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Now that spring is finally here, it's time to get out and nosh on what's new for the season. Here's a short list of seasonal dishes currently being offered by some of the area's best eateries, along with recommendations for the best wines to accompany them.
The Crystal Cajun Cook-Off, one of the premier events leading up to the city's Mardi Gras celebration, was held Jan. 26, in the City Hall rotunda downtown. The contest featured 10 amateur and 10 professional chefs slugging it out in the kitchen for the title of best Cajun/Creole Dish. When the dust settled, Lumiere Place/River City executive chef and LN Cooks columnist JOHN JOHNSON top honors in the pro category, while chef GEORGE MACDONALD came out on top in the amateur division. Congrats to both chefs!
The past year has been a busy one for the St. Louis culinary scene. Here are a few of the highlights from 2012:
As two rival outlet mall developers square off in the Chesterfield Valley, the stakes have rarely been higher. Both the Simon Property Group and Taubman Centers, Inc. are moving forward with plans to build upscale outlet malls in the valley.
Billed as the ‘little brother’ to Franco in Soulard, Nico recently opened up in the U. City Loop in the space that most recently housed Brandt’s. We stopped by to see if the new kid lives up to his esteemed family tradition.
Once again, St. Louis has been recognized nationally for its culinary prowess. Chefs KEVIN NASHAN of Sidney Street Cafe; GERARD CRAFT of Niche; KEVIN WILLMANN of Farmhaus and JOSH GALLIANO of Monarch all have been named semi-finalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category of the 2012 James Beard Awards. And chef WES JOHNSON’s Salt in the CWE, which opened just last spring, is a semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant. Good luck to all!
◆Mosaic Market Bistro in Clayton is now Coastal Bistro & Bar. The revamped restaurant is still owned by the Schmitz family but now features a raw bar with oysters, crab legs, seafood towers and shrimp cocktails, among other items. The eatery also offers some local country menu items and has both large- and small-plate options. Co-owner FRANK SCHMITZ tells us the changes were made to differentiate the restaurant from the other Mosaics, including the upcoming Des Peres location.
For decades people have flocked to Las Vegas in search of the ultimate jackpot, or at the very least, some top-notch entertainment while trying their luck. From the birth of what is now the world-famous Strip during the Bugsy Siegel and Rat Pack eras to the decadent ‘80s and its attempt at ‘family-friendly’ tourism in the late ‘90s, the City of Sin has constantly morphed into the next big thing. In its latest incarnation, Las Vegas has gone noticeably upscale, judging from the abundance of ultra-luxe resorts, gourmet eateries, and world-class shopping and entertainment venues at every turn. So for this trip, we gave ourselves a challenge: Eat, drink and be merry, without the casinos.
• The debut party for SLeeK Steakhouse & Ultralounge last week was packed. Uber chef Hubert Keller was reunited with Bryan Carr, chef/owner of Pomme, who had worked for Keller at his San Francisco four-star restaurant, Fleur de Lys. Keller explained how the crew for his TV show, Secrets of a Chef, will commandeer SLeeK’s kitchen for a week after dinner service to film all night! All around, staff prepared hors d’oeuvres, house-smoked Scottish salmon with horseradish sorbet, ‘cappuccino shooters’ of lobster bisque, and placed mini desserts on signature matte black plates. When I got my first peek at the tall, narrow menu, I checked to make sure the mashed potatoes with lobster and the Perigord truffles Keller told us about in January were there, and they were ($8 each). In addition to Burgundy snails, Japanese waygu beef and osetra caviar and a dozen prime meats from the grill, there is also a five-course tasting menu for $78 and a four-course vegetarian tasting for $58. Gerardo Say, the executive chef, will be expediting to Keller’s standards.