At Room 39, the dinner menu doesn't start with appetizers. Instead, the top of the carte features a short profile of a local farmer, followed by a list of all the small family farms that provided ingredients for the night's dishes. This choice signals the commitment of chefs and co-owners Ted Habiger and Andy Sloan to making local, sustainable food a part of fine dining. At both of the restaurant’s locations, they construct elegant New American dishes, such as blueberry-goat-cheese pancakes at breakfast and housemade pappardelle with bolognese at lunch. They're also no slouches with seafood—their spicy sautéed shrimp was named one of the best restaurant dishes of 2007 by Food & Wine magazine. Behind the bar, craft beers flow from local breweries such as Boulevard, Free State, and Tallgrass, as well as classic cocktails from local negroni wells.
The Soulard building has come a long way since its days as a turn-of-the-century shoe factory. Its newest tenants, however, still pay homage to their space’s industrial origins, keeping the original concrete pillars and exposed brick walls in Franco's dining room. That isn't to say the owners scoff at modernity—they've updated the charmingly rustic environs with sleek, undulating light fixtures. This balance between past and future extends to the cuisine, which has been lauded by St. Louis Magazine as a “minor masterpiece.” Chefs spotlight classic French meats and cheeses and infuse them with Midwestern flourishes such as molasses-bourbon gastrique sauce. Additionally, servers happily recommend wine pairings or the best wine bottles for trapping genies, a feat that earned Franco’s staff the Best Service in a Restaurant award from Riverfront Times.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Culling inspiration from the original Michael Forbes Grill—a popular dining destination open from 1985 to 1999—the new Michael Forbes Bar & Grille makes guests feel at home with its cozy and casual vibe. Owner Forbes Cross and his son Matt Cross, who helms the kitchen, have forged an accessible menu of gourmet American fare, from fried catfish that's deboned tableside to baby-back ribs that are smoked in-house but away from the smoke alarms. At the granite-top bar, barkeepers pour an impressive selection of red, white, and sparkling wines, while servers saunter to cozy booths decorated by black-and-white framed photos of double rainbows over Kansas City.
City Bistro specializes in hearty American sandwiches. Its menu catalogs a Tuscan grilled chicken wrap with provolone and aioli sauce, as well as a steak sandwich with grilled portabella mushrooms and on a toasted bun. Beyond their cheddar bacon cheeseburgers and BLTs, the team pours wine, mixes cocktails, and chills bottles of imported and domestic beer at their newly remodeled and expanded bar area that features a stage for live blues and Motown music.
Awarded by Urbanspoon with a plaque commemorating their spot on a list of Best Missouri Restaurants, The Woodsweather Cafe is a quaint and unpretentious place where breakfast is served all day and there's always a pot of coffee on. Sidle up to the counter or slide into a booth for a giant belgian waffle, or order up one of the daily specials, which have ranged from tacos to fried fish.