I heard about Stone Soup Cottage a few years ago, and when I did, I put it on my food bucket list. I always have a long list of restaurants that I want to try, but sometimes money or timing gets in the way. This year, the stars aligned for Stone Soup.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the restaurant, it’s consistently rated as one of the best, if not the best, restaurants in the St. Louis area. It’s located in Cottlesville, MO, on a piece of farmland that’s isolated from more bustling towns nearby. You turn onto a dirt road to get there with signs pointing you toward Stone Soup Cottage. It’s a little like going on a culinary treasure hunt.
I stopped by for dinner last Friday with my boyfriend, who treated me to dinner there for my thirtieth birthday. I was so happy that I was able to share the experience with him, because as I’ve realized over the years, good food is best shared with people you love. Sure, I’ve had delicious meals alone and I’ve savored every bite. But there’s something to be said about enjoying a dish, looking up, and seeing someone you care about enjoying the same thing at the same time.
Stone Soup serves its guests in a large dining room in a converted barn. Walking into the dining room is surreal in and of itself, but it became even more surreal given my breathless excitement. There are high ceilings, large windows that let in lots of light, and elegant, perfectly set tables with shining glass, silverware, and a small vase with local flowers. We sat down and prepared ourselves for the six-course meal.
We started with an amuse-bouche (pictured above) with puff pastry, pheasant, and edible flowers. It was one of my boyfriend’s favorite dishes. I really enjoyed it, too, but more as a prelude to the rest of the meal.
We started dinner with chilled tomato and ginger soup with succulent morsels of Maine lobster and crispy fried green tomatoes. After that, we had a farm salad with niçoise olives and bayonne ham croquettes. The croquettes were filled with cheese and melted in my mouth. The salad was one of my favorite courses. Everything was so fresh and you could tell that the greens and vegetables came from the farm.
The third course was aiguillette of gulf coast red snapper with horseradish beurre blanc and bacon. It was woody, fragrant, spicy, and reassuring, but also light at the same time. We had an elderberry sorbet afterward to cleanse the palette and then we had mushroom tortellini with locally foraged mushrooms and housemade ricotta.
My favorite part of the pasta was the brown butter sauce. I could have eaten it with a spoon. It was nutty, slightly sweet, and the perfect compliment to the tortellini, peas, and mushrooms.
The last two courses were my favorite. I’d never tried chateaubriand but now that I have, I’m hooked for life. It’s the most tender steak imaginable. It melted in my mouth. We only had a small portion but it still satisfied me. It had shaved truffles on top and I wanted to eat five more of them.
I was worried that I wouldn’t have room for dessert but somehow, my stomach always makes room. We had madeleines, or French sponge cake cookies, with chocolate gelato, local strawberries, and a candied rose petal. I could taste the lemon zest in the cake. I loved the sweet gelato with the tart berries. It was the perfect end to the meal.
Another item in the meal that stood out to me were the lavender dinner rolls. They were soft, buttery, warm, and flecked with sea salt. I told my boyfriend that I could eat a bucket of them. Unfortunately I only got two, but given the amount of food we consumed, that’s probably a good thing.
Stone Soup was a James Beard semi-finalist nominee for best service in 2016 and I can see why. The waiters are attentive, friendly, and warm, and the chef comes out throughout the meal to present dishes and explain them to guests.
Even though you’re in an upscale environment at Stone Soup, you get the sense that you’re eating in someone’s dining room. Clearly, the chef and staff put a lot of thought into the meal and they want you to have the best experience possible.
I’m so glad that I got to eat at Stone Soup Cottage for my birthday. I wish I could say that I’ll be back soon but it’s the kind of restaurant that most of us only go to on very special occasions. Still, I feel lucky that I was able to experience it. The memories of the food, service, and ambiance will tide me over until the next time.