St. Louis Eats: Annie Gunn's

Tony and I go to St. Louis almost every year. We’ve had good and bad food experiences over the years. So when a local friend asked us to go out to lunch with him before we left town for KC, we were happy to oblige. I mean we do like to eat after all…

Then there comes the moment when you sit down and start looking over the menu, you question your judgment. “Holy cow! Should I take out a loan on the house to cover the bill?”

Annie Gunn’s is a restaurant owned by Thom Sehnert , who prides himself on presenting food with a pedigree: the pork is from locally sourced heirloom breeds, the beef is grass feed, the heirloom tomatoes for the salads are grown by local farmers. Their wine and beer list is so large that it reminds me of a study guide from one of my college courses. (The download on their site is 7 MEGS for the wine and beer list.)

The prices are those that you would expect from items with such a pedigree: $6 for a half portion of heirloom tomato salad, $5 for a 4oz. hamburger, $14 for corned beef hash – That was off of the lunch menu. The dinner menu made my pulse race.

Let me say that the bread was very good. It reminded me of my own homemade hard rolls. It came with pats of Irish butter which was the perfect accompaniment to such good bread.

Tony ordered the cream of potato soup. It was great soup – I loved the little croutons of the same bread crumbled up into it so you got the soft creaminess and the little crunch.

I ordered the heirloom tomato salad. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a half portion for $6, but I had sticker shock at $12 for a whole salad. It was good. Fresh tomatoes, basil and onions topped with goat cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette. The portion, however, was fairly small for $6.00. The salad was only two slices of tomato about 4-5” across and about 1/2” thick. If that was half portion, I would have been shocked at getting four slices of tomato for $12. (When I got home, I made the same salad for myself with items from my garden and goat cheese from Trader Joe’s and it still tasted awesome. I just paid a hell of a lot less.)

For the entrées, the unfortunate fact is – the execution did not live up to the prices paid.

I had asked for my burger to be cooked rare. I like raw meat. It makes me happy to see pink when I bite into my burger. The burger I received was barely pink. It was still juicy however, but it still was not what I asked for.

Tony ordered the corned beef hash topped with locally sourced free-range eggs. The hash itself was fine. It really needed to have a bit of a crust on it. A crust would have made a nice contrast to the soft interior. (I was a little put off by the sweetness of the corned beef – I am assuming they cure their own. Tony did not really have a problem with it.) The biggest problem was with the eggs. He had ordered his egg sunny side up. It is his favorite way to eat really good farm fresh eggs. However when he got his eggs they were almost hard cooked, with only a little tiny bit of the yolk left runny. Tony was very sad. Also, the hash was supposed to have a buttermilk biscuit with it. Our server told us they were out, but about 15 minutes later we saw biscuits leaving the kitchen with other orders and our server did not offer to get any of the new ones for him. Not good!

Before you ask – no, we did not ask the dishes to be redone. We did not want to embarrass our host, nor did we have time to wait while our food was properly executed.

So while to food was acceptable, I would have a hard time going back to Annie Gunn’s at the prices asked. For that much money, everything should be dead on the first time.

Annie Gunn's on Urbanspoon


KMCA said...

Very informative review and a refreshingly honest critique about a very popular St. Louis staple.

Rosie said...

Thanks - I really wanted to like my lunch since the restaurant had been recommended by several people in St. Louis. If a restaurant has a reputation for excellence - then it better do everything it can to maintain it...