That's a Winner

Culinary star David Slay teams up with baseball great Ozzie Smith to produce a terrific dining experience

As our appetizers demonstrated, Slay knows his way around seafood. The best evidence was an evening special of Chilean sea bass. Now, food writers almost invariably describe fish as "moist, tender and flaky" if they like it. This fish did not flake. Instead, with the merest tap of the fork on its seared surface, glistening shingles of pearly flesh slid from the puffy mound. The fillet rested in a shallow pool of tomato coulis, with a few dried tomatoes scattered atop the fish. The bright acidity of the sauce and the garnish was an ideal counterpoise for the rich blandness of the fish. Buttered snap peas and a cushion of blue-cheese mashed potatoes quietly rounded out the plate. Like a movie with a message, this was a dish we kept thinking about when we left the restaurant.

Among the entrées, Slay devotes an entire section to steaks and chops, which are among the most expensive main courses. We opted for two double lamb chops grilled medium-rare. All menu items are priced fairly, but we think the other main-dish choices are a better value. The pan-fried chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese, for instance, was half the price of the lamb chops. A scoop of mashed potatoes had been flattened and raked across the plate, like sand in a Japanese garden. What the presentation lacked in color, it made up in crispness and flavor.

Smith and Slay's offers a section of side dishes, a win-win menu feature that gives customers more choices while boosting check averages for the owners. The plush macaroni and cheese, made with sharp Vermont cheddar, has a delicate crust of toasted breadcrumbs. The small crock of sweet-corn pudding reminds us of that casserole dish someone always brings to the family reunion. Consider ordering a couple of sides in place of the pricey appetizers, which range from $8-$14.

At Smith & Slay's, the supper-club concept is carried through in every detail.
Jennifer Silverberg
At Smith & Slay's, the supper-club concept is carried through in every detail.

Details

Salmon-tartare cone $11
Shrimp fritters $9
Sweet-corn pudding $4
Pan-fried chicken $17
Lamb chops $29
Mascarpone-filled chocolate cake $6

314-721-3585. Hours: breakfast, 6-10 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.; lunch, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; dinner, 5-11 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 5-9:30 p.m. Sun.

8025 Bonhomme Ave. (Clayton)

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Slay's dessert menu, designed by pastry chef Kate Baltz, scores high on originality. It doesn't even include crème brûlée, which has become about as obligatory in upscale restaurants as nudity is in films. A marvy selection of cookies was presented with chocolate and vanilla dipping sauces. The deep-dish banana-cream pie is probably the best we've ever tasted. It's embellished with whipped cream piped into orderly rows of starbursts. But the real beaut is Baltz's new-and-improved Hostess-style cupcake, split and filled with sweetened mascarpone cheese and glazed with shiny chocolate ganache. The only thing missing is the white string of curlicues across the top. Now, how are diners supposed to put away several of Slay's swell dishes and still have room for cookies, cakes and pies? Go crazy, folks, go crazy.

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