first impression | Cozy, warm, delicious and affordable … those are my first impressions of Marc del Pietro’s new restaurant, located in the city’s Southwest Garden neighborhood. It’s in a house, which adds to the ambience. The first room holds an inviting bar and high-tops; the adjoining space is the main dining room with just enough tables to keep things intimate. And that is at the center of 58hundred’s appeal: It feels and behaves like ‘a fancy restaurant,’ but the prices are moderate. The gourmet contemporary cuisine is top notch (as is the white-tablecloth service). It’s a concept that obviously works (so far), since the place is packed by 6:30 p.m. and doesn’t take reservations.

must try
» brussels sprouts taco: $7; Reputedly the most popular menu item, this is an all-around winner. You get three soft tacos stuffed with delectably deep-fried Brussels sprouts, lime
cream, pickled red onions, caramelized onions and toasted almonds. It’s filling, plentiful and has the right mix of flavors.
» house-smoked pork belly: $8; The slabs of pork were meaty enough to yield several mouthfuls of protein (sans fat). Accompanying cheddar grits were outstanding; their rich flavor was enhanced by a salty soy-sesame pan reduction.
» spicy buffalo fried shrimp: $9; This starter speaks to the fried food lover with its light coating and Cajun-spiced flavor. There were about six nice-sized pieces.
» 1/2 amish chicken: $18; The meat had a strong smokiness, thanks to the backyard smoker, and a very appealing browned skin. It was tender and flavorful and came with mushroom & leek bread pudding, which was delicious (if a little too crusty/overcooked). A bed of creamed orzo doused with herbs was phenomenal.
» braised beef: $17; Served in a light sage and red wine reduction, I left this entree still a little hungry. The rich, buttery gnocchi in there were outstanding.
» grilled salmon: $18; The fish was served just right at medium rare and with a slight charred flavor. It came with herbed quinoa—here again, I wanted more of it—and bits of asparagus, cucumber and celery with red pepper romesco sauce on the side.

wash it down
The bar menu is appealing, with all the usual suspects: drafts from Civil Life, Perennial, Urban Chestnut and others, plus more in cans and bottles. There are a few wines and a handful of cocktails. The Boulevardier ($10), basically a Negroni but with bourbon instead of gin, was stellar, hitting you first with its herbal punch, followed by a sweet-tangy aftertaste.

I loved this place! It’s the whole package. I hope it can continue to offer high-quality meals at such approachable prices. One thing diners should know: The food is very salty, which suits me fine but might not be for everyone.

5800 Southwest Ave. | 314.279.5799

the dish | Grilled petit tender  with horseradish potato gratin, grilled asparagus, mushrooms and chimichurri