Contemporary in St. Louis

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    Balaban's
    A homage to the late, iconic Central West End restaurant. Owner Steve McIntyre, a long-time owner of the original Balaban's, has fashioned this new edition as a more casual restaurant serving mostly small plates. These include both classic Balaban's dishes - cucumber bisque, beef Wellington - and familiar bistro fare. The best bet might be the flatbread pizza, especially the version with spinach, fontina cheese and caramelized onion. This Balaban's also sells retail wine and offers carryout meals.
    BC's Kitchen
    Well-known local chef Bill Cardwell (Cardwell's at the Plaza) and his business partner and executive chef John Kennealy bring modern city dining to the exurbs. Handsome and smoothly run, BC's Kitchen offers generous portions of typical New American bistro fare - short ribs, pork chops, roasted chicken - all of it prepared with the utmost attention to detail. The St. Louis-cut spare ribs are a highlight, the meat more than flavorful enough to stand up to a smoky, tangy barbecue sauce. And Cardwell crafts one of the best burgers in town, with blue and cheddar cheese, bacon and a spicy-sweet tomato relish far superior to ketchup.
    Bici Cafe
    A neighborhood restaurant with a menu overseen by (very) prominent - and (very) busy - local chef Mike Johnson. Dishes draw inspiration from Mediterranean cuisines, not only European, but also North African and Middle Eastern. Crab cakes are spiced with za'atar and served with a harissa aioli; falafel is served in bite-size "popcorn" form. The menu is dominated by small plates, but there are also sandwiches, soups and flatbread pizzas, as well as a few pasta dishes and traditional entrées. Weather permitting, the patio is a popular seat.
    The Block
    A neighborhood establishment in the contemporary vein, this Old Webster restaurant doubles as a butcher shop: the meats, cut in-house, are also available for retail sale. Even if you never avail yourself of (or even notice) the butcher component, you’ll find that the Block is a significant and refreshing step up from the ubiquitous lowest-common-denominator neighborhood joint. The menu is an appealing array of contemporary American favorites: steak, roast chicken, braised pork, housemaid charcuterie. The steaks (available cuts vary) are grass-fed and beautifully grilled. Pork is a standout, too, especially the “Potted Pi
    Blood & Sand
    Blood & Sand is a members-only restaurant and bar located in an otherwise unremarkable stretch just south of Washington Avenue’s loft district. If you can swing a membership or know someone who has one, you should go. Owners TJ Vytlacil and Adam Frager and chef Chris Bork have created a remarkable venue: not a snobby club, but a community of people who are passionate about good food and good drink. Bork’s menu is seasonal, sophisticated and also playful: a plate of heirloom tomatoes like an abstract-expressionist painting in three dimensions; earthy sweetbreads paired with kimchi made from apple. Vytlacil’s cocktail list nods at tradition while indulging the mixologist’s impressive creativity. Service throughout is topnotch.
    Bossanova Restaurant & Martini Lounge
    Bossanova Restaurant & Martini Lounge is a bar and restaurant located in Alton, Illinois. It serves contemporary cuisine with a focus on small plates and pizza.
    BrickTop's Restaurant
    BrickTop’s is a small Nashville-based chain specializing in slam-dunk high-end crowd pleasers: lobster bisque and beef carpaccio; crab cakes and meat loaf and steak frites; seared ahi tuna (as a steak, a sandwich or the main ingredient in a salad). The ambiance is Anywheresville, USA, and the cuisine isn’t ground-breaking, but the kitchen does a good job with most of it, and there’s a lot to be said for spot-on execution. Seafood dishes in particular stand out, especially the crab cakes and a skillfully grilled trout. Your server will undoubtedly ask if you’ve saved room for dessert. If you have, the key-lime pie with a macadamia-nut crust is the direction to take.
    Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar
    Restaurateur Dave Bailey's The Bridge offers a terrific casual-dining experience in a stylish downtown space. The two-story upscale hideaway in downtown St. Louis celebrates artisanal beers and wines and craft cocktails. Artsy lighting and a sumptuous wooden bar create a classically beautiful atmosphere you won’t soon want to leave. The menu intensely focuses on creative small plates, snacks, charcuterie and cheese, sandwiches, salads and small entrees. The decor, especially the giant bird's-nest light fixtures, is, frankly, awesome.
    Bud’s Smokehouse & Grill
    Starrs has provided Richmond Heights with libations for more than 30 years. Now it serves prix-fixe dinners in its 60-seat dining room on Friday and Saturdays from 6 to 11 p.m. Stop by for Beef Tenderloin with Demi-Glaze Wine Port Sauce with Stuffed Tomato and pick up a few bottles of wine on the way out.

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