Well, here I sit at the NIH, while MFO is being screened for participating in a study of Essential Tremor, an affliction which has affected members of her family to varying degrees. Anyway, I am waiting in the waiting room, so thought I might give a quick mention of our dining experience in St. Louis/Charles with FOJTE… (as requested by a loyal west coast reader)
We drove up from Cape where FOJTY lives and met FOJTE and his wife for dinner. He had pre-selected Prasino, a new place that occupies the location that was once the home of Noah’s Ark for you St. Louis old timers. He and his wife have had several good experiences there so he was confident in taking Dad/BottomFeeder there. Prasino is an upscale modern limited chain with three locations in Illinois and now recently expanded to St. Charles, MO. Curiously, they offer all three meals, breakfast, lunch AND dinner. The lunch menu is kind of a scaled down dinner one, but the breakfast offers eggs. There are categories for small, big, green, rolls, flat breads, tacos and so on. Sandwiches are listed under “hands on”. They bill themselves as “green” (in the environmental sense), and of course try to feature “local” “Our priority is serving hormone/anti-biotic free meats, sustainable seafood, organic produce and eggs. Every effort is made to buy locally whenever possible, but we have also sought out exceptional ingredients from around the country from like-minded vendors”. They have a large inside seating area, with a pleasant little lanai covered patio outside that is somewhat screened from the nearby interstate. FOJTE had carefully secured a reservation for outside seating as the weather was conducive to al fresco dining.
So we arrived at the restaurant (all DFD’d of course) ready for a nice meal and catching up with the family. FOJTE went to check us in, and it soon became apparent that all was not running smoothly. He came back to report that although he was assured that reserved patio seating would be accommodated, that person was apparently misinformed that reservations were not accepted for outside seating. Of course this was not received kindly by FOJ, and he can be rather forceful (using his “teacher” voice), and soon the floor manager and then the general manager joined in the conversation. Profuse apologies were made as well as an offered round of drinks, and they would try to seat us as soon as possible, and we were ushered into a little outside seating area next to the tables, which was separated by a small bunch of planters (containing herbs). We were begrudgingly settling in for the drinks when the management team appeared again, and said, “we’ve never tried this, but we have an idea!”. They went back inside and soon reappeared with a couple of servers struggling with a large table. "I think this will work", they said, and proceeded to set us a special table in that area that was apart from the regular outside diners and almost private. More apologies were offered as well as the drinks, places were set, and menus brought.
They could have blow us off, but I thought that was a considerate way to handle an unfortunate situation. I wish more restaurant people would realize they are there for us, not the other way around. We left thinking we would return, rather than evil thoughts and nasty blog postings. “Service” is becoming a lost art (Are ya still werkin’ on that, guys?) and it was nice to see that some places still care about making a good experience for their guests. Manager guy checked in unobtrusively a few times during our stay. Nice touch.
Enough time as passed that I would not be able to recount the food ordered, however I DO remember that I had the braised short ribs (which are appearing on more and more menus) and they were very good. St. Louis Pork Steak was also an option (not called Pork Butt). However, I do recall that everybody else was happy with their meal, and portions were such that lunch the next day was secured. I would recommend (along with FOJTE) that you consider it on your next visit to St. Charles. There are lots of great food options in St. Louis, but St. Charles is a bit sparser in that department. Be specific when you call for reservations.
The next day the weather remained temperate and beautiful so we joined the FOJ’s for lunch. Local Missourians know there is a burgeoning wine area west of St. Louis, with vineyard springing up like mushrooms after a rain. FOJ is up on that stuff so he took us to Chandler Hill Vineyards, about an hour’s drive from St. Charles. The newer vineyards are build on the latter day Napa model, that is, a large edifice containing tasting, some dining, event rooms and so forth, plus outside seating. This one is no different, and of course we made the first stop in the tasting room, again familiar to anybody who has been in Napa/Sonoma.
While they do bottle some wines under their own label, they offer others from all over (California, Oregon, Washington, and South America) which may be a bit different than your experience. They will also sell any by the bottle.. Cash is king. Space doesn’t permit going over their tasting scheme, but there are three categories offered: Missouri; West Coast (with a Chile thrown in for good measure); and Reserve ($36 up to 69/btl). Tasting is kind of like ordering Chinese food, you have options for three of this, or two of that, or one of…. A bit daunting. Anyway, we chose some of each and shared. Missouri wines were, well, Missouri wines as you would expect, quite acceptable. But there were some good others like the 2010 Diamond Mountain Reserve that had some teeth to them. Regardless, it is always fun.
After that, we retired to the outside patio which overlooked the vines and a very pleasant view... It was also "market day" with local vendors of crafts and stuff... "local"
On the veranda, food was available along with (duhh) bottles of wine which we availed ourselves of (bad English?) It was awfully nice.
There was live music, and lots of people having fun. Us included.
After that we retired to the hotel for a restorative nap and our final night in STL was spent in their home, breaking in the newly renovated (by sweat of FOJTE brow) outside patio and some lovely grilled salmon, along with some very nice wine. (at this point FOJTE is probable bemoaning his father’s failing memory).
Next morning, pack the MOMSTER, point north and head for MFO’s SIL in Wisconsin . Oh, we stopped along the way at the Czech Slovac museum in Cedar Rapids Iowa. MFO had some material on the people who settled here (St. Mary's County) long ago of that heritage and thought to offer it to them. Another story for another day.
And, speaking of another day, tomorrow we gather ourselves and head for Normandy, France. So who the hell knows when you will be assaulted with another Bottom Feeder.. who of course will be internationally
Post Script: this was finished at home, as about the time I got rolling at the National Institute for Health, MFO was finished. Final decision to come, but they don’t think her tremor is obvious enough to participate in their study (good or bad news?). By the way, those people were the most courteous and friendly folks we have run across in a medical institution. Maybe another story for another day. (Damn, there are so many “another days”)