Best Comfort Food - 2008
The lamentably late, totally great George Carlin once opined that the United States' national symbol shouldn't be a bald eagle; it should be a bowl of macaroni and cheese. Of course, Carlin was making a statement about American gluttony and laziness, not cozying up to Kraft. But we posit that mac 'n' cheese could be a perfectly wonderful national symbol — one that represents home and comfort. In St. Louis, no one does comfort food better than Cary McDowell and his team at Revival. This gorgeous restaurant, which makes great use of the old King Louie's space, serves food that is at once delightfully innovative and completely comforting. Make a feel-good smorgasbord out of Revival's sides and small plates, which include salt-and-pepper chicken thighs, fried okra, hush puppies and collard greens. Chef McDowell learned a thing or ten about Southern cuisine while living in Shreveport, Louisiana; the menu will soon include meat pies, which combine an etoufée-like filling with the structural integrity of an empanada. Oh, and there's that macaroni and cheese: a large ramekin of cheesy pasta shells, topped with buttery baked Ritz crackers. Some things in life — like food that reminds us of home, like the brilliant work of a much-missed comedian — can't help but bring happiness.