4 restaurants you must try this August
1. Start Bar: 1000 Spruce St., St. Louis, 314.376.4453
Reward your inner child with a trip to Start Bar for skee-ball and boozy snow cones. The surprisingly chic video game-themed space offers 19 arcade games with a variety of fighting, shooting, old-school and multiplayer options that will rotate based on popularity. (And yes, they’re getting Killer Queen, that 10-person game with a cult following.) Once you’ve OD’ed on treats like the Bacon Pancake Shake made with bacon-infused bourbon, pancake batter, maple syrup and vanilla ice cream, order a house-made Neopolitan-style pizza. The weekly specialty offering will please even those without an inner child; a recent version featured a house white sauce, roast chicken, artichokes and spinach with mozzarella cheese. There’s also a long canned craft beer list and a full bar for those committed to acting their age, but we’ll see you at the candy counter before we kick ass at Mario Kart in one of the four game lounges upstairs.
2. Kounter Kulture: 3825 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314.781.4344
After popping up at Tower Grove Farmers Market, Local Harvest Cafe, Sump Coffee and others, Kitchen Kulture co-owners Christine Meyer and chef Mike Miller finally put down roots at Kounter Kulture. They revamped the former home of Pint Size Bakery, creating a primarily carryout spot with a small, frequently rotating roster of Asian-inspired dishes. Start with a large house-made steamed bun stuffed with breaded pork loin or crisp Mofu tofu. Grab larger entrees like the tender smoked trout on a bed of al dente wax beans; the cold ramen bowl packed with pickled veggies, tender marinated tofu and a perfectly soft-cooked egg; or spicy-savory khao soi with rich red curry, Buttonwood Farms chicken, egg noodles and pickled greens. Sharing with a friend? Load a pizza-sized okonomiyaki (an eggy Japanese pancake) with shrimp, bacon and kimchi.
3. Louie's Wine Dive: 16 S. Bemiston Ave., Clayton, 314.875.9373
Louie’s Wine Dive & Clayton Kitchen has won over Claytonites with its quirky decor, indulgent small plates and lively atmosphere. Start with the cheese curds: bits of breaded, fried cheese equally at home in the accompanying serrano dill aioli and classic marinara. Or go bigger with the bluefin-crab poutine, a pile of crab, mushrooms, cheese curds and seafood broth over a bed of crispy shoestring fries. The pork gnocchi is light and fluffy with chunks of tender braised pork swimming in a velvety red wine cream sauce. The wine list is expansive with interesting, unusual options available by the glass, but cocktail fans won’t be disappointed either. Try the refreshing Grandma’s Garden, where cucumber, mint and lime are muddled and mixed with gin and sauvignon blanc for a sweet summer sipper.
4. Absolute BBQ Indian Wish Grill: 17409 Chesterfield Airport Road, Suite C, Chesterfield, 314.200.1111
The name may confound, but those curious enough to stop at Absolute BBQ Indian Wish Grill in Chesterfield won’t be disappointed. Start with an order of plump vegetarian samosas or the bite-sized pieces of spicy ABQ chicken. Lamb, chicken, seafood and vegetable kebabs are offered with five different spice preparations. We fell hard for the succulent chicken kebab with hariyali tangdi, a blend of Indian spices including red chile and masala, served with a fiery mint dipping sauce. For less heat, opt for the goat haleem, a thick stew heady with savory and baking spices. Shredded goat meat and lentils are cooked down to a paste-like texture, perfect for scooping up with a side of naan.