Destination: Square One Brewery (1727 Park Avenue; 314-231-2537)
Neighborhood: Lafayette Square
Cuisine: American Fusion
Overview: Square One Brewery, known for its homemade beers and spirits, also has a ridiculously varying menu, abundant with vegetarian selections. And the food is true to American Fusion, covering cuisines from Asia, Latin America, Italy, France, Morocco, southern America -- you get the idea.
And for the vegetarian-beer enthusiasts (and for meat-eating beer enthusiasts), Square One's menu also has suggested beer pairings for your food. With the weather cooling down, Gut Check recommends you enjoy your veggie and beer treats in Square One's charming courtyard, complete with an outdoor bar and water fountain.
Veggie Highlights: Square One's vegetable pho ($13.95) features local summer vegetables -- carrot, red onion, edamame, bell pepper -- simmered in a garlic and ginger broth with rice noodles and a poached egg. This dish is a great take on the Vietnamese classic, but a sure-fire garlic attack. Again, guys, keep those breath mints handy!
The brewery's grilled polenta ($11.95), though simple, is utterly delicious. Two pieces of grilled polenta sit atop black beans, smoked tomato, avocado and blended cheeses. Any vegetarian or meat-eater alike will enjoy this dish -- and it's gluten-free to boot!
Square One also has an awesome, sweetly tangy Moroccan chickpea salad ($6.95): chickpeas, dried fruit, roasted carrots and herbs tossed in a cumin-honey vinaigrette. Another popular dish is the gnocchi ($14.95), which features carrots, peas and fresh mint with ricotta cheese.
The Veggielante has had it up to here with people bitching that St. Louis restaurants are vegetarian unfriendly. Sure, we'd like to see more restaurants offering more meatless dishes, but there are excellent choices out there if you take the trouble to look for them. We're not here to proselytize about greening up your diet. Our only motive is to spread the word about places where you can order good grub that ain't got no meat. To enhance your reading experience, we've settled on a handful of criteria we'll use to suss out a restaurant's vegetarian friendliness.
Gut Check is always hungry for tips. Email us!