We're lucky here in St. Louis to have no shortage of good new restaurants. Many of these get a decent amount of press, especially when there are well-known folks involved. The Purple Martin is somewhat of an exception to this.
The Daily Meal just released its list of the 101 Best Food Trucks in America, and the St. Louis mobile food scene was well represented. Cha Cha Chow came in at #94; Seoul Taco took the # 87 slot; and the Guerrilla Street Food truck made the grade at #20. Congrats to all!
The culinary scene in St. Louis continues to flourish, and 2013 was an especially exciting year for diners and drinkers and those who serve them. Here are just a few of the notable events in the past 12 months:
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.
The folks who own the local Potbelly Sandwich Shop franchise have announced they'll be opening a second location at 12 S. Bemiston Ave. in Clayton in late October. The space previously housed the long-running The Fatted Calf, which closed earlier this year.
Get your appetites ready, because next week is the ninth annual Downtown Restaurant Week in the Lou. From Monday, Aug. 19, through Sunday, Aug. 25, enjoy a special three-course menu for $25 at 27 different eating and drinking establishments in the heart of the city. Get the whole rundown of participating venues at downtownrestaurantweek.net.
Big congrats go out to MATT SEITER, bar manager at Sanctuaria Wild Tapas in The Grove. His book, The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars, is one of 10 semi-finalists for Best New Book at the Spirited Awards at the 2013 Tales of The Cocktail, which will be held in July in New Orleans. The list of finalists for the category will be released next month. Good luck!
With tax season almost upon us, Truffles in Ladue has decided to give its customers a break with a unique promotion. The restaurant has announced it'll be ‘Tax Free Till Tax Day,’ and pay all taxes that its customers usually are responsible for from March 1 until April 15. Hey, every little bit helps!
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!
Congratulations go out to Cafe Madeline, which celebrates 10 years in business this month. The cafe, located at the Piper Palm House in Tower Grove Park, is commemorating the anniversary with a brunch special available through January, where guests can buy one brunch at the regular menu price and get the second for just $10.
Bogart's Smokehouse in Soulard has garnered a spot in Zagat's 2013 America's Top Restaurants guide. Zagat's also named its top 10 STL restaurants: Acero; Anthony's; Blues City Deli; Bogart's Smokehouse; Citizen Kane's; Niche; Pappy's Smokehouse; Sidney Street Cafe; The Crossing; and Tony's.
Glad to be able to report some more recent restaurant openings. The local franchise of Potbelly Sandwich Shop opened for business at 11615A Olive Blvd., in the former space of Provisions Market, on Thursday, Aug. 23. Then Hendricks BBQ opened its doors at 1200 S. Main Street in St. Charles a week later on Thursday, Aug. 30. The restaurant is the latest from the folks who brought us Sanctuaria Wild Tapas, Diablitos Cantina and Cafe Ventana.
Clayton favorite Oceano Bistro has debuted another location at 16125 Chesterfield Parkway West in Chesterfield, while the space at 2001 Park Ave. that once housed Arcelia’s is now the home of Laredo on Lafayette Square, which is serving up both classic Mexican and Mexican-fusion cuisine.
Restaurateur FRANK SCHMITZ, of BARcelona, Bocci Bar and Coastal Bistro & Bar fame, is set to open a new garden cafe in Clayton’s Shaw Park this summer. The concept is still being developed, but we’ve been told by Clayton city officials that the cafe will hopefully be open in mid-June and will be located outside in the Century Garden area of the park, with seating for approximately 40. No word yet on specific menu items, but we’ll keep you posted.
Market Grill in Soulard, which retooled last year and brought chef JONATHAN OLSON on to helm the kitchen, will be closing its doors effective Saturday, June 9. Olson tells us the restaurant just wasn’t able to make things work financially. He says he’ll be taking some time off this summer, then start contemplating his next move. We wish him and the rest of the staff all the best.
Perennial Artisan Ales has created Brew for the Crew, a Munich lager brewed exclusively for Farmhaus Restaurant. To celebrate the release of the beer, the brewery and the eatery are teaming up to celebrate with the Brew For The Crew BBQ. The event will be held at the brewery, 8125 Michigan Ave., on June 9, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., with the BBQ courtesy of Farmhaus. There’s no cost to get in, and food and beer will be available for purchase.
Turkish restaurant Aya Sofia will be hosting a wine dinner, featuring five courses from chef MEHMET YIDIZ paired with wines courtesy of sommelier JILL ABOUSSIE of Trademark Wines. The dinner will be held on Wednesday, June 13, at 6:30 pm. Call 645-9919 for reservations.
The historic Soulard Farmers Market will be holding a series of cooking tutorials this summer, dubbed Food 101: The New Chef Demonstration Series. These free classes will be held on select Saturdays through June from 10 a.m. until noon and will feature technique demos and recipes. More info at soulardmarketstl.com.
Mount Pleasant Estates will be hosting its second Uncorked...From The Barrel To The Bottle class on Saturday, July 14, from 2 to 4 p.m. Guests will get to taste the same young wines out of French oak barrels that the Mount Pleasant team tastes before bottling, as well as sample gourmet hors d’oeuvres. The tasting is limited to 20 guests. More info is available at mountpleasant.com.
Congratulations to TJ VYTLACIL of Blood & Sand, TED KILGORE of Taste and JOEL CLARK of Sanctuaria. All three eminent St. Louis mixologists will have original cocktail recipes featured in Gaz Regan’s 101 Best Cocktails 2012, to be released later this year.
There have been some changes afoot at Bixby’s of late. Executive chef TODD LOUGH has left the restaurant to accept a position at a resort in Florida, and sous chef CALLAGHAN CARTER, who has been at Bixby’s since it opened, has stepped in to helm the kitchen. The restaurant also recently debuted its new spring menu, which includes dishes such as seared beef tenderloin, grilled shrimp lasagna and black forest ham and asparagus crostini.
Oenophiles have another first-class place to pursue their love of the grape. The upper level of The Crossing in Clayton has been transformed into a wine bar. Owner JIM FIALA says the new space will focus for now on Mediterranean reds and Italian whites, as well as small plates and other adult beverages.
Online restaurant site Opinionated About Dining (opinionatedaboutdining.com) featured six St. Louis restaurants in its Top 25 Midwest list recently: Niche, Sidney Street Cafe, Brasserie by Niche, Tony’s, Taste by Niche and Farmhaus. Congrats!
Local purveyors Stringbean Coffee and Kakao Chocolate are teaming up to create some new chocolate and coffee confections. We’re told one of these will be a white chocolate bark topped with Stringbean’s Redeye Roast beans. The treats will be available at Kakao, which will also be offering bags of the premium coffee soon. The Maplewood Kakao location will be offering Stringbean Coffee for samples during the third annual Maplewood Coffee Crawl tomorrow from 9 a.m. to noon.
Jilly’s Cupcakes was recently touted in USA Today as one of the 10 best places for cupcakes in the country. Well done!
GEORGE RANDALL, owner of the three Randall’s Wine & Spirits stores in the St. Louis area, is planning to open store No. 4 in West County sometime this year. He’s currently negotiating for a location at 141 and Manchester Road, and tells us he has several other possibilities in the area if this space doesn’t work out. Plans for the new store include a tasting bar, among other amenities.
In other local spirits news, Square One Brewery & Distillery’s J.J. Neukomm Malt Whiskey recently won a bronze medal in the Smoked Whiskey category at the American Distilling Institute’s Judging of American Artisan Spirits. And MATT SEITER, bar manager at Sanctuaria, has been invited to share his expertise in the area of cocktails on tap by leading a seminar on the subject at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail held in New Orleans, one of the premiere cocktail events of the year.
Chef JOHN GRIFFITHS of Truffles has announced he will soon be leaving the Ladue eatery to focus on a new restaurant of his own. New exec chef BRANDON BENACK, who has worked with luminaries like Emeril Lagasse and Norman Van Aken, will be taking over in mid-April. No details yet about Griffith’s new project, but we’ll keep you posted. Good luck to both chefs!
ELIZABETH SCHUSTER has been tapped as the new executive chef at The Scottish Arms in the CWE, taking over for chef CARL HAZEL, who recently announced he’s heading over to helm the kitchen at Eleven Eleven Mississippi. Schuster was most recently at The Chase Park Plaza Hotel.
TED KILGORE, of Taste in the CWE, won the local United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) Campari Best Apertivo competition, held at Sanctuaria last week. He’ll be representing the St. Louis USBG chapter with his drink, Tokyo Drift, at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic in May. MEL JAMES of B.C.’s Kitchen and KEYAN STILL of Pi were the second and third-place finishers, respectively. Taste also was recently named by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the 50 Best Bars in America. In other mixology news, MATT SEITER, bar manager at Sanctuaria, will be featured in the May issue of Southern Living magazine.
The William K. Busch Brewing Company has announced that its Kraftig and Kraftig Light brews, which were just introduced in November, are now available in 12-ounce cans. Just in time for picnic season!
Square One Brewery & Distillery’s J.J. Neukomm Malt Whiskey recently won a gold medal from the Beverage Testing Institute, garnering 93 points, the most points won by an American malt whiskey over the past two years. Well done!
Companion recently received two 2012 Louie Awards from the St. Louis chapter of the International Special Events Society: Best Off-Premise Catered Event Budget Under $200 per person; and Best Team. Congrats!
Diablitos Cantina will be throwing a Mexican street food party on Monday, April 30, on its patio. The event will begin with a happy hour from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m, and the menu will feature items like Mexican street corn and carnitas, among other delicacies, courtesy of chef WIL PELLY. A portion of the $35 ticket price will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of St. Louis. Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite. Call 644-4430 for details.
Chef Wil Pelly of Sanctuaria and Diablitos restaurants taught a class of 15 how to make espresso flan, ropa vieja, Picadillo, Mojo and other Mexican specialties at Kitchen Conservatory? Pictured: Patty Bloom, Alice Handelman, Chef Wil Pelly and Karen Handelman.
Diablitos is the latest project from Gupreet Padda and Amy Grimes, the duo who brought us Cafe Ventana and Sanctuaria, as well as the latest incarnation of Chuy Arozoles to life. Their latest is billed as a Mexican street vendorthemed cantina, specializing in traditional south-ofthe- border favorites. Despite having just opened a couple of months ago, Diablitos has generated considerable buzz among local foodies and cocktalians, so we just had to head over to check it out.
◆ 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.
◆Following up on the recent release of their new cookbook, Stone
Soup Cottage: A Vignette of Seasonal Recipes, CARL and NANCY
MCCONNELL will be hosting a series of cooking classes at their
Cottleville, Mo., eatery of the same name. The classes will be held
weekly during November and December, and focus on demonstrating a
three-course tasting menu and wine pairing. The cost is $45 per
person and class size is limited to 20, and like the cookbook, some
of the proceeds from the classes will go to the Boys and Girls
Clubs of St. Charles County. View the full class schedule at
No one would argue that St. Louis has a nightlife that’s equal
to New York or L.A., but sometimes we tend to overlook some of the
great (and even award-winning) options that are right around the
corner. We’re putting these hot spots on our list!