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    Brazikat Brazilian Steak & Seafood House
    Brazikat Brazilian Steak & Seafood House, which occupies a spacious address in Clayton’s Carondelet Plaza development, is a churrascaria, the all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse. More precisely, Brazikat calls itself (and prices itself) like a churrascaria. In fact, the Brazikat experience is no more indicative of Brazilian culture than a bikini wax. The meats, often poorly cut by the “gaucho” servers, taste overwhelmingly of mesquite smoke. As for the seafood, the less said, the better. The "35-item gourmet food bar" is a salad bar. It does not always have 35 items, either — though maybe you’re supposed to count the two containers of croutons separately.
    Chez Leon
    The second edition of Leon Birnbaum's French restaurant affects a sleek, very dark look that can, at its best, transport diners to a place where their only concern is haute cuisine. Classic French dishes abound, from escargots to foie gras, steak frites to canard a'lorange. The experience is not cheap - several entrées cross the $30 barrier, and two diners, with tip, tax and wine, will easily break $100 - but there is a prix-fixe option: three courses for $40 (plus a supplemental charge for a few dishes).
    The Crossing
    One of the best restaurants in St. Louis, this 70-seat Clayton establishment is the homecoming of chef Jim Fiala, who worked at the renowned Restaurant Daniel in New York. The restaurant's name indicates an intersection of French and Italian influences, which means everything from fresh fish with innovative sauces to Kobe beef short ribs. Vegetables are treated as integral elements rather than secondary side dishes, and even the desserts illustrate impeccable attention to detail.
    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.
    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.
    The Melting Pot-University City
    The St. Louis outpost of a 70-restaurant national chain, this is pretty much your only choice if you're in the mood to do fondue. The cheese way is available both as appetizer and main course, with a choice of "traditional" (oil, high-cal) or "court bouillon" (broth, lower-cal) for the entrées. Because there's only one burner on the smaller tables, your party had better be of the same culinary mind. A little chocolate for dessert, and you're fondone.
    Panorama
    After a series of bad press and financial difficulties, the team behind Panorama at the Saint Louis Art Museum knew they had to make some changes. As part of their reinvention efforts, they brought in a new general manager, a new chef and changed the menu to better reflect the tastes of St. Louis diners. Their efforts paid off. The new (and much improved) Panorama features dressed-up classic dishes, such as apricot baked brie, beef carpaccio and a grilled chicken Waldorf salad. Panorama’s menu also includes several excellent vegetarian options, such as the hearty Ozark Forest mushroom melt and the zucchini, kale and mushroom platter. The croque-madame, overstuffed with thinly shaved ham and accented with apples and sage, is topped with melted Gruyere, béchamel sauce and an over easy egg for an excellent lunch or brunch option. Panorama’s menu also includes several entrees, such as a Burgundy braised short rib, beef tenderloin and grilled chicken. The vegetarian autumn zucchini, kale and mushroom platter, served over goat-cheese polenta, is a must-try, even for meat-eaters. Panorama serves brunch on Sunday, with a menu that includes smoked salmon benedict and decadent stuffed French toast. With its tasty food, gorgeous setting and stunning view, Panorama is a delicious dining destination.

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