Araka

6

Hey hey hey! I hope you’re all staying warm. I’m sitting at home on a Monday afternoon, fantasizing about spring. I have a feeling it’s going to be a while before it gets here. My boss sent us home from work today to prepare for Snowpocalypse St. Louis. Freezing rain and lots and lots of snow is in the forecast. Lovely.

Have I mentioned that I hate winter? I choose to think about brighter things, like my lovely dinner at Araka last week. It all started with this:

 

tweeeet

 

Almost immediately, Kelly, Stef (winner of the Riverfront Times Best St. Louis Food Blog!), Laura, Lindsay, and Stacy responded! We made plans to meet at Araka for Clayton Restaurant Week. Gosh, I love the internet (especially Twitter!). This never would have been possible a few years ago.

 

Araka is a very nice restaurant in Clayton that specializes in Southern European and Mediterranean cuisine. For Restaurant Week, they offered a three course meal for $25. Score! Let’s not waste any more time – there’s food to be talked about!

 

I started with a simple greens salad: spring mix with spiced pecans, gorgonzola, and apples.

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Oh, and one huge crouton. While it certainly looked pretty, it wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world. Actually, it was quite bitter. In the interest of trying to be polite, I didn’t shove the whole crouton in my mouth like I would have liked to. Instead I just kind of…stared at it.

The gorgonzola cheese was pretty nonexistent. There was one lone crumble that I popped into my mouth. It was good. I also spotted one pecan. It was so small and forgettable I forgot if it was good or bad.

Overall, this salad was a huge fail. And before you go into the “But Stephanie – you ordered a salad; of course it’s going to be bad” spiel, let me remind you of a little salad I had at Dewey’s:

dewey's salad

Now that’s a good salad. It’s also a very poor picture, but that’s neither here nor there. And it was pre-DSLR, so cut me some slack, eh?

Moving on.

Oh! Before I forget, I also had some delicious bread:

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And a not-so-delicious drink:

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The Clayton Cooler: Pearl Plum flavored vodka, club soda, cranberry juice. Nastay! I could only down a sip.

I promise it gets better from here!

For my second course I went with the Classic Paella: shrimp, mussels, house made chorizo, and edamame:

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Now this was delicious! Juicy flavorful chorizo, plump shrimp, and the best paella I’ve ever had in my life! It was formed into a patty with a crispy exterior that I fell in love with. I devoured every last morsel. I was tempted to lick my plate, but you know – there’s that whole politeness thing and all.

For dessert, we decided to order two of everything and split it amongst the table. I think it was Kelly who suggested this, and it was a great idea! I didn’t take pictures of all of the desserts, but here’s a sample:

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Chocolate chestnut cake with banana ice cream. Amazeballs. We also had chocolate ice cream and a toasted hazelnut semifreddo that was to die for!

Score time!

Food: 3 stars (out of five)

Ambiance: 5 stars

Service: 3 stars

Value: 2 stars

The food at Araka was good, but the company was even better. Thanks to everyone for coming out! I had a good time. Smile

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  • Keri

    Arake is one of my favorite restaurants! You should attend one of their wine dinners sometime!

  • Fun times! Sorry you didn’t enjoy the drink. It looked good! I really enjoyed Araka (and the company!) and hope to go back soon.

  • bummed i never saw that tweet! hopefully i can come to the next meet-up!

  • I’ve found that both Dewey’s and Pi have consistently good salads. Most other places, I assume I’ll be disappointed compared to what I can make at home (especially when we’re getting salad greens from our garden) and skip it altogether.

  • i went to araka for restaurant week last year & agree that the ambiance is definitely the highlight!! this year we went to the grill @ the ritz & enjoyed it as well. cant wait to read more of your recommendations!

  • Stephanie,

    I think you scored way too low for value. The value during Restaurant Week was excellent for this place….3 courses for only $25? You can’t beat that!

    As for service….the executive chef came to our table TWICE to check on us. You don’t typically get that at a busy restaurant, especially during that week.

    I, for one, was very happy with the food…the soup I had was simple yet complex, the pork dish was perfectly cooked & a generous portion, the desserts were all tasty. Yes, the salad you ordered was simple, but it was exactly as it was described on the menu…a simple green salad. It wasn’t a dinner salad, so I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to the other salad. And those kind of salad greens ARE typically bitter.

    While you are definitely entitled to give your opinion, I think you should consider ALL aspects of a dining experience. For example, the waiter noticed that you didn’t like your drink and offered to bring you something else. You declined. Still, he attempted to make it right but you failed to mention that.

    I would suggest that you visit Araka during lunch (for a different experience) or again for dinner. There’s a lot of good things going on in that kitchen.

    Sincerely,
    Kelly