Much attention has been focused on the multi-million-dollar ‘rebirth’ of The Cheshire, which, in addition to the renovated inn, is now home to four separate restaurant concepts. The vanguard eatery of the four is The Restaurant, which seemed as good a place as any for us to begin to rediscover the local landmark.
The Restaurant’s interior was rife with exposed wooden beams, glowing fireplaces and gorgeous design elements, like the massive climate-controlled wall of wine between the bar and the dining room that holds some 1,700 bottles, and the stunning scarlet fabric light fixtures. It offered a bit more of a formal atmosphere than Basso, the more casual eatery located on The Cheshire’s lower level.
In addition to the aforementioned impressive selection of wines, there also were a handful of cocktails to peruse, like The Monk's Manhattan ($10), a spicy take on the classic rye whiskey cocktail that included Benedictine and barrel-aged bitters, and the bourbon-based Sugarbush Sling ($10).
The menu featured a seasonal selection of Shares, Starters and Mains, as well as a selection of Throwback Specials, dishes described as "a nod the the original Cheshire." The offerings were sourced in part from local purveyors like Rain Crow Ranch and Baetje Farms, among others.
From Shares, we delved into the Deviled Eggs ($8). This was a fairly nondescript version of the church-picnic favorite. Each egg was topped with a dollop of trout roe, which was almost completely overwhelmed taste- and texture-wise by the tangy yolk.
Under Starters, we ordered the Black Kale Salad ($10), a heaping helping of succulent fresh kale leaves topped with a soft-boiled egg and dressed with a mild but flavorful anchovy vinaigrette.
But it was when we got the entrees that the meal really started happening. The Red Wine-Braised Short Rib ($24) from the Throwback Mains was a nice representation of an old-school specialty. The beef was so tender it virtually fell apart at the touch of a fork and the whipped parsnips and winter vegetable ragout provided a nice, earthy contrast to the rich meat. It paired extremely well with a glass of 2010 Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon ($10). The Maine Sea Scallops ($32) were mild and tender, with just a touch of crispness around the edges; and the braised cabbage it was paired with was truly exceptional—made even more so when partnered with a glass of 2011 Chateau Ducasse ($11). A Chocolate Souffle ($9) capped things off quite nicely.
While the food was fine, logistically The Restaurant has a slight parking issue: No self-parking is available after 4 p.m. Instead, there is a separate valet for The Restaurant, as well as for Basso and the hotel itself. Hopefully, some of these practical matters can be resolved, because the space and the food make it clear The Restaurant is poised to become a prime dining destination.
--The Restaurant at the Cheshire, 7036 Clayton Ave., 932-7818, restaurant-stl.com