Photo by Roberto Rodriguez



A year after Heather Stone succeeded the acclaimed Matthew Daughaday as Taste’s executive chef, Gerard Craft’s spot for small plates and cocktails feels familiar but still retains the ability to surprise. On my most recent visit, Busch beer, of all things, added zip to a straightforward dish of shrimp in a buttery sauce. A salad of radishes and kimchee was a pungent yet oddly refreshing punch of funk and salt. What the menu called porchetta turned out to be Stone’s smart rewrite of Daughaday’s signature scrapple. The pork’s crisp skin contrasted the richness of both the meat itself and the sunny-side-egg draped over it, all of it sparked by a feisty Calabrian-chile sauce. The cocktail program overseen by Kyle Mathis is as inventive as ever: A drink called “Peach Don’t Kill My Vibe” drew me in with its lightly sweet fruit and then plunged me into smoky, tannic depths. Taste is St. Louis’ best example of a place equally appealing for a snack and a drink or a restaurant to build your entire evening around.

Last year's ranking: 18

Opened: 2009

Must order: Porchetta ($12)