Bike date at Five Bistro

This is one of those “it’s been so long ago, is it even worth writing about now” posts, but the answer is yes, because, long ago, on the last Friday in June, we had a really lovely dinner — one worth sharing and remembering, even if, or perhaps especially because, the events of the next few days were so crazy.

As I’ve mentioned before, Matthew’s been selling some produce, including winter squash and fennel, to Five Bistro, a very high caliber, local farm-t0-table restaurant.  It always feels kind-of odd, because while we cook amazing food with that very same garden produce ourselves, Five is not a restaurant that’s in our regular budget.

Until that Friday night, we had been there exactly once, and that so long ago that they were at their old location in The Grove (they are now on The Hill, for you StL readers).  To be completely honest, it may have been even longer until we returned if not for a generous birthday gift certificate from Matthew’s dad.

We realized as the dinner proceeded that a meal at Five is both dinner AND entertainment.  Not in the sense that the wait staff is dancing on the bar, but, if you go in planning to spend two to three hours on a relaxed meal, they truly live up to their promise of a “dining experience that evokes all five of your senses.”

I must also say that they really do value their farmers — we definitely felt like VIPs while we were there — not in a flashy, overblown way, but I felt they were going to extra lengths to take good care of us, and that meant a lot.

Chef Devoti and his kitchen staff prepared delicious, beautifully presented dishes from start to finish of our four course prix-fixe meal (our fennel was on the menu!), making vegetarian adaptations as necessary.

We shared starters of taglietelle and gnocchi, followed by sweet potato soup and a dandelion green salad.  Both the gnocchi and salad included ramps, a new and delicious food for us.  Chef Devoti created a special vegetarian entree, featuring a variety of vegetables roasted to perfection, including our fennel and some produce from their own garden.

I opted to not photograph the food, instead fully focusing on enjoying the dining experience and the company.

To start and end the experience, we biked to and from dinner.  The timing was a little crazy, with Matthew getting home from work, showered, changed, and heading right back out on the bikes, but it was worth it.  I thoroughly enjoyed riding in a black strappy dress and heels (more comfortable to bike in heels than to actually walk in them when you reach your destination).

Much more to share about the week-and-a-half that followed the dinner, but I’m currently experiencing very limited internet access, so you may have to wait a bit.  Until then!

Portland eats

We embarked on our Portland trip with a long list of recommended restaurants, and a good bit of our time there (and most of the money we spent) revolved around food — the norm for us.  We needed plenty of good food to fuel our week of biking, walking, and hiking in and around Portland.

We didn’t have time to hit everywhere on our list, so we prioritized eateries and food that we are less likely to find in StL, with a few home-cooked meals interspersed, to sate our love of cooking and save a bit of money.

Our first meal out in Portland was lunch at a farmers’ market, where we enjoyed artichoke-goat cheese tamales.  That evening, we had burritos at Cha Cha Cha — the Oregon Harvest burrito was our favorite.  Despite being stuffed, the neighboring ice cream shop lured us in for a scoop of amazing browned butter almond brittle, which we shared as we walked home.

Over the next few days, we enjoyed “The Oregon” pastry from Ken’s Artisan Bakery, house-made ramen noodles at Boke Bowl, ice cream at Ruby Jewel, and Ethiopian take-out from Queen of Sheba.

Over the weekend, we drove to the coast to camp in yurts and enjoy some grilled goodies.  I took charge of the grilled corn project, with unexpectedly good results (stay tuned for tutorial post).

The feast also included grilled bread with delicious Oregon tomatoes, grilled crackers with smoked Brie, veggie dogs, and baked beans.

The only thing missing was hot chocolate (it was cold at the coast!).  We remedied that with a stop at Cacao for some drinking chocolate, but not until Monday when we were back in Portland.

Other than chocolate (and more pastries), our final days included not one, but two (very different) Thai meals, homemade injera stew (recipe later this week), and a vegan BBQ food truck.

The [very] spicy mushroom salad at Pok Pok, which is known for authentic Thai street food.

Our vegan BBQ meal included tempeh ribs, seitan pastrami, and some tasty sweet potato fries.

We capped off our visit with a date night at Kuhn Pic’s Bahn Thai.  Tucked into an old Victorian house, Kuhn Pic’s is a labor of love for couple who run it (she cooks, he takes care of the front of the house).

The restaurant puts the S-L-O-W in “slow food,” which is important to know ahead of time — have a good-sized late afternoon/early evening snack, plan on spending at least two hours there, and you’ll be ready to enjoy some beautiful and delicious Thai food.

Our feast included the spring rolls, with the amazing peanut sauce for dipping, and two entries we shared — pad see ew and drunken noodles.  We left tired and happy, my head filled with crazy ideas of attempting some kind of similar restaurant concept in StL.

When in Rome . . .

. . . eat Indian food???  Absolutely!

When we were in Italy last spring, our first dinner in Rome came after we’d been traveling in other parts of the country for over a week, and, quite frankly, we were ready for something other than Italian food.  We made our way to Shanti, an Indian restaurant recommended by one of our guide books, and enjoyed one of the best meals of our entire trip, including one dish in particular.

Fellow blogger Nupur (One Hot Stove) was kind enough to help us identify the dish as malai kofta (see her comment on this post for recipe links).  We haven’t gotten around to making malai kofta ourselves, but we identified a couple of local Indian restaurants that serve the dish.

Over the weekend, we finally made the trek to House of India for our fix.  I liked the idea of their lunch buffet, but I called to investigate and they told me that the malai kofta is never on the buffet.  Further, they ONLY offer the buffet at lunch time.  What to do?

Go for the lunch buffet and order malai kofta from the takeout menu, which is available any time.  Clever, no?

We enjoyed a nice buffet lunch and left with a double order of malai kofta to enjoy later.  I brought a glass container to avoid polystyrene or other disposable plastic to-go containers, and our server agreed to use it, no problem 🙂

We heated half of the malai kofta for dinner last night, and it was every bit as delicious as we remembered.

Weekend bicycling whirlwind

The weekend’s bike trips (and restaurant visits — three in one weekend!!!):


  • South Grand — Lunch at Basil Spice, a Thai restaurant, with Matthew and my FIL.  We dined while watching construction work on the South Grand Great Streets project.  Pad See-iew for him, Pad Thai for her, both with tofu, both off of the $6.95 lunch menu.  We shared our dishes.   Both were good, though we really enjoyed the Pad See-iew.  I came prepared with my own take out containers and was disappointed with the clean plates that resulted from the smaller lunch portions 😦
  • The Hill — Errands at the Italian shops.  Purchases included olive oil, dried porcini mushrooms, farro (an Italian grain that I’ve been wanting to try), and Swiss cheese so we can make more reubens.  Unfortunately, our source for affordable dry active yeast has dried up, though I did see a mobster in the bakery, so the stop there wasn’t a total waste.
  • The CWE — Dinner at Terrene.  Terrene, with a focus on local food and sustainability, has been on our radar for some time, but until January, it was on the “allows smoking — do not patronize” list.  (Yes, two restaurants in one day — crazy for us, but we had a Groupon-type thing that needed to be used.)  I’m still a bit hesitant to whip out the camera in restaurants, so no food pics.  We ordered the flatbread, half veg sausage, half mushroom; the gnocchi, and the vegetarian meatloaf with mushroom gravy.  We enjoyed the first two items, but the veg meatloaf was missing something.  I realized later that the only trace of the gravy was three small oyster mushrooms — wish I’d realized that earlier and asked for more gravy.


  • Tower Grove South — Winter farmers’ market.  With the beautiful weather, two vendors set up outside the church.  We purchased spinach, a HUGE head of bok choy, green onions, and carrots.
  • Tower Grove South — Trip #2 to the neighborhood for my prenatal appointment at River City Birth, followed by a stop at the new-and-improved Local Harvest Grocery, featuring a nice, spacious bathroom — the highlight of the visit for my poor, cramped bladder 😉  We also bought some bulk dry goods and a local Colby cheese.
  • After this trip, we returned home, where I proceeded to take a 2-hour nap 🙂  And then there was a car trip 😦 to Young Ethicals game night for good snacks, games, and fun times.


  • The Grove — Church at St. Cronan’s.
  • South Grand — Lunch at Pho Grand with Matthew and my MIL.  We split a vegetarian special and a special curry, though there was some contention about the way they were split — the hungry, hungry hippo pregnant lady may be taking more than her share 😉
  • Interlude to make lemon squares (from our lemons — frozen juice and zest) and do laundry.
  • The Y — if my bike isn’t already out, I usually just walk to the Y, since it’s less than a mile away.  If I’m out and about, and know I might be biking again that day, I lock my bike up outside to save lugging it down and up the basement stairs an extra time.
  • Aaannnddd, another nap — the active transportation takes a lot out of me these days!

Farmhaus, a review

On Thursday night, after a week of wrangling middle schoolers on bicycles in increasingly hot temperatures, I mustered the will to hop back on the bike for a dinner date.  We were torn between Stellina Pasta Cafe (an old favorite) or Farmhaus (something new).  I’d read a couple of good reviews about Farmhaus, so it was on my list of places to try.

Matthew voted for Stellina, and I was too tired to care much one way or the other, so we biked there, only to find a thirty minute wait (not outrageous, but it was already 7:30pm and we were HUNGRY).  Fortunately, Farmhaus was only a few blocks away, so we decided to try our luck there.

We walked in the door and were immediately hit by the strong fishy smell (the seafood is the main component of their menu that is NOT local).  We exchanged a look.  Ultimately, they had a table and a menu with some nice vegetarian options, so we stayed.

We choose between three or four salads that all sounded fabulous, settling on the marinated vegetable salad (not sure that’s the exact name).

It arrived in a canning jar — fun! For ease of eating we dumped it out on the plate.  A flavorful and fresh start to our meal, the corn melted in my mouth, buttery and sweet, a nice compliment to the other veggies.

By this point, after the initial wall of odor and adjustment period,  our olfactory systems became desensitized to the fishy smell.

Next up, sweet potato nachos.  These were only so-so.  To be fair, we made some changes to this dish.  We ordered it without bacon and subbed goat cheese for the blue cheese because someone doesn’t like blue cheese.  They came with some kind of a house-made catsup.  Our homemade catsup beats Farmhaus’, no contest.

We discovered a new wine, a “sweet” shiraz (Jam Jar, S. Africa) that was basically a perfect red wine for us.  Not really “sweet” in our book, but definitely not dry — a perfect dinner accompaniment.

For our entree, we shared the vegetarian succotash, tomatillos, grilled okra, corn, and peppers, served over spoon bread.  Mmm, spoon bread — my first, but definitely not my last, encounter with this food.  We ate this and were very sad that we couldn’t lick up the last bits in the bowl 😦  In some cultures, that’s considered very polite.

I don’t have a dessert pic, but we ordered a peach and ricotta pastry.  The pastry was light and flaky, with a generous amount of fresh, local peaches, served hot out of the oven with peach sorbet on top to cool things off.

We chatted with our waiter about local biking options and headed home after a delicious dinner adventure, both glad we ended up at Farmhaus.