I'm going to be real with you: I was not excited when I heard we'd be celebrating my aunt's birthday at Truffles. The last time I went, which was probably 5 years ago, they couldn't properly cook ahi tuna. Twice they gave me fully cooked tuna steaks instead of the just-seared fish we all know and love. This made me nervous.
The interior decor is mainly dark woods and French art, but not in a stuffy old person sort of way. Brian, our fantastic waiter, brought over the menus and we got to perusin'. BBQ ribs? Gochujang fish? Gumbo? Wait a second, Truffles isn't a primarily French restaurant anymore? No one had told me this. The array of choices sent me into a state of shock where decisions could not be made.
My dad started with the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Tomato Panzanella[/symple_highlight] salad ($12). I liked the modern twist of your typical panzanella. The toasted olive bread wrapped around a tower of fire roasted peppers, confit onion, and house made burrata cheese. I didn't try it, but my dad practically swallowed it whole. Guess he liked it.
My mom and aunt got the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Raw Yellowfin Tuna Lettuce Wraps[/symple_highlight] ($15) with crispy wonton threads, shaved jalapeño, sriracha, cilantro and a yuzu ponzu. While they weren't plated as nicely as the salad, they had a lot more flavor than you'd guess from the picture below.
My sister and I went for the evening's appetizer special, a [symple_highlight color="blue"]fried squash blossom[/symple_highlight] stuffed with crawfish over an okra stew. It was more okra than I can eat in one sitting, but it was a great Southern dish. I loveeeeee squash blossoms.
My grandparents had picked Truffles that evening, so I figured they had found some entrees there that were worth returning for. My grandma picked the house smoked [symple_highlight color="blue"]BBQ Ribs[/symple_highlight] ($20), which I was hesitant about. To my surprise, they were great: juicy, sweet, crunchy and tender. Not much more you can ask for in a rib. Plus they were served on a gigantic log. Sides included mac & cheese and coleslaw, neither of which I tried.
Two people went for the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Half Smoked Maple Leaf Farms Duck [/symple_highlight] ($30). The duck was topped with a dried cranberry reduction and was fantastic. Duck and berries is always a winning combination. Adding the smoked flavor made it even better. I'm annoyingly picky about duck and I would come back and eat this. It was served with a mixed green and toasted hazelnut salad, as well as a Rosemary-Gruyere bread pudding.
The bread pudding sounded delicious on paper but was the biggest letdown of the evening for me. Three of us at the table tried it and we all thought it just sort of tasted like nothing. I'm not sure if an ingredient was left out or what, but no one wanted a second bite.
I was particularly worried about the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Whole Fried Mediterranean Sea Bass[/symple_highlight] ($34) because of its heavy Asian influence. Would this Southernish restaurant be able to pull off a fish with Thai fried rice, Korean gochujang glaze and a tamarind-soy reduction? Brian convinced us it was worth a try and he was spot on. The fish was superb. The outside was crunchy, the inside was moist and the flavors were perfectly balanced. It reminded me of the Thai fried fish dishes I ate all the time. This was easily the dish of the night.
We were all pretty stuffed, but for a birthday, dessert is required! Our choice was the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Gooey Butter Brownie [/symple_highlight] ($9) with vanilla bean chantilly, which is just a fancy way of saying whipped cream. This is like the dessert for an indecisive person. Brown on the bottom, gooey butter on top. Have mercy.
Truffles left me pleasantly surprised and looking forward to my next visit. Plus, they'll be opening their very own butchery in the space just next door. Meat!
9202 Clayton Rd
St. Louis, MO