New Clayton Restaurant ‘Crushed Red’ Is a Hit with the Dining Divas

The Dining Divas

By Lisa Kampeter

This month, the Dining Divas met up at Crushed Red, or as we referred to it, the “goldmine.”  This new dining hot spot is located at Maryland and Meramec in Clayton and this night, and from what I hear, every day and night, they pack them in.

Crushed Red’s menu is simple.  Fresh salads, flatbread pizzas, and soup.  Aside from a few appetizers, that’s it.  On this night, we got there early and were immediately greeted with “have you been here before?”  We hadn’t and were directed to proceed to the line to order.  Because the line was minimal and because our group wasn’t all there, we picked out a table instead and took some time to study the menu.  Then after everyone showed up and after several minutes of chatter, we decided we should probably get in line to order.  That was a mistake.

The previous non-existent line was now wrapping around the restaurant.  We split up to place our orders so as to not lose our table.  As we ordered at the counter, it was very entertaining to watch the “chefs” create our fresh salads with speed and determination.  How they ever kept everything straight is a mystery to me.

After quite some time, we all had our orders placed and started enjoying our salads.  Every one of us decided to get a salad and a flatbread pizza.  After three tries, the Picky Divas finally received their “create your own” pizza to their satisfaction.  The first one was burnt.  The second one wasn’t what they ordered.  But the third one was just right.  It wasn’t a big deal to them as they were enjoying their salads as they waited for their pizzas.

The way they prepare all of their salads, you’re sure to get a taste of everything in each bite.  So fresh.  So good.  Everything chopped-to-order.  The South of the Border Salad with avocado, roasted corn, cheese, Roma tomatoes and tortilla strips was delicious, as was the Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad with bbq chicken, pepper jack cheese, roasted corn, cilantro and ranch.  They have plenty of “crafted” salads but if you’re more comfortable with creating your own, you can do that too.

Like the salads, Crushed Red has plenty of options for Flatbread Pizzas.  If you prefer to play it safe, they have the typical Sausage and Pepperoni or just Cheese styles.  Or if you’re slightly more adventurous, you’ll want to try the Mushroom Medley with its mixture of mushrooms baked in a parmesan cream and topped off with mozzarella and goat cheese.  Or the Roasted Chicken Gorgonzola with chicken, gorgonzola, red onion, and tomato baked in the parmesan cream.  There were so many unique options, it was hard to choose.  And the portions made sharing a flatbread and a salad easy.  Plus, the prices are fair.

The topic of most of the conversations this evening was not about the intense heat.  It was not about summer vacations.  It wasn’t even about the Olympics (although we were all in agreement that even if you aren’t a fan of the Olympics, swimmer Ryan Lochte is reason enough to watch).  This night’s conversations centered on jobs.  One Diva being grateful for having a job.  Another Diva being grateful for finally liking her bosses.  And another Diva being grateful for being retired and away from the drama.

We also talked about having foot surgery.  Thankfully we saved that for after dinner.  Not the most pleasant dinner conversation.  We’ll miss the Italian Diva as she’ll be laid up and unable to join us next month.  We so kindly offered to pick her up and bring her out in a wheelchair.  It’s not like we haven’t done that before.   We all remember what it was like with the High Maintenance Diva and her broken hip several years ago.

It’s ironic because the restaurant was created to please both people who just want to get a quick bite or those who wanted to have a leisure dining experience.  With the popularity of the place, I’m not sure either of those are an option at certain times of the day.

We discussed how we’d make this “goldmine” better.  Note to any visitors, do not go there between 6:30 and 7:30.  It was packed and no seats were available.The Divas thought perhaps a wait staff could have alleviated the long lines.  The Foodie Diva firmly believed the layout of the restaurant was what the problem was.  She would have moved the counter to a different area and redirected the ordering line so that it didn’t run into the dining area.  Oh, and we would already expand the building, which would have meant that they’d have to alleviate their tiny parking lot.  Having any sort of parking lot available in Clayton is a rarity and a pleasant surprise so maybe that’s not a good idea.

Fresh salads paired with delicious pizza.  Not a new idea but it’s definitely different.  And being that it’s a “goldmine,” I’d say it’s working.


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