Review: The Clover and The Bee
This is the more casual, next-door member of the Olive + Oak family. It has a light, cheery ambience, but there is nothing light-weight about the menu (except maybe the prices). The food emphasizes fresh, local ingredients whenever possible, along with the same gourmet standards that apply to its sister restaurant. There are a handful of starters and dinners and very attractive daily specials that offer a lot of bang for the buck.
The interior is appealing, but without the sultry and noisy atmosphere next door. The Clover and The Bee promotes itself as ‘family friendly,’ but oddly, most of the tables are two-tops (many can be pushed together). Carryout is available, and the array of sweets near the register is deadly. There is also a full wine and beer menu and a few kids’ meals.
Four tempting soups are offered, in either cup or bowl size, and we sampled the Hot & Sour Pork Soup cup ($4), Ribollita ($4) and the Sweet Potato-Roasted Pepper Bowl ($7). The first was excellent as a super savory broth with bits of tender cooked pork and onions. The flavor was lightly sweet with hints of vinegar. The sweet potato soup was thick, more puree than soup, and had a distinctive Chinese five-spice flavor that was too strong for my taste. The Ribollita, Italian vegetable and bread soup, was stellar as a rich, herb-infused broth with beans, veggies and crusty bread.
The Mixed Greens Salad ($10) was deliciously fresh. The variety of lettuces, with ruffled and spiked edges, was fresh and well-combined with red grapes, salami slices, creamy goat cheese and bits of roasted cauliflower. It was dressed with a light balsamic vinaigrette that didn’t get in the way of the natural flavors. If I had any gripe, it was that I wanted more salami in there!
The dinner plates, while not overly generous, offer enough food for the average eater. A plateful of thick Bucatini ($15) was simply prepared with a sauce of egg yolks, bacon and Pecorino Romano. A healthier version of the classic carbonara sauce, this one relied on eggs and cheese for richness rather than cream, and on pepper and bacon for heightened flavor. The bacon was exceptionally meaty and delicious.
A platter of Jumbo Shrimp ($16) was well-conceived in flavor, but a bit disappointing in that the shrimp, five of them, were rather small. They came on a huge serving of white cheddar grits covered with a sweet, onion-flavored tomato ragu. My favorite meals here were the Friday and Saturday specials: Roast Chicken ($18) and Beef Brisket ($18), respectively. The first was a half bird beautifully browned and served with stuffing, caramelized root veggies and a thin, flavorful, tarragon gravy. Excellent all around. The brisket came sliced thin and piled over delicious, curry-laced roasted potatoes. Topping it all was a ‘salad’ of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions doused with vinaigrette. It may sound weird to combine the cold and hot foods, but it worked quite well. A ‘sauce’ of garlic, lemon and oil came for the brisket.
You won’t be able to pass up dessert if you so much as glance at the display case. I caved to a delicate Apple Pie Rosette pastry ($5) and Pot de Crème ($6), which came with shortbread. Both were superb.
the scene | Gourmet eatery with a casual vibe
the chef | Jesse Mendica
the prices | $4-$12 starters, $15-$20 entrees
the favorites | Hot & Sour Pork Soup, Bucatini, Roast Chicken, Mixed Greens Salad, Cheese Board, Beef Brisket
food • ŏ • lō • gy
ribollita | A hearty Tuscan bean and vegetable soup known for its cubed leftover bread, which is incorporated during the final minutes of cooking and gives it a unique character
bucatini | A thick spaghetti noodle with a hole in the center where sauce can enter
pecorino romano | One of the oldest varieties of Italian cheese, this sheep’s milk cheese is sharp and salty.
Pictured above: Roasted asparagus with almond pesto, romesco and egg.
100 lockwood ave. | 314.942.1216
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