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Jul 01, 2016
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Hit List: 4 new restaurants you must try this July

July 1st, 2016

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1. Vista Ramen: 2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.797.8250, vistaramen.com

Style meets good tastes at Cherokee Street’s ultra-cool Vista Ramen. The relaxed, stylish interior sets the stage for approachable Asian-inspired food with a hint of fine-dining finesse. The menu of mostly small plates and ramen bowls comes courtesy of chef Chris Bork (formerly of Blood & Sand). Dishes rotate frequently; an artfully plated, unexpected starter featuring bites of beet and black sesame chiffon cake drizzled with charred lemon sauce and popcorn has already disappeared from the menu. However other dishes, like the small plate of Korean fried chicken sliders, are still available. Crisp chicken is tossed in a spicy gochujang-based sauce and topped with fish sauce pickles sandwiched between a sweet house-made Hawaiian roll. Among the ramen, we slurped up the veggie version with firm noodles swimming in a delicate broth alongside seasonal vegetables and the perfect egg with a yolk as thick as cold custard. Likewise, the well-rounded pozole hit all the right notes: spicy, savory, silky broth soaked pulled chicken with a fresh green hit of cilantro on top.

 

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2. Scarlett’s Wine Bar: 4253 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.797.8223, Facebook: Scarlett’s Wine Bar

Fans of Sasha’s on Shaw should flock to sister restaurant, Scarlett’s Wine Bar. The Central West End counterpart is busy and cheerful, stylishly designed with a tinned ceiling and marble-topped bar. Glance over the iPad menu boasting dozens of wines, or take our sage advice and request a glass of Benton-Lane pinot noir, an easy red with dark berry notes. Enjoy a light meal with the fresh crab salad. Tender greens, lump crab, grilled asparagus and avocado are dressed in light white balsamic vinaigrette for an indulgent meal that won’t weigh you down. Though, you should probably round out your order with the sausage and pepper pizza. This memorable pie boasts wood-fired crust that bread aficionados will love, baked in an oven Italians would kill for.

 

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3. Scapegoat Tavern & Courtyard: 52 Maryland Plaza, St. Louis, scapegoatstl.com

Scape’s sister space has switched to the night shift. The former home of Crepes, Etc. is now Scapegoat Tavern & Courtyard. The newly renovated space features a long L-shaped bar lined with sleek white subway tile and bottle after boozy bottle. Grab a seat inside (or on the secluded back patio it shares with Scape) and start with a classic cocktail like a summery mojito. For a snack as you sip, turn your attention to small plates like the G.O.A.T. Sliders: macadamia nut-crusted fried chicken topped with pepper jack cheese and a honey-mustardy sauce on a Hawaiian bun. You can also split a crisp flatbread slathered in arugula pesto, tart balsamic glaze, roasted peach slivers and melted burrata. Hungier patrons can opt for the entree-sized house-smoked pastrami melt stuffed with kraut, gooey Gruyere and Russian dressing. Scape’s little sister is all grown up.

 

4. Club Taco: 200 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.858.1488, Facebook: Club Taco

Kirkwood has recently been granted a membership to Club Taco. Start with a West County Housewife, which weaves adobo-grilled beef tenderloin with portobello mushrooms, candied bacon and Gorgonzola on a house-made corn tortilla. The vegetarian Fun-Guy features those same portobellos and stout-braised black beans covered with roasted green chiles and topped with a slice of fried avocado. Break all the rules with the Deep South: fried chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes with corn relish and a spicy pepper sauce. Snag a side of Club Tots, too: crisp tater tots smothered in white cheddar, green chiles, chipotle crema and a sunny-side up egg.

 

The Scoop: Twisted Tree to open in Sunset Hills

June 30th, 2016

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There will once again be a dining option at the corner of Lindbergh Boulevard and Watson Road when Twisted Tree Steakhouse opens July 14 in Sunset Hills. As reported by Feast, Twisted Tree will be located at 10701 Watson Road, the space was most recently home to Mile 277 Tap and Grill.

The Syberg family, which also owns the eponymous restaurant group, owns Twisted Tree and brought on Mike Abbadessa of the former Pear Tree Restaurant to help with menu development and opening. “We’ve all been in the business for a long time,” said Syberg’s marketing director Tracy Stamper. “The Pear Tree had a great menu, and we have seven restaurants. We’re excited.”

Stamper said Twisted Tree will aim to create a rustic, comfortable steakhouse featuring traditional cuts like prime rib, filet mignon and rib-eye. A signature item from Pear Tree, the battered, fried lobster tail, will be on the Twisted Tree menu, as well.

The 9,100-square-foot restaurant holds 200 seats inside with an additional 50 seats on a patio. When it opens, Twisted Tree will initially serve dinner from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with plans to add lunch service in August.

 

Sneak Peek: Kounter Kulture in Lindenwood Park

June 30th, 2016

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Pop-up eatery Kitchen Kulture has put down roots under the name Kounter Kulture. As The Scoop reported in March, co-owners Christine Meyer and chef Michael Miller are opening up shop on Tuesday, July 5 in the former Pint Size Bakery location at 3825 Watson Road. They will post up at their regular spots at the Tower Grover Farmers Market, but they’re relieved to have a permanent location. “We’ve been mobile for so long,” Meyer said. “After a certain point you just want a home.”

The petite redesigned restaurant offers a full view of the open kitchen behind the walk-up service counter. “We treated this place like a submarine,” Meyer said. “Everything had to have a place and a purpose or it didn’t make it in.” Even the counter is on wheels and can separate into mobile prep stations when the restaurant isn’t open.

While business will be primarily carryout, Kounter Kulture offers around 20 seats outside at cafe tables. The menu features  a tight, rotating roster Asian-inspired dishes like spring rolls, okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes), steamed buns and noodle bowls like a cold ramen salad and a khao soi made with Midwest Pasta Co. noodles.

Open from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, here’s a sneak peek of Kounter Kulture’s open kitchen.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: The Wheelhouse in Clayton to close July 1

June 30th, 2016

 

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After nearly three-and-a-half years, The Wheelhouse in Clayton will close its doors tomorrow, July 1. As reported by St. Louis Magazine, The Wheelhouse location in downtown St. Louis will remain open, and co-owner Stephen Savage’s next project, Start Bar, is still slated to open this summer.

“The biggest reason we’re closing the Clayton location is to put all of our efforts into our downtown projects and focus on the future of the company,” Savage said.

The group is also looking down the road to expand its brands outside of the St. Louis market, but no specific city has been chosen. “We love where we’re at in the downtown location,” said Savage. “We’re between Busch Stadium and Scottrade (Center), so we’d love to go to a city with another hockey and baseball stadium nearby.”

 

The Scoop: The Wandering Sidecar Bar offers mobile beverage service

June 29th, 2016

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A chic, new way to host an open bar at your next event has hit the pavement. The Wandering Sidecar Bar, brainchild of co-owners Tiffany and Dave Unger, is a souped-up camper customers can rent for beverage service at private event. Tiffany Unger said she discovered the concept last November in a magazine and wasted no time in replicating it. The couple bought a 1960 Avalon camper, renovated it and hosted their first event June 10.

The operation is simple. With 18 years of bartending experience behind her, Unger helps clients build a beverage menu for their event and gives them a shopping list of alcohol and mixers for that menu. At the event, she bartends and while Dave Unger barbacks. They provide the drinking vessels, ice and drink garnishes and additional services as needed.

“It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind service,” said Unger. “We take over and take care of everything. The venue we provide is an added perk, something that draws attention.”

Unger thought their concept would attract primarily weddings, but requests to work events from birthdays to block parties have pleasantly surprised her. She would also like to see their camper used in unintended ways like a retail cart or to serve as a water and lemonade stand for large events.

“Being involved in the community is very important for us,” said Unger. “We don’t want to be pigeonholed as a wedding vendor. We want to be out in the community doing things like food truck events, getting out there and being seen.”

Unger said a renovated 1967 horse trailer will soon join the mobile fleet. “We’re a new company ready to explore options,” she said. “We feel like we have a really cool product and give really good service. I don’t think we have limitations to what we can do.”

 

The Scoop: Ownership changes at Thurman Grill, Winfield’s Gathering Place and Melt say farewell

June 29th, 2016

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For 10 years, Thurman Grill & Provisions has served the Shaw neighborhood, but tomorrow, June 30, the pilot lights will go out – at least for a time.

Thurman Grill owner Larry Weinles is selling the business to Doug Fowler, who is keeping tight-lipped about his plans for the restaurant. Fowler said he hopes to reopen on Aug. 1 as Thurman’s in Shaw.

Weinles’ said he plans to catch up on some sleep. “I’ve been in the business since 1981,” he said. “It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing this but 72-hour work weeks are hard. I’m tired and ready to enjoy my life.”

This weekend also marks the last meal at Winfield’s Gathering Place in Kirkwood. As reported by St. Louis Magazine the restaurant will close this Saturday, July 2. The sports bar, located at 10312 Manchester Road in Kirkwood, opened in January 2015.

Owner Mark Winfield thought it was time to move on. “Twenty years in the food industry is a long time,” said Winfield, who also co-owned The Precinct Sports Bar & Grill and Jim Edmonds’ 15 Steakhouse. He will take a sales position and spend more time with his daughters. “We appreciate your business, and we’re sad to go, but everyone at the restaurant we’ve found jobs for, so everyone is taken care of,” he said. “The future is bright.”

Other recent closings include Melt at 2712 Cherokee St., which announced its closure June 6 on its Facebook page. “We had hoped to be open longer, but due to circumstances beyond our control, and because it was only fair to our staff to be properly staffed, as well as our patrons to get the service they deserve, this is effective immediately,” the announcement read. Melt ownership did not return request for comment.

 

Mitch Mackowiak contributed to this report. 

By the Book: Onion Carbonara from Food 52: Genius Recipes

June 29th, 2016

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Pasta carbonara is the ultimate indulgence. Who doesn’t love long spaghetti noodles coated in cream, egg, cheese and bacon? As the internet can attest, the rich sauce goes well on just about anything from squash to steak, but when I came across this recipe for onion carbonara I was skeptical. Did I really want to eat a pile of onions?

As it turned out, I did. This recipe isn’t just a testament to carbonara’s transformative powers; it’s a nod to the versatile, humble onion. Gently steaming thin slices removes their bite and renders them al dente. They’re a sweet base (or topping) for anything, and simple, quick carbonara was no exception.

Don’t worry if it’s still a healthy choice to swap low-calorie onions for high-carb pasta when there’s bacon, butter and heavy cream in the mix. Just grab a fork and dig in.

Skill level: Beginner to medium. Some recipes are drop-dead simple while others require more kitchen experience.
This book is for: People who love classic recipes with a few ingenious tricks to make them easier.
Other recipes to try: Salt-crusted beef tenderloin grilled in cloth, black pepper tofu, no-knead bread
Verdict: Carbonara steals the show from cheesy skillet bread and greens.

 

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Onion Carbonara
4 servings as a starter, 2 servings as a main dish

4 oz. (110 g.) sliced applewood-smoked bacon
3 large yellow onions (about 12 oz./340 g. each)
½ cup (120 ml.) heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Fine seas salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling

• Stack the slices of bacon, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer to firm. This will make them easier to cut.
• To cut the onions using a meat slicer, cut off the root end of each onion and discard. Then cut off the other ends. With a paring knife, core each onion by cutting a cone-shape from the root end of the onion, much as you would remove the stem of an apple. Stand each onion on one end and cut a vertical slit from top to bottom, just reaching the center. This will result in long strands of onion rather than rings when the onion is sliced. Set the slicer to cut 1/8-inch (3 mm.) slices. Place a flat end of an onion against the blade and slice. Alternatively, to cut by hand, leave the root ends intact, but cut a slit in each onion as above, then cut across the onion to make 1/8 (3 mm.) slices. Separate the onion slices into strands. Place the longer strands in a bowl and reserve the shorter ones for another used. You should have about 8 cups (1.9 liters) loosely packed onions.
• Place a steamer basket in a pot over simmering water. Place the onion strands in the basket, cover, and steam for 5 to 10 minutes. Taste one to make sure the sharp onion flavor has mellowed to your liking. Remove the basket from the pot. (This can be done a few hours before serving.)
• Remove the bacon from the freezer, unwrap and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch (3 mm.) strips. Put in a large nonstick skillet and saute over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until crisp and browned.
• Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together ¼ cup (60 ml.) of the cream and the egg yolk. Set aside.
• Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour out the fat and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Return the pan to the burner. Add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the bacon and the remaining ¼ cup cream and simmer 30 seconds. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Toss and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions are hot. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the reserved cream mixture and the Parmesan. Taste and add additional seasoning if needed.
• With a pair of tongs, lift each portion, letting excess sauce drip back into the pan and arrange in small mounds on serving plates. Serve sprinkled with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

The Scoop: Pastaria’s Ashley Shelton wins Eater Young Guns competition

June 29th, 2016

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Ashley Shelton of Pastaria took the top prize in Eater’s Young Guns competition, becoming the first St. Louis chef to win. The winners were announced on June 28, 2016.

“It’s inspiring,” said Shelton. “It’s great to be noticed and it’s humbling because it takes a whole team to do what we do every day. I have to thank them the most.”

Shelton was one of 4,000 nominees in this year’s competition. The nomination process is open, with anyone invited to send in a name for consideration.

All the vetting and judging for the contest was done via email and personal interviews. As Shelton moved into the final rounds, she answered questionnaires and submitted references.

“I got the email [notifying the first place win] at home and the dog started freaking out because I was screaming,” she said.

Shelton spent the weekend in Los Angeles where the 19 finalists, their families, media and industry pros were invited to a party celebrating the best of the best. It only took two hours for Shelton to run out of the 700 portions of the andouille arancini she cooked for the occasion.

With recognition on a national stage, this is not the last we’ll hear of Shelton.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Gezellig Tap House & Bottleshop to replace The Demo in The Grove

June 28th, 2016

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{Gezellig Taphouse & Bottleshop owner Brandon Cavanagh} 

 

Hop heads will have a new hangout when Gezellig Taphouse & Bottleshop opens its doors in late September or early October at 4191 Manchester Road in The Grove. Currently the home of The Demo, co-owner Brandon Cavanagh plans to shutter the music venue on July 9 and renovate the space with a beer selection partially inspired by his European travels.

“We want to capture the feeling of Amsterdam,” said Cavanagh. “On a trip abroad, I visited Cantillon Brewery. It’s a special place, and some of their beer makes it here. I’m looking forward to getting our hands on it.”

The 30 beers on tap and more in bottles will be a mix of local beers and rare, international beers. “The focus is on large-format specialty beers from around the world,” he said. “We’re not trying to pigeonhole into any one niche area.”

Accommodation is the name of the game for Gezellig, which will be both a bar where suds seekers can hang out and sample or a bottle shop where a brew hound can swing in, grab a bottle and head home.

Food offerings are currently in the works and Cavanagh hopes to add a full kitchen in the future.

Baked: Chicken Biryani

June 28th, 2016

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Biryani is a spiced rice dish with roots in countries across the Middle East and South Asia. It is essentially a layered baked dish that alternates spiced rice and marinated meat. My sister came up with this recipe and after she shared it with me, I passed it on to her.

Though biryani can be spicy, I’ve kept it minimal here, but feel free to add more to your taste. Shan brand spice packets can be found at Global Foods Market and Indian specialty markets. Serve this dish with a side of raita, a cooling Indian yogurt side that will calm the spice. Enjoy and happy baking!

Chicken Biryani
4 to 6 servings

½ cup milk
1 tsp. saffron
2 cups basmati rice
4 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. vegetable or canola oil, plus more for frying
½ large onion, thinly sliced
4 roma tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup European-style plain yogurt
6 cloves garlic
2 to 3 Tbsp. Shan Spice Mix for Special Bombay Biryani*, cardamom seeds removed, plus more to taste
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) butter, thinly sliced and divided
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
Raita for serving (recipe follows)

• Warm the milk in a small pot over medium heat. Remove from heat, pour into a small bowl and soak the saffron in the milk. Set aside.
• Cook the rice according to package directions, adding the peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon stick before cooking. Let cool completely. Remove the aromatics, if desired.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• In a large pan with high sides, warm 1 inch oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and fry until medium to dark brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the onions and place on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool. Set aside.
• In a blender, puree the tomatoes, yogurt, garlic and spice mix together in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
• In a clean nonstick skillet, warm 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, then stir in the yogurt mixture. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
• In an 8-by-10-inch baking dish, spread half the rice in an even layer, followed by ¼ cup of the milk and 2 tablespoons butter. Add the chicken and cover with the remaining rice, ¼ cup milk and butter. Sprinkle with mint.
• Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Garnish with the fried onions and serve with raita on the side.

Raita
1½ cup

½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup European-style plain yogurt
3 Tbsp. water, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp. sugar, plus more to taste
2 tsp. chaat masala*

• In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Season to taste with sugar or water

*Shan spice mixes and chaat masala are available at Global Foods Market in Kirkwood or Indian specialty markets.

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