Ian Froeb's STL 100

Stone Soup Cottage

No matter how many times I drive to Cottleville, turn off Highway N at the modestly marked entrance and follow the winding lane up the hill to Stone Soup Cottage, I don’t quite believe Carl and Nancy McConnell’s restaurant exists. It should be impossible, this beacon of four-star cuisine and unparalleled hospitality. My latest visit found Carl McConnell in a playful mood, larding a silken bisque of local pecans with a nugget of fried foie gras and gilding steak frites (housemade french fries included!) with shaved Burgundy truffles and a cognac demi-glace. Visiting in winter, as the STL 100 inevitably leads me to do, I can appreciate McConnel’s savvy use of preserves (tomato and garlic sharpening pappardelle with roasted swordfish) and his greenhouses (a winter salad paired with a Maine lobster quiche). Stone Soup Cottage is an investment of time — the length of the meal and the advance preparation to make reservations — and money, but it repays both with dividends.

Hours: Dinner Thursday-Saturday (closed Sunday-Wednesday)

Last year's ranking: No. 2

Opened: 2009

Many St. Louis-area restaurants are closed or limiting their dining options during the coronavirus pandemic.