I never enjoyed eating sushi in a meat market.
In fairness, the original Miso on Meramec — the clubby
downstairs space — is more kindly described as a vibrant,
young-professionals-mingling environment that’s managed to offer
interesting food since 2001.
Owner Brad Beracha also deserves considerable praise for his
business acumen: He opened just a few months before 9/11 and
weathered the subsequent restaurant downturn only to flourish for
these many years.
In the interim, he opened Araka, a high-end Mediterranean-themed
And sometime in the past year or so, he read my mind and those
of many others among the tragically unhip and figured that Miso
could prosper even more if it had a dining area that was primarily
Its new upstairs space, which looks out onto Meramec, has about
35 seats and a half dozen more at the sushi bar. As the weather
gets warmer, the front windows will open to let the outdoors in,
and 40 diners will be able to sit outside.
People are also reading…
In general, I prefer traditional nigiri (fish on rice cakes) and
makizushi (seaweed-wrapped rolls), even though the style in St.
Louis-area sushi places has become heavily biased toward elaborate
composed rolls with very un-Japanese ingredients.
Miso pushed me further into the composed-rolls camp, offering a
lengthy selection of meticulously constructed examples.
Tiger Eye roll ($12) uses squid as its wrapper to enclose salmon
and real crab brushed with a soy reduction that resembled the
complex and lingering flavors of balsamic. The name was apt,
although the resemblance was abstract enough not to be
Fresco roll ($15) includes tuna, salmon, yellowtail, crab and
avocado, this time with thinly sliced cucumber as a wrapper. The
roll was made and delivered quickly enough that the cucumber still
had lots of crunch and hadn’t begun sweating off its moisture.
Yum Yum Roll ($11) is shaped like a triangle with rounded sides
and has an unusual addition of cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes
accompanying white tuna and another ocean white fish in its
interior. Orange caviar and tiny rings of green onions sprinkled on
top combined for a dazzling visual, and the roll had an interesting
flavor combination, although the sun-dried tomatoes were nowhere
near as pronounced as I would have expected.
On the negative side, highly promoted kindai tuna wasn’t
available, but we were happy to find a special of ankimo, monkfish
liver served as discs with a red-orange chile-spiced shredded
daikon radish. The presentation was spectacular, with most of half
of a cucumber razor-cut into long slices as a backdrop and carrot
spears with wasabi-flavored green sesame seeds artfully arranged as
a garnish. The liver flavor was similar to an ever-so-fishy pâté
with a firm but smooth texture.
Those who don’t want sushi have a choice of five pan-Asian
entrees and 10 small-plate-format dishes called sharing plates.
Lobster fried rice ($12), one of the sharing plates, was easily a
full meal for one person and surprised us by containing three
shelled claws (two tempura-battered) and small but tangible chunks
of lobster meat throughout.
Yu-miso grilled Scottish salmon ($18) was about an 8-ounce
fillet cooked just beyond medium-rare, served with chile-lime
butter that worked from a citrus perspective but lacked fire.
Another entree, Vietnamese caramel chicken ($13), was actually
marked as ‘spicy” but came nowhere near.
Service in general was brisk, although we found it odd that a
single menu was provided to us when we sat down.
A few of our fellow diners seemed to be there to watch sports on
TV, and there was still an element of socializing at the bar.
Nonetheless, “upstairs” Miso successfully creates a different
feel and is easily approachable by diners who didn’t want to get
caught up in its more raucous downstairs environment.
16 North Meramec Avenue, Clayton • 314-863-7888 •
misolounge.com • Menu: Ten small plates and five full entrees in a
pan-Asian style, plus a long list of composed rolls and other sushi
• Smoking: No • Kitchen hours: 11 a.m- 9 p.m. Sunday-Monday; 11
a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.