There's nothing like finding that quality restaurant tucked away where you'd least expect it, operating under your personal culinary radar—it's sort of like finding money in the pocket of that old coat in the back of the closet. That's how we felt when we finally discovered Gerard's.
Gerard's is located in the Colonnade shopping center in Des Peres, an older development somewhat overshadowed by the bright and shiny new plazas that surround it on the commercial strip that is Manchester Road. With just a single table on the sidewalk outside and subtle signage, it'd be easy to miss it, and you really don't want to do that because there's much goodness to be had inside the innocuous facade.
Gerard's is spacious, with two large dining rooms and a comfortable bar area. Decor is classy but understated, and there's plenty of room between tables, much appreciated in this era of eateries attempting to pack in as many seats as possible.
The menu at Gerard's has a wide selection of classic dishes, including pastas, veal, beef, chicken and seafood options. We started out with a couple of spicy apps, the Mustard Basil Shrimp ($13), and the Calamari Saparatiti ($9) to jumpstart our palettes, then went on to the Vege Salad ($7). This salad is an amalgam of chopped veggies that include cucumber, lettuce, celery, bell peppers and red onion, among other ingredients, and topped with a generous amount of sunflower seeds for some crunchy contrast, all prepared table-side. We recommend sharing this tasty salad as it's a hearty portion, to say the least.
With so much fresh seafood on the menu, it was hard to decide on mains, but the final verdict was in favor of the Linguini Zuppa Di Pesce ($16/ $30 for a full order), designated a house specialty; and the Chilean Sea Bass ($32) with a side of Risotto ($9). The linguini zuppa truly is a seafood lovers' dream, full of whole clams, shrimp, calamari, mussels, crab and lobster sauteed with olive oil and garlic and all those delicious natural juices. The pasta dishes at Gerard's all have the option of a half or whole order. We got the half order and still needed a to-go box. We had the sea bass grilled, though it's also available pan seared or blackened. The little bit of time on the grill gave the skin a nice touch of char and added a smoky dimension to the tender fish.
We probably didn't really need any more food, but it's so hard for us to resist gnocchi. Plus, sampling sides is a good way to ascertain just how serious the kitchen is. Well, the gnocchi that came to the table was serious indeed—tender dumplings in a thick cream sauce with garlic, basil and just a touch of tomato.
Oeneophiles will no doubt be impressed by the voluminous wine list at Gerard's, which has earned the restaurant the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. The extensive roster of more than 600 wines also includes lots of great half-bottles as well as some by-the-glass options you won't find around town, like the Barbera d' Asti, a spicy Italian we're told is imported just for the restaurant.
Good service, really reasonable prices, fine food and drink and plenty of parking—what more could you want?
-- 12240 Manchester Road, 314-821-7977, stlgerards.net.
Calamari Saparatiti from Gerard’s Restaurant
- Fresh capers
- Black olives
Sauté the calamari in butter until tender. Add other ingredients—amount for each based on your personal taste preference—and sauté.