Little by little, the western reaches of the St. Louis area are getting some quality restaurants to satisfy diners' desire for food and drink that's a bit more elevated. One of the latest arrivals to the scene is Prasino, which recently opened just across the bridge in St. Charles.
The restaurant is part of a small chain based in Illinois, and the St. Charles location is the first foray into Missouri. Prasino is Greek for ‘green,’ and the restaurant strives to live up to this name by providing as much sustainable, eco-friendly fare as possible. And once guests step through the door, it's clear this is no typical chain place. Soaring ceilings, sprawling dining areas surrounded by walls of refrigerated wine racks and wood floors, among other details, ensure Prasino feels anything but corporate.
The Prasino menu is all over the place as far as cuisine goes—with tacos, flat breads, sushi rolls, burgers and an array of larger plates to chose from. But after perusing the menu for a bit, the lack of an overarching theme ceases to be an issue. As expected, everything is well-labeled as vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free.
The beverage program at Prasino is taken just as seriously as the food. There's a healthy selection of craft beers, wines and an interesting and approachable cocktail menu featuring libations like the Gin U Win ($9), a combo of Death's Door gin, Green Chartreuse, cucumber and lemon—sort of a lighter, summery take on a Last Word.
With a name that means ‘green,’ one would expect some fine salads to be available, and Prasino didn't disappoint. The Heirloom Salad ($12) boasts an array of heirloom tomatoes set off with a bit of basil, along with some tender vanilla-poached shrimp and a pistachio vinaigrette tying it all together.
We found the small plates/appetizer portion to be the most interesting part of the menu, with plenty of eclectic, and delicious, selections like the Tuna Tartare ($15), chunks of beautiful rosy tuna served on wontons and drizzled with a sweet and spicy firecracker sauce. The Chick Pea Cakes ($8) were a real find. These patties were crispy around the edges but soft inside, and complemented with the push and pull of some spicy harissa and cool tzatziki, as well as a bit of arugula on the side for some textural contrast.
We had to get in on the sushi, and the Lava Roll ($16) proved to be a good choice. This tasty roll included tuna, avocado, blue crab and the same firecracker sauce that came on the tuna tartare. While there were plenty of burger choices under the Hands On section, the one that immediately caught our eye was the Portobello Burger ($9). The thick pieces of roasted mushroom topped with pesto proved a hearty meat substitute, and the truffled potatoes alongside really accentuated the earthiness of the portobello nicely. By the end of the meal we only had room for a bit of Mango Sorbet ($5); though next time around, the plan is to delve a bit deeper into the dessert offerings.
With good food and drink and a laudable eco-friendly attitude, Prasino is reason enough to head farther west.
-- 1520 South Fifth St., 636-277-0202, prasino.com.