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Some of you may remember the "original" Layla in the Grove as a more or less typical Mideastern restaurant. They have a new location in Webster Groves that I couldn't resist checking out, but over the years they have also morphed into, to use their words, "St Louis' only gourmet burger and shawarma joint". Well, that pretty much describes it! They always had some good burgers but now they have really taken it to the next level. As you might guess, the food was awesome so a dinner is in order! Details to follow. http://laylastl.com/
It's been two and a half years since our last Vietnamese dinner, and five years since we visited Dao Tien. Considering this is some of the best Vietnamese food around, I think we're sorely overdue for a return visit! And if I needed any more reminder, I had lunch there about a week ago and the owner asked me, "So when are you bringing your group back"? What can I say, it's been too long so now I'm remedying that issue! Cuisine - This is pretty traditional Vietnamese food. While the menu isn't as huge as some like Mai Lee, it offers an excellent cross-section as well as some interesting and authentic variations. You have probably heard of pho, which is generally considered soup - although in reality, it's a meal in a bowl with some soup in it! This is a staple of the cuisine, and here you have no less than ten variations to start with... but it doesn't stop there! They have no less than sixteen "extras" you can add, from bo vien (meatballs) to bi (shredded pork) to su'o'n nu'o'ng (pork chop) to tru'ng (egg) to... well, quite a few more! You could put together a huge meal in a bowl of pho if you wanted, but why stop there? Bun (vermicelli-based dishes) Banh Mi (sandwiches) and fried rice and rice platters are equally well-represented, and they too can have your choice of extras added. The selection of spring rolls covers the gamut as well, but what drew me in were the main entrees. My favorite Vietnamese dish is Bo Luc Lac, which is country-style beef and actually a fairly plain dish. It seems like every place I try it, it's different, and more often than not, excellent. But Dao Tien hits it out of the park! Served sauced here (usually the sauce is for dipping), this is the best Bo Luc Lac I've ever tasted! But don't stop there; you'll also find wonderful renditions of favorites like Lemongrass beef or chicken, Spare Ribs in Clay Pot, or if you're feeling creative, how about papaya with beef jerky? Dao Tien also offers a list of vegetarian dishes, plus several seafood choices, primarily fish and shrimp. I also appreciated that they will tweak the ingredients for you if you have a preference, which is great if you're like me and picky about lots of things! Cost - Dao Tien shines here as well! Lots of the dishes are under $10, but even the larger entrees are all in the low to mid teens with nothing over $20. Of course, Vietnamese food is usually pretty economical, but still, this definitely an inexpensive place to get some great food! Additional Info - Dao Tien is located on the southwest corner of Olive Blvd and McKnight, just east of I-170. There is a large strip building with a huge urgent care center on the corner, with Dao Tien nearly hidden behind it. Turn south (right if you're coming from I-170) from Olive onto McKnight, and then you'll see the restaurant behind the other building. Plenty of free parking. As with many of our dinners, while the "official" start time is 7:00, you may spread your arrival out a bit starting at 6:30, in order to help even the load on the kitchen. Plan on having a leisurely dinner and socializing! I'll be looking forward to seeing lots of my foodie friends on Tuesday, October 8th, Dao Tien! for some awesome Vietnamese food! http://daotienbistro.com/
I love Greek food. And when I discovered that a brand new Greek restaurant opened in Clayton, I wasted no time checking it out. Imagine my delight when I discovered they were every bit as good as anything I've yet discovered in the area, or maybe even better? So, you know what had to happen next! Details to come.