Looking for Veritas is a bit of a treasure hunt, finding it brings the reward. Tucked into a hill on the east side of Clarkson Road, south of I-64, it shares parking with a number of businesses, including Dierbergs. David and Stephanie Stitt have been successful enough to expand into space next door, and to move much of the retail wine and wine-tasting into that area, along with good-looking items for kitchen and dining-room gifts ranging from cocktail napkins to important, fancy-gift platters. The original space still has a counter facing the open kitchen, plus more tables for those enjoying coffee, a glass of wine, lunch or dinner.
It's a very casual place, with lots of regulars. Even newcomers feel comfortable enough to get up and browse after ordering. Most of the time both of the Stitts are present, David presiding over wine activity and Stephanie covering plenty of ground beyond that.
Unfortunately, breakfast is on hiatus because lunch and dinner are busier. But we found Veritas more than convenient for dinner before theater at Chesterfield Mall, just up the road. We kicked things off with a cup of tomato soup. Tomato-forward, as predicted by its brilliant red color, its flavor was quite buttery, with perhaps a little basil and cayenne in the back, and drizzled with a hit of cream and one of olive oil, it was a hands-down winner in any soup competition.
The appetizer list also includes French fries, or pommes frites, as the menu, the French and the Belgians say. No matter; they're a don't-miss item for the potato-phile. Thin, crisp, some as crunchy as shoestring potatoes, they're perfectly seasoned and served with a mushroom aioli. Aioli, the garlic mayonnaise, is a great dip for fries, and the mushroominess adds an extra fillip that heightens the pleasure. But the fries are so good, it's almost superfluous. We just can't think of a better nibble to go with a chilled bottle of Bandol rose, the perfect summer wine from France's Mediterranean coast.
If you forget the fries as an appetizer,or just think more are necessary with a second course, they're also available among the entrees, and are a great asset to the catfish sandwich, also highly recommended. Two filets are coated in cornmeal and fried, topped with bacon, pickled onions and cucumbers, and more aioli, this time punched up with Tabasco. A little messy to eat, but a first-rate sandwich.
Housemade fettuccine wore a light sauce, bolstered by bits of roast pork, bacon, and roasted radishes, a combination that sang. We hadn't had those before, but they're chunky, still retaining some tooth-resistance, their heat made milder by the oven's, and a good textural addition to the pasta. The menu says English peas, an old Southern term that differentiates green peas from, say, crowder or black-eyed peas. These fellows looked more like baby limas, but whatever, they were tender and sweet, a visual pleasure.
Another new-to-us item popped up on the dessert menu. Chocolate marble bread pudding came with housemade ice cream. What flavor was so new? Gjetost, the brown Norwegian cheese, title of a book, "Brown Cheese, Please," that explains Norway and Norwegians to foreigners. It's made with goats' milk; milk, cream and whey are boiled down until the lactose, or milk sugar, caramelizes. In its usual state, it's very dense, and often found on Norwegian breakfast tables. (There's also a thinner version, much like dulce de leche.) Using it this way produced what may be the richest ice cream we've ever tasted, dense and flavorful. The bread pudding was indeed marbled with brown and white, and a fine bittersweet chocolate sauce also drew acclaim.
We always warn visitors here that the service can be a little iffy, good-natured, to be sure, but inexperienced, for the most part. Bear with that, pick out a nice bottle of wine or choose from the by-the-glass list, and relax. It's worth the wait.
1722 Clarkson Rd., Chesterfield
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Good