Q: The Basket Case Deli in Washington, Mo., serves a warm gooey butter bread pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top that is absolutely to die for! I am normally not a fan of bread pudding, but this dessert is the best.
Sue Robison, St. Louis
A: To turn heads in St. Louis, insert the words "gooey butter" into just about any dessert name. But since buying the deli in 2009, chefs Don DeCecco and Jake Schneider also are turning heads for their fresh approach to the entire menu.
The pair are longtime friends; Don has lived in Washington for some years, and Jake is a native. Both have years of experience in St. Louis restaurants, including the Chase Park Plaza, Herbie's Vintage 72, Monarch, the Oyster Bar and the Jive and Wail.
The deli sandwich choices are extensive and include house-roasted turkey and house-corned beef. The dinner menu ranges from fish and chicken to pork and beef.
Hungry for samples? The Basket Case Deli will take part in Washington's Main Street BBQ and Bluesfest Friday and Saturday. More information: downtownwashmo.org.
Bread pudding is one of two house desserts (the other is old-fashioned strawberry shortcake) and Gooey Butter Bread Pudding is just one of several bread puddings featured throughout the year. DeCecco says, "We start with the same bread and custard base, then fold in seasonal flavors: sometimes white chocolate and raspberries; other times dark chocolate and Baileys Irish Cream; in the fall, dried cranberries and black walnuts; for St. Patrick's Day, mint and chocolate chips. We like to think that our bread pudding is 'almost famous.' Maybe some day it will be."
On the plate, Gooey Butter Bread Pudding is made to impress. It's baked in round ring molds until crisp and golden, then topped with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce.