rabbit andouille gumbo at local chef kitchen photo by dave moore

Review: Local Chef Kitchen in Ballwin

What Local Chef Kitchen lacks in an interesting name, it makes up for in delicious dishes. Located in a storefront on Manchester Road in Ballwin, it brings seasonal, locally sourced meals and a curated market to an area that always needs original acts. Not many spots in the neighborhood offer treats like Companion kombucha on tap or dishes designed by a light-footed chef in response to local farmers’ harvests. The set list changes every five days, so some of my favorites might not be available on your trip, but there are bound to be at least a few dishes singing your tune.

pastrami sandwich at local chef kitchen // photo by dave moore

Pastrami sandwich
I’m pretty passionate about pastrami, and LCK’s un-stringy and soft meat easily outshone its timid backup singers of rye bread and grainy mustard. When I saw someone’s half-eaten sandwich in the trash, I almost cried. Rock out with my now-favorite pastrami in St. Louis.

Smoked pork
A cut of tender, house-smoked ham was folded over a rich mix of kidney and navy beans and chopped pork shoulder in concert with apple au jus. Sometimes smoke can upstage a meat, but not in this case. The au jus added a sharpness wanted by such a savory dish – the acid cutting through the fat for a full, well-rounded flavor.

beets were a standout at local chef kitchen // photo by dave moore

People I respect have told me they don’t like beets. They don’t always believe me when I say they just haven’t tried the right kind yet. These are the right kind of beets. Marinated in red wine vinegar, sugar and black pepper, the tender wedges of red root had the perfect amount of firmness to sink your teeth into. If you don’t like these, then you will never like beets, and I can’t trust your taste in food anymore.

Rabbit andouille gumbo
The rabbit andouille gumbo was the headliner. Savory and sweet, the whole dish was an umami concert over rice topped with a thick slab of tender roasted sweet potato, pickled onions and roasted okra for cymbal crashes of brine and vegetal freshness. House-made bread made a great encore, dipped in the rich sauce.

chef-owner rob uyemura // photo by dave moore

Folks have their preferences, but the Local Chef burger is easily in the running for St. Louis’ best. Wait, wait, wait, Andrew, you may be thinking. That’s a bold statement. Yes, it is. You need to try it. Served on a wheat bun, this burger doesn’t even need ketchup or the crisp lettuce, pickles and red onion served on the side – the two soft, perfectly cooked smashed patties are that good.

The downside
While the food is excellent, Local Chef’s supermarket atmosphere is not. The compartmentalized plates served on cafeteria trays could be a hip throwback, but the design choices don’t seem that intentional. Sitting next to market produce that you’re also eating is simultaneously quaint and awkward. Ordering to-go is an option, but the food really is best eaten fresh. Either way, I wouldn’t turn down an encore meal.

Local Chef Kitchen
15270 Manchester Road, Ste. 130, Ballwin, 636.220.3212, Facebook: Local Chef STL

Tags : Places, Reviews, Restaurants