Florissant’s Pearl Café Brings the Heat

Thai in the Hole at Pearl CafeIn search of an eating challenge that is about the heat rather than the gluttonous quantity a diner can cram down their gullet, I believe I have found the first heat-oriented eating challenge in St. Louis.

Still in its infancy, Florissant’s Pearl Café began posting pictures to its Facebook page last November in a gallery they call the Spicy Level 25 Plus Club.

As a regular, I’m surprised I hadn’t found out about this sooner.  In fact, I’d even suggested they start one in the past after stories of their Super Bowl specialty: ghost pepper hot-wings.

Speaking with owner, Tommy Truong, while dining last night, it seems the current record is actually a Spicy Level 100!  That diner called into work the next day so you’ll be happy to know it won’t take ousting him for you to get the Pearl Café nod of approval.  While a handful of customers seem to be battling it out—outdoing each other with each visit—it takes a mere 25 heat level to make the Facebook gallery.  It’s at 50+ the ghost peppers get involved, and Truong tells me they’re working on a t-shirt for the first customer that pulled the feat off which will appropriately read, Thai in the Hole.

My recommendation if you attempt this is to stray away from things like soups, curries, and noodles and go for a stir-fried dish of some sort instead.  Having had a spicy level five soup, it’s not the heat that gets you with a dish like that, it’s the fumes.

Hats off to those that have made the cut, and cheers to your following mornings.

Predicting the James Beard Awards…Easier Than You Think?

James Beard AwardsTwo years ago I told you the James Beard Awards are actually pretty predictable.  Once a chef has made the short-list of five finalists for their region, unless they jump ship to another restaurant, or something crazy happens in or to their region, they’re probably going to continue moving forward each year until they’ve won.

In the past, ripples have been things like Grant Achatz opening Alinea.  Heralded as one of the best—if not the best—restaurants in the country, he bucked the typical trend and won quickly.  Another was

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Pho Long to Open Indochine in Old Pho Long Space

As Gut Check reported last week, St. Louis favorite Pho Long has relocated a few doors down in Jeffrey Plaza to the space formerly occupied by Indian Food.  As an addition, looking for a to-go menu last night, I noticed Pho Long’s Facebook page stated a new concept, Indochine would soon be opening.

When picking up my order I put on my old and rarely-seen sleuthing cap and discovered that Indochine will be a new restaurant opening in the former Pho Long space that will “offer more dry items.”  Though these include dry noodle offerings and “more rice dishes” the most notable item is that Indochine will be baking their own bread in house so that they can offer the freshest banh mi sandwiches in St. Louis.  They hope to open within three months and, after a lengthy conversation last night about the care that goes into making their beef broth at Pho Long (they were out and I had to order chicken pho for the first time), I imagine this will be a concept that pays off.

Also, of note, now that they have more space to work with, Pho Long will also look to expand their menu offerings.  No word on what those offerings will include other than the same “dry dishes”, but I cast my vote for bánh xèo.