Don't Mess with Tejas

Steve Gontram's culinary compass points south-of-the-border

After dinner I insisted that we order the make-your-own-s'mores dessert set-up, which disappointed me only because the chocolate came as a sauce, depriving me of the fun of melting it myself, and which disappointed Jordan's dad only because the graham crackers looked and tasted store-bought. Danette exhibited her time-tested marshmallow-searing techniques, and as we all admired her prowess and attempted to duplicate it with our own skewers, it seemed like the right time to start whistling "Happy Trails." It was the sort of great time you have with a friend's parents where by the end you want to ask them to adopt you.

Instead, I went home and turned on the TV. And I never bothered to mention the restaurant to anyone (until now), never told any friends to check it out. I was entertained enough by Tejas for the hours I ate there, but there was also a certain self-effacing, cookie-cutter element to the restaurant -- it would take me a moment to pick it out of a BARcelona/Café Napoli/Figaro/Miso on Meramec lineup.

I never caught another episode of Century City, but I did go back to Tejas once more, settling in at the bar by myself one afternoon, looking for evidence that Tejas is more than just another widget in the image-is-everything culinary machine of Clayton, where every restaurant serves up a different menu but the same meal. The bartender, upon taking my order, suggested I pair my burger with the mixed-greens salad, and I took him up on it. He refilled my club soda countless times, often when it was still half-full, and never charged me for it. The burger was plenty good, managing a unique, beef-tartare taste, and the hefty salad came studded with plantain chips for crunch, which I found terrific. The staff was all smiles, buzzing about.

Lone Star plate: Owner Steve Gontram (left) and 
executive chef Eric Erhard bring ingenuity to Tejas.
Jennifer Silverberg
Lone Star plate: Owner Steve Gontram (left) and executive chef Eric Erhard bring ingenuity to Tejas.

Location Info

Map

Tejas Grill and Cantina

44 N. Brentwood Blvd.
Clayton-Tamm, MO 63105

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Clayton

Harvest

1059 S. Big Bend Blvd.
Richmond Heights, MO 63117

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Richmond Heights

BARcelona Tapas Restaurant

34 N. Central Ave.
Clayton, MO 63105

Category: Restaurant > Small Plates

Region: Clayton

Cafe Napoli

7754 Forsyth Blvd.
Clayton, MO 63105

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Clayton

Figaro

15 N. Meramec Ave.
Clayton, MO 63105-3843

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Clayton

Miso on Meramec-CLOSED

16 N. Meramec Ave.
Clayton, MO 63105

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Clayton

Details

Meat loaf sandwich $8
Iceberg wedge salad $5.75
Beef cheeks $19.50
S'mores $7 for one, $3.50 each additional person

314-862-1414. Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; dinner 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 4:30-10 p.m. Sat.

44 North Brentwood Boulevard

Tejas may not be cowboy heaven, but it's definitely better than Century City. Like its burger, this place is plenty good -- and that's plenty good enough for me.

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