The new CWE location is a chip off the Webster Groves original.
THERE'S NO BETTER WAY to spend a summer evening than enjoying a meal al fresco. When that meal is a grass-fed, flavorful and perfectly cooked steak on a peaceful, leafy patio at one of the city's most popular new restaurants, adjectives just can't do it justice.
The Block's second location in the Central West End adheres to the original concept of fresh, on-site butchering. Many locally sourced restaurants do this, of course, but few take it a step further and offer retail purchasing of whole hogs, half hogs and individual cuts ranging from pork steaks to breakfast sausage. Yet, the sister restaurant isn't a carbon copy of the original. Credit goes to co-owners Lea and Brian Doherty and Marc and Amy Del Pietro for changing things up just enough to make it worth sampling both.
Every section of the menu benefits from the high-quality meats, especially the pork. Pork belly croutons on the arugula salad. House-made sausage on the flatbread. Pork rinds and bacon jam as appetizers. Chocolate-bacon ice cream for dessert.
There's a rustic, comfort-food feel to many of the dishes. They're not dainty—eating the burger in one sitting requires a superhuman appetite—and the seasonings are simple. Still, when your steak-and-potatoes dinner includes garlic-herb fries and a meltingly tender cut of New York strip atop a pool of The Block's proprietary steak sauce, simple is very, very good.
For those whose taste in protein leans toward chicken and fish, there are a couple of options, including cornmeal-encrusted Missouri trout with crispy onions, herb butter and roasted cauliflower.
Our favorite non-meat flavor came in the bread basket appetizer. The house-made carrot-herb bread skillfully balanced sweet and savory notes, and by using the infused butters, we found we could enhance the flavor in one direction or the other.
Locally sourced produce is a challenge during the transitional months between seasons, but by keeping it simple—by way of Brussels sprouts, fennel, green beans, beets and wild mushrooms— the kitchen showed its willingness to wait for the season’s bounty.
House-made pastas are the CWE location's biggest departure from the original menu, and they earn highest marks in a dish of braised pork and pappardelle with roasted fennel and orange zest.
It's not a bad idea to ask for a to-go box before you're truly stuffed, because there's that chocolate-bacon ice cream to contend with, as well as velvety panna cotta or an apple tart with caramel ice cream.
The wine list stays under $50 per bottle, making it easy on the wallet but not as dynamic as it could be. Those who are looking to explore will gravitate toward the local craft beer list, a showcase of microbreweries like Civil Life, Perennial, Charleville and Cathedral Square.
Neither the original Webster Groves location nor the new spot on Sarah Street (where the old Terrene was located) accepts reservations, so be prepared to spend a good bit of time conversing over a drink while waiting for a table. Fortunately, the bar is well staffed in anticipation of full houses every night.
Photo credit: Jennifer Silverberg