Archive for January, 2008

Favazza’s: A great little “secret” on The Hill in St. Louis

Posted in Italian food, Missouri restaurants on January 28, 2008 by rudyard1

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(Photo and review by Kip Welborn.)

When travelers pass through St. Louis, one place that they love to go is to “The Hill.” Here, in an area nestled between Hampton Ave, Southwest Ave., and Kingshighway in the City of St. Louis, is the place the Italian American community in St. Louis calls home, and the place where you will find some of the greatest Italian eateries anywhere on the planet.

Many of these eateries — Cunetto’s, Charlie Gittos, Gian Tony’s, to cite a few –are known nationally, and all of them serve fantastic food. Most do not take reservations, however, so it can be a long wait at dinnertime.

Which is what brings me to Favazza’s (5201 Southwest Ave. St. Louis, Mo.; (314) 772-4454). It is a place where you rarely have to wait for a table, and when you do, there is a nice bar area to do so. Any wait you might have is well worth your time, as Favazza’s serves up some of the best food St. Louis has to offer, and the service is always first rate. It is a smoke-free environment and is a nice place for a romantic evening or to take the kids.

The dinner menu prices range from $9.00 to $25.00. The entrees will fit the “taste” of every palate, from the fish lover to someone who just wants a good steak. The prices are in line with most of the restaurants on The Hill, as are the portions, which are usually large enough to serve you for two meals. Before the meal, they bring out the “bread” two ways: plain, with olive oil and butter available, and toasted garlic. The wine and beer lists are extensive, and they have a very nice white house wine.

I am particularly fond of their Chicken Parmesan ($16.25), which is a healthy sized chicken breast doused with just the right mix of cheese and sauce, complete with a side order of your choosing (red or white pasta or a twice baked potato). The Chicken Prosciutto is also fine, and my wife, Quinn, loves the Tortellini.

For the Route 66 traveler, it is extremely easy to get to Favazza’s: At the intersection of Chippewa (Route 66) and Kingshighway turn right if you are heading West, left if you are heading East. Take Kingshighway to Southwest (approx. 2 miles). Turn left on Southwest. Take Southwest just up the “hill”, across a short bridge, and it is on the right side of Southwest at the corner of Southwest and Marconi. Parking is available on the right side of Marconi just past the intersection. It will provide the Route 66 traveler–and any other traveler–with a dining experience to remember.

For more information, visit the restaurant’s Web site.

Grades:
Value: A
Product: A
Service: A
Route 66 Spirit: B (it is not on Route 66 but it is a “mom and pop” place that has been in the Favazza family since the beginning)
Overall: A

Tally’s Good Food Cafe

Posted in American food, Diners, Oklahoma restaurants on January 15, 2008 by redforkhippie

(Cross-posted from Indie Tulsa, with minor changes.)

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I was disappointed when the late Metro Diner in Tulsa closed to make way for TU’s oh-so-visually-stimulating McDorms, but I wasn’t devastated. To be honest, the Metro’s quality had slipped rather precipitously in recent years, and by the time it closed, I’d already found a better place to meet out-of-town friends for dinner: the aptly named Tally’s Good Food Cafe.

I miss the Metro’s great Deco lines, glass-block windows, chrome accents, and that spectacular pink and aqua neon sign that stood out front, but Tally’s — with its retro-styled sign mounted above the door (on a framework that evokes the Meadow Gold sign in miniature), stylish architectural neon around the exterior (complete with glowing Route 66 shields every few feet), and killer breakfasts — is a fine substitute.

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You have to respect a restaurant that accompanies its chicken-fried steak with a soup bowl of cream gravy, and I think Ron would willingly swap one of his kidneys for a bacon and cheese omelet and a plate of those crispy seasoned home fries from Tally’s.

I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve eaten at Tally’s. The fry cooks know what they’re doing, the waitstaff is friendly and efficient, and although I didn’t ask about the hours, I will say that Ron and I keep strange hours and eat at weird times, and we’ve never come home hungry after heading out in search of a late supper at Tally’s.

Perhaps best of all, the owner, Tally Alame, really appreciates the community that supports his business. Every year, he shows his appreciation by serving a free Thanksgiving dinner to anybody who wants to stop by and eat.

Located on historic Route 66, at the corner of 11th and Yale, Tally’s is also within easy walking distance of the historic Desert Hills Motel, making it popular with my in-laws, who stay at the Desert Hills every time they’re in town and love to start each morning by walking down the block for a cinnamon roll at Tally’s.

Grades:
Value: A
Product: A+
Service: A
Route 66 spirit: A
Overall: A+

Ted Drewes’ Frozen Custard

Posted in Frozen custard, Missouri restaurants on January 6, 2008 by redforkhippie

I suppose it’s a little cruel to talk about Ted Drewes’ Frozen Custard in January — the only month the St. Louis institution is closed — but on this warm, sunny morning, I just can’t help dreaming of spring.

From February to December, you’ll find customers lined up 10 deep in front of the building at 6726 Chippewa — the most popular alignment of Route 66 through St. Louis — to order a Crater Copernicus (devil’s food cake with frozen custard, hot fudge and whipped cream), Dutchman Delight (chocolate, butterscotch and nuts), or Fox Treat (hot fudge, raspberries and macadamia nuts).

Don’t let the crowds scare you off. While a long line at some establishments may indicate that the business is understaffed or the service is slow, the fast-moving lines at Ted Drewes’ are merely an indicator of product quality. Everybody in St. Louis goes to Ted’s — and because Ted knows it, he hires enough employees to keep up with the crowds. I’ve never had to wait in line longer than five minutes.

Everyone’s tastes are different, but for my money, the Cardinal Sin (tart cherries and hot fudge) and Dutchman concretes are the best items on the menu — at least until fall, when Ted offers his pumpkin pie concrete, which involves an entire slice of pie mixed into a big cup of frozen custard.

My rat terrier, Scout, is partial to the Southern Delight, which is made with pralines and butterscotch.

Concretes, for the uninitiated, are rich, creamy milkshakes so thick that they won’t fall out of the cup when it’s turned upside down. I can’t begin to explain how good these are, but I’ll just note, for the record, that one former president of the Illinois Route 66 Association has been known to drive all the way from Chicago just to get a concrete on a summer weekend.

Scout and I completely understand.

If you’re not up for a 300-mile ice cream run, Ted can pack a few mini concretes in dry ice and ship them to you.

During December, Ted Drewes’ also sells Christmas trees. A second, older location is open during the summer months at 4224 S. Grand. When we lived in the area, we generally preferred to hit the Route 66 location, but if you’re interested in exploring St. Louis a bit while you’re in town, South Grand is an interesting drive that takes you past the Bevo Mill, among other oddities.

Ted Drewes’ opens at 11 a.m. daily. Closing time varies, but it’s fairly safe to assume that if the Cardinals are playing at home, Ted will be open when the game ends.

For more information, call (314) 481-2652 or (314) 481-2124 or visit the Web site.

Grades:
Product: A+
Service: A+
Route 66 spirit: A
Value: A
Overall: A+

Ike’s Chili House

Posted in Chili, Diners, Oklahoma restaurants on January 3, 2008 by redforkhippie

(Cross-posted from Indie Tulsa.)

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Ike’s Chili House has been in Tulsa for as long as my Cubbies have been disappointing their fans.

While it can’t claim to have the best chili on the Mother Road (that distinction belongs to the Rock Cafe in Stroud), the restaurant at 5941 E. Admiral Place — an early alignment of Route 66 — serves a respectable product, with a large side of history.

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Enlarged black-and-white photographs of earlier Ike’s locations grace the walls of the restaurant, and the chili — served straight or with beans — is a tame but flavorful blend of meat and spices. Shakers of ground red pepper and bottles of hot sauce are on all the tables to placate fire-eaters. Three-way chili (over spaghetti, with beans) and other variants are on the menu, but I’ve never bothered to order them. Such niceties strike me as gilding the lily when you’ve got a basic chili that’s so tasty and so filling all by itself.

Of course I was too busy wolfing down a large bowl to remember to take a picture of it the last time we were there, so if you want to see it, you’ll have to head down Admiral and order a bowl.

Ike’s is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

As a West Sider, I am delighted to note that a new location opened last year at 1630 W. 51st St. Click here to read the Tulsa World’s article about it.

Grades:
Value: A
Product: A-
Convenience: B+
Service: A
Overall: A

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