Wednesday, April 13, 2011

St. Louis: Eclipse at the Moonrise and Bar Italia

I was planning to take the weekend off from food blogging, but as with my first visit to St. Louis, my second trip turned out to involve several satisfying meals.  Two were particularly blog-worthy:

1. Dinner on Thursday night was a buffet at the Moonrise Hotel, catered by the in-house Eclipse Restaurant.  Salad, herbed jasmine rice, vegetables I can't quite recall, pesto penne, and a baked chicken dish comprised a standard but very well-prepared spread.  Desserts were miniature lemon meringue pies, cheesecakes, chocolate whoopie pies, and some sort of cupcake.  Thanks to meringue tops that were both tender and chewy under the browned exteriors, those little pies were among the best I've ever had, which I definitely wasn't expecting given their small size and large production volume.  No pictures from this meal, since I was fully occupied with eating, meeting people, and trying to remember names.  Sidenote: we were in a room named "Apollo 11."  The hotel's theme and associated room-naming scheme made the geek in me quite happy.

2. Before visiting the very lovely Missouri Botanical Garden on Saturday afternoon, I ate at Bar Italia in the Central West End with a group of prospectives and current students.  It was a relatively warm and humid day, but fortunately sitting outdoors on the covered patio wasn't bad at all.

I started with a simple house salad, with large, uncut lettuce leaves and olives in a lemony vinaigrette.

Other people at the table ordered the beef carpaccio, bruschetta, caprese salad, and proscuitto with asparagus.  Everything seemed very fresh, and I recall that practically all the plates were enthusiastically cleared.

I thought the asparagus was particularly nice to look at:

My entree was the Pasta alla Norma, i.e., fettuccini with a sauce of tomatoes, carrots, Italian sausage, and - I think - mushroom.  The pasta was cooked al dente, and there was a sufficient but not overpowering amount of sauce.