st. louis eats

The last week of June, I was in St. Louis for a conference. Not only did I enjoy experiencing some of the local eats, but also I was pleasantly surprised by the food at the conference itself.

In the shuttle from the airport to the hotel, my driver had highly recommended a relatively new barbeque place that was just a short walk around the corner. That first evening in town, my roommate and I gave it a try, and it did not disappoint!

In a cafeteria-style line, you order your meat - which is sliced and weighed on the spot! - then pick out your sides. I opted for the turkey, with creamy mac-and-cheese and nicely seasoned cole slaw. Everything is homemade, and the freshness of each bite was (forgive me) so refreshing. Also, that smoked chocolate chip cookie hanging out in the corner? Yum. Chewy, deeply flavored, with just a slight hint of salty - perfection.

At the opening lunch of the conference, lunch was good; but dessert was better - a tangy lemon tart with a blueberry topping and little tufts of toasted marshmallow creme.

Thursday afternoon, I stopped by the hotel's Club Lounge for a snack. As much as I'd been enjoying the food to that point, a small plate of fresh veggies was a nice treat.

Thursday evening, on the recommendation of another colleague's brother, my colleagues and I went to dinner at an Italian restaurant. A must-try was the toasted ravioli, which many of us had heard was a St. Louis staple and decided to share as an appetizer.  The outside had a nice crispy firmness, and the meat filling inside was so flavorful. If this is what all St. Louis toasted ravioli tastes like, I'm a fan!

For my main course, I chose the Rigatoni - pasta with roasted cauliflower, shrimp, and pine nuts in a garlic cream sauce. Mmm, mmm. My mouth waters just thinking about it. I would have liked a bit more cauliflower and shrimp mixed in, but maybe it's better that I didn't. My stomach was happily stuffed by the end of dinner. 

I've been to so many conferences where the food is just okay, with a focus on quantity over quality. For the record, that was not the case at this hotel. I was quite pleased by the variety on the breakfast buffet each morning, and particularly enjoyed the offerings on Saturday morning, including the local honey available to sweeten the steel-cut oatmeal.

Finally, I have to mention the ooey gooey butter cake. I truly thought this was a Southern thing, and in my mind, St. Louis is more Midwestern than Southern. So I was surprised to find out that this concoction has its roots in St. Louis. The story goes that a bakery made a mistake, but people liked the mistake enough that it became a recipe. How fitting, then, that my first taste of this sweet treat was in its hometown. The plain was almost tooth-achingly sweet; however, the chocolate was rich and satisfying.

All in all, I had plenty of good eats in St. Louis. My stomach looks forward to returning!


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