A word of advice to St. Louis vampires: Steer clear of Saleem's West restaurant (14560 Manchester Road, Manchester; 636-207-1368). According to the Travel Channel, it's a garlic paradise.
Back in July, a crew from the show Food Paradise filmed at Saleem's for an episode devoted to garlic. The episode will air at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, and Saleem's is holding a viewing party to celebrate.
The garlic-themed episode will feature Saleem's annual garlic-eating contest, as well as the restaurant's special garlicky cocktails and a prix-fixe garlic-centric dinner from the evening of the filming.
On that evening Mark Hellige, a licensed clinical social worker for the Department of Veterans Affairs, ate sixteen heads of roasted garlic, breaking the 26-year record set by a female Wash. U. student in 1986. Hellige told St. Louis Magazine at the time that he hadn't intended to enter the competition, but there was an open seat, so he went for it. He also told the mag that he reeked of garlic for days.
To honor the first-ever televised contest, Saleem's is inviting diners to a special reservations-only viewing party at the restaurant. Doors will open at 5 p.m. Wednesday, and the screening will begin at 9 p.m. Though the show is an hour long, it's not entirely devoted to Saleem's. The kitchen will remain open until 9:30 for those who want to eat garlic while watching people eat garlic to honor a tradition of people eating garlic. It's all very meta.
Saleem's West is helmed by Salim Hanna, who swears by garlic. The Lebanese immigrant opened the first iteration of Saleem's in the 1970s and moved the restaurant three times before arriving at the current location in Manchester. Hanna believes that garlic can cure any ailment, and he wants to share this knowledge with Midwestern diners. He does not, however, claim that eating garlic will help you get a date. You've been warned.