Changing this a bit

I think I might review St. Louis websites… or something. When I started this site, I used to be quite the party girl and had grandiose plans to make snarky reviews and comments about all the places I went. Since I started seriously dating my boyfriend, I don’t get out to as many cool places as I used to, and I am OK with that. We go to Quincy Street Bistro at least once a week (since writing that review, they’ve only gotten better).

I think that this is a good St. Louis tourist attraction domain name though. I really like the logo I made and the over-all design of it. Several years ago, starting this, I put quite a bit of effort into installing and customizing the review script. So I want to use it for something… just not quite sure! Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments below.

Find my website design and professional services on KMurrayCreative.com 

 

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China Garden on Gravois and Loughborough

If you like China King, you’re going to love China Garden. Or if you like China Queen, China Prince, etcetera :-)

For cheap Chinese food, this was pretty darn good. Huge portions and not too greasy, and the only reason I was really tired after eating is that I ate too much and was tired anyway.

When they say that it’s hot or spicy, it really is. The Kung Pao chicken was really flavorful and the broccoli that came with it was fresh and not wilting or overcooked. I also really liked the crab rangoon, it was really well done and one of the few times I’ve actually eaten all of the crunchy fried wrapper. I’m not a big egg-roll fan, but because they don’t over-do the frying, it was really light and tasty.

When you’re ordering at any cashier’s stand, there’s not really too much that service can screw up, but it was extra nice that their staff spoke fluent English.

Did I say that the place seemed extra clean? Maybe it’s because they’re new, but it felt almost sterile. Not much else they could have improved the interior and still stayed cheap and affordable.

This place is really easy to get in and out of, and on a rainy day would totally be do-able, because parking is conveniently in front.

For what it is, cheap food for when you’re hungry and wanting a step above fast food, this place was great. I will definitely be back.

PS- I could not find that they have a website :(

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CulPepper’s Bar and Grill in Kirkwood

If you’re using a GPS that tells you only 20 feet in advance of your destination as I do (and GPSs never tell you the parking lot entrance location), be careful of the dry cleaner’s drive through pickup which exits next door to this place! Adrenaline from a near hit aside, parking behind the Culpepper’s on Kirkwood Rd. was easy.

What is good service when all the service I’ve received since moving to St. Louis is amazing (especially compared to other places I’ve lived and visited)?? We paid with a gift certificate, and I was extra impressed that the waitress applied a coupon so that we paid even less and it rounded to the number on the gift card.

The food was equivalent to Applebe’s, which is still okay, but we were expecting something less chain-like. Maybe the friend who recommended the place was drunk or high (very possible), or maybe we just have different tastes (also very possible). Maybe steak isn’t their forte. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. I liked the salad. I think they are “known” for their wings (which I didn’t know before going). The funnel cake fries sated my sweet tooth, I may have been in a dessert mood.

Atmosphere was okay, and like the food, unremarkable. I actually prefer Applebe’s ambience (I hate to keep comparing them to Applebe’s, but they seem like a local-made clone). There were alot of families with small children dining; maybe Kirkwood is a family town, or maybe Monday nights are big family dinner times. Either way, if you don’t like children, there are places with a higher average age to eat at 5ish, and hopefully not as many children later at night.

I was glad to be spending a friend’s gift certificate and not my own money.

Website:

Culpeppers.com – Their site as of this writing appeared to lack meta-tags. This means that it’s not very search engine optimized, and the first wording on their site about their loyalty program comes up when you search for them instead of their website’s description.

Their site is graphic intensive, although the images do load so fast I almost didn’t notice on a cable connection. I haven’t tried accessing it from my cell phone, but this generally wouldn’t be a good idea because the images would be shrunk accordingly and the text would be hard to read. Images appeared to lack alt-tags and descriptions, details which would make them easier for search engines to find.

I didn’t like that the menu was also written on a single picture jpg, although slightly better than a pdf! I have a 13 inch computer screen, and could not read the text on any of the menu pages.

Maybe SEO and mobile access isn’t a very big priority for Culpepper’s marketing team..

This site’s main good point was that it’s easy to navigate and graphically well designed. I also really liked the food photography. The fav-icon made it stand out amongst the zillion tabs open in Google Chrome.

Their FaceBook page appears to stay updated with specials and events.

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Bud Light Zone Buffett – Scott Trade Center

Last night I went to the Blues game and ate their buffet, for at least the fifth time. The menu rotates, so it’s different each time. Last night the theme was salads, which at first I was on the fence about, but glad I went with what’s become my pre-Blues hockey game routine .The bibb lettuce was especially delicious. As far as the meats went, I couldn’t decide if I liked the ribs or salmon best. The fried cheese cake is worth saving room for. I’ve never been disappointed with the quality and taste of the food inside the Bud Light Zone pre-game.

Food was well prepared, super clean, and service at the buffet was quick and professional.

You have to get reservations in advance to get table seating, although sometimes seats become available. Service in the bar area was just okay– the servers have alot of people to take care of, and I’m sure that a non-drinking buffet two person table is easy to forget about. I’ve definitely gotten much better service in the table seating areas.

Parking is easy to find and safe -depending on how much you’re willing to pay. You’re probably coming here for a Blues Game, anyway.

This could be a good place to meet new people. It’s busy enough that as a single person at the bar you wouldn’t stand out too much, and others in the area seem approachable and convivial pre-game.

For a dependably great pre-game meal, that’s super convenient to the game because it’s inside the stadium, I will definitely come back the next time I go see the Blues!

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An early dinner at Quincy Street Bistro

Everytime we drove by Quincy Street Bistro, it looked packed and since the parking was inconvenient, we passed. Last night, famished from starting the day early and skipping lunch, we ventured in right before the dinner crowd.

The interior is adorable, and feels super-clean; the atmosphere feels more “Clayton” than “South City”.  It’s two stories, with the upstairs giving more of a restaurant feel and downstairs is the upscale bar area, although there are big screen televisions upstairs as well for the true sports fanatic. It feels like a mix of upscale sports bar and family owned bistro. I was really surprised to find this style in South City. Apparently they are kid-friendly, and there was a family with children also having an early dinner.

We ate upstairs in the restaurant area, which still felt “new”. It would be nice to see some noise-absorbing art on the walls– there was a slight echo in the room and you could tell the place as been recently renovated and remodeled. I could see how after dark, with less natural light coming in, that you could have a really romantic dinner here. I felt slightly under-dressed in my super casual jeans and tennis shoes- there were alot of business-dressed people here. You could probably dress up or down and feel comfortable.

We started off with the flash fried spinach, and weren’t expecting such a huge portion for the size. It was seasoned with balsamic vinegar and lemon juice, with a little bit of parmesan. Really REALLY good. I would stop by here just for a snack of their flash fried spinach!

For the main course I got the chicken caprese sandwich and house fries, and my boyfriend got the chicken friend steak and mashed potatoes. Maybe it was coincidental, or maybe I was just in the mood for fried food, but their seasoned house fries were delicious, and I wish I’d ordered my boyfriend’s steak. The chicken caprese sandwich was really good – but they should have balanced the delicate sauce and flavors out with lighter bread rather than putting it on a bun. I wish I’d been with a larger group so I could have sampled more of the menu- it all looked delicious.

It was less expensive than a similar type restaurant that you’d find in higher rent, trendier, districts. The price felt about right, and definitely nothing to dissuade me from coming back!

We didn’t drink, so didn’t pay attention to the alcohol selection.

Service was impeccable. I keep getting great service here in St. Louis and it’s totally raising the bar!

I would take business colleagues and out of town family here without hesitation. This is one of those places that really shows off St. Louis, and one of the few “nicer” venues in this part of South St. Louis. I’d also go here if I was feeling someone out or if I knew them pretty well… there are other places with more overt romantic atmospheres if you want to lay it on thick. I didn’t get a feel for the “chick to dick” ratio, so hard to judge this place as a social spot.

My only complaint about the Quincy Street Bistro is the street parking. We were lucky and got a spot right in front.  The neighborhood feels safe, so as a single woman I wouldn’t mind parking across the street at the brightly lit gas station and walking. It would be nice if they had a valet option.

Unfortunately, there’s no website for Quincy Street Bistro. I’d love to see their menu online and keep up with their specials and hours. Apparently, they just opened in February, so are probably still settling in and figuring out what works… and they’re totally on the right path!

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Cicero’s on the Delmar Loop

This was the first place I’ve ever checked into on FourSquare!

Last night, I was in the mood for casual dining and pizza. One of my friends suggested Cicero’s on the Delmar Loop, and I was glad I went!

I’m not a beer drinker, but this place is known for their large beer selection and knowledgable staff. They have something called “Beer School”, which looks intriguing. Also, they have concerts and live entertainment, which I hope to experience on future visits.

Service was attentive, personable, but not obnoxious.

I got the fried artichoke hearts, which was meant to be split with my friend… but I ended up eating most of them. Needless to say, they were perfectly done.

Ordered the thin crust “Hawaii Five-O” but substituted bacon for ham (which the staff was totally willing to do, even though the menu says no substitutions on specialty pizzas). It hit the spot!

I have a hard time reviewing pizza, because usually when I’m in the mood for it, I’m not in a terribly picky mood.

As others have said in other reviews, the food is “solid”. Atmosphere is great if you’re in a casual bar type mood, but a little loud and busy if you’re on a romantic date or trying to have a serious conversation.

The biggest drawback to Cicero’s, like all the venues on the Delmar Loop, is the parking. If you’re lucky, you might find a spot in the back lot behind Cicero’s, but otherwise you’ll have to walk– and the neighborhood has a sketchy feel compared to the aeseptic suburbs. For that reason alone, I would hesitate to come here as a single woman after dark unless I had friends to walk me to and from my car.

I would probably feel comfortable dining at this place as a single chick – the chick to dick ratio seemed pretty even (though slightly more single men than women) and the staff was incredibly cool. It appears as if there’s a wide mix of everyone from younger college students to yuppies and hipsters to older folks. Cicero’s would be a good place to have a casual girls’ night or to hang with you boyfriend’s friends.

Website:

http://www.ciceros-stl.com – Their website is really easy to navigate! It’s informative and you should have a really good idea of what you want to order and what’s happening if you look at their site before you go there. I really like that their complete menu is online, with the sections clickable so you aren’t overwhelmed with all their huge selection on one page. The calendar of upcoming events is super smooth and easy to figure out. Their whole site is very user friendly.

Ciceros-stl.com is well integrated with social media, and they appear to engage on Twitter and FaceBook. The only question I have, is why is their blog on a wordpress.org subdomain, and not a subdomain of ciceros-stl.com ? They have a small PayPal store integrated into their site, I wonder why not their blog. That being said, their WordPress.org blog is well done, and they even got their custom favicon on it.

This is still one of the best restaurant sites I’ve seen, so far.

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Sweet Tomatoes on Watson Road – March 22 – More than just a salad bar!

This is a salad bar style casual restaurant and great for when two people can’t decide on what to eat except that it needs to be with the goal of eating healthy… although with the tempting focaccia and desserts, you could easily consume alot of calories!

You start out with a plate at the salad bar, and hopefully you aren’t in line behind rowdy children. If you’re just dropping in and have never been there before, it’s not clear until the end of the line after you pay that there’s also a hot bar with pastas, soups, breads, and also a dessert bar.

The soup bar is excellent.  All the soups I’ve tasted here had plenty of flavor and left me wanting more…so I did…have more. The mac’n’cheese is also notable, and you can add even more cheese to it from the hot potato section. Lots of choices beyond the salad bar!

The food is well tended, and the place feels really clean. Lots of seating, and even at dinner hour, it is possible to find a seat away from loud families and groups. If you’re wanting to have a quiet or business conversation, the noise level at dinner is probably a little too loud.

Plates are cleared off the table promptly, and the minimal service is efficient. I was really impressed with their cleanliness, considering the quantity of food, large dining area, and variety of other diners (everyone from families, elderly and disabled, single people, couple, teenagers…).

Because it’s busy, but staff and other diners leave you alone, this would be a comfortable place for a woman to eat alone at. Like most other suburban places, parking is safe and out in front of the building.

I am guessing that their locations across the country are all pretty similar and consistent, and if this is true, it would be a good place to try when going out of town and wanting a predictably satisfying experience.

Website:

http://www.souplantation.com – Their site is a corporate one which is really easy to navigate, whether you’re looking for their menu or the nearest location to you. I really like that it’s super-easy to find the nutritional value of all their menu items, so if you’re on any type of diet, you can easily plan your meal or keep track of what you consumed.

Sweet Tomato’s Blog, Twitter, and Facebook are all kept updated. I really like that they engage and participate with people on Twitter. 

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My 1 Hour Massage at Peking Reflexology Foot Massage

Today I went to Peking Reflexology Foot Massage on 14372 Manchester Rd in Manchester/Ballwin MO (St. Louis).

This was quite possibly the best massage I’ve ever had. After every massage I think that, though, especially since several months often go by between such treats.

However, Peking Reflexology Foot Massage was such a great experience and value, that I will probably go back in a few weeks rather than months.

My girlfriend had been dying to try it, because of the sign outside saying “$20 for 30 minute foot massage”…  but you never know with small “hole in the wall” type places, especially alone. We impulsively checked it out today, and were so glad that we did!

We walked in, during the middle of the day, and they weren’t busy (although they do accept appointments)! The only up-selling was the price sheet and tranquil atmosphere, which encouraged us to pay an extra fifteen bucks for a full hour, full body, reflexology session.

As far as decor and atmosphere goes, this place did more with less than so-called “better spas” which end up making you feel like you’re getting treated in a hospital; this was more like if you could escape to San Francisco, and with the gentle Asian music and soft lighting, the cars rushing by on Manchester sounded like the ocean. The temperature, smells, ambient music, and over all ambiance were perfect.

The man and woman who massaged us appeared to be husband and wife, and were dressed in matching red scrubs and extremely polite and professional, even though we couldn’t really understand them thru their thick accents.

Since we both thought we were just getting a casual reflexology and foot massage session, we didn’t undress. I guess you could have?  That was unclear. We were kept covered in towels as if we had done it sans-clothing. The massage chairs were comfortable and close so if we’d wanted to talk to each other or hold hands, we could have (I kept thinking how romantic this would be for a couples’s massage with my boyfriend).

My body turned over to the man, I think his name was Gao, I immersed myself. The touch was the perfect amount of pressure, and he seemed to intuitively sense that my left side is more sensitive than my right. It was just amazing how he picked up on my body’s cues and put the right pressure and concentration in the right places. My friend had a similar experience with the woman massaging her.

The hour was too soon up. They helped us back in our shoes and coats, and we paid. I tipped $10, and would have tipped more if I’d had it, because I’ve paid more at chain places with sterile atmospheres and considerably less skilled professionals. I have absolutely no complaints, and would expect to pay more for the quality I received. $35 for one full hour is a deal.

I’d highly recommend Peking Reflexology Foot Massage to single women, people on budgets, and couples.

Website: Unfortunately, Peking Reflexology Foot Massage on Manchester Rd. in St. Louis doesn’t appear to have a website.

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Lunch at Sybergs on Gravois

Sybergs on Gravois, St. Louis MO

Today I had lunch at Sybergs on Gravois, between Heege and DesPeres roads. Parking was closeby and safe.

Not much to say for the atmosphere- it was adequate for lunch, and would probably be a good place to eat dinner at if you were alone (in other words, not romantic or conductive to quiet conversations). It seems to be a “guys hangout” type of place, and the chick to dick ratio was really low, even during the day.

The menu is comprehensive and offers a good balance of heavier foods and healthy fare. I’ve heard their pizza is especially delicious. You could take a picky eater here.

Despite the place appearing quite busy, my food came out quick and service was personable and attentive without being obnoxious. I had the Syberg’s Chicken Wrap, which was delicious. I can’t say anything for the quantity of food, since I’ve never been the type to eat large portions, but despite having skipped breakfast and being unusually hungry, I still left food on my plate.

I’d recommend this place for a quick, casual, lunch.

Syberg’s Website Review:

Their website, http://www.sybergsgravois.com is well integrated with social media and makes them easy to find on FaceBook and Twitter. It loads in my Android-based smart phone, but isn’t optimized for cell phone access. The menus are in PDF format, which doesn’t load well on cell phones, and I personally don’t like downloading anything when I’m just looking for information. When I accessed their site (at about noon on March 28), they didn’t appear to have meta-tags in their header, no fav-icon (which would load a logo in FireFox and Chrome browsers), nor any stats counter. Alot of little details were missed on this site, and I get the impression that it was created a little sloppily or in haste.

 

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