The intersection of Clayton and Strecker roads is gaining a reputation as one of West County’s hottest culinary crossroads.
Lauded by foodies and welcomed as a neighborhood haunt where creative food, cold drinks and live music encourage guests to eat, drink and enjoy, Parkside Grille is a dining destination.
“Some people call us the secret on Strecker Road,” said Parkside Grille owner Jean Ann Mantia, a professionally trained chef who has cooked throughout the U.S. and Europe.
But the secret is out.
“Our mantra is classic comfort food,” Mantia said, as in chef-made comfort food created with top quality ingredients, many of which are locally sourced. During the summer, fruits and vegetables are sourced from Zick’s Nursery, right across the street. You can’t get more local than that.
Collaborating on the menu is Chef Mark Wentz, whose resume includes stints in some of St. Louis’ finest eateries, including Tony’s, Café du France and Bellerive Country Club.
“Chef Mark and I collaborate on everything,” Mantia said. “We always get our heads together on our daily specials board.”
The specials board features a selection of comfort classics and seasonal delights designed to satisfy both gourmet and gourmand. Savvy customers call ahead to check the daily features.
“Last night, we had Chicken Pot Pies, which sold out in an hour,” Mantia said on the day of the interview.
Pot pies, considered the ultimate comfort food, are one of Wentz’s specialties. Each pot pie is made with seasoning twists that echo those given to other comfort classics such as the Beer Battered Walleye, which is made with craft beers.
“Mixing a little dark beer in the batter gives it a flavor punch,” Wentz said.
Counted among Parkside’s standout plates is the Loaded Lobster Club, a lobster lover’s treat that stacks sweet aioli-sauced Maine lobster with crispy peppered bacon, avocado, tomato and lettuce on a toasted croissant bun.
Parkside Grille also offers a nicely balanced menu filled with custom grilled burgers, wraps and salads in addition to shareable starters and flatbreads. And save room for dessert.
“Desserts are one of our passions,” Wentz said. “We make all of them from scratch and in-house.”
The dessert list varies with one exception – Key Lime Pie. Parkside’s signature dessert is on the menu most days. Other favorites include Amaretto Cherry Crumb Cake, Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake and a skillet cookie that is served warm and topped with ice cream.
The Parkside Grille experience is not complete without music. Mantia’s husband, Rocky, a professional musician, who has opened shows for music legend Jimmy Buffet, Styx and REO Speedwagon, is featured.
“We have live music every Wednesday through Saturday night and on Sunday afternoon,” Mantia said. Live music also is featured during Parkside Grille’s monthly themed dinners – five courses of perfection paired with Parkside’s curated wine list.
“It is so rare to find a place like this in West County,” said Parkside Grille customer Mike Smiley. “I tell people it’s like being in Soulard or somewhere on The Hill. The food is great and the music reminds me of the bands that used to play back in the days in Soulard.”
Such warm reviews are music to Mantia’s ears.
“I want you to feel comfortable, similar to the old, local pub or corner restaurant of the past,” Mantia said. “A neighborhood restaurant where friends can enjoy food, relax together and listen to the music.”