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A return visit to Top of the Riverfront

We made a return visit recently to the Top of the Riverfront, the revolving restaurant at the summit of the Regal Riverfront Hotel downtown, and we're happy to report that the innovative "Mississippi Valley" cuisine of chef John Santangelo is still just as much of an attraction as the fabulous 360-degree view that comes as a complementary side dish to your meal.

Santangelo based his menu on ingredients from areas adjacent to the long path of the Mississippi River, providing him not only with a nice tie-in to the large body of water that runs within a few hundred yards of the hotel but with a huge and diverse palette of potential flavors. Good prime rib is pretty commonplace nowadays, and horseradish is a standard side sauce, but Santangelo raises his to a higher plane by taking horseradish from right across the river at Collinsville (where a large portion of domestic horseradish is grown) and shredding it fresh, resulting in a crispy, meaty texture in which the fire sneaks up on you but then lasts and lasts.

Another outstanding preparation is the Pine Bluff pheasant breast, a large portion of moist and full-flavored slices beautifully counterpointed by the sweetness of fresh blackberries and a berry syrup, as well as the crisp roasty flavor of pancetta and a soft, neutral base of napa cabbage. Top of the Riverfront also gets high marks for not merely treating the vegetables as an afterthought, using fresh beans, for example, and roasted yellow pepper to round out the main courses.

And nowhere in St. Louis does our city look better, especially at night -- ribbons of light from both highway and river traffic; downtown looking lit and vibrant from high above; illuminated-sign landmarks, like the giant "Budweiser" down south; and twinkles of homes going off into every direction. It's also a good angle from which to fully appreciate the new Eagleton erection.

TOP OF THE RIVERFRONT, 200 S. Fourth, 314-241-3191.

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