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Stone Turtle – named for the nearby whimsical Turtle Park – debuted in December in St. Louis’ Dogtown neighborhood to dispense dinner, drinks, desserts and Sunday brunch in a casual setting.

“We’re an American gastropub and whiskey bar serving kind of upscale takes on classic American fare,” co-owner Nick Funke says.

Funke is partnering in the endeavor with Maz Nooran, Adam Tanksley and chef Todd Bale. The quartet’s collective experience spans several positions in the restaurant industry: Nooran previously owned Momos Ouzaria Taverna and Flaco’s Cocina, while Bale cooked at Legends Golf & Country Club. Funke recently returned to St. Louis after spending eight years in New York, where he managed Italian restaurants, wine bars and more.

Stone Turtle fills the 2,500-square-foot space that previously served as the original home of Felix’s Pizza Pub. The dining area seats 55 with another 25 places at the bar. The co-owners worked with St. Louis’ Kenrick Design/Construction Services to realize their warm vision for the space, which features exposed brick and a bar area with decorative ceiling tiles.

The menu (which changes with the seasons) begins with a selection of bar snacks like spicy roasted chickpeas, followed by a selection of greens such as a Brussels sprouts salad with pork belly lardons, blue cheese, candied walnuts and sherry-bacon vinaigrette. Appetizers include breaded and fried burrata cheese – what Funke describes as a “grown-up mozzarella stick” – served over romesco sauce.

Entrées include a lobster roll, steak frites, mushroom gnocchi and a house burger with beer cheese, bacon-onion jam and fries. Another highlight is a pork chop au jus with roasted beets and creamy grits. Dessert options include a Civil Life American brown ale float with Serendipity ice cream and a so-called Turtle Pie with cream cheese, chocolate, peanuts and caramel.

All of the preceding sound sure to tantalize your taste buds before catching The School of Rock at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.

Behind the bar, guests will find 16 local drafts and a drink menu with canned and bottled beer options, boutique wine selections, and both classic and original cocktails. A popular pick so far is a smoked Old-Fashioned with Rittenhouse Rye 100, simple syrup, angostura bitters and an orange twist, smoked with applewood.

“We just want to offer a nice environment where you can have good food and enjoy good cocktails,” Funke says. “It’s just a positive, fun atmosphere.”

Stone Turtle, 6335 Clayton Ave., St. Louis, 314-349-1933, stoneturtlestl.com

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