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Jan 2005 / sights and sounds :: email this story to a friend

The Night Santa Saved the Schnitzel
By Amanda E. Doyle and John Ginsburg


"Hooch and Daddy-O" World Premiere
Tivoli Theatre
December 9

cast of Hooch and Daddy-O The main screen at the Tivoli provided big-screen excitement befitting the premiere of the first film project from the creative minds behind the Magic Smoking Monkey shows (although, curiously, poor audio quality that could be a function of the digital filming?) As "Escape from New York" taught us, St. Louis looks outstanding on film — when you need a bullet-ridden, bombed-out, decrepit shell of a city. Still, it was exciting to watch "bad" and "good" guys (many recognizable local scenesters) shooting it out in City Museum, in the riverfront warehouses and elsewhere around town. A post-show Q&A revealed that the producers plan to enter the movie into the festival circuit, which will be our chance see if this hometown humor-fest translates outside the borders of River City. (AED)


Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring The Rockettes
Fox Theatre
December 22

You know — it's the Rockettes! They kick high, they turn in these militarily precise dancing lines, they smile and smile until you think their faces might break. For that alone (and for the sight of seemingly billions of dancing little girls in the aisles), this year's holiday spectacular at the Fox was worthwhile...though we heard it hurt attendance across the way at the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra's Christmas concerts. Aside from the dancing girls, though, the show was an odd amalgam of messages, which if played out to their logical conclusion, probably sent more than a few kids (and impressionable adults) home thinking that if they only prayed hard enough to Santa Claus, the baby Jesus would fly down their chimneys with presents. The final scene — a towering nativity that rivals any rock opera you've seen — featured a booming voiceover proclaiming that history-altering importance of only one man (psst, it's Jesus, not Santa, silly!) and when the lights came up to reveal the Christ child, Joseph (who, as you may recall, had precisely no biological contribution whatsoever) raised his arm and swept it out majestically as though the Savior had sprung full-formed from his loins. Whatever gets you through the night, Joseph. Overall, a pretty kid-oriented show, with just enough commercial religiosity to remind you that it's Christmas in America, for all the good and bad. (AED)


Eat Me in St. Louis: Tales from The Dinner Club
St. Louis Gast Haus
1740 Chouteau

Haehnchenschnitzel. Say that five times fast. One of St. Louis' newest restaurants, located at 18th at Chouteau, will whisk you away from Missouri and set you down in the middle of Bavaria (or whichever is your favorite German federal state). Be ready for meat and an enjoyable time at the Gast Haus for your future dining adventure.

This Dinner Club outing featured the largest number to date — our group totaled 14 — yet we were warmly welcomed and tables were rapidly rearranged to accommodate us. The atmosphere was pleasant — not too crowded, not too empty. I anticipate that as word catches on, there will be waiting times for Friday nights like ours. Several noted that the lighting was a little bright in the dining rooms, but the kitschy candle holders and other decorations on the tables, walls and shelves were enjoyed by all, as was the huge painting of the castle Neuschwanstein next to our table.

The dinner plates allow a choice of two sides and a salad or soup, and boy are they meat-focused. In fact, the only meatless entrée was the vegetarian casserole, and there was only one serving that remained. This author was kind enough to allow the lone vegetarian among us to order that, while settling for the tilapia. Entrees include rouladen (rolled beef), schnitzel in forms of veal, pork, and chicken (the first word of this article is the latter), bratwurst (and other wursts, including a pretzel sandwich), steaks, and a German meat sampler if several of these suit your fancy. Those beer snobs among us found it lovely to hear that the Bud Light that had been on tap was replaced with Warsteiner Dunkel (dark). The bar featured several other German beers on tap, and about 20 different German bottle varieties.

Everyone in the group seemed to have a good time, although the restaurant is probably working out a few kinks. The rouladen and the petite steak were described as good, but the kitchen was out of potato salad (yikes!), some folks found the potato pancakes a little greasy, and the dumplings were "filled with nothing." Also, some of the editors in the group went to town on the menus (spell-check!). However, the portions were decent, the staff was friendly, the chairs were very comfortable, and afterwards one of the owners treated everyone to a glass of house wine — always a winning touch.

To the south of the Gast Haus is Lafayette Square and to the north is Downtown, so it is very close and convenient to both, while you wouldn't necessarily consider it located in either. The establishment is easy to see once you are in front of it, but it was too new to be listed in directory assistance, so see above to give a call. Also, the parking lot behind the building is a little awkward to get to from the Chouteau side, thanks to the Schoemehl pots on Dolan and 18th streets. (That's what we call the round cement barriers that block off streets in the city. Well, Tim Schoemehl probably doesn't).

It was discovered later that there are also two lunch menus — one that features pretty much the dinner menu, at lunch prices, and the fast lunch menu, which features a la carte items. I will mention some of the latter items, not just for your information, but because I simply like saying them: rinderbratenbrot (roast beef sandwich), schweine schnitzelbrot (pork schnitzel sandwich), and frikadelle (hamburger). For a photographic look at the St. Louis Gast Haus (which means Guest House, by the way), visit the German Heritage Society's webpage.

Eat City.

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