> A new Middle Eastern restaurant, Ranoush, opened in the U. City Loop. The old Saleem’s has been transformed with a new tile floor, a built-in window seat and authentic textiles on the walls. Owners ABOUD ALHAMID and RANYA AL-ABBOUD met in the Damascus airport when they were young. After a long distance romance, the two settled in St. Louis and decided to open Ranoush…Aboud’s nickname for Ranya. The ceremonial mint tea pouring and special cardamom or rosewater coffee are not to be missed. And be sure to try Arak, a Syrian liquor, and kanafeh, a Syrian dessert that is a mix of baklava and cheesecake. Open daily for lunch and dinner, with belly dancers on the weekend.
> School’s out for summer, more time for ice cream! Last week, Serendipity unveiled its new flavor, Blow Pop Ice Cream. BECKIE JACOBS, Serendipity’s owner, was thrilled when it was awarded the Best New Candy Flavor by the National Ice Cream Retailers Association. The local concoction beat out 21 other flavors! Additionally, Serendipity ice cream is now being served at Lamar’s Donuts on Brentwood Boulevard.
> In May, a gorgeous new sign went up, officially naming a new Chesterfield restaurant, Seasons Saint Louis. Co-owners BILL and HOLLY McNABB envisioned a place where not only the menus would change with the equinox, but the local art on the walls would change, too, capturing the mood of the season. Co-executive chefs BENJAMIN McNABB and JOSH STRIPLIN use French techniques but describe their cooking style as Provençal-American. The recent L’Ecole Culinaire graduates have made arrangements with local farmers for fresh produce. Josh is clearly excited about the purple gazpacho made with heirloom Cherokee purple tomatoes and served with basil sorbet that will debut on the summer menu June 23. The spring menu has lots of fresh asparagus, sweet peas and baby artichokes. Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, Seasons Saint Louis is in the Forum Center.
> Tequila cupcakes? At the third premium tequila release party Yours Truly has attended in three months, tiny cupcakes made with the liquor were served. The VIP party at Mandarin for 901 Silver drew a beautiful crowd May 26, with lightning and thunder only adding to the thrills. While JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE couldn’t be there, his partner in tequila, KEVIN RUDER, was proudly promoting the smoothness that comes from triple distilling. Chef BILL CARDWELL has recently added 901 mango soup, 901 shrimp, and a steak salad with avocado 901 mole sauce to his menus at both of his restaurants.
> HUBERT KELLER of SLeeK and Burger Bar in Lumière Place will move from judge to contestant in the new program Bravo Top Chef Masters, which premieres June 10 at 9 p.m. In other Lumière news, Chef PHILIPPE TROSCH was recently named executive chef for the luxe eatery in the gaming complex. Chef Trosch came to St. Louis directly from Miami’s Fontainebleau Resort, but he has also worked at the Biltmore Hotel in L.A. and Loew’s Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson.