• Make your reservations now for the fourth annual Downtown Restaurant Week. From Aug. 11 through 16, 25 great restaurants will be serving special three-course meals for $25, and three Rosemount Estates wines will be available for just $7 a glass. The Top of the Riverfront, F15teen and Burger Bar are new participants this year. Check out the others and all the menus at www.downtownrestaurantweek.net. Please consider ordering an ‘Extra Helping’ with your meal; your charitable contribution will help Operation Food Search help those in need of food assistance in the St. Louis area.

• For the city’s 45th anniversary, the Mayor of Ellisville is preparing a proclamation declaring it Barney’s Bar-B-Q Week. But lovers of the smoked meats know that Barney’s fires up the pits only on weekends! Let this be a reminder to get thee to the oldest established business in Ellisville before Sept. 8, when they close up for the season. BARNEY CARVER built the long brick pits himself in 1963; he launched the business at age 65! His grandson, TRENT TOONE, now owns it, operates it and tends to the smoker out back. One of the reasons Barney’s tastes so good is they make their own charcoal and put only hot coals into the pits. From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday through Sunday, you can get Barney’s Bar-B-Q at 16011 Manchester Road, just past Clarkson Road.

• Executive Chef MARK CURRAN is finalizing the menu for the King Estate Oregon Wine Dinner at the Ladue News Platinum List award-winning Araka restaurant. Chef told Spicy Bits that the meal will include butter-poached lobster, bison, a ‘tasting plate’ of pork from Hinkebein Hills Farm to go with the Pinot Noir, and St. Andre cheese as part of the dessert to accompany the Vin Glacé. King Estate winemakers are traveling to Clayton from the Willamette Valley to introduce the wines. The $65, four-course event will be held in the mezzanine level private dining room Aug. 11. Seating is very limited, so call soon!

• Arias, duets, and scenes of love and laughter will be performed by singers from New Opera St. Louis on Opera Night at Dominic’s Restaurant on The Hill Aug. 12. A four-course meal of dishes from the Napoli region of Italy will be prepared by Dominic for this grand evening of music and dining. Soprano GINA GALATI, New Opera’s artistic director and Dominic’s daughter, is choosing songs from The Barber of Seville, L’Elisir D’amore and other comic favorites for this fund-raiser for the new company and its upcoming winter season. Dinner for two is $150.

• On July 16 Top Chef: The Tour rolled into the parking lot of the new Whole Foods in Town & Country. Squeezed into a demonstration kitchen that seemed smaller than a crate for a Subzero side-by-side, season two’s JOSIE SMITH-MALAVE and season four’s DALE TALDE had a great time doing demos and talking about the show. At the special VIP demo for press and L’Ecole Culinaire students, Dale prepared a delicious cold summer tomato and watermelon soup with diced melon, avocado cubes and sautéed calamari. According to Charter Communications, St. Louis is the top market in the country for the Bravo network’s reality show.

This column marks the one-year anniversary of Spicy Bits. I hope readers have had as much fun reading it as I have had researching and writing it!

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