It might be hard to believe now, mid-Great Recession, but in the heady days of 2004, An American Place seemed like a beginning. Here was a restaurant whose gorgeous, opulent design wouldn't have seemed out of place in New York or Chicago. Here was a bona fide superstar chef, Larry Forgione, one of the nation's very first advocates of local, seasonal cuisine, showcasing the bounty of our foodshed. Here, it seemed, was the evolution of fine dining in St. Louis. You could point to any number of reasons why the restaurant folded after a six-year run: the economy, of course; downtown's ever-sputtering "renaissance"; a lack of deep-pocketed tourists and business travelers. You couldn't blame the food, which, at its peak, was some of the most refined and delicious St. Louis has ever seen. Thankfully, the influence of An American Place persists through the many area chefs and line cooks who worked there, including former chefs de cuisine John Griffiths (now of Truffles) and Josh Galliano (now of Monarch). And should St. Louis someday be fortunate enough to have a restaurant or restaurants of An American Place's caliber, then we can thank Forgione and his staff for proving that, yes, it can be done.