Dining » Cafe

Side Dish

Diving into the stream of consciousness and coming up with St. Louis food news

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Stream-of-consciousness talk about various activities on the local food-and-drink scene: First and foremost, after what seemed like a lengthy construction phase, the "other" Loop (Maplewood) finally has a big new restaurant, the Mustard Seed, located where Manchester Road branches off onto Southwest Avenue. Old-timers may remember when the Chopstick House occupied the same strip of storefronts a couple of decades ago, and those with more recent points of reference may recall when, slightly farther west on Manchester, you could find good Indian and good Vietnamese food.

I first got wind of the plans for the Mustard Seed probably eight months ago and kept driving by, looking for an opening notice. It now appears that the long timeline for the project had something to do with the size of the place, occupying as it does at least three of the old shop spaces. The menu is straightforward steaks-chicken-sandwiches-pasta stuff, but, most important, it provides an eastern bookend for the way Bobby's rejuvenated the western end of the quaint old Maplewood downtown strip.

Next, three entries in the "What's up with that?" category: I'm a big Balaban's fan. But doesn't anybody there or at KMOX-AM own a dictionary? What the heck is "the opus of St. Louis dining"? Does that mean you can get good food there but you have to work at it?

And my local Schnucks and Dierbergs have both expanded to the size of small convention centers, complete with massive hooch departments offering everything from screw-top wines to $50 scotches and boutique California cabernets. So how come you have to go to the "courtesy counter" to buy champagne and cognac?

Finally, who goes to Sam's Club to buy $499 and $599 single bottles of Chateau Petrus? I wonder as I wander.

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