Dinner Is Served

Ian takes one for the team and counts down the ten best restaurant dishes of 2007.

It's safe to say that if you remove barbecue from consideration, Niche is now the mecca for pork lovers in St. Louis. Excellent house-made pappardelle with mascarpone, lemon, pear and parsley is taken to a nearly ethereal level by the addition of smoked pork shank.

1. Sweetbreads at Franco

I loved the sautéed sweetbreads I had on my first visit to Franco (the RFT's and our readers' pick for Best New Restaurant 2007) so much that I tried to order them again when I returned a few days later. (They were sold out.) That was almost one year ago now, and on the first draft of this list, I had the sweetbreads penciled at No. 2. But then I decided to pay another visit to Franco (where, I must admit, they have figured out who I am) and try executive chef Justin Keimon's current sweetbreads dish.

Franco's co-owner Tom Schmidt is the tops.
Jennifer Silverberg
Franco's co-owner Tom Schmidt is the tops.

Location Info

Map

Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant

3210 S. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63118

Category: Restaurant > Eritrean

Region: St. Louis - South Grand

17th Street Bar & Grill-O'Fallon

1711 W. Highway 50
O'Fallon, IL 62269

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Belleville/ Fairview Heights

Erato

126 N. Main St.
Edwardsville, IL 62025

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: Collinsville/ Edwardsville

Indian Food

8629 Olive Blvd.
University City, MO 63132

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: University City

Acero Ristorante

7266 Manchester Road
Maplewood, MO 63143

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Maplewood

La Vallesana 2

2818 Cherokee St.
St. Louis, MO 63118

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: St. Louis - South City

Niche

7734 Forsyth Blvd.
Clayton, MO 63105

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Clayton

Franco

1535 S. Eighth St.
St. Louis, MO 63104

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Louis - South Grand

Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant: 3210 South Grand Boulevard; 314-772-4442. "Grand Adventures," May 10, 2007
The Cupcakery: 28 Maryland Plaza; 314-367-6111. "Battle Cupcake!" November 1, 2007
17th Street Bar & Grill: 1711 West Highway 50, O'Fallon, Illinois; 618-622-1717. "Cue Ball," June 7, 2007
Erato: 126 North Main Street, Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-307-3203. "Little Wonder," June 14, 2007
Indian Food: 8629 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-991-9999. "Naan Better," May 24, 2007
Stellina Pasta Café: 3342 Watson Road; 314-256-1600. "The Pasta House, Oh!" April 5, 2007
Acero: 7266 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-644-1790. "Paradise Lust," May 31, 2007
La Vallesana: 2801 Cherokee Street; 314-762-0691. "Cherokee Pastoral," July 12, 2007
Niche: 1831 Sidney Street; 314-773-7755. "Fat City, Baby!" December 20, 2007
Franco: 1535 South Eighth Street; 314-436-2500. "French Kissed," February 8, 2007
GCS Stadium: 2301 Grizzlie Bear Boulevard, Sauget, Illinois; 618-337-3000. "Infield Hit," June 27, 2007

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This was fantastic, even better than the original: sweetbreads and mushrooms in a Madeira glaze between two thin layers of pastry shell and sitting atop a cauliflower purée. The composition looks an awful lot like biscuits and gravy, and the flavor is incredibly rich — meaty, yes, with the sweetbreads' mild earthy notes and a passing sweetness from the Madeira glaze.

And the worst?

"Baseball's Best Slider" at GCS Stadium

Baseball's Best Slider is the sort of thing you should order only when drunk or on a dare. It's a White Castle cheeseburger breaded and deep-fried, served with a side of cheese sauce for dipping. It looks more or less like what you'd imagine a breaded and deep-fried White Castle Slyder® would look like: dark brown and crusty, generally burger-shaped — albeit with knobs of gnarled batter that give it the appearance of a fried chicken thigh.

It tasted like ass. Love them Grizzlies, though!

Have a suggestion for a restaurant the Riverfront Times should review? E-mail ian.froeb@riverfronttimes.com.

For more about food and St. Louis restaurants, visit Gut Check: blogs.riverfronttimes.com/gutcheck.

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