• The debut party for SLeeK Steakhouse & Ultralounge last week was packed. Uber chef Hubert Keller was reunited with Bryan Carr, chef/owner of Pomme, who had worked for Keller at his San Francisco four-star restaurant, Fleur de Lys. Keller explained how the crew for his TV show, Secrets of a Chef, will commandeer SLeeK’s kitchen for a week after dinner service to film all night! All around, staff prepared hors d’oeuvres, house-smoked Scottish salmon with horseradish sorbet, ‘cappuccino shooters’ of lobster bisque, and placed mini desserts on signature matte black plates. When I got my first peek at the tall, narrow menu, I checked to make sure the mashed potatoes with lobster and the Perigord truffles Keller told us about in January were there, and they were ($8 each). In addition to Burgundy snails, Japanese waygu beef and osetra caviar and a dozen prime meats from the grill, there is also a five-course tasting menu for $78 and a four-course vegetarian tasting for $58. Gerardo Say, the executive chef, will be expediting to Keller’s standards.
• Bushwoods on 4th is certain to become a baseball lovers’ hangout. After eight years running the Firehouse Bar on State Street in Alton, Dustin Snyders chose the Chouteau’s Landing redevelopment location to be as close to Busch Stadium as he could. The patio space is large enough for a putting green and a washers tossing pit, and lots of seating. The inside has room for diners, a huge bar, shuffleboard and a stage for live music. In addition to the usual pizza, wings and burgers, the food menu will include homestyle cooking with daily blue plate specials. Caddyshack fans will get Snyders’ reference to the crazy golf club. Bushwoods should be open at 756 S. Fourth St. before the Cardinals’ home opener against Colorado March 31.
• Even for those familiar with Thai cuisine, the menu at Basil Spice has an added dimension…numbered pictures that match dish descriptions. The pictures are not fancy, nor is the restaurant, but the family-run place is authentic Thai operated by Renoo Jansala and her daughter, Somying Fox. Basil Spice, at 3183 S. Grand Blvd., is a great addition to the world cuisine available on that street.
• The yellow ochre walls of the new eatery at 1405 Washington Ave. are soothing to the spirit. Owner Nico Romano wants his customers to feel good at Solace Cafe and Wine Bar; the 50-seat space is both comfy and hip. Its menu has but 10 offerings, each sized to be shared by two. Chef Matt Malone is covering the world’s cuisine with risotto, house-made chorizo and fish with lemongrass and doing it for the unbelievable price of $6 to $13. The 14 wines by the glass will be equally affordable, most under $10 a stem. Solace’s menu will be available daily from 4 to 10 p.m. Nico hopes Solace regulars also will enjoy Sugar Lounge, the multi-level nightclub he plans to open in April. There is a low-profile, unmarked passage door from the cafe to the lounge…cool!
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