A new #stl restaurant each week

My wife and I have decided to try a new restaurant each week for the rest of the year. This week we are looking forward to trying Haveli on Page!

Here’s where we’ve been in our first two weeks:

Soeul Taco (U City)

My review (three out of five stars): After trying Soeul Taco’s tacos at a food fair a few months ago, we were looking forward to visiting their small restaurant in the Loop. We went at 7:30 PM on a Thursday night and it was crowded – all tables full and a short line. They’re definitely doing well. Seemed to be almost all college students from Wash U.

The service was friendly and the food came out quickly. I think it’s priced a little high… their tacos are little mini tacos like you’d get at an authentic Mexican place like Durango on Page… but where little tacos would be $.99 each at a a Mexican, they’re $2.50 here. We got 4 of those plus a burrito, which was $8. Again, kind of pricey. We asked for 2 cups of water with our order and without telling us, the cashier charged us for 2 bottles of water at $2 each. So our order came to $22.50, which was a little high for what is essentially burritos and tacos.

Their bulgogi beef is fantastic, and the secret to their success. You can taste it best on their little expensive tacos, which are really fantastic. If they were $.99 I would just order a bunch of those for dinner. The burrito was interesting… bulgogi beef, some kind of fried rice, lettuce, plus sour cream. We enjoyed the tacos more. We didn’t order a bulgogi bowl, but saw a few come out of the kitchen. It’s kind of like bi bim bop but instead of veggies there’s lettuce. So the bowl consists of a scoop of rice, topped with bulgogi beef and a fried egg on top, with mixed lettuce all around. Kind of odd.

Overall, I love their bulgogi beef. It’s fantastic. It was not a pleasant experience eating there because it was noisy (lots of college kids in a small space), windy (ceiling fans must have been set to super high) and we felt like we had to get up as soon as we were finished eating to give up our seats for the next people in line. I was not thrilled about being charged $4 for waters when we asked for cups of water (they didn’t have cups, but should have just told us that).

So… the pro is that their beef is amazing and their tacos are fantastic. Cons are everything else. But I am trying to keep in mind that this is a fresh opening for some young guys who started with a food truck. So this is kind of more like a storefront food truck than a restaurant. I hope they grow into it… I’ll definitely be back to try it again. For now, three stars.

SugarFire Smoke House (Olivette)

My review (three out of five stars): Just visited Sugarfire for the first time and enjoyed it. It was only my first visit and I will definitely go back… but at this point I would call it just OK BBQ.

First, I must say that I loved the decor and feel of the place. There was a BBQ “restaurant” in this same location a few years ago called Dickie’s (it was not good) and it looked like a fast food restaurant. This feels more like a casual restaurant and it’s different owners (same owner as Cyrano’s).

You order and pay at the counter and they cut the meat right in front of you, which is cool. The soda fountains are right next to the line, which is kind of a bad spot. Once you pay and take your food to your table you have have to work your way past people in line and “excuse me, pardon me” your way to the soda fountain. Seems like there could be a better place for this.

The food is served on metal trays (half sheet jelly roll pans, I believe) covered with a sheet of paper. If you get meat or a sandwich it is served right on the paper. I think that’s fine for a sandwich but found it odd to eat brisket off a pc of paper. Sides are served in paper baskets.

I tried the ribs, which had good flavor and were tender (but nothing close to a Pappy’s rib). The brisket was very tender but our slices had a thick layer of fat on top which I had to cut off. The fries were good. The beans looked like they would be good but they didn’t taste like BBQ or baked beans. I think it was because there was no sweetness to them – they just tasted like cooked beans.

They have a large variety of sauces to sample. The desserts looked great but we didn’t try them this time.

I would definitely like to go back and try it again. It happens to be close to my house so it’s convenient if I am in the mood for BBQ. I see that the owners are trying to make great food and they care about what they are doing there, and I look forward to visiting again soon and hopefully upgrading this to a 4 or 5 star review.