Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right nowIt’s time for Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Holly Fann offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10 and some change? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.
1. The first Bionic Apples of the season have been dipped, rolled and wrapped up at the three Merb’s Candies locations. Merb’s has made its Bionic apples the same way since the early 1970s using tart Granny Smith apples dipped by hand in Merb’s caramel and then rolled in pecans. Pick up one for $6 at any Merb’s locations and select grocery stores.
2. Yes, you can dine on a dime at one of the most anticipated restaurants that opened this year. A number of wines by the glass, beer, cocktails at Reeds American Table in Maplewood are available for less than $10, but don’t overlook the small plates, either. My pick: the $5 crisp shoestring french fries served with intensely flavorful aioli.
3. Grab a fast, satisfying lunch bite at Edibles & Essentials, where chef-owner Matt Borchardt offers $10 Vietnamese-inspired bahn mi tacos. Corn tortillas are generously filled with spice-cured pork belly slow-cooked in its own fat. Hoisin mayo gilds the lily and pickled slaw adds brightness and balance.
4. Marcoot Jersey Creamery takes a year to develop its Cave-Aged Heritage cheese, a complex fruity sharp flavor similar to Gruyere. Ideal for cool-weather comfort food favorites like grilled cheese, fondue and French onion soup, this wonderfully gooey cheese is available at farmers markets and local grocery stores where a 4-ounce chunk goes for $5.
5. The California Do-Nut Co.’s Felinna Love has big plans to open a brick-and-mortar doughnut shop on South Jefferson Avenue, but until then, snag one of her apple cider-glazed donuts or vanilla-glazed for a $1 each or $12 for a dozen at the St. Louis Swap Meet this Sunday, Nov. 1.
6. Milque Toast Bar knows no bonfire is complete without rich, decadent grown-up s’mores. Get the good stuff when you grab one of the bitty shop’s s'more kits, featuring rorating flavors from Kakao like Mexican chocolate, dark chocolate-coffee or white chocolate-coffee. Each take-home kit costs $6 and makes two generous s’mores.
7. Pumpkin lovers go a little crazy at Pint Size Bakery when the Drunken Punkin Cupcakes hit the bakery case. Fresh baked pumpkin cupcakes are covered in a velvety buttercream frosting flavored with RumChata. The combination of tender, fragrant cake and subtly-sweet cinnamon liqueur sells for $3 each, an affordable fix for any pumpkin enthusiast. Look for them through the end of the year.
8. When the highly-anticipated Ikea opened to much fanfare last month, die-hard devotees discovered there was no need to step foot outside this utopia of Swedish design for sustenance. With $10, you can fuel yourself with three complete meals starting with a breakfast of eggs, turkey sausage and potatoes ($1) and organic penne with red sauce for lunch ($2). With leftover $7, splurge on the most expensive menu item, a white tablecloth-worthy dinner of wild-caught hot smoked salmon served on a bed of red beans, haricot verts and yellow beets served with a dill cream sauce.
9. Watching The Libertine’s beverage director and mad scientist Ben Bauer playfully create a cocktail is nothing short of entertainment. To prepare the Robin’s Nest Reverie offered on the “imagined” portion of the cocktail menu, Bauer cooks fresh pineapple in duck fat, then releases its juice into cachaça. Mixed with Big O ginger liqueur and lime juice, this silky-smooth combination blends citrusy, spicy and savory flavors in one duck fat-washed glass for $10.
10. Grab a sweater a cozy up outside 4 Hands Brewing for free movies Monday nights through November starting at 7 p.m. Grab a pint (around $5 each) inside or snag one from its outdoor container bar, then pop open a lawn chair and catch a screening under the stars. This Monday, Nov. 2 start with Fight Club, and other films include The Sand Lot (Nov. 9), National Lampoon's Vacation (Nov. 16) and The Big Lebowski (Nov. 23).
Holly Fann is a longtime food writer who currently blogs at GastrononicSTL.
-photos by Holly Fann
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