Ever have a restaurant you like pretty well--maybe even a little bit more than that--but for some reason it just falls off your radar? That's what happened with us and Big Sky Cafe. We'd enjoyed the food there on several occasions but hadn't been back in a good long while. Luckily, we rectified that situation recently when we made it back to Webster Groves for a taste.
The restaurant was as cozy and homey as we remembered, replete with warm colors, bright artwork and charming mosaics. Overall, the atmosphere was casual and comfortable, like dropping in on a friend for dinner.
Kicking things off, we indulged in a Big O Ginger Manhattan ($10), while noshing on some complimentary cornbread and lavash. The cocktail, a tasty take on one of our favorite classics, included The Big O, a locally made—and mighty delicious—ginger liqueur. The only gripe: It was shaken, not stirred, so it was effervescent instead of silky.
The entire right side of the menu lists a large selection of weekly specials that took advantage of the season's bounty, courtesy of some of the area's best local producers. On the left side of the menu were the regular menu items we dived into, divvied up into Small Plates, Salads, For Sharing, Large Plates and Sandwiches.
The Creamy Tomato Soup ($6) from the Small Plates selections was a knockout. The soup was a gorgeous deep orange/red, offset by ribbons of herbaceous green, created by a generous drizzle of basil oil. It tasted every bit as good as it looked, rich and creamy. It was a nice complement to the Mixed Field Greens ($7), which had a bit of contrasting sharpness, courtesy of its red wine herbal vinaigrette.
We've resolved to try the Cheddar Cheese Macaroni ($8) and the Kale Chips ($4) from For Sharing the next time around; but on this night, the Large Plates were calling. The Cajun Etoufee ($18) was loaded with shrimp, several mussels displayed on the half shell, plus plentiful chunks of local sausage and chicken, all served with rice. It was probably as close to a traditional NOLA preparation as you'll find around town, with a classic thick and spicy roux as a base. Now, ‘comfort food’ is a moniker we've had just about enough of, but if any dish does it justice, it's Big Sky's Rosemary & Red Wine Braised Pot Roast ($18). Tender grass-fed chuck roast braised in red wine with rosemary, carrots and onions, served on a creamy bed of garlic mashed potatoes? Yes, please! Most assuredly, a dish that brings the diner back to Mom's table.
The Carrot Cake Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting ($5), five delectable mouthfuls arranged on an oblong plate dusted with sugar, made for a fine end to a superb meal. It was just enough sugar to satisfy, and like all of the dishes that passed across the table, it was plated to perfection—attractive but not ostentatious or overblown. If it’s been a while since you made it by Big Sky, definitely put it on your short list for dining out.
Big Sky Cafe, 47 South Old Orchard, 962-5757, bigskycafe.net.