If you read my previous post, you know I’m home in St. Louis for the holidays with my family for my last winter break from school. As I mentally prepare for the day when I am finally no longer a student, I have been drumming up old school memories from when I was younger…starting with the conversation I had with my brother in our basement when I was 4 years old and told him I couldn’t wait to have homework. My brother was much too engrossed in whatever game he was playing on SEGA Genesis to pay much attention to me, but he probably said something along the lines of me being stupid because homework is stupid.
Nerd alert: I liked homework most of the time.
Here on Eating Up, I like to document my growing taste buds as I grow up. It should be known, though, that I am one that holds on to memories way too long. So, when I came home on Saturday and made my routine inspection of the pantry, fridge and freezer, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw some things that have never changed in my family’s kitchen.
1. Our cereal box to person ratio is off the charts. The amount of boxes shown is actually significantly less than the normal quantity stocked when there were three kids in the house to feed. Since my siblings and I have grown up and moved out, Rice Krispies, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cocoa Puffs have disappeared from the shelves as well.
2. M&M’s are a pantry staple, just like bread. Our family doesn’t discriminate among milk chocolate, peanut, peanut butter and dark chocolate. We like them all. My mom always buys the seasonal ones too. This may actually be the reason why M&M’s are my favorite candy.
3. I have never been to New Orleans, but I’ve had their beignets. We have always had a box of this beignet mix in our pantry to make on special weekends. My dad started bringing it back when he went to NOLA for work, but we always ordered more when we ran out (by phone? by mail order pre-Internet? I’m actually not sure…). Cafe Du Monde is famous in The Big Easy, and I’ve never had better beignets. Order some for yourself!
4. This crazy dome contraption pops popcorn. And does it well. It has served my father for about every other night since as long as I can remember. Well, that’s not true. I’m not sure how many he has actually gone through all these years. Anyway, this nighttime ritual always impressed my friends who came over for sleepovers. It actually impressed my now roommate just last year. She told me to steal it for our apartment this year. I told her that may just break my father’s heart. And probably my mother’s too since some nights she asks for the popcorn too.
5. This is a picture of our freezer. The top shelf contains assorted Nestle Tollhouse chips (semi-sweet chocolate and butterscotch are pictured). No, they were not going stale. My mom buys a bag and intentionally puts them in there to snack on. This is my fault. I gave her the idea when one of my friends gave me the idea a long, long time ago. Turns out, I prefer the taste of room temperature chips more (you can actually taste the flavors better, no?). My mom on the other hand lives for these frozen morsels. As a teenager, I used to sneak the bags back into the pantry to thaw. As an adult, I let my mom have her fun. After all, it’s not always about me and what I like anymore. (Life lesson: It never was! …Or should have been.)
My dad told me more than a year ago that he wanted to go to Sidney Street Cafe. Apparently he does possess patience because we finally did go…last Friday.
I went home to St. Louis this past weekend for a wedding and tried to squeeze in as much quality time with the parents as possible. Normally, this quality time involves trying at least one new (to us) restaurant in St. Louis. My dad and I were both very excited about trying out Sidney Street Cafe, a slow food restaurant that specializes in continental and American cuisine. It’s in a fun neighborhood five minutes from Downtown St. Louis and has won numerous local awards. It sounded like my kind of place.
Sidney Street Cafe has an oral menu, meaning the waiters explain each dish off a mini chalkboard at your table. The only paper menu we were given was the wine list—which my dad looked over and then selected a bottle of an Oregon Pinot Noir for the table.
I’ve never been to a restaurant where I wanted to try every entree until I came here. When we first sat down and saw the menu listings, I turned to my mom and said, “I don’t know what I’m going to get!” She said the same thing but in a less excited manner—she doesn’t share the same adventurous foodie gene, apparently. (Sorry chicken wasn’t on the menu Mom!)
While I mulled over my decision, I popped a beignet in my mouth from the bread basket. I love, love, love the bread basket and get way too excited when the bread is something other than a standard baguette. I used to go to this one restaurant just because I enjoyed the pancakes they gave out in their bread basket. Anyway, bravo Sidney Street for the beignets. My mom—who had at least three—appreciated them too.
For an appetizer, my dad and I ordered the Confit of Sweetbreads, aka edible glands.
This was delicious. They were super flavorful, soft and had a great flaky crust.
To start, we all had salads come with our entree that were perfectly proportioned.
And then our food came. For my mom: Piedmontese Rib Eye with smothered greens, bone marrow gratin, and house worcestershire.
For my dad: their famous Béarnaise filet served with roasted seasonal vegetables and rustic mashed potatoes.
And for me: Pecan Encrusted Rabbit with roasted root vegetables, basil sausage, and rabbit jus.
I made the right choice. But so did my mom and dad. I really don’t think you can make a wrong choice at this restaurant. If you live in St. Louis, go here immediately. If you ever visit St. Louis, have this be your first meal. And your second and third.
As we walked out of the restaurant, I declared Sidney Street Cafe my new favorite restaurant in my hometown. I’ve done this numerous times in the past few years, so my parents asked me, “Really?”
And then in the parking lot, I saw this bumper sticker on a customer’s car from American Farmland Trust.
And I answered, “Really.”
What’s your favorite restaurant in your hometown?