Side Dish 

Food for thought from St. Louis restaurants

More tips and tidbits from the local food scene: The hotties over at Babalu's (8 1/2 S. Euclid, 314-367-7833) are conga-dancing in anticipation of their appearance in the September issue of Bon Appétit magazine. Babalu's is one of five restaurants featured in an article about Caribbean food in the U.S.

And up the street at Café Balaban (405 N. Euclid, 314-361-8085), the newest midweek shtick is called Tuesdays Tastings, featuring an extended small-plates (and relatively small-priced) menu complemented by a specially priced list of about 20 half-bottles of wine, topping out at $20 for a Mumm's Cordon Rouge or a 1998 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir.

A bit farther west -- in Chesterfield, to be exact -- R.L. Steamers (14156 Olive Blvd., 314-439-8060) is hosting a moderately exotic wine event of its own on Monday, April 30, featuring hors d'oeuvres, three courses and dessert complemented by five wines from New Zealand. Cost is $48 a head; reservations required, Maori full-body tattooing optional.

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