Review: Scape American Bistro

Hard to believe Scape is turning 10 soon. The elegant restaurant just steps from the Chase Park Plaza is shaking things up before its landmark anniversary. First, they’ve brought in a new executive chef, Shimon Diamond, recently of Cielo at the Four Seasons Hotel. The Parkway Central grad studied at L’Ecole Culinaire and has added inventive touches to Scape’s American bistro menu. The restaurant also has opened a more casual, drinks-and-small-plates place, Scapegoat, next door.

Diamond has revamped the menu, with a focus on “technique-driven Midwestern food.” Caesar salad ($9) includes pickled red onions and Mayfair dressing—hardly traditional, but very good. The salad includes an artisan, 30-month aged vache rosse, a type of Parmigiano-Reggiano. If the Basil Gnocchi ($15) offered on our first visit returns, don’t miss it. Memorable on all counts, the tender, puffy potato dumplings were browned on every side and sat among a potpourri of culinary treats: wild mushrooms, cipollini onions, truffles and asparagus spears.

A special starter, Soft-Shell Crabs ($22), was tasty, with a tempura crust encasing three half-crabs and ponzu sauce for dipping. One of the world’s best culinary treats, in my opinion, soft-shells are delicious as long as they’re fresh. These were, and the kitchen wisely let them speak for themselves without a lot of fuss.

The hands-down smash hit here is the Sea Scallops entree ($33). The tops of these massive bivalves had been smashed onto the grill to yield a serrated finish that took to its sear better than any I’ve seen. The scallops were mixed with the most lusciously prepared oyster mushrooms, cooked to almost crisp and releasing their musky flavor. A bed of sweet and pungent apple and fennel slaw formed a base, with cracker-like ‘fennel pollen tuiles,’ delicate fennel-laced crackers, sticking up from it. The only element that was a mismatch—the cannellini beans—were a bit too prosaic for such regal food.

Also noteworthy was the Tagliatelle ($24), housemade noodles tossed with slow-braised pork, fresh English peas, pea shoots, bits of creamy goat cheese and deliciously roasted radishes of every hue. Something about the earthy root vegetable enhanced the pork and added some zing to the noodles. Well done!

Desserts were very good, especially the buttery Chocolate Torte ($10). A pâte brisée tart shell was filled with dark ganache and sprinkled liberally with sea salt, making the treat almost as salty as it was sweet. Caramel ice cream added a creamy component—all around excellent. The Banana Cream Pie ($10) is also a treat, with its crushed Nutter Butter crust, massive topping of creamy banana filling, and slices of caramelized bananas on top.

In terms of ambiance, Scape has remained one of the most stunning restaurants in the city. Its wall of windows faces the fountain on Maryland Plaza, while in back, a huge patio area is a little urban retreat with relaxing lounge areas near the bar and a massive outdoor wall of climbing vines, big-screen TVs and mock pillars.

amuse bouche
the scene | Chic cosmopolitan restaurant
the chef | Shimon Diamond
the prices | $9 to $18 starters, $19 to $46 entrees
the favorites | Caesar Salad, Basil Gnocchi, Soft-Shell Crabs, Brussels Sprouts, Chocolate Torte, Sea Scallops, TagliatelleOTT-Scape_Diamond_28

chef chat» shimon diamond
culinary pedigree | L’Ecole Culinaire
favorite ingredient | Fennel
favorite cookbook | Manresa: An Edible Reflection by David Kinch and Christine Muhlke
favorite st. louis restaurant | Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.
most memorable dining experience | Senza in Chicago, a Michelin-starred restaurant. The flavor profiles were just perfect.
guilty pleasure | Lion’s Choice. It’s the only fast food I eat.

48 maryland plaza | 314.361.7227
Photos: Bill Barrett