> Blockbuster news from The Loop: The space formerly occupied by Blockbuster on Delmar is soon to become Ginger Asian Bistro, an Asian fusion restaurant influenced by French and North American techniques. The report from lead partner JOHN HUANG is that the 6,700-square-foot interior will include seating for more than 200, as well as a lounge with a bar and live music. Outdoor seating is also a possibility. This will be the third Ginger Asian Bistro location; the others are in Springfield and the Chicago suburb of Orland Park. Look for a summer opening.

> A calf, a couple of cafes, and a campus: The Fatted Calf in Clayton has re-opened after closing last October due to a fire…Diane and Bryan Carr, owners of Pomme Restaurant and Pomme Café and Wine Bar in Clayton, have closed their Mockingbird Market in Olivette…You don’t have to squeeze anymore at Café Ventana now that owners Gurpreet Padda and Ami Grimes have readied the building next door to handle spillover seating for up to 100 as well as private functions…While this writer was enjoying chef JUSTIN KEIMON’s fare at Ibby’s in W.U.’s Danforth University Center, who walked in but former chancellor William Danforth? His late wife, Elizabeth, is the restaurant’s namesake. The fine dining restaurant is open to the public through mid-May—and again when students return.

> The Culinary Olympics: KEVIN STORM, executive chef at Bellerive Country Club, and BEN GRUPE, sous chef at Saint Louis Country Club, are among 15 chefs who will move to the second round of competitions to determine the six-man team that will represent the U.S. on the American Culinary Federation’s Team USA at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg this November and at the 2012 IKA Culinary Olympics in Germany…MIKE MILLS, barbecue guru and owner of the 17th Street Bar & Grill locations in southern Illinois, was recently inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame……Having perfected the use of an espresso machine steamer to cook eggs, RICK MILTON of Northwest Coffee Roasting Company has launched a special menu line called Barista Eggs. “It’s like a fluffy scrambled egg,” says Milton, who added an espresso machine expressly for creating the egg concoction at his Ladue location…GERARD CRAFT pulled off a six-course (mostly) pork-inspired feast at the February Dorm Room, the monthly dinner series held at 33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar in Lafayette Square. The feat? Jeff Stettner’s wine bar doesn’t have a working kitchen, so chefs just use whatever cooking aids they bring with them (hot plate, anyone?)

> Expect to see signs for Sonny Bryan ‘s Smoke house in St. Louis by the end of 2010 or early 2011. The Dallas-based restaurant known for slow-cooked barbecue and handmade sides has announced plans to open multiple franchise locations in the Gateway City.

> Wasabi Sushi Bar is hosting a ‘Sushi for Haiti’ fundraiser March 14 at its downtown location, with all profits to be donated to the Haiti Relief Fund. Owner Ben Ahn will be closing his Clayton location for the event. For more event info, visit Wasabistl.com.

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