We’re going back in time folks. Not too far back, don’t worry. I’m just taking us about 3 weeks back to when David and I visited St. Louis for the weekend.
When we’re in St. Louis, we love to explore the evolving foodie spots. Okay, who am I kidding? That’s what we like to do anywhere we go. But, when we have my best buddy Harry at the helm, it’s bound to be a non-stop foodie experience. We do our research and make sure we’re hitting up the best spots in town.
We were excited and hesitant to try a new spot that is getting a lot of acclaim in the U-City area- a place that is crowded with Asian eateries; we were intrigued by the reviews for Private Kitchen. When I called to make the reservations a week before our visit, the chef immediately asked me what we’d like to eat. I thought, how am I supposed to know what I want to eat a week in advance!? The chef instructed me to look at their Facebook page for the menu. I did– but the menu was written mostly in Chinese. There were some pictures, too; those were our saving grace. Harry studied abroad in Beijing so he is more familiar with Chinese cuisine while David is strongly adverse to experimenting with a Chinese menu. I lie somewhere in the middle.
The night before our meal, the chef called to confirm and ask us what we wanted. We decided, okay, let’s do it. David was half asleep at the time so he also agreed.
The chef goes out the morning of your meal to pick up the ingredients. When we walked in, we were the only diners that afternoon. The place was completely empty. Talk about Private Kitchen!
Here’s what we ordered:
By far, our favorite dish was the xiao long bao. I have to admit, this was the first time I had eaten those tricky soup dumplings but I’ve watched enough Anthony Bourdain to know how to bite the top off, slurp out the soup and then pop the dumpling into my mouth. They were so savory and delicious. David definitely loved the xiao long bao while he found the other dishes too sweet and mildly greasy. If we had known how delicious these little pocket of joy were going to be, we’d have ordered one or maybe two more rounds. However, with this call ahead ordering system, that just isn’t possible.
It’s safe to say we enjoyed the rest of the meal as well. The eggplant was just a little bit crispy but mostly creamy. Certainly one of my favorite eggplant dishes of all time. I was sold the moment I saw the gorgeous colors on the plate. The Chinese broccoli was garlicky and fresh. The head on shrimp dish was equally tasty. Even for a Jewish girl, I was not grossed out by putting the little buggy-looking guy right into my mouth. The skin was crispy and the insides smooth. Especially the head!
If you’re in the St. Louis area, please visit Private Kitchen. It’s just a husband and wife duo running the place and the food is really fantastic. There are some more experimental and unique dishes that we didn’t try but based on the ones we did, this guy knows how to cook. With our bill coming to just over $40, and the fact that we were the only diners on a Saturday afternoon, I can’t imagine this place will be open for long. However, if you want to try some genuine Chinese eats, check it out. Fast!
But we’re not done there, of course. We stopped by Bissinger’s in the CWE for a quick sweet treat and cold brew coffees for the boys.
Later that night, after an unremarkable dinner at BARcelona Tapas, we tried out Clementine’s Creamery. (BARcelona used to be my favorite spot in St. Louis. It’s still good but I’ve been ruined by other tapas restaurants here in Brooklyn. (I.E. La Vara in Cobble Hill.)
Our last night, we had a family meal with my aunt and uncle, my brother and sister-in-law and my parents at Mai Lee. I wish there was a place like Mai Lee here in Brooklyn. Maybe there is. It really is an awesome place to get an authentic Vietnamese meal. I go for the same thing every time: veggies and tofu in chicken soup with rice noodles.
We also tried some papaya salad with beef jerky, salt and pepper calamari, summer rolls with shrimp and sweet potato cakes with shrimp. I didn’t get many pictures. We were all quite hungry.
After Mai Lee, we adventured over to the Missouri Botanical Gardens for a jaunt in the garden during the Lantern Festival. It was a torrential downpour and they wouldn’t sell us tickets but in the mass chaos, I snuck us in. Our shoes were soaked but it was worth it. Sometimes, it’s fun to stomp in puddles.
What are your favorite foodie spots in St. Louis? I’d love to know for our next visit!
2 thoughts on “a St. Louis weekend”
Thanks for pushing my Chinese food boundaries. While I stand by my dislike of the sweet & greasy stuff, I loved the Xiao Long Bao.
You sure know how to cram a lot into one weekend!