Royal Treatment

Matt McGuire and Kirk Warner serve up meals fit for a king

Even a basic strip steak transcended the ordinary with sides of flash-fried onion strips and a variation on potatoes au gratin using Fontina cheese.

Desserts, made on the premises, were also both elaborate and gorgeous -- a carrot genoise, for example, basically a carrot cake lacking almost all of the expected density, served with candied roasted almonds, a miniature scoop of vanilla ice cream and a subtly lemon crème anglaise with a level of delicateness equal to that of the cake. The mango tartlet was a burst of bright colors -- the orange of razor-thin slices of the main ingredient, red from slivered strawberries and a gaudy lipstick hue from a scoop of raspberry sorbet, flanking a triangle of the tart itself.

As you'd expect from a Wine Spectator-commended list, the wine selection is extensive, numbering about 200 bottles and including everything from Prosecco and a $250 bottle of vintage Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame among the sparkling wines to a wide selection of "extraordinarily refreshing whites from hither and yon" to 10 magnums each of "big reds" and half-bottle (and smaller) sizes. (As a point of reference, McGuire was overheard noting that the cellar was "light on Alsatians." We should all have such crosses to bear.) And if you'd rather bring your own, the wine list repeatedly touts the existence of a $15 corkage fee, a practice that's more common than you might think in local restaurants but is rarely stated publicly.

King Louie's owner, Matt McGuire, recently expanded the dining room to seat 150.
Jennifer Silverberg
King Louie's owner, Matt McGuire, recently expanded the dining room to seat 150.

Location Info

Map

King Louie's Courtyard Bar & Pizzeria

800 N. 3rd St.
St. Louis, MO 63102

Category: Restaurant > Bar Food

Region: St. Louis - Downtown

Details

Pommes frites with white pepper-truffle crème $4.75
Asparagus and chilled bay scallops $9.75
Turkey potstickers $8.50
Galangal-marinated ono $19.75
Potato-crusted grouper $20.75
Grilled jumbo shrimp $19.75
Chargrilled strip steak $21.75
Carrot genoise $5.75
Mango tartlet $5.75

314-865-3662. Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Fri. (bar menu only 2-5 p.m. and after 10 p.m. Mon.-Thu. and after 11 p.m. Fri.); 5 p.m.-midnight Sat. (bar menu only after 11 p.m.)

3800 Chouteau

In general (a botched dessert order notwithstanding), the service was excellent, with obvious effort having been taken to train the staff on the nuances of the oysters, the ingredients in many of the preparations and even the basic definition of unusual items such as galangal and ono.

Before you go dashing off to find this place (most easily accessed from the west by taking the Vandeventer/Chouteau exit of Highway 40 eastbound and staying to the right until the ramp feeds into Chouteau at the stoplight, then turning left and going about two blocks), you should be prepared for the atmosphere. It's not shabby, but it is a former saloon, and it's a little dim. Some of the booths, even with the addition of blue velvet throw pillows where the bench meets the wall, are somewhat spartan. It may not be the kind of place in which you'd expect to find $20-plus entrees, but you'll get used to it.

The St. Louis area may or may not get a World Series and a Super Bowl in the next few months, but it certainly has a wonderful, newly expanded venue for championship cooking. Be sure to seek it out.

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