Local Eats

Ever since we’ve moved back to St. Louis from Kansas City, Andrew and I have been compiling a list of local restaurants that we have been wanting to try. While we do a good job of checking some off the list, it seems that list is ever growing! Especially since we’ve moved and we’ve been exploring the new area we live in, we’ve been adding a ton of restaurants to that list.

I try to keep a good balance of mostly cooking and eating at home during the week – since it’s generally healthier and cheaper – and then treat ourselves out to dinner on the weekend.

This weekend we were pretty busy! We tried three restaurants, two new for me and all three new for Andrew. We started our Saturday morning by meeting my best friend, Becky, for brunch at The Shack. They have several locations, but we meet at the one in Frontenac. The first thing you notice when you walk in is the writing and graffiti everywhere! It gave the restaurant a really fun and eclectic vibe.

Andrew tried the Cap’n Crunch Shake, which is one of the Boozie Shakes they have on their menu. It comes with Rum Chata, Captain Morgan, yogurt, and loaded with Cap’n Crunch cereal. I couldn’t taste the alcohol in it much, so to me it just tasted a lot like the milk at the bottom of your cereal bowl. Then again, I’m not a big cereal person so I’m not sure I was the best judge haha. That’s why I just ordered a mimosa. Andrew liked it, though!

Cap’n Crunch Shake from The Shack

After we finished our brunch at The Shack, we headed down to Forest Park. We originally heard there was a big garage sale at the Zoo, but it ended up being really small and kind of lame. It was rainy and cold out, but we walked around the Zoo anyways to kill some time. There were a couple of new bear exhibits we hadn’t seen yet, so it was still fun.

When we got tired of the cold, we drove just up the street to the Art Museum. We actually thought we were going to the History Museum, but got our buildings mixed up and went to the wrong one! I couldn’t tell you the last time I went to the Art Museum though, so it was wonderful wandering through all the different paintings and sculptures.

One of the best things about St. Louis is all of the free things thing to do. :)

Becky had some plans in the evening, so we split ways once we finished at the Art Museum. Andrew and I both had a pretty light brunch, so even though it was only about 4:30, we were ready for dinner. We both threw out a couple of ideas when I remembered that Shake Shack just opened up a restaurant in the Central West End which was only about ten minutes away from where we currently were.

Even though Shake Shack is a chain, it’s still new to the St. Louis area so I’m counting it as a local eat. ;) When they first opened up, I had friends telling me that people were standing in line for hours, so it definitely was not a priority to visit right when it opened. Thankfully we timed it just right since we arrived before the dinner rush so it wasn’t too busy!

The Chick’n Shack and fries

I ordered the Chick’n Shack with fries and a strawberry shake, and Andrew ordered the SmokeShack with fries and a salted caramel shake. I was surprised as to how crispy and crunchy the breading on the chicken was. I really enjoyed my sandwich, and while normally crinkle cut fries aren’t my favorite type of fry, I feel like these were exactly how crinkle cut fries should be. They were really crispy without being over done, and the inside of the fries were fluffy. The strawberry shake wasn’t the best shake I’ve had in my life, but it was still really good. It was super thick, which a good milk shake should always be!

So while it’s still fast food and I wouldn’t go super out of my way for it, Shake Shack did live up to most of it’s hype!

On Sunday we kept it pretty lazy since we were so busy the day before. We rented Jumanji from Red Box since we missed it in theaters. (By the way, fully recommend! Andrew and I were both absolutely cracking up the whole movie!)

For dinner, I was craving pizza so we decided to go out to Dewey’s. Their original location is by my work, so I visit sometimes with coworkers for lunch, but Andrew hadn’t been there yet. They have a location closer to our house so we opted to dine in at the restaurant than order take out.

Dewey’s has some great specialty pizzas and my favorite so far is the Dr. Dre, which has chicken, bacon, peppers, and red onions on an olive oil sauce. They let you customize your pizzas completely, so we did half Dr. Dre and then half Ryan’s Inferno, which is their buffalo chicken specialty. Both come with ranch drizzled over the top after it’s done baking, but we asked for the ranch on the side since we knew we would have leftovers and didn’t want it to make the pizza soggy. (Plus I looooove ranch, so I figured I would need some extra. ;) )

I liked Ryan’s Inferno, but I definitely preferred the Dr. Dre. I thought the buffalo chicken could have been spicier, so I was looking for some more heat than it offered. Andrew on the other hand liked the buffalo chicken side more, so it worked out because we both got to eat our favorites.

Of the three we tried this weekend, I think I’m most excited to return to The Shack. They had such an extensive menu, and while I’m not normally a big breakfast person, everything on their menu sounded delicious. Plus, they have some really fun mixed drinks that I want to try next time I go. It’s definitely the perfect place for brunch on the weekend!

We Bought a House!

Back in August, Andrew and I bought our first house. We were previously renting a house from my mother-in-law, but it was a small space and I couldn’t make any changes to the house since we were renting. It didn’t feel like home; it felt like we were living in someone else’s house. That being said, I am very thankful for the opportunity we had to stay there because we weren’t in a rush to find someplace to live when we moved back from college and we were able to save a good amount of money for a down payment!

We spent about three months house hunting across the St. Louis area. Our search initially started in South City, which is a vibrant area with tons of restaurants and bars and would have been less than a ten minute commute for the both of us. The market for that area however was so competitive. Houses that were listed for sale would sell the same day for over asking price. The houses and yards were also significantly smaller for the price you paid since you were living in the city.

I was pretty discouraged. We had put an offer on a house but the sellers passed on it as they has received another offer over list price. Plus, looking for a house is absolutely exhausting! I had sent our realtor a list of about ten houses fresh on the market that we wanted to look at but they all had major issues, so she suggested looking at some houses aross the river and to the west of St. Louis county.

We gave it a go – and I really wasn’t expecting much – but the minute Andrew walked into our house, he loved it. He could instantly envision where we would put things, all the room Chloe would have to play in, the fact that it was a bigger house, so in the future if we had children, we wouldn’t outgrow it right away.

Honestly, I wasn’t sold right away. I liked the space and the layout of the house, however it was pretty dated. But as I started pointing things out, I also started to talk about the things I would change if it were my house. And suddenly the dark , enclosed kitchen and dining room started to turn into an open, bright area once I took the wall separating the two down in my head. And I would take down the chair rail and put a bright coat of paint on the walls. I’d take out the old gross linoleum floor in the kitchen and put in new flooring that made the dining, living, and kitchen all match.

Then I started to do that with the rest of the house. I liked the bones of the house and it seemed to check most of the must-haves from our list. We wanted a house that had at least two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and this had three bedrooms and three bathrooms. We wanted a good sized yard for our dog and this had a decent yard with plenty of shade, as well as a deck. The basement was partially finished, which wasn’t a must have, but definitely a bonus! And, it was less than a 45 minute commute to work, which was a must.

By the time we were done walking through it and really looking it over, we knew we had a big decision to make. We went home and talked about it, going over our budget (it came under!) and the location, and really hashed it out. Andrew wanted it and I really liked the idea of being able to fix it up so that it was exactly what we wanted – and so that it felt like our home. We decided to put in an offer.

I called our real estate agent and she gave us a range that she thought would be an acceptable offer. It has been on the market for four weeks, which in the area we were looking was a good amount of time to not have sold yet. We agreed on a price a bit under asking and she sent over the paperwork and we signed. Then we had to wait, which was absolutely painstaking.

The sellers countered the next day a bit more than we initially offered, but still under asking. I was still nervous – I mean it’s not every day you agree to buy something that’s thousands and thousands of dollars! Andrew went through our checklist with me again, making sure to point out that this house checked off most of the things on the list while still falling within our budget.

Looking back, he was so patient with me. :P

In the end, I was so nervous I couldn’t make the phone call back to our real estate agent to accept the offer, so Andrew did it for us.

Everything after that was a bit of a whirlwind. We initially went with a lender that our real estate agent recommended and he turned out to be real shady. He was kind of pushy and gave us a terrible interest rate, so we pulled out at the last second and went with a different lender a friend recommended who gave us a great rate and was super accommodating.

Our inspection turned up some small things that needed to be fixed, which was to be expected, and the sellers agreed to fix most of them which was nice. The driveway was a bit beat up, so they gave us a credit for that as well. The electric and plumbing were all up to code so there were no worries there. Other than the lender hiccup, everything else went pretty smooth.

Closing went pretty fast. Andrew and I both took the full day off work and I expected to take all morning, but only took about an hour. It was a pretty sweet feeling when they finally handed us the keys! We didn’t move in right away since we were doing so much work to the house that it didn’t make sense to live in the construction when we had no deadline to leave our old house.

We’ve been living in our house for about five months now and it truly feels like home. There is still a long list of things we want to do to the house and still (eek, I’m embarrassed to say!) some painting that needs to be done, but once we’ve got some of the smaller things finished, I will feel more comfortable sharing. If it’s one thing I’ve learned, owning a house is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun. :)

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