-621-9993)
We'll repeat exactly what we said last year: Mango might have the ideal Downtown Restaurant Week menu. Diners unfamiliar with the restaurant and/or Peruvian cuisine will enjoy a fair introduction to both. This year, our mouths are watering at the "chicharron di pollo," an appetizer: "Citrus and aji amaraillo marinated chicken fried and served alongside spicy mint aioli and chimichurri."
Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood (620 Market Street; 314-421-1540)
Gut Check has long had a soft spot for Mike Shannon's. The steakhouse-slash-baseball shrine has a strong menu for this year's Downtown Restaurant Week, especially among the main courses, including four beef cuts (flatiron, filet, strip and prime rib) as well as pork belly, shrimp and salmon dishes.