I’m taking a little break from my Ireland posts to blog about my food-filled birthday weekend. Not that I’m at all tired of talking about Ireland. The trip is still fresh in my mind, which is a good thing. A vacation like that is something you never want to let go of, and since we’ve been back to the grind for almost a full week now, I’m holding onto that vacation for dear life!
Anyway, my birthday fell on a Sunday this year, and in true Larissa fashion, I had my fill of diverse and delicious dinners on NBB (night before birthday) and NOB (night of birthday).
On NBB, the hubs and I dined at Pastaria, a new hot spot Italian eatery owned by St. Louis-famous chef, Gerard Craft. Craft became a household name in St. Louis after he was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine in 2008. At the time, he owned a restaurant called Niche in Benton Park, but he’s since opened a slew of new restaurants, including Taste, Brasserie and now, Pastaria. The hubs and I have been to all four now, and it’s a toss-up as to which one is best. But I’d have to go with Brasserie, while the hubs sides with Niche. They hooked him with a Ribeye on New Year’s Eve a couple years ago that he simply can’t forget.
Pastaria is in the St. Louis neighborhood of Clayton in an unassuming location in the Centene Building. When news first broke that Gerard Craft was opening Pastaria in Clayton and also relocating Niche in Benton Park to Clayton, he received a good deal of criticism for leaving the St. Louis city limits for the fat wallet clientele in Clayton. In a way, it was as if Craft Restaurants was losing its swag simply by catering to the wealthy Clayton crowd.
Although I wish Craft would’ve kept his restaurants in the city, I can’t complain that two of his restaurants are going to be a 10 minute drive from our house. And once you’ve taken your seat at Pastaria, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re in Clayton or Benton Park or BFE. You’re in Pastaria, and you’re about to eat some really fantastic Italian.
Pastaria doesn’t take reservations, so if there’s room at the bar, be prepared to hang out there. The hubs and I were running on Ireland time, so we actually didn’t get to the restaurant until close to 9pm and didn’t have much of a wait. By the way, Pastaria also has community style dining, so the likelihood of you getting a cozy table to yourself is slim.
For drinks, I had the Left Hand Milk Stout. He had a Charleville Hoptimistic IPA and a Schlafly Octoberfest.
For appetizers, we ordered the crispy risotto balls and shaved kale.
For the main course, I had the Strozzapreti (pasta bolognese). He had the Garganelli (braised beef, olives, bread crumbs and gremolata).
And for dessert, I had the Pumpkin Bacon Gelato (heck yeah). He had his usual Glenfiddich 12, neat.
We loved the casual, but cool vibe of the place. Felt very warm, well-lit and was buzzing with conversation. And of course, as expected, the food was superb. We will be back again for sure, especially since Pastaria is probably the most affordable of Craft’s restaurants… which means, we could probably go there for dinner every night… right?
On NOB, my parents took me and the hubs out for thai food at Sen Thai, located in downtown St. Louis off of Locust. Sen Thai is a restaurant I’m pretty familiar with. It’s our go-to for thai cravings at work, and although I haven’t thoroughly exhausted my thai food options in St. Louis, I think they have the best pad thai on this side of the river. (Go to the other side of the river into Illinois, and Sala Thai is my number one.)
Sen Thai turned out to be the perfect place for a quiet, relaxing dinner. I didn’t want anything too crazy, since it was a Sunday night and the work week was looming right around the corner. We dined on spring rolls and chicken satay for appetizers before it was time for my pad thai.
After our server cleared our dishes, she asked if we wanted dessert. It was then that my mom revealed it was my birthday and asked if they had any sort of cake on the dessert menu. They didn’t have cake, but they did have black sticky rice pudding, which I’d never tried before. To my surprise, our server came out with both the pudding and a cake. (And no staff members accompanied that pudding and cake to sing me happy birthday whilst clapping, thank god.)
It was sweet of them to “make a cake” for me, and I was surprised at how much I liked the sticky rice pudding. I’ll definitely order it again the next time we go out for Thai.
And so I’m a year older and possibly X amount of pounds heavier. But that’s okay. There’s always the YMCA.