Lately we've been revisiting some old favorites that have undergone changes of some sort, usually a permutation in the kitchen line-up. A while back, though, we headed to a revered eatery that up and moved to an entirely different location.
When it was announced last spring that Stone Soup Cottage was moving, we were a bit nervous. We'd had many fine meals in the original quaint and cozy space; and the prospect of changing that lovely atmosphere left us more than a little hesitant, especially since the new place was going to be housed in a brand new building. But owners Carl and Nancy McConnell truly outdid themselves with the latest Stone Soup incarnation. They purchased acreage on the Wiese Farm, not far from the original restaurant. In addition to allowing the McConnells to grow produce for the kitchen, the location offers gorgeous views of the farm's pond and field. The new building was raised on the spot where a barn once stood, and some of the wood from that structure was used to augment and accent the new interior. The result is stunning, and more than a little bit surprising: The warmth and intimacy of the first Stone Soup Cottage has been transported to the current version intact, with a bit more seating and elbow room, to boot.
While we may have felt some initial trepidation about the new space, our confidence that the food and wine would be superb never wavered. For those who haven't had the opportunity to visit, the restaurant offers a $79.95 six-course tasting menu--$124.95 with wine pairings--that changes frequently, according to the season. While the food is exceptional, the wine pairings really take the experience to a different realm and are most definitely worth the extra dollars.
We visited in late fall, and the Stone Soup menu was rife with our favorite autumnal dishes and flavors. Some highlights:
-We're a sucker for soups, and the first course was right up our alley: A subtly-sweet sweet potato bisque seasoned with pancetta and black walnuts, paired with a crisp, lightly floral 2012 Ponzi Pinot Blanc from Oregon's Willamette Valley.
-Course No. 3 was smoked sea scallops. The sweetness of the scallops was accentuated by some late-harvest corn and contrasted by the mild heat of a jalapeno beurre blanc. This surf delight was matched with a 2009 Isabelle et Denis Pommier Chablis that cut through the richness of the dish nicely.
-The fall mushroom cassoulet—with truffles shaved over it table-side, courtesy of Chef Carl—was fourth in the stellar culinary lineup. Warm and redolent of hearth and home, and paired with a lovely 2011 Maison Bertrand Ambroise Bourgogne Pinot Noir, this may be our favorite comfort-food dish of the year.
-To wrap things up, an apple and taleggio soufflé with caramel creme anglaise. For those who enjoy the comforting taste of apple pie with a slice of cheese on top, this is the five-star, top-shelf take on that rustic treat.
There probably aren't enough superlatives to describe the Stone Soup Cottage experience. Suffice it to say, it's our gold standard for St. Louis eateries. Get on the wait list and enjoy!
-- 5809 Highway N, Cottleville, Mo., 636-244-2233, stonesoupcottage.com
Stone Soup Cottage’s Sweet Potato Bisque with Crispy Pancetta, Toasted Black Walnuts and Crème Fraîche
•1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
•1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
•1 clove garlic, crushed
•1 qt. chicken stock
•1 t molasses
•1 T honey
•1/4 C cream
•1 bay leaf
•1 T black peppercorn
•1 oz. flour
•3 T melted butter
•Drizzle of clarified butter
•In a sauce pot, drizzle clarified butter and heat on medium. Add onions, garlic and sweet potatoes. Sauté for seven to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
•Add chicken stock, molasses, honey, bay leaf and peppercorn.
•Simmer on low for 45 minutes to an hour.
•In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter and flour. Set aside.
•Strain soup through a fine mesh sieve. Return to heat and stir in flour and butter mixture.
•Stir frequently and cook for an additional half-hour prior to serving. Finish with cream.
•Serve with crispy pancetta, toasted black walnuts and Crème Fraîche.