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Sound Bites: Reviewing The Best Restaurants, Dishes, Drinks Of 2014

Sauce Magazine executive editor Ligaya Figueras called the cheeseburger at Death in the Afternoon in St. Louis one of her most memorable meals of 2014.
Carmen Troesser
Sauce Magazine

Looking back on 2014, Sauce Magazine's editor and restaurant critics shared their favorite new restaurants, meals and drinks.

Best New Restaurants

Restaurant critic Michael Renner picked Peacemaker Lobster and Crab. Chef-owner Kevin Nashan imports fresh seafood daily. "He's brining in Maryland crabs. He's bringing in Maine lobster," Renner told "Cityscape" host Steve Potter.

Restaurant critic Matt Berkley chose Planter's House.

"It's a bar, but it's almost more of a restaurant," he said. "Originally it was a 19th century hotel — a famous hotel downtown. Presidents and all kinds of celebrities would come through and this was the place to be. And it's got that feel, that very 19th century Victorian parlor. You just want to be here all night long. The food is absolutely exquisite — much, much better than any kind of bar food that you'd ever imagine. And the drinks are just ... The meticulous nature of it. It's not hoity-toity, but they have different specific cuts of ice for each type of drink and it's fantastic."

Best Menu Items

This year, several of the favorites were familiar items, with a twist.

Renner raved about the bread board at Juniper. "It's almost a meal in itself," he said. The breadbasket includes buttermilk biscuits, angel biscuits, cornbread, popovers and Sally Lunn buns, a type of sweetbread. "Bread service is going away for the most part in a lot of places, but what they do there is quite good."

Renner and Berkley included items from Three Flags Tavern.

Berkley hailed the restaurants take on shrimp and grits: Shrimp, Scallops, Tasso Ham, Manchego and Grits in Pan Sauce. "Food is supposed to be an escape, and this takes you somewhere where you feel it's just warmer and you want to be there."

Renner included Three Flags' ground-brisket hamburger, ground in-house and with a house-made potato bun.

Sauce executive editor Ligaya Figueras also picked a hamburger. The cheeseburger at Death in the Afternoon "is killer awesome," she said, with molten cheese inside the burger.

Healthy Eating

Healthy, vegetarian and vegan restaurants popped up in St. Louis in 2014. Figueras said she enjoyed Athlete Eats, Seedz Cafe and food truck-turned-storefront Lulu's Local Eatery.

"When you go in there, you don't think, 'Oh, this is vegan,'" Figueras said of Lulu's. "It's just delicious food."

Best Drinks

Whiskey is making a splash, Berkley said. For those who aren't sure they like whiskey, he recommended the Whiskey Ring's Kentucky Mule. "It's very light; it's very refreshing," he said. "It's essentially bourbon — Kentucky bourbon and ginger beer and just lime on ice in this huge copper mug. It just makes you happy to hold this thing. It's just absolutely wonderful."

In beer, Figeras recommended Side Project Brewing's Saison du Blé and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.'s Bushelhead cider.

Sound Bites is a monthly segment produced in partnership with Sauce Magazine

“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.