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Jan 23, 2012
The Mississippi River may flow south as it passes St. Louis, but happily, a lot of great southern music and food flows north, up the river to the Gateway City. It is the northernmost point where you'll find reliably good Delta blues or zydeco. And by many accounts, St. Louis is home to the second-largest Mardi Gras celebration in the nation. So it's no wonder Cajun and Creole food get a warm reception there.
In the case of Riverbend Restaurant & Bar in the city's historic Soulard neighborhood, the food's not the only thing that traveled upriver. Owner Sam Kogos, pictured right, and his chef Steve Daney both hail from New Orleans. Before working for Sam at Rendon Inn there, Steve was executive chef to then New Orleans mayor Marc Morial. Sam's father, a former shrimper, also moved north to help out in the restaurant.
Together, they serve up authentic Cajun and Creole dishes in a comfortable, dive-y bar setting that would be at home on the edges of the French Quarter. Lively, big-flavored comfort food like crawfish étoufée, made with a dark, buttery roux; po-boys; chicken andouille gumbo; and Creole jambalaya keep regulars coming back for more.
This being St. Louis, you can wash it all down with local brews like Bud Light or Schlafly Pale Ale. Or you can go with NOLA classics like Sazerac or Abita Jockamo. And in keeping with tradition, the Character Approved Riverbend only serves the New Orleans favorite red beans and rice on Mondays.
[Images: Jennifer Silverberg/Riverfront Times]