by Nancy Stiles
Clayton Restaurant Week kicks off today -- this semi-annual celebration of one of St. Louis' growing culinary neighborhoods also gives a chance to sample some normally, ahem, pricey spots for just $25 per person. Each restaurant has slightly different CRW hours and many take online reservations -- you can find all the menus and more information here. Continue on for our can't-miss menu picks.
801 Chophouse (137 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton; 314-875-9900)
801 Chophouse is one of the most expensive restaurants in town, not to mention in Clayton, so a single meal for $25 is the best value of the week. Choose from Caesar salad with white anchovy and Parmesan, a chilled iceberg wedge with your choice or dressing or tomato bisque to start. For the main course, pick from a grilled pork chop with new potato Brussels sprouts hash, grilled Atlantic salmon with parsnip purée and haricot verts, or a six-ounce filet mignon DeBurgo. Finish up with your choice of crème brûlée, fresh fruit sorbet or New York-style cheesecake with blueberry coulis.
Cantina Laredo (7710 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; )
Let Clayton Restaurant Week give you an excuse to try the new Catina Laredo in Centene Plaza and its tableside-made guacamole. You can also start with ensalada de Arándano (dried cranberries, green apples, candied pecans and blue cheese crumbles on field greens with cranberry vinaigrette) or sopa de Calabaza (pumpkin soup topped with cranberry-apple pico and roasted pumpkin seeds). For your entree, choose from asada y enchilada (grilled steak with marinated onions and chimichurri sauce, served with an enchilada filled with monterey jack cheese and topped with tomatillo sauce), pescado del día (fish of the day) or pollo chipotle (grilled chicken breast topped with chipotle-wine sauce and melted monterey jack cheese). Dessert is a choice of baya mezclado (fresh mixed berries with Don Julio Tequila cream) or churros with chocolate raspberry sauce and Grand Marnier cajeta.
The Libertine (7927 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-862-2999)
The Libertine has been one of our favorites for Clayton Restaurant Week since it opened in 2013, and this year, it has one of the largest selections offered. To start, chef Josh Galliano is offering bone marrow toast with beer jam, pickled oysters and sprouts; Johnnycakes with marinated crawfish, pickled watermelon rind and sorghum butter; grain salad with fried cauliflower purée, ancient grains, black olives and arugula; Vietnamese fried ribs with cilantro, smoky peanut granola and crispy onions; parsnip velouté with hazelnut-bourbon butter, shaved apple and a country ham relish or a terrine board with house-cured meats, pickles and jam for $4 extra. Full yet?
The second course is a selection of corn-friend American catfish with stone-ground grits, tomato confit, hominy and tasso gravy; roasted pork collar with sauerkraut Brussels, yellow mustard spaetzle, sauce charcuterie and crispy tobacco onions; slow-braised lamb with coffee bean roasted carrots, gnocchi alla romana and cocoa nib gremolata; hay-roasted sweet potatoes with sprouted wheatberries, piquillo peppers, butternut squash romescu and almond powder; grilled sirloin with carrot-miso puree, broccolini, shaved French Horn Mushrooms and smoked olive oil for $7 extra; rabbit and potato sausage with fennel and apple slaw, elderflower vinegar, smashed potatoes and salsa verde or Mississippi masala with market fish, pepita curry, wilted chard and coconut glazed roots for $5 extra.
Dessert has slightly fewer choices -- but just slightly. Pick from apple shortcake with sweetened whipped cream, caramel and brown butter roasted apples; persimmon sticky toffee pudding with Saba whipped cream; a citrus dish made of orange curd, grapefruit chip, Dreamcicle sorbet and blood orange "salsa verde" or chocolate fudge with Gianduja rice crispies, maraschino cherry purée and cereal milk ice cream.
Crushed Red (8007 Maryland Avenue; 314-725-8007)
The fast-casual wine bar's menu is actually designed to feed two people for just $25. You choose one savory shareable, two "Urban Crafted" mini salads and one "Urban Crafted" pizza. Start with smoky chili hummus with homemade lavasch and warm flatbread; Urban Zest dip with sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs blended into a spread with homemade lavasch and warm flatbread or the warm artichoke spread, a creamy, garlic blend of artichoke hearts and savory Parmesan cheese with homemade lavasch and warm flatbread.
There are several mini salads to choose from: the "Welcome Back Cobber" (Chicken, avocado, bacon, egg, blue cheese, croutons and tomato with field greens and Goddess dressing), "South of the Border" (avocado, tomato, roasted corn, cheddar cheese and tortilla strips with field greens and low-fat chipotle ranch dressing), "Tunapalooza" (seared Ahi tuna, green beans, Kalamata olives, hard-boiled egg, tomato, roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and Goat cheese with mixed greens and Goddess dressing), "Wild Spring Salmon Salad" (chilled wild-caught salmon, oranges, cucumber, red onion, goat cheese and toasted almonds with spinach and romaine and sesame ginger dressing), chipotle barbecue chicken (chipotle barbecue chicken, roasted corn, black beans, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, tortilla strips with field greens and ranch dressing), "De-LUX Berry Crunch" (rainbow quinoa, blueberries, Black Mission figs, feta cheese and homemade granola with kale and mixed greens and lemon agave nectar dressing), "Health Nut" (broccoli, edamame, carrots, almonds, cranberries and garbanzo beans with spinach and romaine and raspberry vinaigrette), "Emerald Coast" (shrimp, avocado, cucumbers, mushrooms and bacon with field greens and roasted red pepper vinaigrette) or "Farmer's Market" (turkey, goat cheese, sunflower seeds, apples and cranberries with field greens and honey mustard dressing).
For your flatbread pizza, there are even more: the "Mona Lisa" (extra virgin olive oil, roasted garlic, Kalamata olives, spinach, feta, goat and mozzarella cheese), roasted chicken gorgonzola (Parmesan cream, chicken, spinach, gorgonzola, onion and tomato), "Queen Margherita" (basil pesto, fresh mozzarella and tomato with fresh basil), fire-roasted veggie (artichokes, portabellas, onion, tomato, red pepper, black olive and mozzarella with fresh rosemary), the "Big Island" (organic tomato, pineapple, prosciutto, caramelized onion and mozzarella with fresh cilantro), the five cheese (extra virgin olive oil and garlic, goat cheese, feta, gorgonzola, parmesan and mozzarella with fresh basil), mushroom, pepperoni and sausage (organic tomato, mushroom, pepperoni, sausage and mozzarella), shrimp and artichoke (basil pesto, shrimp, artichoke, tomato and light Parmesan with fresh basil), "Mushroom Medley" (Parmesan cream, shiitake, portabella and white mushrooms, mozzarella and goat cheese with fresh rosemary), chipotle barbecue chicken (chipotle barbecue chicken, black beans, roasted corn, caramelized onion and pepper jack with fresh cilantro), "Yukon Gold Steakhouse" (Parmesan cream, sirloin steak, bacon, Yukon potato, onion, gorgonzola and mozzarella with fresh rosemary) or Sriracha chicken (Parmesan cream, Sriracha chicken, blue cheese, caramelized onion, bacon, black olives and mozzarella with fresh cilantro).
Mad Tomato (8000 Carondelet, Clayton; 314-932-5733)
Grab some handmade Italian classics at Mad Tomato. Start with your choice of a classic Caesar salad with crisp romaine, Parmesan and focaccia croutons; an Italian salad with mixed greens, genoa salami, mozzarella, tomato, onion, cucumber and roasted peppers with balsamic vinaigrette; a Greek salad with mixed greens, feta, Kalamata olives, tomato, onion, cucumber, garbanzo beans and yogurt tzatziki with lemon-oregano vinaigrette or the Mad Tomato signature salad with mixed greens, cucumber, onion, tomato and mozzarella with roasted garlic and basil vinaigrette.
For your entree, pick from Linquine alle Vongole with fresh clams, garlic, onion, parsley, tomato sauce, olive oil and lemon; lobster ravioli with handmade ravioli, fresh Maine lobster, ricotta, herbs, tomato, basil, brandy and cream; fettuccine with shrimp scampi with shrimp, garlic, onion, white wine, lemon, tomatoes, olive oil, butter and parsley; whole wheat fettuccine with steak with sirloin steak, wild mushrooms, roasted garlic, basil, white wine, cream and gremolata; goat cheese agnolotti with handmade ravioli, goat cheese, herbs, lemon, pancetta brown butter, toasted hazelnuts and shaved amoretti; malfadine with hand-cut broad pasta, fried eggplant, olives, tomato sauce and toasted breadcrumbs; pappardelle with broad pasta, pork rib ragu, truffle oil and pecorino or lasagna Bolognese with handmade fresh spinach pasta, hearty meat sauce, mozzarella, béchamel and Parmesan. Desserts include hand-made tiramisu, hand-made chocolate espresso torte or hand-made cheesecake.
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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