Contemporary in St. Louis

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    Table Three
    Beth Williams, owner of Cuisine d'Art Café and Catering, has big-city aspirations for her first dinner restaurant, located in the new Wildwood Town Center. The décor hits all the modern-American trends (cast iron, banquettes, chalkboard, open kitchen), while the menu offers reliable favorites. Three different steak preparations are available, as is a lamb "porterhouse": two loin chops nicely accented with a rosemary-herb demiglace. The crab-cake appetizer is quite good. Allow yourself to be tempted by the dessert menu, which includes homey favorites like chocolate-chip cookies as well as very good bread pudding.
    The menu at taste changes with some regularity, but pork is always a safe bet (the pork fries are a fun snack), while the hand-cut noodles with black pepper and Pecorino cheese are simple and sublime. Drinks like Hell's Bells and Ab-Duck-tion offer a glimpse into the singular spirit alchemy at Taste: the former is a spiced gin wonder—Hayman's Old Tom Gin, Pimm's, a touch of sugar, absinthe and a sizable garnish of smoked red bell pepper, which sounds odd in theory but is absolutely divine in practice. Ab-Duck-tion is a heady melange of mascarpone, pepper, lemon, lavender bitters and duck fat infused Grand Marnier. Their erudite cocktail menu is a reflection of mixologist extraordinaire Ted Kilgore's prodigious skill at all things shaken, swizzled or stirred. For the true Taste experience, ask Kilgore what he's drinking these days, and then order that.
    The Tavern Kitchen & Bar
    An attractive contemporary space in a Valley Park strip mall, the Tavern impresses with its selection of "upscale comfort food": bacon-wrapped meat loaf, braised honey-mustard short ribs, fish and chips. The housemade fresh pasta dishes are outstanding. Nods to New American trends include the "Bacon & Eggs" pairing of pork belly with sous-vide poached eggs. Steaks, a terrific pork tenderloin and sandwiches are also available.
    Three Kings Public House
    The three friends/owners behind Three Kings Public House in the Loop offer truly imaginative and savory dishes. Also referred to as a “gastro pub”, Three Kings offers standard bar favorites, such as burgers and sandwiches, but also a variety of Mediterrean-influenced entrees. As much as possible is sourced from local Missouri and Illinois farms. The bar features 22 beers on tap, 40 bottled beers, a rotating selection of one-of-a-kind beers and house-made liquor infusions. In true pub fashion, several flat screens are located throughout the restaurant for keeping up with the game.
    Top Of The Riverfront at The Millennium Hotel
    Guests of the Millennium Hotel downtown and local diners alike can take in 360-degree views of the city at Top of the Riverfront. The restaurant only opens for dinner and for Sunday brunch. Dinner offers selections such as primo tuttomare (lobster, shrimp and sweet crab tossed with linguini, tomatoes, basil, garlic and a white-wine sauce) or various cuts of steak. Brunch includes made-to-order omelets, seafood options as well as a carving station.
    Triumph Grill
    Another addition to midtown's suddenly teeming restaurant scene, the Triumph Grill is attached to the Moto Museum and named for the classic motorcycle. (Brando and Dean each owned one. So did Dylan.) The lengthy menu includes many of the dishes that spring to mind when you call a restaurant a "grill" - wings, calamari and onion rings; nine different salads and more than a dozen sandwiches; steaks, pork chops, chicken breasts and salmon - but with occasional, unexpected touches from the cuisines of Japan, India and the American southwest. The décor is contemporary-art gallery. When the place is crowded, though, the hubbub will make you think of a passing fleet of Harleys.
    If your idea of Truffles is blue bloods and blue-haired old ladies, think again. Chef John Griffiths (the original chef de cuisine at the late St. Louis outpost of Larry Forgione's An American Place) has reinvigorated this Ladue warhorse with a oft-changing menu that fuses the rustic traditions of northern Italian cuisine with the local, seasonal produce of the Midwest. The pastas, made in-house daily, are exquisite, and appetizers like roasted bone marrow and house-made burrata cheese will make it difficult to save room for the main course, but with terrific seafood and meat options (especially such jaw-droppers as la bistecca fiorentena and the porchetta, both meant for two), you must.
    twinOak Wood-Fired Fare
    The centerpiece of twinOak Wood Fired Fare is a brick oven that’s used to cook just about everything the kitchen turns out. The restaurant — which takes its name from twin-sibling owners Curt and Casey Friedrichs and the logs that fuel the oven — focuses on pizzas: thin-crust pies both classic (tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil) and “signature” (the “Gringo Star,” for example, with chorizo and jalapeño). The handful of appetizers (hot wings) and entrées (steaks, salmon) on the menu that aren’t members of the pizza food group benefit from the woodsmoke kick the oven delivers.

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