Contemporary in St. Louis

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    Eclipse
    As you might expect from the man who brought St. Louis Blueberry Hill and the Pin-Up Bowl, the restaurant inside the Moonrise Hotel features plenty of retro kitsch: paintings of ray guns and rockets, moon- and space-related tchotchkes behind glass. The menu veers toward contemporary bistro cuisine, including steak frites, roasted chicken and trout grilled on a plank. Appetizers include a topnotch (and spicy!) calamari starter in jalapeno-garlic butter and a lobster beignet (basically, lobster in a doughnut). Breakfast and lunch are served daily. The cocktail menu is excellent. For a change, try the Blood & Sand, a Scotch-based creation infused with citrus and herbs. In addition, the rooftop offers unmatched views of “one of the 10 Great Streets in America” (dubbed by the American Planning Association) all the way to the arch underneath a rotating moon, said to be the world’s largest. The newly opened New Moon Room offers an additional all-season indoor/outdoor space with bottle service.
    EdgeWild Restaurant & Winery
    No grapes grow here on the outskirts of Chesterfield Mall, just around a bend in the looping drive from the new American Girl store, behind the Dillard's parking lot, in the building that once housed a restaurant called Bahama Breeze. But by law, if not by obvious outward appearance, EdgeWild Restaurant & Winery truly is a winery as well as restaurant. Steak Bruschetta - rosemary flank steak, blue cheese, arugula, chianti braised shallots, grilled baguette, shaved Parmesan and balsamic reduction. Here's how it's done: EdgeWild buys unfinished wines from wineries in California, Oregon and Washington, brings them to the restaurant and ages them there in oak barrels. The restaurant then bottles the wine under the EdgeWild label, which bears the same sleek logo that adorns the restaurant signage: the gray silhouette of a tree whose trunk turns into a mirrored reflection of itself in red.
    Elaia
    Elaia brings elegant modern dining to the city's up-and-coming Botanical Heights neighborhood. The cooking of owner Ben Poremba is Mediterranean in the broadest possible sense: His mother hails from Morocco; he himself is a native of Israel who studied in France and Italy. He is confident enough to combine any or all of his influences in a single dish, and he shifts with ease from sophisticated compositions (a parfait of foie gras so delicate you spread it on toast as carefully as you'd polish your great-grandparents' china) to rustic fare (a salad with slivers of pressure-cooked pigs' ears). An à la carte menu is available, but ambitious diners should consider the tasting menu: a dozen or so courses that showcase the full range of Poremba's skills and talents. Elaia isn't cheap (the tasting menu costs $100 per person), but it belongs on the very short list of St. Louis' very best restaurants. Diners seeking a more casual experience can visit the adjoining wine bar, Olio.
    Erato
    What began as a wine bar has become one of the more intriguing establishments in the metro east, with a topnotch wine list and beer selection and a tiny kitchen that has been home to such talented chefs as Kevin Willmann (now of Farmhaus) and Jonathan Olson. The menu features thoughtful, often inventive, preparations that utilize as much local product as possible.
    Ernesto's Wine Bar
    A clean, well-lighted homage to Ernest Hemingway. The great author is represented by numerous photographs throughout the cozy, beautifully appointed bar. The menu features small plates, with a few dishes - chorizo among the charcuterie, for example - nodding to the author's beloved Spain. The shrimp rouille, plump specimens in a garlic and roasted red pepper sauce, is excellent. The wine selection is organized by "body" type, which is ideal for the casual fan. The bottles can be pricey, but most are in the $30-to-$50 range.

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