Best Seafood Restaurant - 2005
Cardwell's at the Plaza
Finding a great seafood restaurant in St. Louis is like finding a good hamburger joint in India; because of its place in the world, it's a long shot. That said, air freight has transformed the game; it's now possible to get fresh seafood in landlocked Missouri (even if coastal skeptics scoff at the notion). Arthur Clay's, Blue Water Grill, Savor and King Louie's all feature exquisite selections, but this year we're giving the nod to Cardwell's at the Plaza. Chef Bill Cardwell runs one of the most vegetarian-friendly kitchens in St. Louis, and as a result he pours a lot of energy into his seafood. The Portuguese-style seafood stew teems with mussels, lobster, clams, calamari, whitefish and shrimp, each morsel cooked to perfection -- no small feat when dealing with so many textures. Also recommended: grilled Maine swordfish, which Cardwell augments with currants, pine nut-herb stuffing, red-pepper relish and a sauce made with charred tomatoes. It's a fresh, sturdy piece of meat, and ten bucks says a Floridian couldn't tell the difference.