Hot weather, cool new menus

With summer hitting its stride over the past few weeks (though I’ll take 75 and sunny any day), the more nimble restaurant are coming around. Fresh, green and veggie-centered is the way to go right now. Here are a few restaurants changing with the weather:

Wine Cellar and Bistro – The chicken and pancetta ravioli and pommes frites are as pleasing as ever but Chef Craig Cyr has debuted a number of items that showcase the bright flavors of the season in his typically creative ways. A pitch-perfect example recently was a delicately pan-seared piece of halibut served with a lemon balm tartar sauce. A side of grilled, then wine-braised celery was far more interesting than it sounds, and roasted potatoes offered a crunchy, salty contrast. A small plate of beef cheek with spicy kimchi could’ve used a little actual kick but was otherwise delicious. The cornmeal-crusted potato and kale cakes are something we’re going to have to recreate at home. I have heard great things as well about the walnut and sage-crusted duck with grilled red onion and swiss chard. The Wine Cellar isn’t the cheapest spot in town, that’s true. So if budget’s an issue, go for lunch or happy hour. Same food, smaller bill.

Broadway Brewery – The ever-changing, up-and-down brewery/restaurant appears to be in an “up” phase at the moment, at least based on our visit one night last week. Crawfish-stuffed pattypan squash was playful, tender and a breath of fresh air in general (more interesting foods, please!). One gripe is that several of the small plates come served on a bed of arugula. Now I love arugula like a fat kid loves cake, but encountering it on plate after plate is wearying. Maize griddle cakes deliver a peppery punch and are topped with a fried egg and syrup. It’s the kind of sweet and savory pairing that drives some people crazy, but I dug it. Cream of artichoke soup was rich, and thick with fresh artichoke hearts and tender leaves. Mrs. SMEs ordered the salmon, that night’s special, and was only able to finish half of the plate-sized entree, which was served with avocados and pine nuts (one note: if you prefer your salmon on the more done side, order it that way…hers bordered on send-it-back-for-another-minute-under-the-broiler territory). A small plate of meatballs set into a halved, carved-out and roasted zucchini and served with a bbq-esque sauce was a playful and summery take on an otherwise wintery dish. The APA and Wee Heavy beers were tasty in their own right and properly-carbonated (always a crapshoot at BB for some reason).

Note: While Broadway Brewery has a website, it seems their Facebook page gets much more frequent updates. Browse accordingly.

Trey Bistro – I haven’t stopped by Trey Bistro in a while, but have no good excuse. The menu constantly changes and Trey’s an inventive chef – his food is always fun. And look, a snazzy website (with the phone number RIGHT THERE…and HOURS…and the MENU. Take heed, sucky resto websites of the CoMo, take heed.). I’m overdue for a visit – my guess is you are as well.

I’m sure to have missed a few notable menu change-ups. Care to enlighten?

Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

6 thoughts

  1. We were really impressed with our first visit to Les Bourgeois in years recently. Their new chef has revamped the menu with a lot of nice options, including some worthwhile & creative vegetarian ones, and I really appreciated how carefully and accurately they labelled local sources & their methods. The polenta was the first I’ve had in a long time that actually tasted like corn (at least compared to the fresh-ground version we make at home from our own corn). The fried green tomatoes with kimchi and catfish are delightful. The various pastas are also nicely done.

    Another farmer who sells there now passed along the nugget that they’ve been able to cut a lot of waste out of their produce budget by better handling methods, thus allowing them to pay better prices to farmers. Well worth a try if you haven’t been in a while.

  2. This is a bit off-topic, but have you ever done a review on Coley’s American Bistro? (I didn’t find one when I searched). A friend asked me for a restaurant recommendation today, and she was looking for something that she hadn’t tried yet. I recommended Trey Bistro and Coley’s. I’ve enjoyed Coley’s the couple times I’ve been there, but it seems to be extremely underrated. No one ever talks about it. Is there a reason that it is so under the radar despite being in the downtown district? I liked the food and the ambiance, and it looks like they have a nice patio set up too.

  3. We love Coley’’s one of our favorite spots since it opened 5 years ago. It’s always solid, no surprises, very competent service, and a laid-back atmosphere. Their menu isn’t going to win any innovative creative menu awards, but all dishes are tasty and freshly-made. Their salads are especially good, and if you like dressing with a bite, try their cayenne vinaigrette. Their HH prices are great for both apps and drinks, and my husband says Marcia, the bartender, makes the best dry martini in town with Hendricks gin. Check it out.

  4. Coley’s has great food and great service, two things that too few CoMo restaurants have mastered.

  5. I think the 3 courses for $30, offered weeknights at Wine Cellar is one of the best deals around. The portions are smaller than the full servings but still plenty for a normal appetite.

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