The past year has been a busy one for the St. Louis culinary scene. Here are a few of the highlights from 2012:
The new location of chef GERARD CRAFT's flagship restaurant, Niche, officially opened its doors to the public earlier this month. The restaurant is in the Centene Plaza Building in Clayton, next door to Craft's newest concept, Pastaria, which opened in September. Niche's former home on Sidney Street in Benton Park will now serve as Craft's test kitchen for culinary research and development.
Chef STEVE GONTRAM'S long-awaited burger restaurant, 5 Star Burgers, is now open for business at 8125 Maryland Ave. in Clayton. In addition to beefy burgers, the menu includes some veg-centric sandwiches like the Veggie Burger and The Portabella Stack, plus a bevy of shakes and floats. We've received some reports from the field that the Sweet Potato Fries with Salted Maple Cream are not to be missed.
All nonprofits planning events next year, take note: Butler's Pantry has announced it will donate $2,013 to each non-profit organization that hosts an event at its Palladium Saint Louis event space in 2013.
◆ Chef BRIAN HARDESTY, who took over the kitchen at Nosh a few weeks ago, has announced he’s dropping the Nosh name in favor of Root. The name is reflective of the new culinary direction Hardesty is pursuing: original takes on classic American cuisine that span the years from the founding of the country until roughly the Great Depression era. Hardesty says to expect lots of game, roasted meat and whole fish preparations. The restaurant (co-located with Starr’s in Richmond Heights) is closed during the transformation, and is scheduled to open for business on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
◆Chef BRIAN HARDESTY has assumed the mantle of executive chef at Nosh in Richmond Heights, co-located with wine and spirits store Starr’s at 1135 Big Bend Blvd. The re-invented eatery re-opened Nov. 30, and initially will be open for dinner service Tuesday through Saturday, from 5 to 9 p.m. Street food fans can breathe easy: Hardesty still will be running his popular Guerilla Street Food truck, but he’s utilizing the Nosh kitchen as the commissary, while also helming the kitchen at the restaurant. The new Nosh menu has been pared down, but still retains a focus on local, seasonal ingredients. Hardesty says he plans to rotate menu items on a regular basis. The redesigned bar menu will feature classic cocktails, including tweaked takes on libations like the Manhattan, Moscow Mule and the Daiquiri, as well as plenty of quality beers and wines. As if that wasn’t enough to keep him and partner JOEL CRESPO busy, Hardesty says the Guerilla Street Food truck will be doing some road trips next year, taking its Filipinobased fare to a variety of cities, including Chicago, Kansas City, Seattle, New Orleans, and Minneapolis. Stay tuned!
◆ New microbrewery 4 Hands Brewing Company has started brewing its beers on a commercial scale, and will be opening its tasting room to the public in December. Instead of running a kitchen on-site, food will come courtesy of a rotating roster of local food trucks. Co-owner KEVIN LEMP says so far, he’s been talking with the Cha Cha Chow, Pi, Guerilla Street Food and Seoul Taco trucks about bringing their wares to the tasting room. On the brewing side, look for the company’s four core beers—Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown, Divided Sky Rye IPA, Reprise Centennial Red and Single Speed Session—to be available in kegs initially for restaurant and bar use, and 22- ounce bottles shortly thereafter.
> It’s been announced that Chef BRIAN HARDESTY has officially stepped down as executive chef at Terrene. Taking over the kitchen is Chef MICHAEL WARHOVER, formerly the sous chef at Terrene. Hardesty will be focusing on opening his new food truck, Guerilla Street Food, which he hopes to get rolling sometime later in the spring. Good luck to both!
> Mark your calendars, because the second annual Clayton Restaurant Week is coming up fast. From Monday, Jan. 24, through Sunday, Jan. 30, 19 of Clayton’s finest restaurants are offering a special three-course dinner for a fixed price of $25 per person. Diners also have the option of adding ‘extra credit’ donations to their bills to support KidSmart, which provides area students in need with school supplies. More info at claytonrestaurantweek.net.