Review: Pangea

Local chef Jessie Gilroy (Sidney Street Cafe, Charlie Gitto’s, The Tavern) recently opened her own restaurant in New Town St. Charles featuring flavors from around the world. The Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef offers inventive comfort foods like beef cheeks, sliced pork shoulder and jerk chicken at approachable prices. The dishes are interesting in their flavor combinations, and most entrees include well-thought-out accompaniments.

The dining area is roomy, with large, attractive windows and tables nicely spaced for privacy. Contemporary art warms the walls, which are painted in attractive, light shades like pea green and melon. New Town, about 30 minutes from downtown St. Louis, is a planned community of trim houses, bridges, water features and a town square (where the restaurant resides).

Chef Gilroy emphasizes local pork and other provisions. The small menu evolves with what is available in the marketplace and is well-conceived, representing dishes with various protein sources. Additionally, the side items that accompany each dish greatly enhance the meal. The French Onion
Soup ($6) was intensely flavorful, extracting sugars from the onions and rich fats from the veal bones no doubt used in the broth. The Foie and Waffles ($14) was not the typical soft, rich delicacy, but rather served as chilled shavings over waffles—not particularly appetizing, even when you consider the accompanying miso, shallot mustard and cherry-ginger puree.

A Roasted Beet Salad ($8) was exemplary, with fresh, sweet cubes of beet, peppery arugula, shaved fennel and a sweet orange vinaigrette. The coup de grace was the creamy and salty shavings of ricotta salata on top. (If they ask whether you want ground pepper on it, say no; the greens are peppery
enough!) A plateful of Tempura Vegetables ($9) was flavorful but too oily. The mix of winter squash, peppers and onions had a light, crispy batter and came with house-made aioli.

Beef Cheeks ($22) sat atop creamy polenta and braised greens. A drizzling of buttery mustard sauce added flavor. This cut of beef (literally from inside the cheek) is amazingly tender and naturally rich without clumps of fat—very satisfying. Coffee Crusted Local Pork ($20) was quite flavorful, served as slices of tenderloin atop a small pool of spicy Thai curry sauce. Unfortunately, the meat was overcooked, robbing it of maximum flavor. But it came with excellent sautéed Asian greens (bok choy) and tasty, roasted fingerling potatoes.

The star of the evening was the Snapper ($24), a generous portion of fish fillet chunks with the most delicious, crunchy potato crust topping. The fish was fresh, and the fried mashed-potato crust was the tiniest bit oily—so good. Bits of fresh beet were nearby, and the whole dish was anchored by a delectable pea and herb puree. All-around delicious!

A small dessert selection included Macaroon ($7), a wedge of moist almond cake I found interesting and quite good in its creative use of toppings: strawberry puree, citrus relish and the tiniest dab of buttercream.

amuse bouche
the scene | Fresh, gourmet bistro with global cuisine
the chef | Jessie Gilroy
the prices | $5-$14 starters, $16-$26 entrees
the favorites | Beef Cheeks, Snapper, Roasted Beet Salad, French Onion Soup

food • ŏ • lō • gy
beef cheeks | Surprisingly tender and delicious meat from the inside of a bovine’s mouth that needs to be slow-cooked on low heat
foie gras | A French delicacy that comes from force-feeding duck or goose to yield a liver 10 times the normal size. The result is a fatty, buttery food commonly served as a mousse or pâté. The process has generated controversy in recent years.

3245 rue royale | 636.757.3579

Pictured at top: Wild mushroom risotto
Photos: Bill Barrett