Casa del Mar Grand Fiesta Weekend!

Casa del Mar at the St. Louis Galleria is having a Grand Fiesta this weekend. The event celebrates the restaurant’s new decor and a newly updated menu.

photo-423From Friday, August 28, through Sunday, August 30, guests can enjoy Casa del Mar’s “Limit 2” Margaritas for half price. (They’re called “Limit 2” because they are potent.)

Casa del Mar is also offering a free appetizer to diners who purchase two entrées during this weekend’s Grand Fiesta.

CDM enchinladasAmong the items I enjoyed at a tasting event this week were the Lobster and Shrimp Enchiladas, Steak Fajitas, Shrimp Quesadillas and Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas. Casa del Mar describes their offerings as “traditional Mexican food as well as Tex-Mex fare with a twist.”

photo-424Street and Beach Taco choices include Fish, Chicken, Lobster, Beef, Shrimp and Carnitas.

CDM tacosGuacamole is prepared tableside at Casa del Mar by your server who includes a large number of ingredients. Let her/him know if you prefer your guac smooth or chunky.

CDM guacCasa del Mar is run by the same folks who’ve had a long-running success with the Canyon Cafe at Plaza Frontenac. Casa del Mar opened in November 2014 at the north end of the Galleria, next to Dillard’s. The restaurant has entrances from the mall and from the parking lot.

photo-425 photo-426Among the new visuals at Casa del Mar is the distinctive eye mural from local artist Peat Wolleager, seen above in the bar area.

To make reservations for the Grand Fiesta weekend at Casa del Mar, call 314-725-3700. Casa del Mar is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Except Fridays and Saturdays when they remain open until 9:30 p.m.)

To visit Casa del Mar online, click HERE. To find them on Facebook, click HERE.

Advertisements

I WANT GUAC! (Super Bowl food)

It’s not quite the tradition that Susan Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish recipe was each Thanksgiving back in her heyday on NPR’s All Things Considered, but…

I have shared this bit of audio (from 2002 when I was on mornings at WIL) several times just ahead of Super Bowl games. It’s a guacamole recipe from a chef at the former Casa Gallardo Grill at the Galleria. (That spot is now occupied by Urban Outfitters.)

Guacamole 2015

My wife Jo-Ellen, who makes a killer guac, also chimes in with her best tip.

If you, like me, believe that guacamole is a must for the Super Bowl, whether you have dozens of guests or you’re watching the game by yourself, listen to this clip (runs 3:27) and take notes!

Go Seahawks!

Big Footprint: BlackFinn’s Fatal Flaw?

When BlackFinn opened two years ago, the big story was not its food or drink or its décor, but its huge footprint: two large dining areas, two bar areas, event space and a patio. Its size may be the main reason it closed this week.

BlackFinn’s food was good, if a bit pricey. They carried a decent lineup of beers, enough to make me happy when I attended happy hours and parties there. The restaurant and its bigger bar area (with plenty of screens for sports viewing) looked great.

Was BlackFinn’s location a problem? My guess is probably not. It was at the north end of the Galleria, on Clayton Road, close to Brentwood Boulevard, just off I-170 and Highway 40. (Its sister restaurant Vida Cantina suffered a quick death, just months after opening. Its semi-obscure location, tucked away in a corner next to BlackFinn, was a likely factor in its demise.)

The Galleria may not be as hot a mall as it was in the 90’s, but it still draws large traffic. The Cheesecake Factory, which opened just over a decade ago, thrives in an arguably better spot on the mall campus.

We’ve seen several operators move into St. Louis in recent years with concepts that have had success in other markets. Many have been almost as ambitious as BlackFinn’s owners were. They have invested heavily in equipment and décor and, presumably, are paying high fees for their leases.

“Go big or go home” is a philosophy embraced by Tucano’s, prasino, Bricktops, Central Table Food Hall and McCormick and Schmick, among others.

But larger rooms have to be filled with a steady stream of diners. A slow night at a big place can be costly in terms of food, personnel and heating/cooling costs. Too many slow nights can be fatal.

Super Bowl—Guacamole Time!

In the 90’s and early ’00’s, my wife and I enjoyed many meals at the former Casa Grill in the St. Louis Galleria. (That mall space is now occupied by Urban Outfitters.)

One of the things we liked was the way they made their guacamole at your table. That way we knew it was fresh. They prepared it in a stone bowl, like the one in this pic. It was a bit of a chore for the server, so we always tipped generously.

Guac Pic

In 2002, a few days before the Spygate-tainted Super Bowl XXXVI, I visited Casa Grill and talked to chef Fernando about guacamole preparation.

The next day, my morning radio show partners and I (on WIL) shared his guacamole guidance with listeners. We then dialed up my wife to get her guacamole tips. We called her live, right in the middle of her morning trek on the treadmill.

Click on the arrow to listen to the segment. If you’re making guacamole Sunday, you’ll get some useful input! It runs 3:27.

On Super Bowl Sunday 2002, my wife’s guacamole was delicious! But the game (Patriots 20, Rams 17) left a horrible taste in my mouth.