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The love for donuts in the Lou continues unabated. The latest purveyor of these sweet treats to make the scene is the Vincent Van Doughnut food truck, which hit the streets this month. The mobile bake shop will be selling a variety of classic favorites, as well as custom creations out of Clyde, a vintage 1960 Ford Grumman Olson step van. Find out where the truck will be next via Twitter @vinvandoughnut.
We just reported last week about the closing of Araka in Clayton, and now there's already news to relate about the next resident of the space at 131 Carondelet Plaza: It’s 801 Chophouse, and it'll be the fifth location for the Des Moines-based restaurant chain, which specializes in USDA prime steaks, chops and seafood items. We'll keep you posted on an opening date.
Next stop, Clayton! STL Culinary Tours has added Clayton to its growing list of neighborhood-centric foodie excursions. On Saturday, March 9, the company will conduct a tour of some of Clayton's finest eateries. The tour will start at Bar Les Freres and will traverse the neighborhood, stopping at Extra Virgin, Oceano Bistro, Little Country Gentlemen and end up at I Fratellini. For more info and to purchase tickets, go online at StlCulinaryTours.com.
Get out this weekend and take advantage of the last few days of the 4th annual Clayton Restaurant Week, which wraps up Sunday, Jan. 27. The establishments participating this year include: Alexander’s Restaurant; Araka; Bar Napoli; Barcelona; Bocci Bar: Cardwell’s; Coastal Bistro & Bar; The Crossing; Crushed Red; J. Buck’s; Jimmy's On The Park; Mad Tomato; Oceano Bistro; Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar; Roxane; Ruth's Chris Steak House; and Tani Sushi Bistro. Participating restaurants are offering a special three-course dinner promotion for a fixed price of $25 per person, plus tax and tip. Guests also have the option of adding a $5 ‘Extra Helping’ donation to their dining bill to support Operation Food Search. More details are available at claytonrestaurantweek.net.
Surprise! That was the word of the day at Clay Elementary School in North St. Louis, the site of KIDSMART’s 11th birthday party. The organization, which equips underserved students and their classrooms with basic school items, surprised 200 students last week with backpacks filled with supplies, balloons, cupcakes, and appearances by Rampage the Ram and Louie of the St. Louis Blues.
From fine dining to quaint parks, posh hotels and designer boutiques, Clayton boasts extensive options for a relaxing and indulgent weekend.
St. Louis has an abundance of culinary destinations that offer al fresco seating options in addition to their fine food and drink. Here’s a list of some of our favorite fresh-air dining spots.
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◆ On Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., there will be a Farmer’s Winter Market, courtesy of the good folks who bring us the Clayton Farmer’s Market. The market will be held indoors at The Center of Clayton, 50 Gay Ave., and will feature the same great farm products, as well as other artisan products.
Araka in Clayton has long been known for its delicious, inventive fare. Executive chef Michael Burnau recently took over the kitchen and has introduced a new menu that proudly carries on the Araka tradition.
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> The old Busch’s Grove space at 9160 Clayton Road in Ladue will soon see new life as home to another quality eatery. Local restaurateurs FRANK and CARMELO GABRIELE, owners of Il Bel Lago in Creve Coeur, and a partner, have purchased the building and plan to open a new Italian restaurant in part of it, while subleasing the rest. We’re told the menu of the as-yet-unnamed eatery will feature a variety of Italian cuisine. Part of the restaurant will be more casual and family-friendly, and there also will be a more formal dining room, comparable to Il Bel Lago, with private rooms available as well. The kitchen will boast a coal-fired oven, one of the only ones in the area. Look for a Nov. 1 opening.
> STEVEN CARAVELLI, executive chef at Araka in Clayton, has moved on. According to Caravelli, the split was a friendly one, and he’s currently searching for his next kitchen gig. Sous chef MICHAEL BURNAU has stepped up to helm the Araka kitchen.
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> Manjelou’s Pizzeria has bowed at 8135 Forsyth Ave. in Clayton. The location was once home to Gourmet Food Works Deli, part of Gourmet Food Works Corporate Catering, which runs Bevo Mill, but co-owner MILAN MANJENCICH says the sandwich competition in the area proved too stiff. “There’s eight places within a couple of blocks,” he says, but not much in the way of pizza. Currently the restaurant offers hand-tossed pies and will soon have a Chicago-style option. The menu also features salads, sandwiches and pasta, and there’s seating for 75 inside, 25 on the patio. FYI, the name is a combination of Manjencich and partner LOUIE LAUSEVICH.
Even after three years, Araka in Clayton packs ‘em in. It doesn’t hurt that the place is snugly ensconced in one of the toniest parts of town, near the Ritz. Nonetheless, restaurants in St. Louis have to earn their stripes because diners like to try new places.
Whether you consider yourself an oenophile or you just enjoy discovering a new vintage now and then, you’ll want to ‘save the date’ this fall when In The Vineyard showcases more than 100 wines from around the world, with cuisine prepared by chefs from St. Louis’ top restaurants. The Nov. 13 event, which also includes a silent auction, benefits Edgewood Children’s Center in Webster Groves.
> It’s been a little more than a month since STEVEN CARAVELLI took over as executive chef at Araka, and he has wasted no time in putting his touch on the bill of fare. In addition to a four-course veggie tasting menu, Caravelli has also developed a five-course chef tasting menu, among other tweaks and changes. Check out the complete new menu at araka.com.
> Chef GERARD CRAFT and a bevy of local and national culinary talent fired up the stoves for charity July 27 at Craft’s Braisserie by Niche restaurant in the CWE. The event was part of A Tasteful Pursuit, a national touring dinner series benefiting Share Our Strength, which aims to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. Along with Craft, chefs KEVIN NASHAN of Sidney Street Café, VINCENT BOMMARITO of Tony’s, PAUL VIRANT of Vie Restaurant in Chicago, JONATHAN JUSTUS of Justus Drugstore in Smithville, Mo., and SUMMER WRIGHT of Brasserie by Niche put together a stellar menu. The event, which also featured silent and not-so-silent auctions, raised $35,000 for the cause.
> Congratulations are in order for Stone Hill Winery of Hermann and Chaumette Vineyards & Winery of Ste. Genevieve following their impressive showings at this year’s Missouri Wine Competition. Stone Hill took the Governor’s Cup for the second year running, this time for its 2009 Vignoles. The winery also won the most awards at the 2010 competition, with a total of 44! Chaumette proved to be no slouch either, bringing home three gold medals and four others, and a Best in Class award for its offerings.