Destination: Five Star Burgers (8125 Maryland Avenue; 314-720-4350)
Cuisine: Gourmet Burgers
Overview: After leaving Harvest (1059 South Big Bend Boulevard, 314-645-3522), the acclaimed Richmond Heights restaurant he started, renowned St. Louis restaurateur and chef Steve Gontram got back in the game last October. He opened Five Star Burgers in the heart of Clayton as a less labor-intensive venture -- but don't let that fool you. The gourmet burger joint still allows him to be involved in every aspect of the restaurant, from customer service to the restaurant's special burger of the month. This is the guy who personally delivered the kitchen's food at Harvest, after all. Despite the meaty name, Gontram didn't forget about his vegetarian customers. There are more than a few salads, sides and soups to choose from, as well as two overwhelmingly delicious vegetarian sandwiches.
Veggie Highlights: If you have a hankering for a burger, the veggie burger ($7.95) is your best bet. Lentils, vegetables and whole grains form the patty, served with roasted red pepper mayonnaise and your traditional burger garnishes. Add a mixed basket of russet and sweet potato fries ($3.25), and your meal will rival that of any of your meat-eating cohorts! Five Star Burgers also has a grilled portabella mushroom sandwich ($8.25) topped with roasted sweet peppers, grilled onions and gorgonzola cheese.
The Veggielante has had it up to here with people bitching that St. Louis restaurants are vegetarian unfriendly. Sure, we'd like to see more restaurants offering more meatless dishes, but there are excellent choices out there if you take the trouble to look for them. We're not here to proselytize about greening up your diet. Our only motive is to spread the word about places where you can order good grub that ain't got no meat. To enhance your reading experience, we've settled on a handful of criteria we'll use to suss out a restaurant's vegetarian friendliness.