Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Blue Duck in Maplewood Missouri

Last month when we were visiting Laurie’s family in the St. Louis area, her sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill introduced us to a relatively new and very popular restaurant in Maplewood. 

This is The Blue Duck on Sutton Avenue in Maplewood Missouri.  This is part of their introduction taken from their website:

“The Blue Duck provides our patrons with amazing offerings in a comfortable setting with unexpected and exciting results.  The Blue Duck can take any lunch, dinner, or after dinner experience to the next level.  Homey yet adventurous, The Blue Duck is like exploring unchartered territory in the most unlikely ways.”

As you’ll see, based on our experience, this introductory statement is right on the money!

The Blue Duck’s dining area is colorful and spacious.  I would call it the ‘industrial look with color’ and it makes the room pop!

The bar area in The Blue Duck is a bit more subdued but still welcoming…

I took the first photo above with Laurie, Bonnie, Bill and Bonnie and Bill’s granddaughter Avery.  For their 6 grandchildren’s birthdays, they give each of them an ‘exclusive day’ shopping, eating out, spending the night at their house, etc.  We were celebrating Avery’s ninth birthday!

Laurie took the second photo to include me in the family gathering… We were celebrating our 39th wedding anniversary during this trip to St. Louis.

Even the adult beverages at The Blue Duck are imaginative!  Pictured above we have an “Educated Fool” and one “Kissin with Clothes On”. ($10.00 each)

The “Educated Fool” consists of Genever, Suze, Grapefruit Liquor, Maple and Prosecco.  “Kissin with Clothes On” was made with 3 Year Rum, Yellow Chartreuse, Oleo Saccharum, Lemon Orange Bitters and Bubbles.
Based on the descriptions provided I had no idea what some of the ingredients in these drinks actually were…

·         Genever is Dutch Gin or Hollands.  It’s the juniper-flavored national and traditional liquor of the Netherlands and Belgium.  Gin as we know it evolved from this liquor.

·         Suze is a Swiss brand of bitters flavored with the roots of the plant gentian and it’s normally drunk as an aperitif.

·         Oleo Saccharum doesn’t sound too appetizing but it’s a key ingredient in a good punch.  To make this oil, remove zest from lemons and clementine’s in wide strips with a vegetable peeler, leaving the white pith behind.  Toss with sugar in a bowl, cover and let it sit for at least 3 hours.  Strain into an airtight container, pressing on the solids to extract as much oil as possible.  Then discard the zest, cover the oil and chill. 

This was the Corn Bread Plate. ($4.00) The corn bread was about as good as it gets and it was accompanied with honey butter and smoked apple butter.  We ended up consuming 3 orders of corn bread!

What does this dish look like to you?  Your guess is probably wrong! 

This is actually The Blue Duck’s version of Pork and Beans. ($14.00) This ‘medium plate’ involved roasted tomato, smoked white beans, adobo BBQ, pork belly and crispy shallots.

FYI…The Blue Duck’s menu includes Small Plates, Medium Plates, Large Plates, Soups and Salads, Sandwiches, Sides, Desserts and Drinks.

Bill went for the tasting menu. ($40.00) Several of the following offerings were included in his wide ranging sampling of The Blue Duck’s menu.
This particular small plate was the Fried Pork Belly Bites with Barbecue rub, sweet barbecue sauce and pickled vegetable slaw.  Bill shared a bit and I had one of his ‘bites’.  Can you say “Excellent”!  Wow!

This is another medium plate (meant to be shared) and yet another dish that you won’t be able to reconcile with its name if you compare it to others with the same name…

These are 'deconstructed' BBQ Pork Tamales…with pulled smoked ribs, pulled pork, provel cheese, black beans and adobo BBQ. ($15.00) Yet another winner!

This is Laurie’s Duck Lettuce and Tomato (DLT) sandwich. ($12.00) This luscious creation consisted of cured and smoked duck breast, lettuce, tomato, fried egg and honey chipotle mayo on grilled sourdough.  It came with a very nice cup of potato salad.  The second picture is a close up of her DLT.  Happy wife!

This sandwich is named the Hood Boy. ($14.00) It is constructed with ham, turkey, nduja, pepperoni, provel cheese, St. Louis vinaigrette, arugula, bacon and pickles on a French loaf.  The side is the Blue Duck’s Mac and Cheese. ($4.00) It was all good!

·         FYI…Nduja is a spicy, spreadable pork salumi from Italy.  Typically it’s made with parts of the pig such as the shoulder and belly, as well as tripe, roasted peppers and a mixture of spices.

This was the Bleu Cheese Burger. ($13.00) The 6 oz. perfectly grilled burger patty usually comes with bacon, roasted mushrooms, fried pickled red onions and blue cheese dressing on a potato bun.  Yet another winner!

I had a side of Collard Greens with my Hood Boy sandwich. ($1.00) They were very good…one of the best versions I’ve had anywhere.

This interesting looking offering was part of Bill’s Tasting Menu feast.  It’s called “Duck Duck Goose”.  As this was a special, Kristen, our helpful, friendly and efficient waitress wrote down the ingredients for me.  It included a goose egg, bowtie pasta, sorghum glazed duck breast, fresh peas, arugula, pesto, pecorino cheese and burnt onion.  Bill loved it!

This was a slice of St. Louberry Pie…that we all had a bite or two of.  It was provided gratis given all of our other purchases but it normally would have cost $7.00.  This pie is made with strawberries and blueberries with a gooey butter topping.  It was very good indeed!

Our experience at the Blue Duck was excellent.  The food is fresh, imaginative and over the top with the pairing and melding of ingredients.  We were very impressed.  It isn’t inexpensive but keep in mind that we went over the top, ordering extra items and items just to sample the menu.  We hope to return to The Blue Duck on our next visit to St. Louis…

BTW...The Blue Duck is located at 2661 Sutton Boulevard in Maplewood Missouri.  It took over part of the old Katz Drug Store...a local historical landmark.  Phone: 314-769-9940.  Check out their menu (which includes box lunch offerings) at
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a ‘foodie’ experience!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, May 28, 2018

In Memoriam – Memorial Day 2018

 My father, Ronald Allen Myers, was born in Jackson Michigan on April 2, 1911.   He and my mother, Elizabeth Sibbald Weed, were married on January 17, 1939.  I was born on July 21, 1942.  Chubby little thing wasn’t I!  This photo was taken at my grandparent’s house on East Prospect Street in Jackson.

This is a photo of my father and me when I was about 2 years old…

During World War II, on May 6, 1945, Sgt. Ronald Allen Myers was killed in action while fighting in Czechoslovakia.  He was with the 18th Infantry Regiment of the First Division, (aka “The Big Red One” or “The Fighting First), of the United States Army.  I wish I'd gotten to know him...
Thanks to our armed forces and their sacrifices… God Bless America!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, May 25, 2018

Popular Vietnamese Restaurant – Brentwood Missouri

Our recent visit to St. Louis and Laurie’s family of course involved food and exploration… For a change of pace, Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill suggested a popular local Vietnamese restaurant.  It had been a long time since we had any Vietnamese cuisine so we were enthusiastic to give it a try!

This is the exterior of the Mai Lai Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant in Brentwood Missouri.   It's actually built into a parking garage and parking for customers is free...

Founder Lee Tran, her husband and son escaped war torn Vietnam in 1978 and came to the USA.  At first she worked as a waitress at several St. Louis area Chinese restaurants just to help the family make a living.  However, Lee Tran’s dream was to open her own restaurant.  So, in 1985, she opened Mai Lee Restaurant with a full Chinese menu.  In time however, she slowly added Vietnamese dishes to the menu.  At that time, the tiny Mai Lee Restaurant only had 6 tables in the dining area…

That tiny 6 table restaurant is long gone!  Today, it is a large and bustling place with a lot going on… The dining area is expansive and this popular restaurant and bar is a busy place! 

FYI, Mai Lee is generally credited as being the first Vietnamese restaurant in the St. Louis area.

Laurie remembered the great Vietnamese Iced Coffee that we used to order when we lived in Chicago, so she ordered it at Mai Lee.  Basically, its quality medium or dark blend coffee processed through a French press with hot water and then added to a glass with ice and condensed milk.  She did enjoy this special treat! ($4.00)

Once again, I did a poor job of taking photos before we attacked the food!  The ladies weren’t too hungry so there was a lot of focus on the appetizers.  This is the only photo I captured before we wiped out our various orders of spring rolls.  The good news is that from an appearance standpoint the difference between them is mostly what’s inside them…

We had 2 orders of Goi Cuon with shrimp, pork and vegetables wrapped in rice paper. ($3.95 per order with 2 spring rolls each) Then we had Goi Cuon Ga Nuong, grilled chicken spring rolls. ($5.25) Finally, we had Goi Cuon Thit Nuong, BBQ pork spring rolls. ($5.25)

We enjoyed all of them!  Laurie and I agreed that we could have made a meal just from a few more of these delicious appetizers…

Laurie strayed from our foray into Vietnamese cuisine to order a bowl of one of her favorite soups.  This was Mai Lee’s version of classic Chinese Hot and Sour Soup. ($4.50) It was loaded with egg, wood ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots and it was very good.

Bonnie and Laurie split a Banh Mi Thit (Vietnamese Pork Sandwich) for their dinner. ($4.50) Not only was it a good buy, it was a great sandwich too.  It consisted of Vietnamese-style pork, pate, mayonnaise, cucumber, pickles, jalapenos and cilantro served on a nice roll.

For my entrée, I ordered the Truu Xao Xa Ot. ($18.95) This is a lamb stir fry with hot chili and lemon grass.  There was a lot of onion as well and while I’m not big on large pieces of onion, they were easy to eat around.  I loved the flavor and heat offered by my entrée but in my opinion the lamb was tougher than it should have been…

Bill ordered the Mi Xao Thap Cam – Vietnamese-style Lo Mein for his meal. ($15.95) It came with a combination of meat and shrimp.  He’d had this dish before at Mai Lee and he knew he liked it!

I had to check on the difference between Vietnamese-style Lo Mein and Chinese style Lo Mein.  It seems that the Vietnamese version uses a fish sauce whereas the Chinese style uses more ginger and sesame oil.

We wish that we had a restaurant like this anywhere in the Knoxville area!  Mai Lee Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant is located at 8396 Musick Memorial Drive in Brentwood Missouri.  Phone: 314-645-2835.  Website:   

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

National Register of Historic Places - Metro St. Louis

One more break from my series of food related posts… We took these photos of historical places in a couple of suburbs that are located close to the city of St. Louis Missouri.

These are the Bellecourt Apartments at 1107 – 1123 Bellevue Avenue in Richmond Heights Missouri.  Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, these late 19th Century/Early 20th Century revival style apartments were built in 1924 with a central courtyard area.  There are 30 apartments, 18 studio, 6 1-bedroom and 6-2 bedroom units.  They were renovated in 2002 – 2003 and they’ve retained their Italian Renaissance features. 

The apartment building is located just west of St. Mary’s Hospital…which incidentally is where our son David II was born.  Originally, these brick and stone apartments were strategically located just north of the tracks for the Forest Park Streetcar/trolley Loop, giving the residents easy access to downtown St. Louis. the moment, there are no vacancies in the building.

Speaking of streetcars or trolleys…Laurie’s sister and her husband Bill pointed this little structure out to us as we were driving around the area.  This is the former “Dinky” Trolley ticket station on Yale Avenue, a north-south street just outside the St. Louis city limits. 

The term “Dinky” was coined by trolley riders as a nickname for smaller streetcars.  This particular route followed a 5.24 mile route and it operated from 1895 until 1949.  Bill, a former police officer, has seen signs of the old streetcar tracks stretching from Clayton Road to the north, to Manchester Road to the south.    

These postcards showing the Maplewood Missouri trolley in various locations give you the ‘feel’ of public transportation prior to WWII.  The postcards and some of the information originated from an article by Doug Houser published in 40 South News in September of 2017. 

The Dinky Trolleys were different than most of the larger units.  At either end of the line, the conductor would manually take the fare box from the front pole to the back pole in the streetcar.  Then he would engage the rear trolley wire and tie down the front wire.  The seat backs could also be flipped to face the opposite direction…

It’s hard to believe it today, but in their heyday during the 1920's, about 1,650 streetcars rumbled along 485 miles of track in and near the city of St. Louis.  Old route maps show trolley lines running in all directions in and around the city.  It must have been confusing as dozens of different companies operated the various lines and routes…

Grace Episcopal Church is a historic English Gothic Revival church building at the corner of Taylor and Argonne Streets in Kirkwood Missouri.  It was constructed in 1859.  Later the building was transferred to the Eliot Unitarian Chapel and the Episcopal congregation moved further down Argonne Street.  This church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.  For information about the Eliot Unitarian Chapel, just go to

The membership rolls for Grace Episcopal Church in the early years included the most important people in the community.  Harry Bodley ran an insurance agency and he also established the church.  Henry Hough, who also headed an insurance agency, also acted as Kirkwood’s postmaster.  Abram Mitchell was a director of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company and then a partner in the St. Louis Daily News.  R.S. Elliot and H. W. Leffingwell not only acquired the land for the town, they were also civil engineers and they opened one of the earliest real estate offices in St. Louis. In addition the pair was responsible for laying out Grand Avenue in St. Louis and for inspiring the Forest Park Movement in 1869.  Also, Leffingwell served as Kirkwood's first administrator after its charter was granted in 1865.

This stately red brick antebellum home is located at 302 West Argonne Drive in Kirkwood Missouri.  It is one of the largest Greek revival style homes in St. Louis County.  It was built by developer John Hoffman shortly after the Kirkwood was founded.  Today it is called the Mudd House.  

H.T. Mudd bought the home and 100 surrounding acres in 1866.  He was a county auditor and served on Kirkwood’s town board.  He was instrumental in the separation of the City of St. Louis from St. Louis County and while serving as a state legislator, he served on the committee that drafted Missouri’s constitution.  In addition he was a curator of the University of Missouri and served as President of the state horticultural society.

In 1889, George Dana, the founder and President of the Charter Oak Stove Company, purchased the home.  During the time that the Dana family lived here, the hearth room (kitchen) which had been free standing was enclosed, making it part of the house.  Allegedly Dana was the first person in Kirkwood to own an automobile.  Before the family moved out in 1921, he had added the gate lodge, a 2-car garage and the front wrap-around porch. 

Today the property is owned and operated by the Kirkwood Historical Society.  Their museum is open Thursdays and Sundays from 1 PM until 4 PM.  Mudd’s Grove house and grounds are available to rent for special occasions such as weddings, receptions and birthdays.  Phone: 314-965-5151.   Website:

The handsome Ozark Theatre at 103 East Lockwood in Webster Groves Missouri was built in the Spanish Mission revival style.  It first opened its doors back in 1921 and it could seat 1,100 patrons.  Although it no longer shows movies, it is one of the oldest remaining ‘motion picture houses’ in the St. Louis area.  After being remodeled in 1968, it was renamed the Webster Cinema and it continued to show movies (one screen) until 1979.  Later it served as a medical training school as well as the location of the current owner’s stationary and printing business.

With an eye to re-opening it as a movie theatre, major renovations were completed in 2010 but building code requirements and local politics left it sitting unused for a number of years.  However it is currently being touted as “St. Louis County’s best new jazz nightclub”.   The name has been changed though and it’s now officially called Webster Groves Concert Hall. 

The building can also be rented out for birthday parties, private screenings, special events and corporate functions.  You can check out upcoming musical performances at the Webster Groves Concert Hall (aka. The Ozark Theatre) by going to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, May 21, 2018

Afternoon Bakery Treats

After touring around Kirkwood Missouri to check out a number of homes and other buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Bonnie and Bill decided that they’d take us to a local spot for an afternoon treat…

This is the Nathaniel Reid Bakery on Manchester Road in Kirkwood.  It’s located in the small strip shopping center and, if you didn’t know what you were looking for, you might just drive on by… Even the store front is understated.

This is an overview of the inside of the bakery.  It’s straightforward and simple with a few seats along a counter by the front windows.

As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover… Nathaniel Reid is the owner and chef of the bakery.  He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris with a Grand Diploma in Culinary and Pastry Arts.  In 2012 Dessert Professional Magazine named him as one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in the USA.  He has received a plethora of other awards as well. 

Most recently, Reid served as the pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in St. Louis.  He has also served in similar positions at the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point California as well as the Michelin 3-star Joel Robuchon Restaurant and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, both in Las Vegas Nevada.

As these photos of the bakery display cases demonstrate, the variety of available treats is a bit mind boggling!

Customers can choose from selections of breakfast pastries, sweet snacks, sandwiches, fancy pastries, chocolates and confections, salads, macarons, pound cakes, meringues, quiche, jams and beverages.

Hopefully I’ve identified our choices correctly… This is a luscious blueberry cream cheese Danish. ($3.50)

This was the Chocolate Almond Croissant. ($3.75)

…and this one was the Financier Almond Cake. ($3.25)

I thought that my treat was the most unusual of all.  The “Bostock” was a special menu item. ($3.50) Basically, this is a sweet moist almond covered slice of French toast and it was terrific!

I had to look up my special treat on the Internet.  The Bostock is a buttery day-old brioche roll that is sliced into thick portions.  Then its soaked in an almond simple syrup and generously spread with frangipane almond cream.  In this case, almonds coated the outside.  In the oven, the syrup caramelizes the edges and the almond paste forms a crunchy top crusts while the middle turns rich and custard-like.  Wow!
We were all very happy with our afternoon delights!  The Nathaniel Reid Bakery is located at 11243 Manchester Road in Kirkwood Missouri.  Phone: 314-858-1019.  The Bakery’s website can be found at  If you’re into self-torture, there are several photos of the goodies available on the website!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, May 18, 2018

St. Louis County Missouri – Historic Homes and Places (#1)

It’s time to take a break from food/restaurant reviews!  While we were visiting Laurie’s family in the St. Louis area, Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill indulged this blogger…driving around to several historic homes and other sites.

The David Keith House, ca. 1855, is located at 116 North Woodlawn Street in Kirkwood Missouri.  This Italianate style home with some Greek revival elements was innovative for its time.  It is the oldest known home in the area to use the distinctive siding and quoin system which emulated stone work.

Note: I had to look up the definition of a quoin.  They are blocks at the corner of a wall that either provide actual strength for the wall or to provide a feature creating an impression of permanence and strength.  The latter is true in this case. 

The Egbert W. Halsey Cottage is located at 126 East Washington Street in Kirkwood.  This one-story frame cottage in the Folk Victorian style is now owned by the YMCA and it’s used for offices.  The cottage was built ca. 1864.  It sits on land purchased by Egbert Halsey in 1863.  He was a real estate developer who also built the first school in Kirkwood.  The cottage is significant in that it’s associated with the ‘working class’ in Kirkwood.  There are relatively few surviving homes in this area that served the working class.
In this posting I focused on Kirkwood Missouri, a western suburb of St. Louis.  Kirkwood was founded in 1853.  The city is named after James P. Kirkwood, builder of the Union Pacific Railroad through the town.  It was the first planned suburb located west of the Mississippi River.

This is the Olive Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 309 South Harrison.  Formerly known as the Evangelische Friedens Gemneinde Lutheran Congregation, the church was built in 1896.  The Evangelische Gemeinde Lutheran congregation had broken away from the Concordia Lutheran Church in Kirkwood, so they built their own church.  There was a reconciliation in the 1920s and their former church was put up for sale.

The Olive Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in Kirkwood in 1853, making it the second oldest church for this denomination west of the Mississippi.  The Olive Chapel purchased this church in 1923.  Significantly, this site was the location of Kirkwood’s first public education class for black students. 

The two and a half story John P. and Dora Blake House at 549 North Taylor Street is a virtually unchanged example of a high-style Craftsman design.  This handsome home, which was built ca. 1922, is situated on its original 1.25 acre lot.

Plans for a new community close to St. Louis were initiated following the St. Louis Fire and cholera outbreak that occurred in 1849.  At that time, cholera killed 10% of the residents in downtown St. Louis.  Kirkwood, a planned railroad community, was the first suburban municipality built outside St. Louis City boundaries. 

This frame Italianate style home located at 549 East Argonne in Kirkwood is called the Lizzie McLagan House.  It was built ca. 1863 for Lizzie McLagan.  She owned 40 acres and by 1878, the land had been subdivided.  Note the distinctively tall floor to ceiling windows.  The house is sheathed with wide shiplap wood siding with appropriate quoins at the corners to provide the impression that the home was built with stone.

In 1879, the house was purchased by Charles Black, who published the Clayton Argus Newspaper.  From 1972 until 1992, the building was owned by the Kirkwood Historical Society.  They used it as a museum and it was called “The History House”.  In 1922, the house once again became a private residence.

The George W. and Virginia Fishbach House is located at 440 East Argonne Street.  This large Greek Revival Style home was built in 1867 and the exterior looks much as it did back in the 1860s.  At that time, it occupied the entire city block.

George Fishbach came to St. Louis to practice law.  Instead he became a newspaper reporter and editor.  By 1872 he owned the Missouri Democrat Newspaper.  He sold it in 1875 to the owners of the Globe who then merged the two papers into the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.  That paper continued in operation until 1986. 

This is the Romanzo N. Bayley House at 419 East Argonne Street.  This very early Italianate style home was constructed on a 20 acre lot back in 1858.  It now occupies about 1.25 acres.  A 2-story carriage house that dates back to at least the late 1890s is situated behind the house.  Most of the homes during this era were clad in beveled wood siding but this home was built using clapboard.

Here’s a bit of Kirkwood Missouri’s history to close out this posting.  In 1850, H. W. Leffingwell and R. S. Elliot bought land 14 miles from downtown St. Louis.  At the same time, James P. Kirkwood was laying out a route for the Pacific Railroad.  Coincidence…I think not!  In any case, when the railroad reached the community in 1853, the developers sold lots for the Kirkwood Association.  The original town plat included quarter section blocks and industrial development was prohibited. 

A Richardson Romanesque style railway station was built in Kirkwood in 1893.  That station, which is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places has become a symbol of the town and it’s currently an active Amtrak stop.   For a number of photos and to learn more about this active railroad depot, you can check out my previous posting at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave