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.
The past year has been a busy one for the St. Louis culinary scene. Here are a few of the highlights from 2012:
Hendricks BBQ opened earlier this fall, bringing both over-the-top design and quality food and drink over the bridge to St. Charles.
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.
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.
Chef MIKE WARHOVER, late of Terrene and Bailey’s Range, has taken over the kitchen at Modesto, replacing GRACE DINSMOOR, who recently left the restaurant.
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 stonesoupcottage.com.
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!
◆L’Ecole Culinaire’s Academy for Culinary Development, which was introduced earlier this year, will soon have its own dedicated space. Construction is underway on a new space at 9200 Olive Blvd. to house the rapidly expanding academy curriculum. The 2,000-square-foot facility will have three main teaching areas and should be open sometime in late fall to house the 140 classes the school hopes to have available by the end of the year. L’Ecole also is hosting a wine dinner on Sept. 29, at 6:30 p.m. in The Presentation Room at the school’s Ladue campus. The dinner will feature wines from Grafton Winery. Call 587-2433 for reservations.
◆The latest Lester’s Sports Bar & Grill location has finally opened its doors at 4651 Maryland Ave. in the CWE. The menu is the same as those of the other two locations. The new location also boasts 37 highdefinition flat-screen TVs, with four of them on the rooftop patio.