Though it sits squarely in St. Louis, Broadway Oyster Bar might as well inhabit New Orleans. Even from the outside, the 150-year-old building exudes the revelry of the French Quarter, as an art-deco neon sign emblazoned with music notes joins colorful string lanterns to form an illuminated invitation for patrons to come in and live a little. Of course, inside is where the Cajun atmosphere is most apparent, especially in whiffs of dishes named the favorite Cajun/creole cuisine of the Sauce Magazine readers’ poll every year since 2003. Chef Brad Hagen's acclaimed recipes include marinated alligator with homemade tartar sauce, shucked oysters topped with spinach cream sauce, and fresh-baked Gambino's bread filled with traditional po' boy fixings, such as fried catfish and shrimp. Feasts unfold in a cozy dining room or an open-air patio enclosed and heated in winter. There, local and national musicians grace the stage seven nights a week to play funk and blues tunes, just like Mom used to.
Joe Sanfilippo got his start in the food industry at age 11 when his Uncle Agostino recruited him to bus tables at his St. Louis restaurant on a particularly busy New Year’s night, according to St. Louis Magazine. Two years later, he returned to his hometown of Palermo to study and to attend culinary school at night, which ignited his passion for cooking and spurred him to open his own eatery at the tender age of 24. Today, the owner and executive chef of J.F. Sanfilippo’s Restaurant mingles his southern-Italian training with northern-Italian influences in a menu of pastas with tomato- or cream-based sauces, sautéed chicken and veal, and broiled steaks. In a recent KSDK 5 interview centering on the opening of his second location in Chesterfield, Joe confided that his 80-year-old mother still bakes the restaurant’s bread each day and divulged plans to bottle and sell J.F.’s popular vodka sauce, then ship it to Neptune.
On weekends between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., a cart laden with plated dim sum rolls through Lu Lu Seafood, delivering handcrafted treats such as pork shu mai or spare ribs in black bean sauce. Patrons can also dine on regional Chinese seafood such as live lobsters with ginger and scallions or hot pots simmering with fresh scallops, washing it all back with cocktails, smoothies, and milk tea laden with pearls of tapioca. The opulent crimson-and-gold eatery also houses private karaoke rooms with bottle service where guests can sing in English, Chinese, or Korean.
As you approach the ornate 1916 building now known as Bevo Mill, you may notice two storks on the chimney. They aren't pausing en route to deliver twins—the stone birds were added as a good luck symbol in the German and Dutch tradition. When August A. Busch Sr. of Anheuser-Busch commissioned the structure in the years leading up to World War I, he sought to bring Europe's Flemish architecture and culture back to his native St. Louis. The historical building eventually closed its doors to the public, but in 2009, it reopened as Bevo Mill, an elegant events center that welcomes weddings, corporate gatherings, and other large-scale happenings.
Visitors can still watch the 60-foot-wide aluminum blades of the original windmill spin, and admire the exterior stucco walls’ multicolored stones, each hand-picked by Mr. Busch from his home farm. Brass chandeliers illuminate the main dining area, where vaulted cathedral ceilings curve down into arches whose bases are guarded by stone-carved gnomes. Local artisans restored the Mill Room's painted tile murals and ornate wooden beams, and the Oak Room's artisan glass and art deco light fixtures were meticulously repaired or stolen from Jay Gatsby's mansion.
In the kitchen, chefs prepare refined event menus and samplings of hors d'oeuvres such as flaky feuilletes, glazed pot stickers, quiches, and quesadillas. Buffets feature dishes as diverse as grilled Norwegian salmon, chicken roulades, and seasonal vegetable medleys. On Sundays, chefs prepare a brunch buffet that features dozens of internationally inspired recipes such as hardwood smoked bacon, belgian waffles, potato pancakes, and Hungarian-style sausage. Once a month, Bevo Mill holds an authentic German night, complete with live music and a German buffet.