The Bellwether, which had a soft opening in June in St. Louis’ Lafayette Square neighborhood, features a seasonal menu of small plates, pastas and more.
The contemporary American restaurant comes from the team behind the same neighborhood’s Polite Society and occupies the space that previously housed Element, which closed last October.
“We love the neighborhood and the space,” says Brian Schmitz, who is a co-proprietor with Jonathan Schoen. “When the opportunity presented itself, we thought, ‘OK, this makes a lot of sense.’”
The Bellwether fills roughly 7,000 square feet of the historic City Hospital power plant. Its main dining area and bar contain roughly 68 seats and occupy the third floor, with its kitchen and an in-development private-events space – dubbed the Reference Room – on the second floor. Each level also has its own outdoor patio.
Components of the restaurant’s interior – with consultation by local designer Diane Zebell – include banquettes and booths by St. Louis’ Gomez Upholstery, Moroccan-style hanging lights and pseudo-Victorian curtains. The color palette includes maroon, mauve, white and silver, as well as dark wood. Much like its menu, the restaurant’s aesthetic subtribes to no particular style, instead drawing inspiration from all over.
“The Bellwether’s name means ‘leading indicator,’” Schmitz says. “I want it to be a two-way street representation of what’s going on in St. Louis, as well as bringing in what resonates with us from outside of it. We wanted to stretch our legs and reach to try some different things, so we thought that’d be a great way to encapsulate it.”
Executive chef Thomas Futrell’s menu begins with salads and small plates like mushroom and ginger dumplings, with the dumplings braised in tamari (Japanese soy sauce), green onions and black vinegar dipping sauce. As another highlight, lamb meatballs contain Aztec blue grits, lamb fat lavash and Calabrian pepper jam.
Pasta options vary, with one recent dish involving fava bean rotolo accompanied by fines herbes, fava beans and ricotta fonduta. Entrées, meanwhile, include octopus with roasted Carnival-brand cauliflower, Calabrian pepper oil and curried mustard beurre blanc. In the future, The Bellwether’s Reference Room will also offer a tasting menu.
From the beverage list, guests can choose from wine by the glass and specialty cocktails by bar manager Travis Hebrank, such as Siddhartha (Wheatley-brand vodka, A.E. Dor VSOP cognac, Los Nahuales mezcal, Bràulio amaro, turmeric simple syrup, lemon juice and Bittermens Hellfire shrub).
“I’m really proud of what this team has done,” Schmitz says. “I think it’s a continuation of the hospitality that I hope we display at Polite Society and a space with its own unique identity.”
The Bellwether, 1419 Carroll St., Lafayette Square, St. Louis, 314-380-3086, thebellwetherstl.com