Food, great food, from all of the best restaurants in St. Louis and across the river, organized by the Riverfront Times. In all, 38 restaurants if the page is to be believed. We took the Metro to the Union Station stop, lamented the glorious station that is no more. For a great train station we would have to go to Kansas City or Chicago. But we did not. We admired the great metal girders still remaining, and followed the streaming crowds from Metro into the belly of the remaining building, moving smoothly among the hordes into the hotel ballrooms.
The food, tiny plates, was unlimited. Drinks were limited to three, but water cost extra, three dollars extra! I wasn’t in a drinking mood, so shelled out for the water. Maybe I should have chosen otherwise. For without the edge of consciousness removed, it seemed like huge crowds clustered with little order but much good humor. Some food stalls had lines that snaked half way across the ballroom. The food, removed from its ambience might as well have been squeezed out of those toothpaste tubes astronauts once used.
One could not hope for balance as each restaurant showed off a single item. Meat, salt, and fat were the most common tastes. Perhaps most honest was a booth giving out unadorned squares of bacon, maybe an inch across. Others had ribs, sausages, pulled pork, raw fish, cooked scallops, or the occasional cake on a stick or bread pudding, toasted ravioli.
I only tried maybe ten places, so I could not honestly say what was the best. I missed all the tacos because of the lines. But one booth stood out for delicate flavoring, crawfish detectable as crustaceans, and a surprising fire to the broth. The rice this etouffe was over was also great. So Kitchen Sink got my vote and I’ll have to hunt it down and try it with space to talk to my friends, free water, and a bit of ambience.
We left a bit early, all meated out. Three of the four possible trains went by before ours came, but even so the wait wasn’t too long. St. Louis, I know you have great food. This is not the way to discover it. Or maybe I just wasn’t inebriated enough.