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“Consistently excellent”

The Tavern Kitchen and Bar
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Ranked #74 of 2,907 Restaurants in Saint Louis
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $29 - $31
Cuisines: American, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Big Bend
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level 5 Contributor
87 reviews
72 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Consistently excellent”
Reviewed January 9, 2013

This place is off most peoples' "beaten path," but it is worth the trek to get there. It sits at the end of a strip mall and you might not even notice it as you pass, but once you have been there you will find your way back. We love the trout dish especially, but the surf and turf taster platter that I had last week was to die for. Most surf and turf cpmbos include shell fish. This one doesn't. Each tasting is prepared with different sauces and each one is divine. We also had the chocolate chip cookie dessert with cookie dough ice cream. Yum. The doughnuts with bacon and icing are a special experience. Don't miss this place. The waiters are all well informed and fun. Another plus for the experience.

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank MOHagan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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150 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    93
    33
    21
    3
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Very good food at a very high price”
Reviewed January 2, 2013

I am not a finicky restaurant customer. I tend to always give a place I am trying for the first time a chance to be judged for what they are trying to be, not what I wish they were. But in the case of this establishment, I'm still not sure what they are trying to be. We usually eat at Kreis's on New Years Eve or Christmas Eve, but this year I chose The Tavern Kitchen & Bar as a change of pace, based on the revues here.

Let me start by underlining that this was not only my first visit, it was also New Year's Eve. Perhaps my experience was not typical, but here it is:

My party of three arrived on time. As we walked to the entrance and past the windows we could see a nice dining room, packed, with tables very close together. Not to be unexpected on a night like this if the food is good. I actually took this as a positive sign. I went to the gorgeous hostess, dressed in sparkling party dress and high heels, and while there were walk-ins waiting at the bar and foier, we were seated immediately... but...

...our table was not in the dining room I saw. We were in another large room where the open kitchen was. The room was so cramped we had to thread our way through seated diners and a VERY busy staff of waiters. Our table was right next to the kitchen serving counter and the entrance to the cooking area! The noise level was exceptionally high, a combination of loud table talk and the communications going on between cooks and waiters. In my opinion, there should not be tables so close to the food prep area.

Well at least I could see and hear everything that made this restaurant tick, though I couldn't have a normal conversation with my two guests. In all honesty, all the staff I saw, cooking or waiting, were working very hard and seemed to be taking great care with the food. What I found curious was that while our hostess was dressed for a night out in Manhattan, the rest of the staff was dressed in T-shirts and jeans. Then I noticed widescreen monitors everywhere showing football.

The menu consisted of a very interesting range of ecclectic items, but oh the prices! Have you been to the famous Tony's in downtown St. Louis? I'm talking food prices in that range. Our table of three ordered three appetizers: an assortment platter for two, and a tuna dish for one. The tuna for one came, then at least ten minutes later the platter came. Maybe I can blame this on the extraordinary busy night. Our waitress was excellent, and there seemed to be plenty of other staff. One person ordered a single glass of wine (excellent, but $14), I had an average pour of bourbon neat ($6.50 but they did think to serve it in a warmed glass... nice touch).

Entres: Two of us ordered off the menu, most items were priced from the high $20's to the high $30's, sides extra. There were several off-menu specials, including what sounded like a really great grouper entre with lobster and crab: OMG $80. Special night, so I encouraged my guest who seemed interested to give it a try. For $80 I expected something magnificent. Not so much, I'm sorry to say. I had a $37 14-oz steak, cooked to perfection, and a $9 side of corn. My other guest had a combo platter of four ecclectic items that were unique and tasty, along with a $9 side of mac-n-cheese (isn't that what students and underprivileged people eat because it's cheap to make?)...

...but oh that $80 grouper. It was a huge disappointment in quality and value. It came on one of those huge plates with the food beautifully arranged in the middle, but WAYYY more plate than food. I can go with that, but for $80 I want more food, or at least a small gold coin in there somewhere. Look, I've had grouper, I've had lobster, I've had crab in upscale places around the country. This was not worth anywhere near $80, not even served at Tony's. It would have been disappointing at $30.

In summary I had, for a table of three: a single glass (not bottle) of wine; one shot of bourbon; three appetizers; three entres; two side dishes; three desserts. The bill was

$289; plus tip...

...served in a very loud setting right next to the open kitchen. This brings me to what I started out this revue with: what is this place trying to be? I've paid more per person for a dining experience, much more. But then I get not just an ecclectic menu. I get an elegant location (not a strip mall storefront behind an Arby's). I get formally dressed staff. I get sorbet between courses. I get a hand that appears out of nowhere and scrapes crumbs off the white tablecloth in front of me. I DON'T GET A BARE WOOD TABLE IN FRONT OF A NOISY OPEN KITCHEN! I DON'T GET NOISE SO LOUD I HAVE TO SHOUT AT MY GUESTS.

I must say that what I experienced at The Tavern Kitchen and Bar is exactly what the name implies, a sports bar atmosphere. But that's NOT where I want to order upscale food at VERY upscale prices.

I do want to emphasize that every staff person I interacted with or just observed was top-notch.

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank ehsteinert
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
“Excellent service, beautiful presentation.”
Reviewed December 30, 2012 via mobile

Excellent service and nice, casual atmosphere. I rated the Tavern low on value because our bill was $115 before tip for two people (one martini, one appetizer sampler, and two tasting boards). The service was excellent and all the staff was very friendly so high marks for that. Presentation of all food was beautifully done.

My lemon drop martini was almost room temperature and sweet, tasted like it had peach schnapps in it - not good. I order lemon drop martinis because I like lemons - they should be tart not sweet.

The appetizer sampler had 2 each of the short ribs, shrimp, cheese grits and ahi tartare. The short ribs were excellent; the shrimp and grits were very good; the ahi needed seasoning.

The cedar plank tasting board - pork tenderloin was amazing but I only had a very small piece (very disappointing); the chicken saltimbocca was good but a little salty; the meatloaf was good; the loco moco filet was rare so I sent it back for medium which was taken care of promptly. There was no seasoning on the filet or the egg and there was something a bit sweet on the gravy, so I did not like this but my husband also had this on his surf and turf tasting board and he liked it just fine. He chicken saltimbocca also and he thought it was good as well. He had mahi mahi in a coconut curry sauce which while neither of us liked the curry sauce he thought the fish was nice and fresh. He also had seared ahi with bacon and corn. I got a dollop of blue cheese with the bite of ahi that I had and ahi tuna and blue cheese does not work together, it was horrible.

Bottom line: We would probably go back because the ingredients were obviously of good quality and very fresh but we'd make different choices. The service was excellent and the staff friendly and attentive.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Blkbird71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level 5 Contributor
75 reviews
38 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Awesome as always”
Reviewed December 30, 2012

I have eaten here several times and it is always consistently great. They have some new items a lobster ravioli appetizer that was delicious as well as dinner plates trio's incase you can't deside on what to have. And of course the best burger that my teenage son always craves!

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Gaye P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Memphis, Tennessee
Level 6 Contributor
189 reviews
96 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
“My new favorite St Louis restaurant”
Reviewed December 26, 2012

Our family went to the Tavern last week and it was outstanding!!! Food was wonderful and the service was excellent. I hope to return as soon as I can!

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank ORGMemphis_Tennessee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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