Niche. Monarch. Pi. Certain St. Louis restaurants are discussed frequently around these parts. Too frequently, some might argue. But regardless of whether or not you believe those particular places are deserving of the hype, you probably can think of at least one area restaurant that undeservedly flies under the radar.
I want to highlight these places. Or, rather, I want you to highlight these places. Choose the restaurant you think is the most underrated in St. Louis, make your case in a maximum of 200 words and e-mail it to me (my address is at the end of this column) with the subject line Underrated by Monday, November 23. I'll read through the entries and choose the nine most persuasive cases to include in a list of the Ten Most Underrated St. Louis Restaurants. (I get to select one restaurant, too.)
Winners receive nothing except the pride of seeing their names and words reproduced on Gut Check. I reserve the right to reject any entry that I suspect is written by an employee — or the relative of an employee — at the restaurant nominated.
Finally, I grant that "underrated" is a subjective term. If you believe a restaurant that has been praised more than most is still underrated, feel free to nominate it. But you had better make a damn good case for it!
At press time, Balaban's Wine Cellar & Tapas is slated to open at 1772 Clarkson Road in Chesterfield this Friday, November 20. The new venture is a restaurant, gourmet carry-out and wine shop, owned by Steve McIntyre — who owned the original Balaban's in the Central West End for a large portion of its history — and Brian Underwood. Head chef Kevin Sthair will oversee a menu that will include reimagined versions of such Balaban's classics as beef Wellington and Ligurian pasta as well as Mediterranean tapas dishes.
Joe Bush's Pizza & Pub at 3710 South Kingshighway has closed. The restaurant opened in the spring of 2008. I'm unsure of the exact closing date, though the most recent comment on a Gut Check post about its opening suggests it was open until at least August of this year. Also closed is Parkside Lounge, which opened only in March at 3117 South Grand Boulevard.