• This week, instead of poking about and walking into kitchens unannounced to dish up restaurant news, I had press credentials slung around my neck to tour the restaurants at Lumiere Place.

First stop was ASIA, a small, serene space with a wall of river stones and a blue-green slate floor. In the kitchen sat a duck smoker and bamboo steamer, where renowned restaurateur and chef TRI LA will recreate the cuisines of the continent, covering Japanese, Chinese, Thai and the Vietnamese specialties of his home country. The 200-seat dining room of Sleek and its glass ‘liquor library’ are still a work in progress (a late January opening is promised). Adjacent is The Kitchen Buffet and Bistro, which seats 300 people and is under the command of executive chef ROBERT FLOWERS. Then it was on to Burger Bar-Saint Louis to meet chefs HUBERT KELLER and LAURENT PILLARD, who opened the first Burger Bar in Mandalay Place in Las Vegas in 2004. I asked Hubert to share a few morsels about what to expect at Sleek, his first steakhouse restaurant. “I want little surprises to come in the side dishes—like three types of mashed potatoes—lobster, parsnip, and horseradish, but the steak, its quality and perfect preparation, will not be upstaged. And I will have luxury desserts like Grand Marnier soufflé because everyone loves a soufflé.”

• Thanks to the little angel who gave me “HOW TO BE A BETTER FOODIE: a bulging little book for the truly epicurious” by food and travel writer Sudi Pigott. This chocolate brown and peppermint pink tome is great fun to flip through, and yet it’s seriously worthy of a significant study too. What kind of foodie are you? Go to www.sudi-better-foodie.com to take Pigott’s quiz and find out.

• Happy New Year from A to almost Z! Here are names of some of the restaurants, bakeries and ice cream parlors set to open in 2008:

Allen’s Bakery, Blue Nile, Fountain on Locust, Paciugo Grand Café, Revival, Shaved Duck, Ventana, and West End Grill.

• Oops! We goofed on the spelling of St. Louis’ latest Irish Pub, Tigin, which is downtown at 333 Washington.

If you know of other restaurants opening in 2008, please share your reconnaissance by email to spicybits@laduenews.com.

—amy PECK Abraham

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