Monday, January 24, 2011

ice kitchen

we first tried ice kitchen over a year ago and had a pretty good meal.  honestly, the only thing that prevented us from going back was the out-of-the-way location, but the relative paucity of vegetarian options was also a deterrent.  after reviewing the menu recently, however, we decided to pull the trigger on a coupon for ice kitchen and give them one more try.  it's all for you, faithful readers.

all twelve of you. :)

maryland heights

ice kitchen is located a few miles north of 64 and 270, in a little plaza near fee fee lane (seriously).  there are a number of other little restaurants and a comedy club in the same plaza, so we suppose it's ideal for young business-types of the northwest side of the city to blow off some steam.  the decor is, for lack of a better word, swanky.  swathed in a variety cool blues, one could say that the place is "iced out" if one were so inclined.  there's a bar in the center of the restaurant that caters to the more boisterous crowd, and then there are series of dimly lit booths and tables for folks more interested in romance.  we opted for the latter cuz lois is nothing if not a misanthrope romantic.

it should be noted that from the minute we were greeted at the door, the staff made us feel like v.i.p.s.  from the hostess to the waiter to the shift manager to random other staff not even connected to our service experience, we got nothing but warm smiles.  most important, our waiter did everything he could to make sure that everything ordered was strictly vegetarian.  truly fantastic service.

since the coupon required us to spend at least fifty bucks, we went to town.  now, ice kitchen is not so big baller that meals begin with an amuse bouche or anything, but they do insist on courses for the meal.  so, we began with the roasted corn chowder, and we knew instantly that nothing else we ordered would trump this opening.  ok, yeah, it's full of heavy cream and probably a tad too much sodium, but, like, whatever.  it tasted awesome!  the flavor was boldly intense without masking the sweetness of the corn, and the consistency was textbook "chowder."  ultimate comfort food.  much moaning.  much closing of eyes.  much furrowing of brow.

next up was the deconstructed greek salad, which consisted of field greens, kalamata olives, feta, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, spiced pita strips, and balsamic vinaigrette.  to this we added a portabella steak for extra oopmf, though ultimately big daddy mushroom failed to shine.  the salad was competent and everything (including the tomatoes!) was fresh.  we could have done without pita strips entirely, but otherwise the salad was solid.

it was good to have the salad if for no other reason than we were thankful to have some vibrant veg before the next course: the antipasto platter (sans meat) and assorted spreads.  based on a request of ours, the chef graciously agreed to combine the meatless antipasto platter with the spreads to form one behemoth of a party tray.  the antipasto platter: the cheese and bread weren't all that exciting, but we still managed to finish them off; the candied walnuts were yummy; the grapes were super plump and perfectly tart; and the olives provided the salty punctuation necessary to liven up the cheese.  the house-made spreads: the zesty eggplant puree was just that--zesty goodness; the tzatziki sauce was surprisingly flavorful; and the kalamata tapenade beautifully combined an olivey-zip with a butter/oil basenote.  really, all of it was good. 

by now, though, we were starting to feel the burn.  but nothing stands in the way of our recon!  so we dug in, unbuckled our belts, and made room for ice kitchen's vegetarian version of their wonton tacos.  ordinarily, their tacos come with carne asada, but the kitchen substituted the beef for extra taro root puree.  we're pleased to say that the result was quite good.  the napa cabbage slaw was bright and hearty, and the avocado-chili sauce was scrumptious if a touch too spineless.  unfortunately, the wonton shells were lackluster and didn't have the capacity to support the ingredients.  we can only imagine how quickly they'd succumb to the extra weight of the carne asada.

and still we weren't finished!  by now, we were leaning against each other for support, but we managed to give the final course a go.  we concluded with the vegetarian flatbread because, well, we figured we couldn't go wrong with veg, bread, and gooey cheese.  much to our chagrin, the flatbread was by far the lowlight of the evening.  the veg was scant at best, the cheese lacked any personality, and the balsamic reduction nearly obliterated all other ingredients.  worst of all, though, was the bread itself.  completely and utterly flavorless.  what a shame.  but, hell, we could barely take a sip of water at this point, so it was no great loss that we didn't want to finish the food.

overall, we left ice kitchen quite pleased.  it's tough to complain about great service, competent food, and vegetarian-friendly chef.  so we won't complain.  it's great to have a kitchen that's willing to help with dietary needs; we'd just like to see more vegetarian options on the permanent menu.  so, though there are other places closer to home that we prefer, there's no question that we'll be visiting ice kitchen again, even if it takes us another year to get there.


vegetarian-friendly score:

Ice Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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