Story: Francis “Confidential” Henshall is hungry for work, literally. The erstwhile skiffle musician can’t think of anything but food as he wanders the streets of Brighton, England in 1963. As fate would have it, he finds employment working for a two-bit gangster named Roscoe Crabbe, who was thought to be dead but apparently is not. Soon, Roscoe and Francis are strong-arming Charlie “The Duck” Clench, another small-time hood.
Duck, duck…A red carpet welcomed the legendary Peabody Ducks to St. Louis and the University City Children's Center (UCCC). Escorted by Duckmaster Anthony Petrina, the world-famous flock of fowl from The Peabody hotel in Memphis visited the Center last week. Just as they do twice a day in the lobby of The Peabody, the ducks paraded up a red carpet to accompanying music. During their appearance, the Duckmaster also talked with UCCC preschoolers about the ducks’ history and their care, as well as how the children can help protect the environment and all living things.
The past year has been a busy one for the St. Louis culinary scene. Here are a few of the highlights from 2012:
The Shaved Duck, the rustic American cousin to The Scottish Arms in the Central West End, is located on the corner of Virginia and Pestalozzi, in a mostly residential stretch of the Tower Grove East neighborhood. Although unassuming from the outside, once inside, the interior of the restaurant exuded an inviting warmth reminiscent of a UK public house, despite the culinary focus on the comfort foods of the Colonies. As soon as we walked in, we felt the urge to have a pint and watch some rugby.
The Shaved Duck � 2900 Virginia Ave. � 776-1407
Some restaurants go all-out to attract attention, with gaudy signage, endless social media posts, email blasts and so on. And then there are those that quietly go about doing their thing, concentrating on the food more than the marketing, like I Fratellini.
> The rumors have been swirling for a while but now it’s official: Brendan Noonan, executive sous chef at Eclipse Restaurant at the Loop’s Moonrise Hotel, has left to take a position behind the stoves as sous chef at Harvest. Harvest executive chef NICK MILLER says Noonan, who has also plied his trade at The Scottish Arms and The Shaved Duck, is already hard at work.
The new Moonrise Hotel in the U. City Loop includes a gourmet restaurant, Eclipse, on the ground floor. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since the executive chef was imported from Blueberry Hill, burgers and buffalo wings?
• JOE EDWARDS, unofficial mayor of The Loop, joyfully opened The Moonrise Hotel and Eclipse Restaurant at 6177 Delmar Blvd. on April 17. During a lengthy preview tour last week, I was wowed by the interior of the 120-seat restaurant and bar. The dining chairs have space-age elliptical curves, the sleek bar glows midnight blue, and there are lots of display cases for Joe’s collections of lunar, celestial, and space exploration knickknacks and memorabilia. In the kitchen, Joe has brought together a trio of talented chefs. His longtime chef at Blueberry Hill, MAURICE REED, is executive chef, WES JOHNSON is chef de cuisine and BRENDAN NOONAN is executive sous chef. The latter two were most recently at The Shaved Duck. The Moonrise Ravioli are made in house in the shape of a crescent moon, of course. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, as well as room service for the 120-room hotel.
• Congratulations to Gerard Craft, chef/owner of Niche restaurant! On Monday he was chosen to be one of five finalists in the Best Chef Midwest category for a James Beard Foundation Award. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony May 4 at Lincoln Center in New York, followed by an incredible reception with food prepared by 22 of America’s greatest female chefs. Tickets for the event and the complete list of finalists are available at jbfawards.com.
OK, it’s been a rough winter. Your house is on the market and it hasn’t budged, so you soothed your nerves with gooey butter cake. Your 401k tanked, so you consoled yourself with Doritos. To add insult to injury, the Rams had a bad season, so you compensated with a little extra pizza. The whole time, you figured your bulky winter coat would hide a few extra pounds.
• 500 beers, 40 of them on tap, representing 20 countries, all in one location. That’s how BRAD LOBDELL and his college buddy describe their joint venture, The International Tap House, in Chesterfield Towne Centre. The beer menu starts with ‘tasting notes’ for each of the draughts, then the bottle list is categorized, all 20 pages of it. Each beer is served in its proper glassware, and the pub’s black leather bar stools, pub tables and booths make it a great place to relax and enjoy Belgian Strong Ales, India Pale Ales, Lambics, Porters, Pilsners, and more. No time to stay? Just mix up your own six-pack from the cooler. iTAP is located at the corner of Long Road and Edison Avenue.
Another year of eating has come and gone, but not before we have the chance to give local restaurants their due. Many deserve a shout-out for dishes so well-prepared, we want to remind readers they’re at the top of our list.
Steak…If you love steak, it’s hard to find fault with any good piece of prime beef. And when it comes to steakhouses, whose specialty is the king of meat, the filet, they better know how to do it right, or they’d be out of business pretty fast. So I have been charged with evaluating the handful of places in town where steak is their ‘prime’ary business: Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, Stoney River, Sleek, Citizen Kane’s and Fleming’s. I’m not saying you can’t have a bad meal there, but I never have. Here’s how they measure up.
One of the most charming restaurants in town, Pomme, is coming upon its sixth anniversary, and if quality is any guaranty of longevity, this place will be around for a long time. The small storefront on Clayton’s bustling Central Avenue has always been a charmer, and restaurateur Bryan Carr has made all the right moves after taking it over.
The Shaved Duck
The Shaved Duck has opened its doors in the little neighborhood storefront that formerly was Pestalozzi Place. Itâ€™s a homey corner spot in the middle of a residential street near Lafayette Square. Decorated with wooden ducks here and there, the new place has gotten an attractive face-lift that includes colorful walls, dark-wood tables and stained glass panels that separate the front bar area from the small dining room of about a dozen tables.
â€¢ Once youâ€™ve traveled to the Missouri Botanical Garden to see the Niki sculptures, be sure to check out The Shaved Duck a few blocks away on the corner of Pestalozzi Street and Virginia Avenue. The menu of this culinary playground for Scottish Arms chef BRENDAN NOONAN and his right-hand man WES JOHNSON has duck in many forms. The namesake salad with fig and cherry vinaigrette is topped with oak-smoked breast, confit is served with a thyme candied apple, and there is black pepper-cured duck prosciutto and other â€˜fowlâ€™ treats. The 56-seat neighborhood restaurant serves dinner only, five nights a week. Owner ALISTAIR NISBET lives less than a block away.
• This week, instead of poking about and walking into kitchens unannounced to dish up restaurant news, I had press credentials slung around my neck to tour the restaurants at Lumiere Place.