A couple of years ago, we reviewed The Tavern Kitchen & Bar, which at the time had just opened in Valley Park, and came away suitably impressed. We'd heard talk of some menu revisions of late, so it was decided a return trip was in order.
Much has remained the same over the past two years, including the delicious Parmesan pull-apart bread to start. And the selection of appetizers remained plentiful and interesting. We had to try the Angry Bastards ($12) based on the name alone, five blackened shrimp accented with a jalapeno butter that included Stone Arrogant Bastard ale and topped with micro-greens.
The biggest change to the Tavern's offerings since our last go-round was the addition of a variety of Tasting Boards, which featured small samplings of some of the entree selections. They proved to be a flavorful way to get a taste of a broad cross-section of the menu. We chose the JH Trio ($30) and the Oak Plank ($29). The trio-- named after executive chef Justin Haifley--consisted of some items from the Off The Hook selections: blackened ahi in a bacon bleu cheese butter; sesame mahi mahi in a thai coconut curry sauce; and Atlantic salmon with soy sauce. Of the three, the mahi mahi really stood out, thanks to the curry sauce, which had a nice balance of heat and sweetness. The ahi, though, was oddly paired with a cream corn that while tasty, didn't do much to accent the fish.
The Oak Plank was a medley of some of the main meat dishes listed under On The Farm: the bacon-wrapped meatloaf, chicken saltimbocca, pork tenderloin and filet 'Loco Moco.' The meatloaf, nestled on a bed of pureed Yukon Gold potatoes, was a particular favorite during the first visit, and we're pleased to report it was every bit as delicious as we remembered. The rare filet was beautifully accented by a fried egg on top and a madeira sauce below. At first glance, it would seem a chicken dish would be overshadowed by all that pork and beef, but the Saltimbocca, sort of a speidini-esque creation that often features veal, more than held it own. The texture of the crust set off the tender chicken underneath, and the sage risotto it was served on could've been a great side dish in and of itself.
We paired the tasting boards with a bottle of Cloud Line pinot noir from Oregon ($44). It wasn't much of a sipper on its own, but nicely accented almost everything we ordered.
In addition to the meatloaf, we were quite fond of the donuts on the dessert menu last time; and as luck would have it, they were still available ($7). These fried globes of dough, rolled in cinnamon and served with a side of bacon creme, are still one of our favorite versions of this dessert.
With a couple of years under its belt and food that remains both creative and delicious, it seems Tavern is poised to become a fixture on the culinary scene.
The Tavern Kitchen & Bar, 2961 Dougherty Ferry Road, Suite 101, 636-825-0600, tavernstl.com.