Downtown Restaurant Week, a good promotion for restaurants, the city – and especially for diners, was an opportunity for us, a typical hungry couple, to revisit some places we hadn’t tried in a while, and to make an initial journey to Mike Shannon’s impressive new establishment.
Other cities have tried similar promotions, but we haven’t visited them during their celebrations, so we cannot make comparisons. Overall, we noted that the portions seemed to be a little smaller than usual, but given the general American obesity problem, that may not be a bad idea. We know a great many people who would be happy to accept smaller portions at smaller prides. However, portions were large enough that some leftovers went home with us.
The price, $25 for a three- or even four-course dinner (not including tax or tip), is extremely reasonable. It included an appetizer, main course and dessert, though in one case there were two appetizers and no dessert, and in another we had two appetizers, a main course and dessert. Drinks were extra, of course, and supplemental charges were listed for some of the dishes. We made reservations, as is our habit and one we strongly recommend, and all were honored within what we consider a proper amount of time, the leisurely 20 minutes or so it takes to order and consume a drink at the bar.
Anyway, we sampled four of St. Louis’ top downtown restaurants – An American Place, Mike Shannon’s Steaks & Seafood, Mosaic and Red Moon.
Larry Forgione, whose name is in front of An American Place and who was one of the leaders of the restaurant program here, as he was in New York, was on hand even on a Monday night, greeting people and taking orders. We ran into several people we knew, as we did at other restaurants during the week, which showed that some of our love-to-eat friends know a bargain when they see one. Just about the entire menu was open to the diners, with a few extra charges, and Forgione obviously used the week as a loss-leader, bringing newcomers into the restaurant and hoping they’d come back.
With the exception of Red Moon, the restaurants we tried offered first-rate meals. All cooked as they usually do, and the beef at Mike Shannon’s was excellent. The whole restaurant is splendid, with elegant decor and a dining room that is extremely impressive. Even baseballs and bats, used as decorative items, were charming and interesting, and our hat is off to the designer. Service is smooth and stylish, too.
Mosaic, nicely noisy as usual, offered four courses, and handled everything in an excellent manner. The sea bass special was one of the finest examples of the fish that we have tried, and the mulligatawny soup was superb. Mosaic offers a number of soups, either as a bowl of one or small cups of three different ones; it’s a fine idea, but the mulligatawny is one of the best soups in town. Good service, quite efficient for a crowded room.
Red Moon disappointed. The crab bisque, a signature dish in the restaurant’s early days, has lost its luster, and service was far less than it should have been, including some food, dropped from the appetizer plate, was still on the tablecloth as dessert was being served. Shouldn’t happen.
Still, our first experience with Downtown Restaurant Week was a winner, and we’ll be back for another try next year.