I’m Baaaaaaaaack!

by Stephanie on April 11, 2014

in other

Well, hello there, strangers! Remember me? It’s only been, what…2 years since my goodbye post? As you may remember, I put the blog on hiatus to move to Virginia for an incredible job opportunity. As excited as I was to take the next step up in my career, leaving this little blog behind was hard.

After all, Off the Eaten Path STL has been a very big part of my life since its inception in March of 2010. And believe it or not, this blog has helped shape me into the person I am today. When I first started this blog, I was an incredibly introverted 25 year old. I had very few friends, I rarely ventured outside of the suburbs where I lived, and my favorite restaurant at the time? Applebees.

A lot has changed since then, friends. In the time since I started Off the Eaten Path, I’ve been nominated twice by the Riverfront Times for Best Food Blogger, I’ve done freelance work for Maplewood-Brentwood Patch and CBS, I was featured in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, I made a television appearance on Great Day St. Louis, I was a speaker at Show Me the Blog St. Louis, I was chosen as one of Chevy’s ‘Keys to Your City’ VIP Ambassadors, I was one of the judges for 2012’s Midtown Alley BBQ Contest, and I hosted numerous blogger meetups and events, where I met so so so many cool people in St. Louis. Can you believe this girl used to be so shy she wouldn’t even leave the house, much less interact with strangers?! I certainly can’t believe it. This little hobby blog blew up into something bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. Oh — and I definitely have a new favorite restaurant, but you’ll have to wait a bit to see what that is! Spoiler alert: it is definitely not Applebees. ;)

So you can imagine that leaving all of that behind was hard for me. Very hard. I contemplated continuing the blog in Virginia. I toyed around with dropping the ‘St. Louis’ from the blog title and simply blogging about restaurants all over the country. My friends encouraged me to go for it. My family urged me to give it a try.

But…I just couldn’t do it. As much as I love food, writing, and photography, something felt wrong about changing the focus of the blog. I almost felt like I would be cheating on my city if I started blogging about places outside of St. Louis! And maybe, deep down inside, I knew that I would eventually find my way back home.

So I held out. I continued to pay the hosting fees to keep my little space on the Internet around. I continued to follow foodies on Twitter, and I tried my best to stay on top of the food scene in St. Louis. You know…just in case.

And two years later? I’m back. I’m back! I was fortunate enough to be offered an even more incredible job opportunity here in my hometown. An opportunity that I absolutely could not refuse. I’m super duper excited to start my new job, but more than that, I’m excited to be back home with my friends and family.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve taken time to explore the things that made me fall in love with this city. I visited the Missouri History Museum to check out the new exhibit to commemorate St. Louis’ 250th birthday:

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I visited the newly expanded St. Louis Art Museum:

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I even went to the zoo!

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But more importantly, in the week since I’ve been back in town, I’ve spent lots and lots of time with friends and family. Eating good food, giving lots of hugs, and making up for lost time.

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I will be back next week (and every Friday!) with a brand spanking new review, but I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone who has kept up with me on Facebook and Twitter, and have made my return home so sweet. The ‘welcome home’ tweets, Facebook messages, and emails have been so incredibly heartwarming. I’m so excited to be blogging again, and I hope to make this blog even bigger and better than before.

Stay tuned for a new restaurant review next week! See you then.

{ 12 comments }

C-C-C-Changes!

by Stephanie on November 9, 2012

in food

Good morning, friends!

So, if you read my blog post from last week, you’ll remember that I promised a pretty big announcement on Monday.

And as my sister so dutifully reminded me, I didn’t make that announcement on Monday. Whoops! Winking smile

I’ve been a little busy. And if you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know this. But I’m going to say it anyway.

That big announcement that I’ve been holding in for the past few weeks? I’m moving.

To Virginia.

I recently accepted a job with an amazing company in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. It was quite unexpected; I wasn’t actively looking for a new job – a recruiter contacted me – but the opportunity was so good for my career that I just couldn’t pass it up.

So I’m moving. Away from St. Louis. Away from the city I’ve lived in for my entire life. Away from the city that I’ve grown to absolutely adore.

Am I excited? Absolutely. The company I’ll be working for is fantastic, and the job I’ll be doing? It’s in my field (Chemistry), it’s a huge step up for my career, and I’ll be doing the things I absolutely love to do.

But you know what? Even though I’m over the moon about this, I’m also terrified. I’ll be living in a completely new city. Away from my family. Away from my friends. Away from everything I’ve ever known.

As I’ve announced my news to family and friends, one of the first questions I’ve been asked is “What are you going to do about your blog?”

It’s a very legitimate question. After all, the title of my blog is Off the Eaten Path St. Louis. However, even though my blog is pretty region-specific, it can easily be broadened to reflect whatever city I’m in.

I’ve thought about that option quite a bit – changing the blog to Off the Eaten Path Charlottesville. I could even change the blog to Off the Eaten Path, and write reviews of restaurants in any city I happen to be in.

I’ve bounced around a few other options that I’m keeping under wraps for now, as well. The point is, I’ve thought about the future of my blog. A lot.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that while I’m not going to shut this blog down, I’m going to go on hiatus. How long will this hiatus last? I don’t know for sure. It could be a few weeks. It could be a few months. It could be longer than that. My priorities right now are getting settled in my new city (I’m moving in two days!), getting adjusted to my new job, and starting my new life.

When I started blogging in March of 2010, I was not in a great place. I was unhappy with a lot of things in my life. I felt unfulfilled in my job. My social life was pretty nonexistent.

And as silly as this sounds, blogging changed everything. It gave me confidence in my skills as a writer. I joined Twitter, mostly to promote my blog, and I ended up connecting with a lot of amazing people. I started Yelping more, and met even more fantastic friends through that avenue. Thanks to my blog, I was able to have the opportunity to freelance for Patch. This improved my people skills like no other; immersing myself in the local community and talking with people from all walks of life improved my communication skills in ways that I never thought imaginable.

It wasn’t until after I started blogging that I had the courage to take on another passion: running. I joined a few running groups, and six half marathons (and one full marathon!) later, it’s safe to say that I’m in love with the sport and all of the great people I’ve met through it.

Blogging has showed me that there are other people out there who share my passion for food. It’s made me a stronger writer. It’s introduced me to new people, new cuisines, and new opportunities that would have never presented themselves otherwise.

However, most importantly, blogging has made me fall in love with St. Louis in ways that I never thought possible. I’ve seen so many great things in this city. I’ve met so many amazing people. I don’t think that would have been possible had I not started this blog.

And while I don’t want to lose any of that, I need to take a step back for now. Right now, my career is the most important thing in my life, and I don’t want anything to stand in the way of that. Writing quality blog posts takes a lot of time, and while I probably could churn out weekly blog posts (on restaurants in St. Louis and elsewhere; you wouldn’t believe the amount of reviews I have waiting to be queued up!) I don’t want the quality of this blog to suffer.

So there you have it. This isn’t “goodbye,”, it’s “see you later.” I promise to keep you updated on Twitter and Facebook, as always.

Thanks for being loyal readers of Off the Eaten Path. I’ll see you all soon.

{ 23 comments }

Three Kings Pub!

by Stephanie on November 2, 2012

in American, Pub, Pubs

Good morning, food lovers! I hope you’re having a wonderful day. I’m assuming that you are, since it’s Friday and all. Winking smile

Anyway, let’s get to business.

I recently went to Three Kings Pub!

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This sweet spot is located on the Delmar Loop. I’ve been wanting to try this place since it first opened, and I was happy to finally have the chance to check it out.

True to its name, the inside is very pub-like.

 

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I love pubs. Something about the atmosphere makes me want to chow down on unhealthy food and chug beer.

So I did.

 

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I started with a Goose Island Matilda, and it was perfect. Crisp, ice cold, and a little fruity. Just the way I like my beer.

I was really hungry (and I came with a few friends!), so we ordered an appetizer to start. Chorizo Nachos, anyone?

 

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This was piled high with queso blanco, pico de gallo, guacamole, jalapenos, and spicy chorizo, of course. It was delicious. We were definitely all fighting for the last cheese-covered bite. Smile

For my entrée, I went with the Salmon BLT. Bacon, lettuce, tomato, and salmon? Sold!

 

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It came with a generous helping of sweet potato fries, which were tasty.

The sandwich itself?

 

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I loved it! It was toasty, warm, and all of the flavors worked together wonderfully. I couldn’t get enough of this sandwich, and it was so big that I could only eat half! Yay for leftovers. Smile

The service at Three Kings was fantastic. Our waiter was extremely attentive and knew the menu like the back of his hand. He was very willing to make recommendations to us, which I appreciated.

I would definitely come back here. Two thumbs up!

This is the part of the post where I would normally say “See you next week,” but I have a pretty big announcement that can’t wait until then…so I’ll see you on Monday!

{ 0 comments }

Hot Pot Smoothie Shop

by Stephanie on October 26, 2012

in Asian

Whew! Last week’s blog post was a heavy one, wasn’t it? If you follow me on Twitter, you know how nervous I was about posting that review of Pastaria. But you know what? I really had nothing to worry about! I have the best blog readers in the world, I swear. I received lots of feedback from you all, and all of it was constructive (even if a few didn’t agree with me!). Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this a great place to have real conversations about food. Your support means so much to me!

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk food, shall we? This week’s review is a good one, I promise! Winking smile

I recently went to this cute little shop for my lunch break:

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Hot Pot Smoothie Shop! I heard a lot of good things about it, and I was anxious to give it a try.

Hot Pot Smoothie Shop (can I shorten this to HPSS? Yes? Thank you!) is located in a quiet strip mall in Kirkwood. It just opened a few weeks ago, and I love what they did with the space!

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How adorable is this? I especially loved how each table had a pretty wine bottle on it as decoration.

 

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Just in time for Halloween! Smile

The menu is expansive; HPSS offers everything from salads to wraps to smoothies. Mmmm, smoothies!

 

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Naturally I had to start with a smoothie. I ordered the Godzilla smoothie: pineapples, raspberries, coconut cream and a splash of ginger.

 

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It was cool, refreshing, and it definitely hit the spot. I loved the spicy zing of ginger!

For my meal, I went with the Bulgogi Beef Bowl.

 

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This had brown rice (you can also choose from udon noodles or thai rice noodles), bulgogi beef (lean spicy Korean beef), spinach, mushrooms, and spicy miso sauce.

Wow. Wow. This was amazing! The veggies were super fresh, and the beef was tender and juicy. The spicy miso sauce added a punch of flavor, even though it wasn’t spicy at all. I adored this dish.

Service at HPSS was quick and friendly. I asked a million questions about the menu, and they were all answered with a smile. The price was decent, too! My meal was less than $15.

I absolutely can’t wait to come back, and I highly recommend it.

See ya next week!

{ 2 comments }

Pastaria

by Stephanie on October 19, 2012

in Dinner, Italian

Another Friday, another review. Who’s up for some Italian? If there’s one style of food I definitely don’t eat enough, it’s Italian. Pasta, bread, and cheese? It’s a carb-lover’s dream!

So it’s safe to say that I was really looking forward to trying out the newest Italian restaurant in town.

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Pastaria! This restaurant is the newest brainchild of well-known chef and restaurateur, Gerard Craft. He’s the guy behind Brasserie, Taste, and Niche. I most recently helped judge the Atomicdust BBQ competition with him a few weeks ago! He’s a nice guy, and I’m a huge fan of Brasserie and Taste, so I was super pumped to check out Pastaria.

Two of my buddies joined me for this girls night dinner:

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Hi Chung and Dae! I love these girls. Smile

Anyway, let’s get down to business. We arrived on a busy Friday night; apparently, we weren’t the only ones excited to chow down on pasta!

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I absolutely love what they did with the space. It was bright and open. It felt very chic. And there were tons of neat things to look at!

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I’m a sucker for good scenery.

But enough about that; let’s talk about the food! Pastaria has a pretty interesting menu; there were lots of yummy sounding items to choose from. Everything from pistachio ravioli to oven-roasted lasagna was on the menu. There were lots of salads to choose from, and there was even pizza!

The one item that caught my eye, however, was the toasted spaghetti. The menu described it as containing “clams, butter, garlic, white wine, and bread crumbs.” Sold!

But first? Bread. We were seated for a while before our waitress remembered to bring us bread, but it was a busy night, and I was willing to overlook that.

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It was well worth the wait! It was soft, warm, and delicious, especially dipped in savory olive oil.

Our entrees came out really quickly; Not even ten minutes after we ordered, this was placed in front of me:

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Yum. It certainly looked tasty! And the portion size was much larger than what I was expecting. I had high hopes for this baby.

And…how can I say this tactfully? I didn’t like this dish. At all.

It’s hard when you really want to like something, and you just don’t. Trust me – I know Gerard Craft’s reputation. Not just anyone can run multiple (very successful) restaurants. Not just anyone gets nominated for multiple James Beard awards. The guy has talent. And this dish, in my opinion, was not reflective of that talent whatsoever.

Flavor-wise, it was bad. I adore clams. I adore butter. Garlic. White wine. Bring it on, baby. The more the merrier. But none of those flavors were present in this dish. What did I taste? Well, if you ever wanted to know what an over salted, over peppered, rushed-out-because-it’s-Friday-night-and-5-BILLION-people-are-here-waiting-for-their-food tastes like, it’s this.

Toasted spaghetti? If toasted spaghetti is supposed to taste hard and chewy, then this was spot on. SPOT ON.

In short? This was a huge no. No. No no no no no. Oh god, no.

Ahem.

Now that that’s out of my system, let’s talk dessert, shall we? Chung went with the panna cotta.

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I had a bite of this, and it was creamy, sweet, and delicious. Two thumbs up! She enjoyed it as well.

I ordered the tiramisu. Fun fact: tiramisu used to be my favorite dessert before bread pudding took over my life. Winking smile

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Let me pause for a minute. Let me check myself. When your name is Gerard Craft and you have the reputation you do, you’re going to be held to a higher standard. When you’re a high-profile, award-winning chef, you’re going to be judged more critically. Is it fair? That’s not for me to answer. But that’s the truth. It is what it is.

And that tiramisu right there? If this was plopped in front of me at, say, the Olive Garden or Maggiano’s, I wouldn’t bat an eye. Because (and this is my food snob coming out, so I apologize in advance) I hold those restaurants to a lower standard.

But knowing that this came from the kitchen of Pastaria, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. Presentation-wise, this is sad. Aside from it looking pathetic, I wasn’t impressed with the ladyfinger to mascarpone cheese ratio. I adore mascarpone cheese, but when it is 95% of the dish, that’s not right.

This is what tiramisu should look like:

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(source)

Huge difference there.

Anyway, I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I really don’t like writing negative reviews. Two years ago, I wrote a negative review of the now-nonexistent Newstead Tower Public House. I had a bad experience there. I was honest about my experience, and I got ripped to shreds because of it. I was told that I was destroying someone’s livelihood. I was told that I was “unprofessional,” and that I “made all food bloggers look bad” because of that review.

Here’s the thing: I don’t regret a single word I wrote in that review. And that review stands, in its entirety, on my blog today.

At the end of the day, I’m not a professional food critic. This isn’t my job. I’m just a girl who loves to eat. I didn’t go to culinary school, and my palate isn’t as refined as someone who does this professionally.  I’m not getting paid to write these reviews. 99% of the meals I write about on this blog? I pay for those out of my own pocket. I don’t have close personal relationships with any chefs or restaurant owners, nor do I wish to have one. Because, let’s face it: if I was friends with Gerard Craft, this review would be impossible (or a heck of a lot harder) to write.

But I think that’s the beauty of what this blog is all about. I’m your average American consumer. I’m a customer of Pastaria. Of Brasserie. Of Farmhaus. Of Milagro. And heck, I enjoy some KFC from time to time as well. Winking smile

I know that I’ll get reamed for this review, whether it be publicly or in private. I know I’ll get written off by restaurant owners and the so-called “professional” food bloggers of St. Louis. I’ll get written off as just another person who likes to run her mouth and destroy livelihoods and (gasp!) write Yelp reviews of restaurants.

I know that and I don’t care.

I write this blog for people like my mom. For my friends. For picky people and adventurous eaters alike. I write this blog for people who don’t want to spend $16+ on a mediocre pasta dish. For people who don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on food that sucks. And in my humble opinion, the food I had at Pastaria tonight was not good. It was not worth waiting 45 minutes to be seated. It was not worth the money I paid.

Of course, this is just one person’s opinion. I urge you to check out Pastaria for yourself. Give it a shot – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

And, as always, I welcome all feedback. Positive and negative. It makes me a stronger writer. It makes me a better blogger. Comment away. Email away. Tweet me! Facebook me!

I will always be honest in my reviews. Always. Even when it’s not a popular opinion. I hope that comes through in all of my writing.

I’ll see y’all next week. Smile

{ 33 comments }

San Jose Mexican

October 12, 2012

Hola! Who else took Spanish in highschool? I took it in both highschool and college (eight years total)! and sometimes I feel like I have very little to show for it. I’ve forgotten so much español over the years. Maybe one day I’ll make a concerted effort to really immerse myself in the language. I’d […]

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Dewey’s Pizza School!

October 5, 2012

So it’s a pretty well-known fact that I love pizza. And when it comes to pizza, Dewey’s has some of my favorite. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll remember that I blogged about Dewey’s before! So when I was recently invited to Dewey’s to make my own pizza at their appropriately […]

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Bully Boys

September 28, 2012

Guess what, y’all? I ate BBQ again! I know that I said I was tired of BBQ (and especially ribs) after my 5-week, 10 restaurant rib challenge. I think I also said that I wasn’t going to eat ribs again for a long long time. Well…I just couldn’t resist! I had to have more! Actually…I’m […]

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Pie Oh My!

September 21, 2012

You know what? I don’t think I blog about dessert enough. Admittedly, ever since my bread pudding challenge, I haven’t been in a dessert-eating mood. I’m still recovering from that sugar overload from January. However, when Pie Oh My opened up in Maplewood, I knew I had to blog about it. An entire shop devoted […]

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Foundation Grounds

September 14, 2012

Whenever I go grocery shopping, I rarely buy bread. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had a loaf of bread in my house! It’s been months. Why, you ask? Well, it’s definitely not because I’m avoiding carbs. Me? On a diet? Hah – never! In fact, if I could only eat one […]

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