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The Loading Dock Restaurant & Bar (401 Front Street, Grafton, Illinois; 618-786-3494)
The Loading Dock Restaurant & Bar offers a unique waterfront dining experience accessible by boats and walk-ins at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The small menu offers all you could want from a casual bar: chicken salad, cheeseburgers and fries, bratwurst, hot dogs, pulled pork and wings and, with a nod to its riverside setting, catfish fritters, white fish sandwiches and fish tacos. Stop by for a break from biking on the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail, visiting nearby Pere Marquette State Park or boating, canoeing and parasailing on the river. Weather permitting, take the ferry from St. Charles to Grafton, Illinois. Open March through November.
Chaumette Winery's Grapevine Grill Restaurant (24345 State Route WW, Saint Genevieve; 573-747-1000)
Zagat award-winning chef Adam Lambay commands Chaumette Winery's Grapevine Grill Restaurant after a decade at St. Louis favorites Café Mira, 12 North Café and Portabella Restaurant. He is also an instructor at the Kitchen Conservatory in Clayton. His contemporary American menu is influenced by French, Indian, Asian and Italian cuisines, and is constructed with local produce, dairy and meats from regional farms and producers. Some herbs and produce are grown on site for Lambay's custom dishes. Don't just make the trip for the amazing food, however -- pamper yourself at the Spa at Chaumette and stay overnight in one of 26 private villas outfitted with fireplaces and overlooking the vineyard.
Sycamore (800 East Broadway, Columbia; 573-874-8090)
Sycamore chef Mike Odette was named a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Midwest at James Beard Foundation Awards in 2009, inspiring a growing number of St. Louisans to make the two-hour drive to Columbia. The casual restaurant features market-fresh, locally sourced ingredients and is a part of the Slow Food Katy Trail network. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, including housemade charcuterie. Monthly beer dinners showcase the restaurant's extensive beer list and pair different styles and varieties of beer with unique, seasonal dishes.
Stone Hill Winery Vintage Restaurant (1110 Stone Hill Highway, Hermann; 573-486-2221)
After visiting Missouri's oldest winery and sampling some award-winning wines (the vineyard has won more than 3,700 awards since 1993, including seven Missouri Governor's Cups since 1994), stop by Stone Hill Winery's Vintage Restaurant. The globally inspired menu is heavily influenced by the region's German history and includes favorites like Bavarian pretzel sticks, sausage plates, fried pickles, schnitzel, sauerbraten and spatzle. The entire property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the restaurant is located in a restored carriage house and horse barn.
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