Hit List: September 2014

If it’s new and different you want, you’ll easily get your fill this month. Restaurants and bars have been opening left and right, not to mention food trucks, an ultramodern ice cream shop and an international grocery store. Are you ready, food-obsessed St. Louis? We’ve got 11 – yes, 11! – places you need to check out this month.

Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.
Crab, lobster, oyster and other creatures of the sea star at chef-owner Kevin Nashan’s new restaurant in the old Niche (and Taste) space in Benton Park, just a couple blocks down from his Sidney Street Cafe. Peacemaker was the original name for an early version of the fried oyster po’boy, and Nashan’s dishes celebrate expressions of Cajun cuisine, from the Acadian coast all the way to NOLA. Seafood lovers can get their fix for fish food via a raw bar, as well as fare that’s boiled, steamed or stuffed inside a toasted, New England-style split-top bun. Don’t miss the shrimp po’boy with nicely breaded fried shrimp and remoulade or the crab roll, which holds lump crab meat and a light aioli brightened with citrus. Finish with a snow cone drenched in a house-made syrup or a slice of seasonal pie. Brick, reclaimed wood and sundry light fixtures lend a waterfront seafood shack ambiance to the 120-seat place that’s been wildly anticipated, even among national media; come early or expect
to wait.

1831 Sidney St., St. Louis, 314.772.8858, peacemakerstl.com

Harvest Xpress
Health-conscious food truck lovers have a delicious new lunchtime option. Harvest Xpress strives to use as many organic, non-GMO products as possible to make its paninis, pitas, wraps and salads. Meats are naturally raised, hormone-free and tasty, particularly in the Cuban sandwich, a hearty helping of roast pork, ham, pickles and mustard on house-made focaccia. Harvest Xpress’ fresh produce is on display in the California Hipster Wrap, packed with spring greens, tomatoes, red onion, fresh avocado, chicken, turkey bacon and avocado ranch dressing.

636.244.1115, Facebook: HarvestXpress Foodtruck, Twitter: @harvestxpress

Pyro Pizza
Pyro Pizza is part engineering marvel, part mobile food venue. The truck houses a custom wood-fired pizza oven that cranks the temps to a blistering 800 degrees, turning house-made dough into a perfectly toothsome 8-inch crust in 2 minutes. We swooned over the pesto chicken pizza decked with pungent pesto, juicy chicken, spinach, onion, hunks of fresh mozzarella and shredded mozzarella for good measure. The hungry crowd should dig into the barbecue chicken pizza, featuring a tangy barbecue sauce topped with chicken, bacon, pineapple, cheddar
and mozzarella.

314.403.0217, Facebook: Pyro Pizza STL, Twitter: @PyroPizzaSTL

Tick Tock Tavern
Believers in the neighborhood corner bar revival are already filling the house at Tick Tock Tavern near Tower Grove Park. The no-frills watering hole feels barely changed from its ’80s glory days (when it also operated as a bar by the same name). Yet under ownership that includes The Royale’s Steve Smith and seasoned nightlife writer Thomas Crone, what at first appears worn and dated is suddenly cool and worth appreciating. Take in the shag carpeting covering the bar front, the linoleum flooring and the collection of Tick Tock’s 30-year-old sports trophies as you enjoy a beer. There are 11 brews (mainly craft) on tap and nearly two dozen in bottles or cans. The bar is stocked with premium spirits and for the lost, a menu board lists a handful of house specials like a rye Manhattan or a Gin Rickey. Hungry? Tick Tock doesn’t have a kitchen, but its neighbor (just through the doorway), Steve’s Hot Dogs, does. Order a dog (a vegan version debuts this month) or fill up on items from its new mac-n-cheese menu.

3459 Magnolia Ave., St. Louis, 314.776.6929, theticktocktavern.com

United Provisions
What do you get when Olio and Elaia chef-owner Ben Poremba teams up with Global Foods guru Suchin Prapaisilp? You get shelves upon shelves of international foodstuffs, from kefir to pork ramen to Pocky. You get an unexpectedly diverse selection of beer, wine and cider, curated by Andrey Ivanov (For more on Ivanov go to p. 18 of the Guide to Drinking). You get sushi master Naomi Hamamura delicately arranging spicy tuna rolls behind the raw bar. You get coffee and espresso served over the marble countertop at the coffee bar. And at the restaurant area known as Dining District, you get table service for an impressive lunch (sandwiches, salads and burgers) or dinner (oysters, barbecued ribs, lamb kebabs and so much more). This grocery store-turned-gastronome refuge has us standing united in admiration.

6241 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.833.5699, 3459 Magnolia Ave., St. Louis, 314.776.6929, unitedprovisions.com

Whitebox Eatery
Early risers can tuck into fine breakfast fare at Whitebox Eatery in Clayton. Step up to the gleaming white counter and place your order for coffee and a grilled ham breakfast sandwich, a thick slice of house-baked ham, an over-hard egg and gooey melted Gruyere cheese stacked between a house-made buttermilk biscuit slathered with apple butter. Lunch service starts at 11 a.m., and we’re digging into a filling organic farro salad, the ancient grain tossed with a handful of peppery arugula, roasted mushrooms, caramelized fennel, mozzarella and a pesto dressing. On your way out, snag that fruit Danish you’ve been staring at since you arrived. Its buttery, flaky goodness is so worth the calories.

176 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton, 314.862.2802, whiteboxeatery.com

Unkle Munkey’s Coin Club
For the last few years, food has beckoned us to Edwardsville. Now that Unkle Munkey’s Coin Club has unlocked its doors, we’re heading across the river for some good, clean fun. The arcade offers more than 50 classic video games like Pong, Tetris, Galaga and Breakout, along with a dozen wicked pinball machines, including the classic Addams Family, and three skee-ball lanes, too. When thirst, hunger or a hand cramp finally pull you away from blinking lights and digital chirps, grab a table or take a seat at the full-service bar, the top of which is laminated with old comic book covers, quarters and game tokens. Hot dogs, pizzas and sandwiches make up the bulk of food offerings. Opt for The Hot Mess, a toasted Companion baguette packed with pastrami, roast beef, bacon, provolone and Swiss cheese, then turned into a hot mess thanks to ranch dressing and house-made giardiniera. Wash it down with one of seven mostly local rotating beers on tap. Kids can run amok until 8 p.m., when this hangout turns into a playground for the 18-and-older crowd. Sundays, however, offer amusement for all ages, all day.

1027 Century Drive, Edwardsville, 618.692.5152, unklemunkeys.com

Rack House West Winery
Rack House West Winery somehow successfully manages to be a tasting room, whiskey bar, restaurant and cigar lounge all at once. The new spot in Cottleville exclusively serves West Winery wines, (and will soon make a few in-house), but with 14 varietals from the super-sweet Duck Creek rosé to the dry, full-bodied Roundhouse Red, there’s something to please every palate. While you taste, snack on a few bar bites like bacon kettle corn. Hungry for more? The smoked brisket panini will more than satisfy with a mountain of tender meat slathered in a house-made barbecue sauce and topped with a spicy horseradish aioli, arugula, melted cheddar and caramelized onions. It’s comes on herb foccacia, but a knife and fork are required for this one. If you’d rather a whiskey and a stogie, step into the cigar lounge, sink into one of the comfy armchairs and light up, a snifter of one of 85 available whiskeys or a barrel-aged Manhattan by your side.

5065 N. Highway N, Cottleville, 636.244.0574, rackhouse.westwinery.com

Ices Plain & Fancy
One of Shaw’s newest (and zaniest) storefronts masquerades as a modest corner ice cream shop, but a closer look reveals some seriously weird science going on behind the counter. Started by four college chums, Ices Plain & Fancy evokes the techniques of Victorian desserts innovator Agnes B. Marshall to make the Nitro Ice, which uses liquid nitrogen to flash-chill cream to silky perfection. Best of all? It’s made to order right in front of you with nitrogen steam pluming all around. Pick from around seven seasonal flavors each day, or try the Sump Pump, soft-serve infused with whatever’s on the grind over at Sump Coffee. Most items are available in soy if you’re eating vegan or gluten-free – otherwise, be sure to have your ice cream scooped into one of the house’s fresh-made waffle cones.

2256 S. 39th St., St. Louis, 314.601.3604, icesplainandfancy.com

MaryAnn’s Tea Room
Walk past the clothes, furniture and artwork at Enchanting Embellishments to the back of this CWE boutique where you’ll find glass doors that open to an airy greenhouse, home to MaryAnn’s Tea Room. The 45-seat space is outfitted with ornate gilded chairs complete with embroidered cushions, oversize planters bearing large leafy fronds, chandeliers and anything else associated with the customs of English tea. Open to the public daily until 4 p.m., MaryAnn’s offers Tea Forté and Dilmah teas, around 50 flavors in all. The tearoom staff will make a fuss over you at high tea; four different service options are available, all of which require advance reservations. For a less formal affair, pop in for lunch, selecting from a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches or larger plates. We recommend the chicken pie and a side of nutty rice salad – a blend of three types of rice and six different nuts, nicely seasoned with herbs. Finish with a pastry by La Patisserie Chouquette, La Bonne Bouche or Hank’s Cheesecakes.

4732 McPherson Ave., St. Louis, 314.361.5303, maryannstearoom.com