Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The 54th Street Grill and Bar

In early June, Laurie and I were visiting her family in the St. Louis Missouri area.  We were staying in Chesterfield Missouri…in what is referred to locally as ‘the bottoms’…a built up area in the flood plain of the Missouri River.

We’d eaten in a couple of places in the area but we wanted to try something new without straying too far from our hotel.

This is the 54th Street Grill and Bar.  This relatively small chain of restaurants was founded in Kansas City and it now has 25 restaurants in 4 markets.  Kansas City has 9; St. Louis has 7 as does San Antonio.  Dallas-Ft. Worth has 2 with 2 more slated within a year. 

The interior of 54th Street Grill and Bar is spacious, with a big central bar, both high and low tables and plenty of eclectic décor with photos and posters on the walls and all kinds of things hanging from the ceiling.

One of the stated goals of this chain is to provide “quality food and drinks that exceed national chain competitors”.  In this quest, 54th Street Grill and Bar lists the following items as being made from scratch: 

·       House made signature dips
·       Jumbo hand-stuffed hand-breaded mushrooms
·       Authentic hand-made Mexican fare
·       Fresh cut greens
·       Slow simmered house made soups
·       Premium ground chuck burgers
·       Hand-cut sirloin steak sandwiches
·       Authentic BBQ – Fall of the bone baby back
·       Pit smoked brisket and pork
·       House made BBQ beans
·       Hand-breaded chicken, shrimp, and fish
·       Hand-cut certified Angus beef ribeye steaks
·       High quality meats and seafood
·       Fresh poultry marinated in our kitchen
·       Sauces and salad dressings made fresh daily

So…what to eat?  Laurie decided to test 54th Street Grill with one of her favorites.  This is the Double Meat Block French Dip. ($11.60)

As per the menu’s description, this sandwich consists of “griddle seared, au jus drenched steak, chopped and piled high on toasted ciabatta bread with melted Monterey Jack cheese and a garlic aioli spread.”  It’s served with a dipping bowl of au jus and horseradish sauce.  For her side she chose the Idaho baked potato soup which is topped with bacon, scallions and cheddar cheese.

Laurie is very particular when it comes to French dip sandwiches.  She rated this version as ‘excellent’.  She enjoyed the baked potato soup too!

I decided to keep it simple so I went with one of my favorite sandwiches, a good old Bacon Cheeseburger with 3 slices of Applewood smoked bacon. ($9.49 for the 8 oz. version) For my side, I chose a cup of the “Outlaw Steak Soup”.  The soup was very good and the bacon cheeseburger was better than average.  It was juicy despite the fact 54th Street Grill will only cook burgers medium or higher…and I much prefer my burgers medium rare.

Service was competent and the “bar and grill” style food was definitely better than the norm for such operations.  We will return on another pass through St. Louis or Kansas City.  This location for 54th Street Grill and Bar is located at 17395 Chesterfield Airport Road in Chesterfield Missouri.  Phone: 636-536-0154.  Website:  

Just click on any of the photos if you’d like to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for lunch!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, August 29, 2016

Family Visit and a Well Deserved Retirement Party!

Back in June after leaving our son and his family in Omaha Nebraska, we headed on over to St. Louis Missouri to visit Laurie’s family… There was a big event on the calendar too!

This is Bill… He’s Laurie’s brother in law or her sister Bonnie’s husband, however you want t0o put it.  The big event was to celebrate Bill’s retirement after 40 years with the Richmond Heights Missouri Police Department!

A number of dignitaries were present to pay their respects to Bill and his service to the community.  This is St. Louis County Councilman Pat Dolan.   He presented Bill with a proclamation signed by all the members of the County Council recognizing Bill for his many years of police service to the County.

This is Bill with Jim Thompson, the Mayor of Richmond Heights.  The Mayor presented Bill with a plaque thanking him for 40 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Richmond Heights.

In this case the podium was being occupied by the master of ceremonies, Bill and Bonnie’s son Kyle.  Bill had just been presented with a Missouri State Flag, presented by the Missouri State Representatives and had flown over the MO capitol and been retired in Bill’s honor on the day of his retirement.  Unfortunately, Bill’s grandson Collin is blocked by the flag but he did a fine job of delivering the flag to his grandpa!

Grandson Keaton then gave his grandpa a United States Flag that had flown over the White House in Washington D.C. and which was retired in Bill’s honor and was presented by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill!

What would any great retirement party be without some humor…and a ‘roast’ by the honoree’s son!  There were some really good laughs at Bill’s expense…

The ceremony ended with a tribute from Roy Wright, the Richmond Heights Chief of Police.  He presented Bill with his Sergeant’s Retirement Badge and Case, as well as Bill’s sidearm!  

Applause was abundant!  There was a large crowd in attendance…Bill’s friends, fellow police officers, officers from other jurisdictions, lots of family, etc.  Plenty of food and drink was consumed too! Plus, donuts for dessert!!

Here is the table that was set up for gifts, envelopes, cards, plaques, presentation materials and the flags.  I’m sure that the commemorative items will be prominently displayed in Bill and Bonnie’s home.  

Bill’s wife Bonnie was very happy to celebrate this occasion!  Laurie and I certainly concur… Given the difficulties and challenges that law enforcement officers deal with every day, not to mention the increasing danger, the timing of Bill’s retirement couldn’t have been better.

Congratulations Bill!! Well done! 

Lots of family members attended this big retirement celebration!  This is Bill and Bonnie’s son Kyle and his wife Melissa.  (Melissa's parents attended the party as well) Kyle and Melissa's sons Collin and Keaton were both involved in the ceremony.  Kyle has an important civilian position with the Missouri State Police…

This is Bonnie and Bill’s daughter Kasey with her husband Kevin and their daughter Charley Kate.

These are Kasey and Kevin’s other daughters, Avery and Delaney.  The girls were on the run all night…what energy!  Cute aren’t they?

This is Karole and her husband Bob.  Karole is Bonnie and Laurie’s sister.

From left to right, this is Laurie's niece Tanya, her boyfriend Van, Bonnie, Karole and Laurie’s oldest sister Glenda and Glenda’s husband Ken.

This is cousin Alan and his wife Bonnie. 

This is Karole and Bob’s son Marc and his family.  Marc is definitely outnumbered!  From the left, his wife Tammy with daughters Cate, Regan and Abby.

I didn’t get photos of all of Laurie’s family members…apologies to those that I missed!  All in all, this was a great party and a great celebration honoring Bill’s service and retirement.

We had one more stop before heading on down the road to our home in East Tennessee…

We never come to the St. Louis area without stopping for a visit with Laurie’s Aunt Lois…who celebrated her 102nd birthday this past January! She loves her life and she’s sharp as a tack too…We enjoyed our day with her very much!

Of course I had to have a picture taken with Aunt Lois too!  As I get older, I look at her as my inspiration for a long and happy life!  Heck, she even consistently wins when playing Skip B0 with family and friends.  I’ve never been any good at cards!

That’s it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them!

Thanks for stopping by for a visit! 

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, August 26, 2016

Anthonino’s Taverna on the Hill – St. Louis Missouri

Back in June after visiting our son and his family in Omaha, we came back through St. Louis where we stopped for a couple of days to visit Laurie’s family.  Her sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill always have a couple of new dining options slated for us when were in town…

This is Anthonino’s Taverna on St. Louis’s Italian Hill section of town.  Anthonino’s is an Italian restaurant with a bit of a Greek flair.  As you can see it’s popular with lines forming early in the dinner hour…

The Hill’s roots are intertwined with St. Louis history.  Baseball superstars Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola both grew up here.  The Hill is also famous for its fine Italian cuisine.  The area still maintains a traditional collection of authentic Italian bakeries, grocery stores, restaurants and mom-and-pop trattorias.  Everything is colorful here – even the fire hydrants are painted red, white and green. For more information about the Hill neighborhood just go to

Anthonino’s Taverna isn’t a large place but it offers and warm and friendly dining experience.  This restaurant opened in 2003.  The owners are brothers Anthony and Rosario Scarato.  The restaurant was built in 1939 and it generally served as a local bar until the Scarato’s bought the building.  The bar, hardwood floors and tin ceiling are all original and appear well preserved today. 

Our waiter brought this nice garlic laden olive oil to the table.  It was great ‘dipping’ oil.  The bread was OK but we prefer the traditional crusty Italian loaves. 

When dining with Bonnie and Bill, we always end up trying a couple different appetizers.  We started out with a St. Louis special…the Toasted Ravioli. ($9.00) These ravioli are handmade in Anthonino’s.   They’re filled with ground beef, ricotta and pecorino Romano cheeses.  This appetizer was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show on the Food TV Network.  They were very good and they were complimented by some terrific marinara sauce…

FYI…Toasted ravioli, or breaded deep-fried ravioli, is an appetizer that was created and popularized on The Hill in St. Louis.  It is possible that it originated in a different form in Sicily, where fried ravioli containing a sweet filling is a traditional Christmas time dish.  

Our second appetizer was the Baked Goat Cheese. ($9.00) A nice portion of goat cheese is baked with the house marinara and it’s served with fried pita chips.  The combination of the goat cheese with the marinara sauce was very nice indeed.

Greek style appetizers on the menu at Anthonino’s include Saganaki ($8.00), Spanakopita ($7.00), Yogurt Tzatziki ($5.00) and Horiatiki, a Greek Salad. ($6.00)

Salads came with most of our meals.  The top photo is of the House Salad…$4.00 when bought separately.  I ordered the Caesar Salad with my dinner…$5.00 when purchased separately.
The ingredients in the salads were very fresh and the salad dressings were far better than average.  I could even taste a little anchovy in my Caesar Salad.  The croutons were very large but they were softer than usual and they offered a lot of extra flavor to the salad.

This was Bonnie’s Shrimp Scampi. ($16.00) Eight large broiled shrimp tossed in breadcrumbs and then covered in a lemon butter sauce.  It was a very attractive dish and the accompanying green beans looked great too!  It was an excellent entrée…

Bill ordered the Surf 'N Turf. ($24.00) This consisted of an 8 oz. charbroiled filet of sirloin, accompanied by 3 large crab claws.  It was served over polenta swimming in a rich consommé.  Bill was a happy camper indeed!

Laurie ordered the Pasta with Sautéed Shrimp. ($12.00) She added peas, artichoke hearts and Alfredo sauce for $2.00 extra.  Fresh grated parmesan cheese added that something extra that kicked this entrée up another notch.  It was a very enjoyable and satisfying platter of pasta…something that’s hard to find in East Tennessee.

As usual I went for a really ‘healthy’ entrée!  This is the Steak Mudiga. ($24.00) An 8 oz. breaded sirloin filet was charbroiled, (cooked medium rare as ordered), then topped with Volpi prosciutto, melted cheese and then finished in a white wine sauce.  This was a decadent dish…but it was also very good!

Bill and I overdid it when we were asked if we wanted any dessert.  We decided to split this Greek dessert.  I can’t remember its name but these fried dough balls were soaked in honey and nuts.  It was way too rich and over the top for either of us…

Service was better than average and the food ranged from very good to excellent.  This was a fun place for dinner and we had a chance to enjoy some quality Italian cuisine!  Anthonino’s Taverna is located in St. Louis Missouri’s Italian Hill neighborhood at 2225 Macklind Avenue.  Phone: 314-773-4455.  Website:  

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a fine Italian dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Blue Heron Restaurant – Tellico Village TN

It was my birthday in July and since I was still recovering from surgery, I decided to celebrate my ‘big day’ by dining in a restaurant that is close to home.  Of course, another positive incentive for this particular choice was the fact that we’d won two $25.00 gift certificates for this restaurant during our last mixed doubles best ball scramble golf outing!

We hadn’t eaten at the Blue Heron Restaurant since my 54th class reunion back in October.  It had been average at that point but better than it had been in the recent past.  We’d read that it recently was now under new management and it had a new and experienced chef as well…

The Blue Heron Restaurant is in the Tellico Village Yacht Club in Loudon Tennessee.  Tellico Village itself is an open development with miles and miles of shoreline on Tellico Lake. 357 to be exact!  While it is focused on retired folks, the Village is not gated and anyone can live there.  School buses do roam the village during the school year.  If you’d like to learn more about Tellico Village, just go to    

Here are 2 views of the spacious dining area in the Blue Heron Restaurant.  The bar is located at the back of the second photo.  The restaurant leases the space for the dining area, bar and kitchen from Tellico Village. Though these two photos show the dining area pretty empty, by the time our entree arrived, tables were filling up fast!

While the dining room is a little ‘vanilla’ as relates to décor, the views of Tellico Lake are hard to beat!  The first photo shows the view from our table in the dining room. 

Tellico Lake is an impound lake or reservoir that is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s chain of reservoirs/lakes and dams on the Tennessee River and its tributaries.  Tellico Lake is connected to Fort Loudoun Lake via a short canal.  Between the 2 lakes or reservoirs, they have 736 miles of shoreline and they total 30,600 acres of water surface or about 48 square miles.  That area is just a little shy of the size of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah! 

Laurie took this photo of yours truly as we celebrated my 74th birthday… As photos of me go, I look fairly happy in this one.

Now onto the food! 

We started out with the House Smoked Salmon. ($10.00) This small plate came with marinated cucumbers, shaved red onion, capers, dill, citrus crème fraiche and crostini’s.  It was very good…

Salads came with our entrees.  I had the side Caesar salad with anchovies. ($1.00 extra for the anchovies)  The ingredients were very fresh and the salad dressing was nice although I’d prefer the anchovy ‘taste’ gently blending into the dressing and just skip the anchovies themselves…

Laurie had the house side salad with the house special salad dressing.  She really liked her salad and commented about the excellent salad dressing.  

Laurie ordered the fish special for the day.  In this case it was Blackened Amberjack with a black bean salsa accompanied by sautéed squash and carrots. ($25.00) The fish was firm and fresh and it was cooked perfectly.  She loved the black bean salsa creation as well as her vegetables.   The latter is a real plus as she usually doesn’t like vegetables!  She proclaimed that her entire entrée was excellent…

For my birthday dinner I ordered the Black Angus Sirloin au Poivre. ($17.00) It was accompanied by garlic and herb whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus and it was finished with brandy peppercorn butter and demi-glace.  The steak was cooked medium rare as ordered and it had lots of flavor.  The grilled asparagus was perfect and I liked the whipped potatoes as well…another excellent entrée!

Service was average with our waitress either a little overwhelmed or just forgetful.  Offsetting this factor was the presence of the new general manager, Skylar.  He stopped by to see how our meal was and to ask for input…a positive sign which hopefully will ensure an upbeat future for the restaurant.  Our ‘rating’ would read; service = average; value = above average, and; food = excellent!  We will be back…and soon!

The Blue Heron Restaurant is located in the Tellico Village Yacht Club at 100 Sequoyah Road in Loudon Tennessee.  Phone: 865-458-4363.  Website:  Note: The menu on the website needs to be updated.  For a more current menu, you can go to

Thanks for stopping by for dinner!  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Late Breakfast in Concordia Missouri

We finished our family visit in Omaha and headed out for St. Louis, where most of Laurie’s immediate family lives… As usual, we skipped breakfast so that I’d be alert for the drive.  When it came time for lunch, we passed Kansas City and we were cruising along I-70.  We started looking on-line for ideas in some of the small towns along the route…

Recommendations on a couple different websites led us to jump off the Interstate at Exit 58 onto MO Hwy. 23 and into Concordia Missouri.  This is Topsy’s Restaurant.  We love local restaurants or diners in small towns!  It’s always fun to visit them because they are frequently the meeting place for the locals and folks are always friendly…even if the food is sometimes just OK.

This restaurant is referred to as Topsy’s 1912…because that’s when it was founded…104 years ago!  That’s some longevity for any business, much less a restaurant.  Note that the guest ‘book’ is a map covered with stars from all around the USA and beyond…

The restaurant was founded by H. Oetting and he named it from the nickname he’d been given.  Back in the early 20th century companies would come through town and put on plays and shows.  Local talents were frequently employed and Mr. Oetting had been chosen to play a part as a young boy named Topsy.  The name stuck with him and it’s stuck with the restaurant as well.

The interior of Topsy’s is pure local small town café.  There are plaques, photos, patriotic symbols, the US flag, etc. decorating the walls.  Our waitress was very friendly and helpful and the restaurant was clean…

The town of Concordia was established and named by German immigrants in 1860.  They called it Concordia, meaning 'harmony.'  The town has a population of about 2,400 residents.  Concordia is home to St. Paul Lutheran High School, the only residential high school affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in the United States.

We were delighted to discover that we could order breakfast anytime… Since that’s our favorite meal, we both jumped at the chance!  I ordered the Country Farm Breakfast…3 eggs, hash browns, 3 sausage patties and toast…for only $8.99.  As you can see the sausage patties were flavor-packed and huge.  The over-easy eggs were cooked perfectly!  It was an excellent basic breakfast...and they had Tabasco sauce...

I must admit that I was a bit tempted to order Topsy’s Jalapeno Burger…a 4 oz. burger patty topped with 4 oz. of brisket and pepper jack cheese on a Kaiser bun!  It comes with French fries or potato tots for $9.99.

Laurie also ordered the Country Farm Breakfast.  She accompanied her eggs with 3 strips of bacon.  Her hash browns were crispy as ordered and the bacon was excellent!

Topsy’s dinner menu includes a choice of 2 sides.  I’d have a tough time choosing between the Tenderloin Dinner ($11.99), the Chicken Fried Steak ($12.99) or the Fried Chicken Dinner. (4 pieces $11.99)

Since we travel back and forth between Omaha and St. Louis about twice a year, we will make it a point to stop at Topsy’s for lunch or dinner on our next trip! 

Topsy’s Restaurant is open Monday – Thursday from 6 AM to 2 PM, Friday and Saturday from 6 AM to 9 PM, and Sunday from 9 AM to 2 PM.  Topsy’s is located at 715 South Main Street in Concordia Missouri.  Phone: 660-463-1316.  As far as I could tell, they are not on Facebook nor do they have a website. 
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for breakfast!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave