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 entrĂ©es, 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


So where have I been?

It's that time of year folks! You all know what I mean - vacation time!! If I haven't been out of town, I've been working crazy hours so that I can get the time off to be out of town - so as usual my blogging has suffered.

For those of you who haven't gleaned this info from my writings - my hubby is into magic. Not wiccan magic, but the "Is this your card?" type of magic. His work - and yes, he is a pro - makes it possible for us to travel and eat all over this fine country of ours.

Tim Felix - owner of Midwest Magic
and legend in the making.
This is his sexy "mysterious" pose.
Max Maven eat your heart out.

Earlier this month Tony lectured in Chicago. One of my favorite places to go is Chicago...and Tim Felix of Midwest Magic plays a big part in making me feel like that... Tim knows how to make a magic wife happy while her man is busy playing with his toys - hey! Enough of that filthy stuff right there! I am talking about food here - it is a food blog!

Tim took us out to dinner before the lecture. He has been telling us about Jay's Beef for years and I finally got to visit this trip. (For those who have never heard of an Italian beef - here's a description.) Actually we got a beef and sausage with peppers - no cheese. Damn. Soooooooooooooo good. The right bread, the right meat, the peppers and giardiniera. If you are in Chicago, please stop in and try Jay's. Your tastebuds will be sooooooooo happy!

Here's the beef - now shut the hell up Clara Peller!

The rest of the evening went swimmingly. We had a nice turnout for the lecture. The Chicago magic scene is always welcoming and there is a lot of fine, fine talent in the Windy City.

We headed home the next day and about 4 hours outside of Chicago I had a serious beef craving, but Tony wouldn't turn around. Bastard.


One of the best things about driving places is the little gems you find hidden along some of the byways. One tiny place, in Churubusco, IN, is Magic Wand Burger. It's a family owned ice cream and burger shop off of Route 33. We had driven past it several different times, choosing to eat at our favorite pork tenderloin place instead. This time we opted to give them a try - and damned glad we did.

This was staring at me as I came out of the ladies' room.
Scared the hell outta me too...
and I am not afraid of clowns...at least I wasn't....

I will warn you - if you have coulrophobia, then this is not the place for you. The whole interior is coated in clown pictures and statues... At least there were no pictures of weeping clowns in the bathroom.

More clowns to watch you eat...

Tony ordered the Magic Burger, a double decker cheeseburger made from fresh ground meat. The restaurant has the local grocer grind it for them every morning - a benefit of living in a small town. The fries were food service, but fried correctly. I took the plunge and ordered the deep fried cheese burger. Yes -I said deep fried cheeseburger. Essentially, they took a partially cooked meat patty, put a slice of cheese on it, breaded it and then deep fried it. It was pretty good - not as good as the Magic burger, but an interesting novelty filled with molten cheese. Onion Rings were food service, but once again acceptably cooked. It might seem that I am belaboring the "cooked properly" part, but considering none of the staff was over 18, I found it kind of impressive. We also ordered the homemade apple raspberry cobbler, which was pretty darn good too. They also offer all your favorite soft serve ice cream treats as well.

The legendary Magic Burger - two layers of meaty cheesey goodness.

Deep fried cheeseburger - as if a fried meat patty wasn't enough....

Next time we go, I am going to try the pork tenderloin sandwich which they make themselves (according to our waitress).

Part of my love for this little place was the fact that they have been around forever. In my head, I can see people meeting there for dates after the high school football game, getting married, taking the kids there, then those kids meeting their dates after the football game. It has that feel - and I think that's a really nice thing to have in this age of fast food burger places.

So after all the foodie goodness, I worked seven days in a row in preparation for my next out -of -state adventure: St. Louis and Kansas City.

While Tony slaved away in the dealer's room at the Midwest Magic Jubilee, Tate (you remember him from last year!) and I ran around St. Louis, eating and visiting the St. Louis Art Museum. You didn't have me pegged for an art lover did you? Just a food lover... *sniff*

Tate and I also went to a concert at the Pageant, a concert venue down on the Loop. The headliner was Reel Big Fish, a ska punk band that has been around since the 90's. If you get a chance to see Reel Big Fish - it is worth the time and effort. This Youtube video shows the final song from their encore - See them jumping around? They did that for 90 minutes. And the mosh pit was amazing. 'nuff said.

Of course we ate in both St. Louis and KC, and I'll be posting all about those foods up coming posts...

Jay's Beef
9732 Irving Park Rd
Schiller Park, IL 60176

Jay's Beef on Urbanspoon

Magic Wand
602 S Main St
Churubusco, IN 46723

Magic Wand Restaurant on Urbanspoon


I am a lucky lucky woman....

I know a lot of you have put me on the MIA lists, but really I am still here...just busy as heck...

A short list of a few things I have been doing...

  1. Not weeding my garden... bad me...
  2. Traveling to Chicago.... yeah me!
  3. Working 8 days straight while a co-worker is on vacation...sad me...
  4. Getting ready to head out to St. Louis and Kansas City, MO...happy me...
  5. And eating at a fantastic new restaurant down the street from work called Ali Baba's ...fat and happy me...

This is just going to be a quick note about Ali Baba's.

You need to go eat there...now.

Why?”, you ask.

Because the owner of Ali Baba's used to own part of Pita Hut...but he sold his interest to open this restaurant.”


This place has all the great food from Pita Hut PLUS lots more sides, a grill for kabobs and REAL CHINA to eat it off of.”

Damn...let me get my coat...”

I've become very spoiled in the last week... I have a total weakness for the falafel sandwiches at Pita Hut, but was able to resist simply because it was a pain to get in and out of the parking lot. Now I walk two blocks to food heaven.

And I've converted my boss and co-workers.

The only drawback is that there is no designated parking, so you will have to take your chances on one of the side streets and walk down...or come by bus..or just walk the two miles from home...doesn't matter how you get there...just get there...

Ali Baba's Mediterranean Grill is located at 1980A North High Street, right next to McDonald's. (But for the love of Pete, do not park at McDonald's...they tow...)

Ali Baba on Urbanspoon