A few years back it looked as if nothing could steal the thunder of the ubiquitous à la carte steak house — manly cuts of steaks, side dishes that fed an army and big-name cabernets oozed pre-recession wheeling and dealing. What could better capture the spirit of this era than a twenty-ounce hunk of mooing beef and a pound of creamed spinach? Surely, the Mondavi would flow forever. While our bank accounts bore the brunt of the bubble burst, so too did the over-the-top dining style, but the new focus on elegant, smaller plates is a welcome change. Sure, tasting menus are not cheap (hey, the 1 percent is still doing pretty well), but they reflect a newfound ethos in which diners are OK to part with their money — but only for a unique return on the investment. For the price of an exorbitant steak dinner, diners now can experience the full breadth of St. Louis' culinary talent, spread out before them course by course in painstaking detail. These art shows on a plate used to be hard to find, but St. Louis now has multiple venues to experience this trend. Are they cheap? Not really. Are they worth it? Absolutely.
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