Crossing to Safety

You're in no danger of getting a bad meal at The Crossing, one of the Midwest's finest restaurants

Had the meal concluded with the chosen dessert of another of the signature dishes, a lemon-ginger crème brûlée, it would have been merely outstanding; as it turned out, through some gift from the gods, Bishop had snagged us a small glass of what's generally considered the finest dessert wine in the world, Chateau D'Yquem, from its 1990 vintage. After an initial sip, we saved it for well after the gentle citrus and spicy overtones of the custard had slipped away, making it our second dessert, a remarkably powerful yet delicate concentration of honey and apricots.

Our other meal, ordered à la carte, didn't quite reach the sublime experience of the tasting menu, but it did serve to confirm The Crossing's stature among the very best restaurants in the Midwest. The soup of the day was gazpacho, in a style favoring smoothness over chunkiness, flavored with the same lump-crab approach we later saw in the avocado soup.

The other first course that evening was a salad that will forever change any ingrained aversions you may have developed toward anchovies. These "fresh" Italian anchovies, although relatively small, were bigger than you might expect; moist, plump and slightly larger than canned sardines; and basically devoid of saltiness. Their mildness was complemented by the bite of arugula and the rich, concentrated flavor of roasted red and yellow peppers. "Fresh," by the way, isn't entirely true -- Fiala buys the anchovies cured in white wine, wine vinegar and olive oil -- but the inaccuracy serves to emphasize the fact that there is virtually no relation between these and the salt-cured-to-the-point-of-immortality common canned variety.

Are these guys really that good? Absolutely — maybe even better.
Jennifer Silverberg
Are these guys really that good? Absolutely — maybe even better.

Location Info

Map

The Crossing

7823 Forsyth Blvd.
Clayton, MO 63105

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Clayton

Details

"Fresh" Italian white anchovies $8
Roasted-beet salad $8
Avocado-and-green-chile soup $8
Yellowfin tuna $25
Texas tilapia $23
Beef tenderloin $28
Lemon-ginger crème brûlée $7
Lemon semifreddo $7

314-721-7375. Hours: lunch, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tue.-Fri.; dinner, 5-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat.

7823 Forsyth

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Entrees for this meal were a fairly simple beef tenderloin, covered first with a liberal dollop of Maytag blue cheese and then topped off with a jaunty beret of a portobello-mushroom cap; and another port-and-red-wine reduction, this one topping off pan-seared tuna sliced into rectangles and triangles that resembled a stack of children's building blocks, exposing the medium-rare, translucent maroon color of the interior.

For dessert, a lemon semifreddo was somewhere between a chilled soufflé and a light-bodied custard. The dessert -- which resembled a tiny trash can overflowing with yellow confetti -- yielded a concentrated sweetened-lemon flavor that was balanced by the slight bitterness of the rind.

From reservation to exit, service was excellent. The Crossing asks for a phone number when reservations are taken and calls to confirm. Because the restaurant contains only about 20 tables, you can see the wisdom of this approach, although on one occasion when we were unreachable and didn't call back, our reservation was still in place.

Three years is actually a fairly long period in the restaurant world, and although some subtle evolution was apparent to us, McDowell and Fiala have rightly avoided the urge to reinvent themselves merely for change's sake. The wine list was expanded to number in excess of 150 bottles, including about 16 halves and about a dozen magnums, and the addition was enough to capture a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The cream, blue and brick walls and original artwork looked just as fresh as they did on our original visit, and all meals still start with a fittingly smile-inducing amuse-bouche of blue-cheese soufflé.

The Crossing has successfully made the jump from outstanding new kid on the block to polished long-term player.

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