Now that spring is finally here, it's time to get out and nosh on what's new for the season. Here's a short list of seasonal dishes currently being offered by some of the area's best eateries, along with recommendations for the best wines to accompany them.
Truffles, 9202 Clayton Road, 567-9100, todayattruffles.com. "St. Louis is a great BBQ town and we decided to pay the homage to our great spring weather and the beginning of the BBQ season with Truffles BBQ ribs," says Aleksander Jovanovic, GM and wine director. These baby back ribs and Kurobuta pork short ribs are smoked in-house and accompanied with coleslaw and mac and cheese. To accent this seasonal special, Jovanovic chose a "natural wine" from Gaillac in Southern France, Les Peyrouzelles, a blend of some rare and ancient grape varietals like Braucul, Duras, Alicante, Prunelart, Jurancon and some Syrah. "This is an easy-drinking wine with ripe tannins and subtle black pepper notes throughout the palate," he says.
Nico, 6525 Delmar Blvd., 727-0200, nicostl.com. Chef Grace Dinsmoor of Nico is known for her affinity for seafood dishes, and one of the latest on her current menu is a bouillabaisse with shrimp, scallops and mussels, along with Nico's house-made chorizo. Dinsmoor likes to pair this specialty with the Peitón 2011 Albariño from Spain. Dinsmoor uses the wine in the broth of the bouillabaisse, along with with garlic, tomato onion and crushed chili pepper. She says the wine's citrus notes, peachy nose and tart acidic lemony finish make it a spot-on pairing with all sorts of seafood.
Mosaic, 1001 Washington Ave., 621-6001, mocaicrestaurants.com. The downtown location of this local favorite has lamb belly gyros on its bill of fare for spring. This dish features house-made lebna, cucumber kimchee and onion marmalade on flatbread. To set this specialty off, try pairing it with the 2011 Joseph Drouhin White Burgundy. This French wine has a vivid structure, passion fruit notes and refined finish that perfectly complements the complexities of this dish.
Morton's The Steakhouse, 7822 Bonhomme Ave., 725-4008, mortons.com. Although well-known for its fine steaks, Morton's has plenty of surf options to complement its turf offerings, like the pan-roasted Alaska halibut with brown butter caper sauce and fresh spring vegetables, which debuted on the menu earlier this month. GM Jeff Daniels says this fish dish pairs quite nicely with a 2011 Conundrum, a full-flavored white blend from California.
The Crossing, 7823 Forsyth Blvd., 721-7375, fialafood.com/the-crossing. Nothing says springtime like mushrooms, and The Crossing is taking full advantage of these seasonal treats. On his spring menu, chef Matt Abeshouse is featuring spring morels tossed in fresh tagliolini pasta, which marries up well with a Mas Karolina from Maury, France.
Cardwell's On The Plaza, 97 Plaza Frontenac, 997-8885, billcardwell.com. For the spring season, this Frontenac mainstay is offering a pan-roasted, first-of-the-season Alaskan halibut with port-roasted grapes, jumbo crab and watercress herb salad with cracked wheat and green beans. Try this delicacy with a 2010 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. We're told this seafood spectacular is superbly complimented by the delicate structure of this wine. The roasted grapes pull out some bright cherry notes from the vino, while the wheat and watercress coax forward the complex spices in both the food and the wine.
Herbie's Vintage 72, 405 N. Euclid Ave., 769-9595, herbies.com. The first installment from new executive chef Chris Ladley is a spring risotto, with sweet corn, oven-dried tomato, mascarpone and corn jus. It's available by special until mid-May, and will then take up residence on the restaurant's regular menu. Herbie's co-owner Aaron Teitelbaum says it pairs well with a 2012 Chateau LaRoque Pic Saint-Loup Rosé from France.
Vino Nadoz Wine Bar & Cafe, 16 The Boulevard, 726-0400, vinonadozwinebar. For spring, executive chef Chris DiMercurio has gone all out with his scallop crudo, which features fennel, avocado, grapes, kumquats, Thai chili oil and a rice wine vinaigrette to top it all off and tie it all together. He recommends trying this tasty seasonal dish with the 2009 E. Guigal Cotes Du Rhone Blanc, a big, bold white with notes of green plum and a tangy finish.