Cajun in St. Louis

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    Molly's in Soulard
    Soulard nightlife fixture Molly's has turned its former next-door neighbor Norton's into a bistro, with a Creole-influenced menu developed by chef Eric Brenner of Moxy. As at Moxy, the best dishes at Molly's are thoughtful but unpretentious - simply put: good food. Consider the duck breast in a light, sweet apricot-bourbon sauce or the tremendous Berkshire pork chop in an apple-brandy demiglace. Because this is a bistro, steak is available: filet or the less tender but often tastier hanger cut. The latter is topped with a poached egg - a nifty twist on the classic steak-and-egg pairing. Appetizers include "Etouffée Lasagna" with crawfish and andouille, and seared scallops with red beans and rice.
    Monarch Event Space
    The acclaimed Maplewood restaurant Monarch has revamped its spacious bar and cozy bistro dining room as Monarch Southern Bistro. Here executive chef and Louisiana expat Josh Galliano offers a laid-back menu of Cajun and Creole favorites, including overstuffed po' boy sandwiches and fritters made from the pork-and-rice sausage known as boudin. The best dishes bear traces of Galliano's creative touch, like simple hush puppies classed up by a burnt-lemon sauce, or catfish wrapped in shredded sweet potato. (Diners in the bar and bistro can also order from the more upscale menu of Monarch's main dining room.)

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