Contemporary in St. Louis

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    Lewy Nine's
    Little Country Gentleman
    In the evening, Mike Randolph’s Clayton restaurant transforms itself from the upscale breakfast spot Half & Half to one of the most ambitious entries on the St. Louis dining scene: Little Country Gentleman. Diners must choose a prix-fixe tasting menu: three courses, six courses or the “Grand Tasting Menu,” which can stretch over a dozen dishes (and several hours). Preparations feature creative and often memorably delicious takes on mainly local and seasonal produce (plus scallops, lobster and other non-local seafood). The wine list, overseen by Dan Parseliti, features many lesser-known Old World selections. Little Country Gentleman ain’t cheap, but it can be as exhilarating as any restaurant for miles around.
    Lola
    There's not much they don't do at Lola: live music seven days a week, stellar cocktails, upscale small plates, brunch, crepes. Located just off Washington Avenue, Lola strives to be a joint for downtown denizens that's by the neighborhood, for the neighborhood - balancing loft-district energy with food and drink you actually want. The crêpes are a good bet: the Delilah, stuffed with shrimp, crab and crawfish étouffée, is especially tasty. The lineup also includes sandwiches (these, too, have female names, though not as sexy as the crêpes) and small plates such as polenta fries paired with ratatouille and pan-fried lamb chops with a panko coating. The cocktail list, many of its entries named for downtown buildings, features truly excellent martinis and even mocktails (cleverly named after infamous celebrity rehab facilities) for those on the wagon. You'll never be without live entertainment at Lola, whether it's a hip-hop spin in the Absinthe Bar or up front with the soulful stylings of Mo E or Javier Mendoza.
    Lucas Park Grille
    Lucas Park Grille was the first restaurant to call Washington Avenue home just after the 2004 loft district revitalization. The swank hub of Washington Avenue nightlife might not be synonymous with foie gras and $40 steaks, and if it's sedate, mannerly high-end dining that you seek, look elsewhere. Its perfectly executed new American cuisine is served up on large and small plates in a large and elegant industrial space filled with stone, copper and brick and several warm fireplaces for a cozy winter spot. An award-winning wine list includes over 300 selections. On the weekends, the bar is bursting at the seams with togged up revelers sporting their finest and throwing back calorie-friendly beer and rainbow colored shots. You'll find an electric atmosphere and some of the best people-watching in town.

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