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STL House Tour!

photo 6

The outside of my humble Dogtown duplex – those blue doors were not my choice.

Any self respecting DIY/design blog has a house tour and since I was going to start posting a few more projects, I figured this was the right time to show you the place, or most of the place, that I moved into in STL. (This is where you prepare yourself for a lot of photos and a long list of projects.)

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that this place is a work in progress. The second is that the lighting is bad. The third is that I have no control over the wall color, which means I lovingly refer to this place as the beige box. So, now that I’m done making excuses for myself, here you have it.

Living Room

Loving the big window in the living room.

Loving the big window in the living room.

Who doesn't love a good stained glass window?

Who doesn’t love a good stained glass window?

And now for the piece de resistance: a wall of books.

And now for the piece de resistance: a wall of books.

This room is probably the most complete, even though there are some big items that need to be replaced or added. Overall, it feels nice and homey enough that there isn’t a fire under my butt to get things changed – this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Right now, it’s very tone-on-tone so the goal is to bring in color, specifically more navy blue, key lime green and yellow/gold. This room’s to-do list includes:

  • Find some oversized artwork to go in between the two niches
  • Replace the coffee table
  • Replace the pillows on the couch
  • Put in a new entertainment center
  • Potentially put some artwork above the TV
  • Make a box of some sort to hold magazines, computer chargers and other miscellaneous knick-knacks
  • Get ahold of a more modern floor lamp – this one’s been through more moves than it should have
  • Replace the lamp on the console with something more modern
  • Think through a coat rack by the door

Hallway

Looking from the living room down the hallway.

Looking from the living room down the hallway.

My beloved wall of art.

My beloved wall of art.

This small stretch of interior real estate is very finished and I love it. It was the perfect place to hang all of the random prints and frames that were, up until a few weeks ago, lying around on the floor. You can find this great Chicago print I bought right before I moved, the vintage looking Gameboy artwork that used to hang next to my bed and even the old Mizzou drawing that used to be in an even bigger frame. My only goal for the hallway at this point is to:

  • Contribute more to the frame wall

Bathroom

This is about as exciting as it gets.

This is about as exciting as it gets.

The biggest downfall of this place is how small the bathroom is. It gets the job done but doesn’t leave much room for anything. A good shower curtain, some art and that’s all you need. Oh, and these items:

  • Buy a better toothbrush holder
  • Replace the horrible faux stained glass in the shower with plain contact paper – we’ll see if I can convince the landlord that this is better for everyone

Kitchen

Looking from the hallway into the kitchen.

Looking from the hallway into the kitchen.

If only I had stainless steel ...

If only I had stainless steel …

So, this kitchen is very nice: new cabinets, double sinks, and granite counter tops – most of the work is already done! There are a few small things I’d like to do, and already did with this project, but overall, I’m pleased.

  • Hang some oversized art above the kitchen table
  • Buy a better container for the dish soap
  • Streamline the magnets on the fridge
  • Add foam pads to the bottom of the chairs – they keep scrapping the floor and dirtying it
  • Find a centerpiece for the kitchen table – I’m thinking a mini herb garden would be nice
  • Find something to put above the cabinets that are above the sink
  • Come up with a better trash/recycling system – I’m afraid this is going to mean buying a new trashcan
  • Buy more wine – duh

Office

So many windows, which means more light to bring out the flaws.

So many windows, which means more light to bring out the flaws.

Ugh. It's so bad.

Ugh. It’s so bad.

This room is the catch-all for the random furniture that wasn’t used in the rest of the house. None of it matches, none of it is even nice so I’m basically starting from scratch. Get ready for the list from you know where:

  • Replace the desk; buy a desk chair
  • Modernize the desk lamp
  • Replace the bookshelf
  • Add a bar cart
  • Buy an area rug
  • Buy a lounge chair
  • Hang artwork
  • Find a floor lamp
  • Accessorize

Voila! My current quarters with a very long to-do list. I can’t predict when any of this is going to get done but I’m looking forward to the adventure.

Have you made any updates to your place? What changes would you suggest to the rooms? I’m seriously open to anything.

PS: Every time I proofread this, I keep adding to the various lists. This truly is going to be the never-ending project and I haven’t even talked about the bedrooms.

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The Perfect Taste

Disclaimer: Unless you’re from St. Louis or are planning on visiting, you probably won’t find this post very interesting. However, I’m hoping that it inspires you to explore some of the wonderful local restaurants you have in your own backyard – you never know what you’ll find! Oh, and this post is long one.

I announced a couple of weeks ago that I had moved to STL, which is how I will be referring to the Lou from now on. It’ll probably mess with my SEO – Search Engine Optimization for all you non-marketing folk, but I’m perfectly OK with it since we need to work on rebranding this city so that it’s not overrun by high school enthusiasts.

I’m not going to lie, moving from an international destination like Chicago, chalked full of museums, architectural history, and an incomparable food scene, I was nervous about my new surroundings and how it was going to affect my cultural horizons. After being here for almost a month and exploring the Gateway to the West, I’m thinking that this place might make a suitable substitute – minus my awesome friends, DMK burger and public transportation.

While on one of my STL adventures, I stopped in at Taste, an upscale bar/small bites eatery in the popular Central West End neighborhood. Unfortunately, their website doesn’t offer much information on how it started but I will do my best to convince you that the food and experience are worth any detour.

Before setting foot into taste, you’re greeted by a simple wooden door, topped with a very explicit sign so as to prevent any confusion as to where you’ve stumbled to. It would be easy to walk right by it if you’re not paying attention but on the rainy night that I found myself there, the warm candle light couldn’t have been more welcoming.

No  way you're going to get this place mixed up with anything else.

No way you’re going to get this place mixed up with anything else.

Like I mentioned, Taste is first and foremost a bar – not a bar where you go for cheap drink specials and fried food. A bar that enables you to try liquors in combinations that you will probably find strange at first. Because of the hundred classic and innovative cocktails to choose from, I won’t elaborate on them here. Instead, I’ll direct you to their menu and give the best advice I received at a similar place: try a cocktail that has an alcohol you don’t usually gravitate towards.

Now, most people treat Taste like an upscale bar with a couple of amuse-bouches to choose from. I, however, wanted dinner and decided to indulge with six items off their snacks, small plates, large plates and sweets menu.

Gremolata

Roasted curried cauliflower with anchovy chili gremolata – don’t forget the bread crumbs!

First off is the roasted curried cauliflower with anchovy, chili gremolata. I was nervous about this one since I’m not a huge cauliflower fan but consider myself a convert. It tasted a little pickled, which combined some great vinegary, sweet flavors with the freshness of the vegetable and spiciness of the curry. Add some gremolata and you now have a sharp citrus tang that cuts through all the flavors while managing to bring them all together and playing to the velvety taste of the side of aioli.

Bacon fat fried cornbread. Ugh. I want some now.

Bacon fat fried cornbread. Ugh. I want some now.

Next up, we have the bacon fat fried cornbread. For those of you that know me, you’re aware that cornbread is one of my favorite foods. Fry it in bacon fat and you pretty much have the perfect meal – I’m not joking. I could have eaten a full plate of this and asked for more. The bread is perfectly moist on the inside, surrounded by a salty, crunchy outside that creates the perfect contrast of flavors for anyone to enjoy.

Potato gnocchi with bacon, dates, snap peas and basil.

Potato gnocchi with bacon, dates, snap peas and basil.

The third stop on our culinary adventure finds us trying the potato gnocchi with bacon, dates, snap peas and basil. It sounds like a mouthful but it’s the best kind. The gnocchi is so soft and a little sweet with the hit of the dates. All of that is offset by the salty bacon or lardons, which make for a heartier bite.

Pork scrapple, brown butter, sage and fried egg.

Pork scrapple, brown butter, sage and fried egg.

Barbacoa, masa, salsa verde, red onion, queso fresco and cilantro.

Barbacoa, masa, salsa verde, red onion, queso fresco and cilantro.

The next two dishes, pork scrapple, brown butter, sage and fried egg, and the barbacoa, masa, salsa verde, red onion, queso fresco and cilantro, were not my favorites so I’m not going to elaborate on them here. They’re perfectly OK but you should save room for dessert.

Moving on to the sweets! We asked the waitress for a recommendation and after spending 45 seconds describing the churros but only saying that the “Manhattan shake” was good, we knew the choice had been made for us.

Churros, almond ice cream and chocolate.

Churros, almond ice cream and spiced chocolate.

Churros have a lot to live up to after having savored the ones served up at Xoco in Chicago, however when churros, velvet almond ice cream and spiced chocolate showed up, I dove in and didn’t look back.

These were the best churros I’ve ever had. Light, airy, sweet, dipped in chocolate. They were a little spicy but the almond ice cream was the perfect counter balance to the heat. I would go back just for those and the cornbread.

Alright, I’ve bored you enough. To streamline this process, I created a key below and will use it on any restaurant reviews moving forward (look at me and my business speak):

  • Price: $$
  • Taste: 4/5
  • Ambience: 4/5
  • Service: 4/5

So there you have it – my first STL restaurant review! How do you think I did? Anything else on the menu I should have tried? What would you have gotten?

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