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When Dan and Pat Graham decided to shutter Graham’s Grill & Bayou Bar last December after a seventeen-year run, the next generation decided to take over the reins - but put their own stamp on things. Brother and sister business partners Devin and Alison converted their parents’ Cajun-themed bar and grill into 612 Kitchen & Cocktails, a 1920s-inspired cocktail lounge and gastropub. The restaurant is at its best when it sticks to classic bar fare: Sausage and cheese stuffed mushrooms, breaded and fried, make for an excellent snack; beer-battered fish and chips pair nicely with a cold one; and the smoked chicken is juicy and glazed with caramelized barbecue sauce. Craft cocktails are on the approachable end of the spectrum. Signature drinks such include the "Great Gatsby,” made with cucumber and basil-infused rum, lemonade and blueberry puree. A bridal shower in barware, the “Coco Chanel,” is a blend of strawberry vodka, lemon juice, pink champagne, strawberries and mint. The most austere offering — and that is a stretch — is the “Scarface.” Tequila, tomato water, triple sec and lavender-infused sour combine to make an interesting twist on the margarita. Regardless of how the younger Grahams brand it, 612 Kitchen & Cocktails is still a simple neighborhood watering hole.
Amici's, which lies in the heart of downtown Kirkwood, serves up a large variety of St. Louis Italian favorites. Appetizers include the usual suspects: toasted ravioli, bruschetta and chicken wings. Entrèes include chicken, seafood and steak, including bistecca Amici, which is breaded and charbroiled with Provel, broccoli, prosciutto and mushrooms in a white-wine lemon-butter sauce. Amici's of course serves pasta as well, with tortellini and farfalle among the options.
From a colorful storefront in downtown Kirkwood, Amigos Cantina offers a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine, as well as a few gringo favorites. Entrées include that Tex-Mex staple, fajitas. Tacos, burritos and quesadillas manage to bridge the gap between Americanized Mexican food and the real deal, and for a taste of taqueria cuisine, consider a torta, the traditional Mexican sandwich. The cheese dip, made from Monterey jack, is a thick, guilty pleasure.
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.
Is Bar Louie a swank cocktail lounge or a neighborhood bar and grill? Depends on when you show up. The Chicago-based chain occupies a massive space in the Central West End, and when it's filled with the young and the beautiful on a weekend night, it's got spark. Stop by for lunch or an early dinner, though, and you may feel lonely. Stick with the basics: sandwiches, burgers and fish tacos. Chase your meal with a beer or martini and watch the pretty people play.
Like its older sister in Wildwood, the Warson Woods location of Big Bear Grill brings the hunting lodge to you - complete with fireplace and a bear skin on the wall. Diners don't have to catch their own fish to enjoy it, with catfish, walleye and salmon among the options. Other choices include burgers, sandwiches and wraps, but for the non-sporting type, there are also about a half-dozen salads.
Billy G’s, the Kirkwood hot spot, offers something for everyone with its large menu and even larger portions. A significant portion of the menu is Italian, although burgers, sandwiches, and even some southern classics round out the seemingly endless options. Of special note is the pizza, thin crust and cooked to a crispy flakiness in wood oven. The food is average, but the restaurant is always packed to the brim because of its location and self-fulfilling reputation as the place to be seen in Kirkwood. The patio is worth a visit, with several fire features (including a table with a built-in fireplace), cozy semicircle booths, and a large outdoor bar. It’s a lovely spot to reconnect with high school friends for a cocktail on a lovely day or night, just expect the food to be secondary.
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