DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Paul Mineo’s Trattoria in Westport Plaza

A Peek at Paul Mineo's
A Peek at Paul Mineo’s


How did we live before there were smart phones? I should remember. I didn’t get mine until a few weeks before I set out on the Lemonade Tour, but suddenly I depended on it for everything. Sometimes it was too helpful.  At the Marriot Courtyard near St. Louis, I was hoping to lobby for a pizza delivery and Google Local tells us Westport Plaza, chockablock with restaurants, is just around the corner.  I took a deep breath and headed to the door.

Westport Plaza

I’d actually packed some nicer clothes for dining out, but I was too tired to open my suitcase. Wherever we ended up was just going to have to put up with me.  I had on the same outfit I’d worn for the interment, which was one of the most formal ensembles I’d brought along on the trip, but I felt absolutely bedraggled.

Westport Plaza does have a plethora of restaurants, but one was too smoky, another was one of the Kobe steak places where we’d have to be entertained by a chopping chef and…well you get the picture.  We were hungry, but nothing looked good to us.  That was until we saw the word Trattoria.  Deb wanted some comfort food and what’s more comfortable than pasta. So, Paul Mineo’s Trattoria earned our patronage.

At Paul Mineo’s Trattoria

We took the meal in stages.  First we wanted wine and an appetizer.  We chose a nice pinot grigio, primarily because it was unlikely to challenge us and ordered some calamari.  The wine was just right, but when the calamari arrived, we knew we’d lucked into something very special.

Maybe we should have realized that before.  The patio had been full and a talented crooner entertained the patrons.  Inside, the bar was busy and though there were empty tables for inside dining, it was no ghost town.  But the calamari?  Exquisite!  So fresh, it was as if the squid had swum into the deep fryer.  After a few finger-fulls, we were very interested in the entrees.  I had something with veal and artichokes that I couldn’t pronounce, but the waiter assured me was delightful.

Speaking of the waiter, he was great.  It was like we had a member of our party hanging out with the chef, looking out for our interests.  We chatted him up a bit and discovered he’d waited tables at a very exclusive Dallas restaurant.  Well, of course, we insisted that he tell us which one and it was The Mansion.  I’ll tell you my Mansion stories some other time, but he was proud of working there.

Deb told him I was a blogger and mentioned I was among the top contributors to Trip Advisor in April.  All of a sudden he was our best friend.  He really wanted to know what I thought about the meal and I confessed it was superb, except for one teensy tiny thing that was really no big deal.  The next thing I know he’s delivering our free dessert.

I appreciated the free dessert, but he didn’t really have to do it, because I loved the restaurant, the food AND the service.  I would have raved about it without the free dessert.

So, if you go to St. Louis, take yourself up to the Northwest suburbs and find Westport Plaza.  In the center, next to the fountain, you’ll find Paul Mineo’s Trattoria.  I wondered if Paul was the grandson of Sal of movie fame, but instead he was a Mineo of St. Louis restaurant fame.  After eating at his restaurant, I realized that might be more significant than being related to a movie star.

It was a good thing the restaurant was only a couple of blocks away from the restaurant.  We were so tired we wouldn’t have made it any further than that!  Come back next week as we head to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

St. Louis’ Forest Park

2013-05-24 17.46.36


So, when does Dallas get to have a World Fair? Surely if San Antonio merited world attention, Dallas does, too. It seems every time I travel, I run into yet another city that boasts wonderful remnants of a World Fair.  St. Louis is no exception, with its spectacular Forest Park.  The zoo started out as the fair’s aviary and the art museum was the Palace of Fine Arts, but they are just cornerstones left behind and the beautiful park still stands as a tribute to the fair.

Love the Park, Hate the Traffic

However, when we got there around six PM on a Friday evening, we weren’t exactly singing its praises.  Instead of intersections, the park has traffic circles.  If we’d been confused by the traffic coming into town, it was just a sample of what was to come.  As lovely as the park is, I’m sure it’s busy on any Friday night, especially when the weather is perfect, but this night was particularly hectic.

The traffic in the park was bumper to bumper, every parking lot was full and there were people everywhere.  In the midst of all this we had a GPS trying to explain it to us.  I think we circled the park several times before I started trying to read the signs on the side of the road.  As I rode along, I saw wedding guests gathering at the Jewel Box, a African Culture Festival and finally, a Shakespeare Festival.  A bell went of in my head.  I read something about that, but had no idea it was as big a thing as I was witnessing.

The St Louis Art Museum2013-05-24 17.46.26

Finally, we found the art museum, but Deb began the process of letting me down easy.  If we couldn’t find a parking place, then we couldn’t see the museum.  This sounded reasonable and I agreed with her in theory.  I think I even said as much, but my heart sank down to my toes.  Then way down the hill and around a corner a place opened up and Deb slid into it.  Looking up the hill at the museum it didn’t seem, as tired as we already were, that we could actually make it up there, but we started trudging up the hill.

Once I made it inside, I wanted to kiss a guard or something to celebrate, but I tried to behave like a patron of the arts should.  The museum is FREE, so you have no excuse for not seeing it if you are anywhere near to it.  We started in the Renaissance and made our way around the entire main floor. One dazzling masterpiece after another thudded into our senses, which had not yet recovered from the glories of the botanical garden.

The Renaissance gave way to Dutch Masters.  Through another door we found Asian artifacts.  Somehow we stumbled into a room full of Impressionists, near some American paintings.  They’d given me a laminated map to find my way around, but I still found myself aimlessly wandering around, mouth gaping in awe.

When we’d swallowed all we could of what the main floor offered, I consulted the map and located the Decorative Arts.  That’s my favorite thing.  Nearly falling down the stairwells, we drug ourselves into rooms full a beautiful porcelains and wonderfully crafted furniture.  I should have started there, but who knew?

From the rooms of porcelain, we crawled down some wooden steps to something that looked like an armory  but around a corner I found the first of the period rooms.  Maybe that’s where I should have started. As I gestured to compare the room to the Reeves collection at the DMA, I set off an alarm.  I didn’t linger at at the French period room.

After I’d inhaled all the decorative arts I could, I realized the museum had another floor, but my brain was dull, my legs were sore and I think Deb would have mutinied if I suggested we go there.  Looks like I’ll have to visit St. Louis again!

The GPS found our hotel with greater ease than it did the art museum.  I’d earned a free night at a Marriot Courtyard with points.  Can you say happy?

But we were hungry.  A friend suggested Westport Plaza would be a great place to hang out, but I wasn’t in much of a hang-out mood.  I was hoping for pizza delivery.  But I could tell Deb really wanted to have a glass of wine and relax in a nice restaurant, so I dug out my smartphone and used Google Local to see what was nearby.  Lo and behold, Westport was all of two blocks away.  I love Deb, but if it had been three blocks, I might have balked.

Join me next week to discover a great Italian restaurant in St. Louis.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

The Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis

Iris Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis MO
In the Iris Garden


The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of those places you have to go to. I’m a big fan of my Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Society, but by the time we’d been through Missouri’s garden, I had to admit the Show Me State had time on its side.


Time on Its Side

Missouri’s Botanical Garden has been around since 1859, giving it one hundred and sixteen more years of development than our Dallas garden. I wouldn’t say that Missouri beat Dallas, but I will say this:  I’d like to see Dallas after it’s 100th birthday party. DABS is just over twenty-five years old.Chihuly Chandelier, Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis MO

I’m grateful I got to the chance see the Missouri garden, but I do wish I’d had a little more time. I didn’t need a century, but the two hours I had were barely enough to scratch the surface.

However, I was jealous of Missouri from the moment we walked in.  DABS was at its most glorious last year, when Chihuly’s art was on display, but when the exhibit was over, all the Chihuly’s left.  In Missouri, a Chihuly chandelier graces the entry way to the gardens.

Chihuly, Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis MOStepping outside of the visitor’s center is overwhelming.  How do you decide where to go?  Chihuly lovers that we are, Deb and I headed toward another Chihuly.  It’s a good thing it was the last one in the garden, because if not, my skin might have turned permanently green.

Chihuly’s aside, the garden was  marvelous.  We dragged ourselves from one wonder to another – a greenhouse, an iris garden, a gatehouse, a Victorian garden, a Japanese garden, a Boxwood  garden…Are you tired yet?  I haven’t even mentioned the Climatron, yet.

Visiting the garden on a Friday evening was extra special, because they were setting up for weddings at several different venues.  The lady who sold us a ticket told us to take it in at our leisure and not worry about the 5 PM closing time.  Unfortunately, after two hours we were exhausted and still had an art museum to find.. No one had to kick us out of the garden and we didn’t crash any weddings.

We did find some favorite areas in the garden.  Deb loves Irises and the Iris beds were in full bloom.  I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many pictures we took of them.  It’s a good thing film is cheap in this digital era.  I particularly liked the boxwood gardens.  I adore the smell of boxwood and the look of a formal garden with manicured hedges.  Though it wasn’t my favorite part, I did admire the large area devoted to helping backyard gardeners turn their space into minor miracles.  The Japanese Garden on it’s own was as big and ornate as some Japanese Gardens I’ve paid to see separately. We never made it to the Climatron.

I could go on and on about the garden, but I won’t.  Enjoy the pictures, instead. I realize Bill’s a better photographer than I am, but I was there and he wasn’t!  Come back next week and we’ll enjoy Forest Park and the St. Louis Art Museum.







ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Meet Me in St. Louis!

Need a lift?
Need a lift?


On the way out of Fairborn we took a break at a local Mickie D’s and got the comic relief we needed.  The Ramada had breakfast offerings, but we hadn’t had much appetite.  Now we needed a little sustenance before we headed to St. Louis.  We had to be in Lebanon, Missouri before the bank closed on Saturday at noon, but it was a little further away than we’d wanted to drive.  Besides, St. Louis had museums, gardens and parks.

On Way Earlier Than Expected

I thought if we were lucky, we might get to St. Louis in time to take a look at their art museum, since it was open late on Fridays.  I’d been told it was worth the effort.  I’d saved the whole morning for the interment, because I had no way to know exactly how things would go.  However, we were on our way by 10:20.  Not to mention we’d gain an hour by heading west into Central DST.

We traded off driving at potty stops along the way and had lunch at a Mickey D’s in Indiana.  It was the only time I’d been in the state, so I was glad to add it to my Trip Advisor map.  Still, just passing through isn’t the way to see a state.  I guess when I return to Kentucky, I’ll try to visit Indiana, too.

Difficult Driving in St Louis

Thankfully, Deb took over driving before we got to St. Louis, otherwise something awful might have happened.  I’ve been in some confusing construction zones in my life, but I think St. Louis takes the cake.  In fact, forget the construction zone business.  St. Louis didn’t appear to be the sort of place I wanted to drive, even if there were no construction zones.  However, Deb’s husband had updated the GPS just before we left and it maneuvered us around to the places we wanted to visit.

The number one tourist attraction in St. Louis has to be The Gateway Arch.  Even as we battled the construction traffic, we could see it glistening in the afternoon sun.  I’d  been to the arch and Deb couldn’t even count the number of times she’d visited – so it wasn’t on our list.  If you’ve never been to St. Louis, it should certainly be on your’s, however.  In fact, if we’d had more time, I would have returned to the arch, because in recent years they’ve complimented it with a Museum of Westward Expansion and a beautiful plaza. Besides, riding up and standing at the apex is more than thrilling.

Miraculously, we rolled into the city around three.  The Art Museum would be open until nine. So a secret wish was granted.  We had time for the Missouri Botanical Garden, the oldest in the United States.  I was so excited I wanted to pinch myself, but you’ll have to wait until next week, because I’m through for today.