by Ian Froeb
The Gut Check One Hundred is our accounting of the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now. These are the best dishes at the newest restaurants and the newest dishes at the best restaurants. These are the 100 dishes that define St. Louis dining in 2013. Our list culminates this fall when the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2013 names the "Best Dish" of the year.
The "Organic Banh Mi" at the downtown location of Local Harvest Cafe & Catering (815 Olive Street; 314-241-3196) entered the orbit of my attention with two strikes already against it -- not counting the fact that it forced me to mix my metaphors just now.
One, it features tofu, which even when I want a meal that is vegetarian or vegan (or, at least, isn't meat-based) is never my first choice.
Two, it's a "take" on a classic dish, the Vietnamese sandwich which, in its purest form, is pork on pork on pork (plus pickled vegetables).
Still, they pay me to try things even when I don't want to try them, and my preconceptions aide, the "Organic Banh Mi" was the most intriguing dish on the lunch menu at Local Harvest's downtown satellite.
In fact, it's a terrific dish. Three slabs of tofu offer a texture that is soft but not mushy -- a fair approximation, really, of the pâté that is an essential ingredient in a traditional banh mi.
Atop the tofu sits a mix of carrot, onion and cilantro. Spiked with lime juice, it provides a bright contrast to the tofu. Though the sandwich might lack the heat (not to mention the porkitude) of a true banh mi, it makes for a satisfying and not too heavy meal.
Is there a dish that you think belongs among the Gut Check One Hundred 2013? Let us know!
The Gut Check One Hundred 2013 (So Far)
- Sugarfire Smoke House's Beef Brisket - Mad Tomato's Cavatelli with Spring Lamb Ragù - A Good Man Is Hard to Find's "Pork-n-Beans" - The Kitchen Sink's Corn Fritters - Chop Shop's "El Camino" Roll - Quincy Street Bistro's BLT - Home Wine Kitchen's Fried Chicken - Riverbend Restaurant & Bar's Red Beans and Rice
- Fork & Stix's Sai Oua with Naam Prik Nuum - Gobble Stop Smokehouse's Turkey Tips - Seoul Taco's Burrito - Five Star Burger's Green Chile Cheeseburger - Olio's Octopus Salad - Dressel's Porchetta "Louie" - Cleveland- Heath's Seared Beef Tongue - Cleveland-Heath's Cauliflower Soup
- Pastaria's Italian Ramen - Pi Pizzeria's "Grove" Pizza - Famous Szechuan Pavilion's Spicy Wonton Soup (Novice) or Yu Shan Pork (Advanced) - La Tejana Taqueria's Goat Soup - Hendricks BBQ's Ribs - Sauce on the Side's "Costanza" Calzone - Siete Luminarias' Guanajuato-Style Carnitas - Fork & Stix's Khao Soi