> Starting June 1, local fave Monarch Restaurant & Wine Bar in Maplewood will be closed for “a massive interior renovation.” There’s also some menu renovation going on with executive chef JOSH GALLIANO crafting a new bistro menu to feature casual southern-inspired fare that will complement Monarch’s existing dinners. The doors should be back open in late July or early August—we can’t wait!

> Market Public House, the latest project of local restaurant legend JOHN RACANELLI, had its grand opening May 8 at 6655 Delmar in the U. City Loop, where his previous restaurant, Racanelli’s Cucina, was. It’s got a spacious patio area that brings the total seating of the new eatery to 250. Menu offerings are ultra-affordable; most everything came in at $7 or less. Look for brunch in June.

> In other Loop news, this time east of Skinker, a handmade sign in the front window proclaims that Miss Saigon at 6101 Delmar is now closed after 10 years. And while I still haven’t heard anything official, it seems as though Miss Saigon’s neighbor across the street, Modai Sushi Lounge at 6100 Delmar, is done for, as well. It had a sign in the window for a while claiming a temporary closure. Now the sign is gone, and the place is still dark.

> Milagro Modern Mexican, the latest offering from chef/owner Adam Tilford of Tortillaria fame, opened April 28 in Webster Groves at 20 Allen Ave. The upscale Mexican eatery is getting lots of great buzz.

> There’s always next year. Unfortunately, local chef extraordinaire GERARD CRAFT of Niche, Taste by Niche and Brasserie by Niche, didn’t win the coveted Best Chef: Midwest title at the James Beard Foundation Awards in NYC May 3. The award instead went to ALEXANDER ROBERTS of Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis. Gerard, if it’s any consolation, you’ll always be a culinary champion in our eyes.

> If you’re a fan of meat cooked over fire, head to Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood May 28 and 29 for the Brew & Q World Pork Steak Championship amateur barbecue competition. There’s beer and music on Friday and the competition proper on Saturday. Yours Truly has been selected as one of the judges for the event. It’s a tough gig, so I’ve already started training in earnest.

> For those of you who like your fine art with a dash of the culinary, there are a couple of local galleries featuring shows by artists who use food as inspiration. The exhibit Setting The Mood: The Artful Table opens May 21 at Craft Alliance (craftalliance.org) on Delmar and runs through July 11. It showcases artistic interpretations of common kitchen and table implements. The show Slinger 3 opened May 7 and runs through June 5 at Boots Contemporary Art Space (bootscontemporaryartspace.org), 2307 Cherokee St. The exhibit features works using that local late-night favorite, the Slinger, ‘as a St. Louis cultural metaphor.’

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