As I travel the world, I’m continually amazed at how easy it is to have an enjoyable gluten-free food experience. It does require a little bit of homework and advanced planning; but in general, I have to say it’s waaaaaaay easier than when I got diagnosed 15 years ago when nobody even knew what was, let alone how to prepare something delicious without it.
As you know we just spent four days in St. Louis attending and participating in the FIRST Lego League World Festival. This festival brings together 85 middle school teams from around the world to compete in the areas of Robotics, Research, and Teamwork, and celebrates all that they have accomplished. Simultaneously, there are international High School competitions as well. In all, over 35,000 people descended on St. Louis to celebrate and compete last week.
I brought lots of gluten-free snacks to keep the Kitchen Divas In Training going during their long days, but was surprised at a few of the delicious meals I had outside the arena. Here are 3 locally owned places you must put on your list the next time you visit St. Louis. In addition to being locally owned, all of the restaurants note on their menus that they source local ingredients wherever possible. This makes me so happy! There is wonderful food to be had here in this part of the Midwest, and anytime we can support our local growers and ranchers, it’s better for all of us. Just click on the restaurant name in each section to visit the restaurant websites and look over their menus.
This was our first stop when we arrived in St. Louis. Known for their gluten-free/vegan crepes, and just down the street from the America Center, this seemed to be the perfect place to begin our St. Louis Adventure.
The food did not disappoint. They have an extensive mimosa and bloody mary list- I enjoyed the “Mimo” a mimosa flavored with pomegranate. At first, I thought I had been brought the wrong drink, as I was expecting bright red pomegranate juice. However, this restaurant specializes in local/organic, and if you’ve ever had non-POM pomegranate juice, you know it’s more brown than red. Whatever the color, the end result was delicious, and I only wish I could have enjoyed two.
The crepe selection was enormous, and I could have stayed for days trying all the different kinds of crepes. The ladies both enjoyed a German Sausage #2, which contained a locally made, somewhat spicy (and very flavorful!) sausage, apples, cinnamon, and lots of gruyere. I enjoyed a sirloin crepe with bleu cheese, sundried tomatoes and arugula, while my husband enjoyed a pulled pork crepe that was accompanied by a cinnamon syrup. He was nice enough to order a GF crepe so I could try it.
The crepes were a huge hit, both in flavor and portion. They were enormous, and fortunately we were very hungry. The crepe itself was remarkable. It was large, thin, and strechy- just like a good crepe should be. I asked how the chef made them, and got a few hints, but then the server said the chef started to get nervous. I completely understand not wanting to give away your secret recipe! Three cheers to the chef for making a fabulous, satisfying crepe!
I must mention that the service is very laid back here. Almost to the point of being annoyingly slow. I enjoyed our server very much, but the restaurant was mostly empty when we arrived, and it felt like we had to beg for attention. I’m willing to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt- maybe the server was new, maybe there was a shift change and we got lost in the shuffle. Whatever the case, I’d be willing to try The Rooster again, at the very least to enjoy a new mimosa and another fabulously constructed crepe.
This gem of a pizzeria was right around the corner from our hotel, and our group ended up ordering 26 (yes 26!!!!!) pies from them. I had the pleasure of working with Linda on our big order, and she was a dream!
They brought us one salad with all the accoutrement on the side to accommodate the variety of food allergies/dietary needs in our group, and made several GF pizzas for us. Linda even called the next day to see how I enjoyed the GF Pizzas! That’s taking customer service to another level.
While I didn’t get to enjoy the ambience of the restaurant, I did read they have an extensive beer selection on tap, and a nice upper patio that I bet would be perfect for evenings al-fresco.
Everyone was very happy with the pizza. I ordered a number of their specialty pies on GF crust- both so I could try the crust, but also to experience some of the flavor combinations in action. They were great!!
At first, I felt mediocre about the GF crust. My gluten-eating taste testers enjoyed it, but I felt that it was a little grainy. In hindsight, I think that may have more to do with the size of our order and the cooking/waiting time than the quality of the crust itself. We snacked on leftover GF pizza for most of the 4 days we were in St. Louis, and the crust was great. It held up well in the ‘fridge, and reheated beautifully. We even enjoyed a GF sausage pizza with vegan cheese. I was a little concerned the girls wouldn’t enjoy the cheese, but they loved it, and spoke highly of the sausage.
Hands down, the favorite pizza was the roasted veggie pizza with goat cheese. The pizza was absolutely loaded with vegetables that had been roasted to perfection. Often a roasted veggie pizza can get a little soggy because of the olive oil, but this was just right- and you could taste each individual vegetable.
One of the other pizzas we really enjoyed was the candied bacon and pear pizza. This was a winner in a contest they held, and I can see why- of all the specialty pizzas, this one went the fastest.
I can honestly say that you can’t go wrong visiting PW Pizza. We tried many of their pizzas and were happy with all of them. It did not occur to me to see if they carry GF beer. You can look on their site, and if they don’t, perhaps with a little prodding, they will soon!
Mosaic was a delightful surprise on every level, and quite honestly the best meal I’ve had in ages. Mosaic is located on Washington, just up from the America’s Center, and is a beautifully designed and executed tapas restaurant. I was a little hesitant to enter, as we saw the lovely white tablecloths through the window, and asked the hostess and servers if we were too underdressed for their establishment. Keep in mind, all of us were sporting light-up bunny ears and painted on whiskers! They cheerfully said “Of Course Not!” and welcomed us in.
I was also surprised and delighted at how knowledgeable our server, Ben, was about the food preparation in the kitchen. I cornered him almost immediately while the others were getting settled to discuss what might work on the menu. He took his time with me and went over nearly every dish available, explaining the ingredients and exactly how it was prepared. On the few items in question, he consulted with the chef, just to make sure. This is the kind of service that makes a foodie downright giddy.
I have a soft-spot for tapas. I learned how to eat well and cook well when I lived in Madrid. Although this menu takes tapas beyond the traditional to a new level of food experience, I love the concept of little tastes. Especially when there are so many delicious things on the menu.
The roasted butternut soup infused with vanilla was the best I’ve tasted. And the creamiest- it was so smooth it was almost like pudding. The lobster bisque, which my adventurous younger daughter decided to order was presented beautifully, and poured over a lemongrass-shitake foam. When they poured it, and the aroma of the lobster filled the table, I thought I would faint with joy. Seriously. It smelled that heavenly.
We also enjoyed a watermelon gazpacho, a surprise in that the traditional flavors of tomato gazpacho were present, just softened and sweetened with the watermelon. The lobster-crawfish risotto was creamy and saucy, and nearly every bite contained a succulent bit of shellfish.
My favorite though, was the watermelon salad served with baby greens, thin radish slices on the watermelon cubes, and a science beaker of balsamic vinaigrette, all on a schmear of foamed herbed goatcheese. It was incredible. The combination of color, texture, flavor and whimsy practically had me singing in my seat.
Dessert was the perfect end. The chef kindly served a flight of mini gelatos in tiny cups for the girls since they couldn’t do the cones. We also enjoyed a beautifully presented carmelized panna cotta with fresh berries marinated in Grand Marnier. I was so satisfied I didn’t even need a post dinner espresso.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a meal this lovely. I would seriously stop in St. Louis again just to return to Mosaic. I heartily recommend you do the same!
And as for the robotics tournament- how did my amazing kiddos do? Their team took home the 1st Place Award in the category of Inspiration!!