Continental in St. Louis

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    Alexander's Restaurant, tucked in the back corner of the Sheraton in downtown Clayton, is a spacious hotel dining option. Their menu includes familiar American fare, such as pasta, sandwiches, steaks and fish. Sunday dinner is served in the lounge instead of the main dining room, both located on the main floor of the hotel.
    Peppe's Apartment 2 is the latest venture from St. Louis restaurant mainstay Peppe Profeta, who made a name for himself at Gian-Peppe's on the Hill and, most recently, Trattoria Branica. Apartment 2 provides upscale Italian dining in an ornate setting, complete with plenty of chandeliers. Meals are available in appetizer- and entrée-size choices and include ravioli, veal and rotating seafood specials.
    Steven Caravelli, formerly executive chef at Hubert Keller's steak house Sleek, now mans the kitchen at Araka. The menu retains a focus on the cuisines of Europe's Mediterranean coast, though Caravelli intends to home in on local produce and sustainable meat and seafood. New dishes include seared diver scallops with pork belly and a quail egg, a "duo" of local beef and a "tartare" made from beets. Standard and vegetarian tasting menus are available.
    Cheesecake Factory
    Cheesecake Factory is a national restaurant chain serving continental American and Italian cuisine. This location is connected to the St. Louis Galleria, with interior and exterior mall entrances.
    Cielo, in Laclede's Landing, is several steps above the usual St. Louis restaurant. Literally: The restaurant is on the eighth floor of the Four Seasons hotel, and the view of the Arch from its floor-to-ceiling windows is certainly one of the city's most striking. The food, too, is impressive. The contemporary Italian menu includes housemade pasta with such uncommon touches as veal cheek and oxtail ravioli. Entrees succeed on balance: A grilled Berkshire pork chop is paired with crisp Bosc pair and wilted chicory, a fantastic blend of sweet, savory and bitter. An excellent destination, provided you just hit it big at Lumiere Place next door.
    Cravings Gourmet Desserts
    Tim Brennan has supplied the desserts of dozens of area restaurants for nearly two decades. Ten years ago, he moved his operations from an old Soulard church into an almost-as-old Webster Groves storefront that now includes both a retail dessert operation and a small dining area. Cravings is a two-time winner of the prestigious James Beard Baking Award, so save room for dessert -- such as the lime-blueberry bombe or the chocolate-cranberry torte -- or take something home with you.
    Elephant Bar Restaurant
    The West County Center location of Southern California-based Elephant Bar chain serves up an expansive variety of dishes for different tastes. Guests can choose to sit in the large dining room or in the separate bar area. Appetizers include sweet-potato fries and Vietnamese spring rolls, with a large variety of salads, sandwiches and burgers for the main course. Elephant Bar's wok menu features staples such as kung pao chicken and Mongolian beef. While the menu is Asian-influenced, Elephant Grill also dishes out diverse offerings such as chicken Marsala and jambalaya.
    Fox and Hound Pub & Grille
    More American bar and grill than British pub, Fox and Hound in the Chesterfield Commons is a large chain restaurant and bar with an expansive food-and-drink menu. With daily beer and drink specials, and plenty of big screen TVs, the atmosphere at Fox and Hound is lively. Starters include pot-roast sliders, pretzel dunkers served with spicy queso and horseradish mustard, and wings available in nine different sauces. Soups and salads are available, as well as heavier fare, including burgers, sandwiches and entrées. In addition to the massive combo platter of a half rack of ribs served with a chicken breast, Buffalo wings or chicken tenders, Texas Toast and a side of fries, entrées include Jamaican chicken, chicken-and-poblano pepper enchiladas, and Newcastle Ale-battered fish and chips. Fox and Hound also serves up wood-oven-fired pizzas, featuring specialties such as Buffalo chicken with a spicy blue cheese sauce, a basil pesto sauce topped with chicken and mushrooms, or the option to build your own from a list of toppings. Fox and Hound is also available for private parties.
    Gerard's Restaurant
    Call restaurant for details.
    Curious about Bosnian cuisine but not sure you'll like it? This large, handsome restaurant - the former Bailey Farms Dairy - offers Bosnian fare and also conventional offerings such as fried calamari, toasted ravioli and tortellini. It's hard to resist the "Mixed Grbic Plate," an artery-busting meat sampler featuring utterly delicious cevapi. Imagine the miraculous offspring of a sausage and a beef kabob: That's cevapi. Other hearty entrées include goulash, several different kinds of schnitzel and the yummy sarma (cabbage rolls stuffed with rice and ground beef). The bar menu offers something that you won't find many other places: Romanian wine.
    The Grill at the Ritz-Carlton
    Clever, persuasive New American dishes built on a foundation of classics. For a light meal, order a couple of fanciful appetizers in place of an entrée. If you're in the mood for more substantial fare, try one of the superb game dishes, such as rabbit or pheasant. For a finale, order any sweet thing that's red and ripe -- strawberry shortcake, say, or a pear poached in zinfandel.
    Hendel's Market Café & Piano Bar
    Hendel’s Old Town Florissant digs have a colorful past: The century-old storefront used to be a grocer. But there’s nothing old-fashioned about the food. Try the German potato soup with its zippy hint of vinegar or the smoked shrimp en croute; there’s also a full menu of steaks, chicken, fish and pasta. Other perks include enthusiastic, rosy-cheeked service; a comfy dining room; and outside seating in a serene garden. Kids menu. $$. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Patio.
    Monarch owners Aaron Teitelbaum and Jeff Orbin reopened St. Louis’ beloved Cafe Balaban as an homage to its late founder, Herbie Balaban. Soak up some history with your meal in Herbie’s traditional French-style bistro, the opulent inside bar and lounge or bask in the sun on the new outdoor patio. The menu offers contemporary bistro fare with emphasis on fresh caught seafood and seasonal pairings. You never know who you’ll see at Herbies, a nostalgic St. Louis favorite. Indulge in brunch on Sundays and check out excellent bands on the weekends in the lounge.
    Sasha's Wine Bar & Market
    The perfect place to congregate when you want to sneak out of work and celebrate the day's end with a glass of wine and a cheese plate. The atmosphere is stylish but humble, featuring the requisite doses of glass block, exposed brick and handmade wine racks. The list contains more than 60 wines, all available by the bottle, glass or 1.5-ounce taste. Build a foundation from the ample selection of house-made soups, salads and sandwiches or -- go ahead, you deserve it! -- splurge on caviar and a bottle of Champagne.
    Soulard's Restaurant & Bar
    This unaffected little bistro offers worthy dining in a cozy atmosphere. For a civilized lunch after foraging at the farmers' market, Soulard offers an endless array of sandwiches (try the curried-chicken salad). Dinner is more highbrow, with pork chops in Guinness sauce, shrimp scampi and a peppered beef fillet. The fireplace flanked by suits of armor is a gallant touch.
    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.
    The Vine
    Located in St. Charles along historic Main Street, the Vine offers upscale wining and dining. As its name suggests, the restaurant features an extensive wine menu and, for true oenophiles, the Wine of the Month Club. Accompanying the Vine's wine selection is a menu of typical wine-bar starters, including a cheese platter and charcuterie. The restaurant also serves soups, salads and crêpes, as well as main dishes such as chicken chasseur, filet mignon and bouillabaisse. Spices for the Vine's dishes come directly from Old Town Spice Shoppe across the street. Diners with a sweet tooth can choose from the restaurant's ever-changing dessert menu. The Vine also features indoor and outdoor seating.
    Though the menu, filled with jokes, is clever, when it comes to a fine dinner, the smiles are generated much more by quality than by quirky humor. There's a selection of light meals, bar food and burgers if you want downscale; the high-end side of the menu generally changes day-to-day, including such items as a classic French preparation of filet mignon and a more Germanic entrée of pork chops with apples.
    Yacovelli's restaurant in Florissant features everyday, casual dining, as well as catering and banquet services, and elegant event hosting. This St. Louis mainstay has floated its location all over the city since 1919, now calling a large banquet hall on Dunn Road, just east of Hanley Road home. Its everyday menu revolves around hearty, classic dishes, including filet mignon, pork chops and spaghetti and meatballs. Yacovelli's also takes pride in its signature fried chicken, offered family-style on Sundays, served with familiar sides such as mashed potatoes, green beans or macaroni and cheese, along with coleslaw and corn bread. Diners can also enjoy early-bird specials and prix fixe dinners for two.

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