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Mar 06, 2015
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The Scoop: First Stop Bake Shop serves up pastries in Rosewood Heights

Thursday, March 5th, 2015


{Raspberry-swirl cheesecake}

Illinois residents in the Riverbend area have a new place to pick up pastries. First Stop Bake Shop opened in late January at 611 East Airline Drive in Rosewood Heights, a small community just east of Alton, Illinois. A venture by pastry chef Michael Jenniches and his wife Mary Jenniches, First Stop specializes in French pastries and breakfast baked goods.

Morning bites at First Stop include bagels, croissants, scones, muffins and danish. All of the baked goods are made from scratch, with flavors and fillings that change daily. “There is no menu,” said Michael Jenniches. “I come in every morning and make what I feel like.” Prior to venturing on his own, Jenniches, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, worked as a pastry chef at the Ritz Carltons in St. Louis and San Francisco, Four Seasons Hotel-Newport Beach and, most recently, at Meadowbrook Country Club in Ballwin.



{Frangipane stack}


Desserts range from mini treats like red velvet or almond-chocolate-raspberry cake pops to by-the-slice frangipane stacks, gooey butter cake and fudge brownies to whole cheesecakes, tarts and fruit rolls. Jenniches also bakes fresh dinner rolls and loaf breads.

Jenniches said he has fielded numerous requests from locals with fond memories of another area bakery – the defunct Mrs. Siebold’s Bake Shop. He has appeased their cravings for long-lost Mrs. Siebold’s treats like a strawberry roll, cream puffs and sugar cookies decorated with a smiley face.

While many customers grab their goodies and go, the tiny 750-square-foot bakery offers seating for those who want to eat in. Coffee and tea are also available. First Stop Bake Shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Editor’s Note: This post originally misspelled Michael Jenniches’ name. It has been updated with the correct information.


First Look: Chi Sushi in the Central West End

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015



Things have been quiet for the last eight months at Chi Sushi & Sake in the Central West End. During that time, owner Jay Yoon sold the sushi lounge at 4 N. Euclid Ave., to his brother, Jae Hoon Yoon. Now, the restaurant has re-opened with an abbreviated name, Chi Sushi, and an expanded menu.

While Chi Sushi & Sake leaned toward the lounge scene, Chi Sushi posits itself as a full restaurant. Chef Whitney Yoon, wife of Jae Hoon Yoon, worked at Nippon Tei in Ballwin for 15 years before bringing her skills to the Central West End eatery.

The menu, previously a slate of sashimi, nigiri, maki and specialty rolls, now includes hot and cold appetizers and entrees. You’ll find a number of starters and small plates like tako yaki (crispy octopus balls) and kaki furai (fried oysters). Larger plates such as chicken teriyaki, grilled salmon and tofu-vegetable tempura are served in a bento box with miso soup, a house salad and rice.

The sushi bar has expanded its offerings as well. Look for more exotic fish and seafood, from giant clams to uni. More rolls have been added, including a number that feature crispy tempura thanks to the addition of a fryer in the kitchen.

Here’s a first look at the new Chi Sushi:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

What I Do: Marc Gottfried of William K. Busch Brewing Co.

Monday, March 2nd, 2015



Marc Gottfried was 14 when he started brewing beer at home. Five years later, he joined Morgan Street Brewery, where he worked for 16 years and rose to become brewmaster before he departed in 2011 for William K. Busch Brewing Co., maker of Kräftig lager and Kräftig light. Here, its vice president of brewing and chief brewmaster – and the most decorated brewer in St. Louis history – gives a behind-the-scenes look at his craft.

Why did you leave Morgan Street?
I knew if I didn’t take the risk I would think about it for the rest of my life. While (Kräftig) had a high probability of failure, there was a chance of extreme success. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. In retrospect, it was the right decision. I’m more of a complete brewer.

In what way?
When I left Morgan Street, I thought I was resigning myself to a boring lifetime of brewing the same damn beer over and over. The chasing (of) consistency and quality that I have to do with this company is equally as challenging and fun as the ability to brew whatever the heck I wanted at Morgan Street.

How did you develop the Kräftig recipes?
We were trying to develop one beer, (and) we were just going at it two different ways. One of the guys we work with says, “Guys, stop trying to decide. We’ve got two beers: a light and a regular.” We kind of shot ourselves in the foot. The most efficient way to do it would have been to develop a regular and add water and that’s your light. We didn’t develop it like that. Those recipes are completely different, so I have to brew Kräftig light and lager as totally separate beers.

Kräftig beers are brewed in La Crosse, Wisconsin at City Brewing Co. How often do you travel there?
I drive to Wisconsin every other week. The day when I can go to work in St. Louis and brew beer, I’ll be a happy guy.

What does the term “craft beer” mean to you?
Craft, by definition, is a volume-related thing. It’s annual capacity. But craft is more than that. It’s a movement, a rebirth of beer styles gone by the wayside and a birth of thousands of beer styles that never existed before. The craft brewing movement was small breweries brewing beer styles that were less common because they were from other countries. And then those people started experimenting. What if we put it in a barrel? What if we put whiskey in it? What if we put raspberries in it? That was the beginning.

Apart from your own beer, what do you drink at home?
What I had the other day that was awesome was a Samuel Adams Escape Route. It was a Kölsch. Also, I love Bitburger. It’s a Bohemian Pilsner. I drink a lot of Schlafly, too.

Which brewers inspire you?
I probably would never have become a professional brewer if it were not for Phil Colombatto. He was brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch. (I was) 15 or 16. We go to Anheuser-Busch, meet with him. He spends hours with me. At the end, he gives me a book, The Practical Brewer. It’s looked upon as the bible of the professional brewer. He signs it: “To Marc, I hope your experiences in brewing will be as fulfilling for you as they have been for me.” It inspired me.

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Retreat Gastropub to open this summer in the CWE

Thursday, February 26th, 2015


{Retreat Gastropub owner Travis Howard}


Retreat Gastropub is coming to 2 N. Sarah St., in the spot previously occupied by 6 North Café. Owner Travis Howard, who signed the lease to the Central West End spot last week, hopes to open the American gastropub in June.

The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner. Its midday menu will focus on flatbreads, sandwiches, salads and soups – quick-service items to facilitate area professionals. Howard envisions a dinner menu of burgers, plus small plates like poutine, chicken wings, crabcakes and other seafood dishes. Although a chef has yet to be tapped for the kitchen, Howard foresees the food prepared from scratch with as much local produce as possible.

The bar at Retreat will pour local and national craft beers. Expect a minimal selection on tap but an expansive number of bottled and canned brews. Retreat’s cocktails will feature house-made infusions, tinctures and syrups, said Howard, who spent the last three years at Baileys’ Range, initially as a bartender and most recently as general manager. This is his last week at the downtown restaurant.

Retreat takes its inspiration from the outdoors. That feel will be reflected in an interior design that Howard called “retro-modern,” outfitted with outdoors-y tables and benches that he is building with his father, a hobby woodworker. Besides 60 seats in the dining area, Retreat also will offer outdoor dining on its covered patio and sidewalk.

“This restaurant has been a project of mine for several years, and my personal experience of nearly 15 years in the industry has me prepared for this opportunity,” Howard said. “I have been able to hone my craft, build my knowledge, and gain invaluable experience while managing Baileys’ Range … I will take that experience with me and build upon it.”



The Scoop: The U Bar to open in old Sir’s BBQ space in U. City

Thursday, February 26th, 2015



The space at 6714 Olive Blvd., in University City will see new life next month as The U Bar, opening March 6. The U Bar is a venture by husband and wife team Jason and April Spain. Though the Spains have experience in the nightlife biz (He was the owner of now defunct J. Spain’s Waffles & Wings at 1901 Washington Ave.) , they aren’t going for a late-night club scene this time. Instead, The U Bar will lean toward neighborhood bar and grill.

The Spains hope to attract lunch-goers from offices on Olive Street and to keep the traffic flowing with a happy hour and as an evening hangout. “We want to create a neighborhood vibe that is comfortable, approachable, safe,” said Jason Spain, a University City resident.

The abbreviated menu includes just six or seven items. Spain ticked off hand-battered wings, a burger, fries, hand-battered shrimp, a chicken sandwich and a salad, plus periodic specials. “Everything hand-made. We’re not freezing anything,” Spain said. “We’re a bar with a great kitchen.”

The full-service bar will not be “fancy-dancy,” said Spain, but that doesn’t mean cocktails won’t be made with care. Expect fresh juice in that mixed drink “to get the flavor and taste of what great cocktails are,” he said. The U Bar will have six beers on tap and a small selection of wine.

The Spains made minimal changes to the 50-seat interior since its days as Sir’s BBQ, which closed in late 2012. Spain said the tweaks they have made emphasize the history and architecture of the building, whose art deco glass block windows are a prominent feature at the entrance.

The U Bar initially will be open Monday through Saturday from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. After a few weeks, it will open for lunch at 11 a.m.



Sneak Peek: Público

Thursday, February 26th, 2015



Nearly one year ago, restaurateur Mike Randolph announced his plans to open South American gastropub Público at 6679 Delmar Blvd., just doors from his Neopolitan pizzeria The Good Pie in The Loop. The wait for the wood-fired cantina is nearly over; Público opens doors for dinner March 3.

The menu is divided into crudo (raw), botanas (snacks), tacos, arepas (corn pancakes), parrilla (grill items) and desserts. In the raw section, look for appetizers like oysters and tiradito, a Peruvian dish of raw fish similar to sashimi served with a spicy aji pepper sauce. Botanas range from El Tri, a trio of house-made dips and salsas served with corn flatbread, to jalapeno soup with smoked trout. Diners can expect tacos with fillings such as seared shrimp, smoked chorizo, carnitas and carne asada on stone-ground corn tortillas made in-house. A custom-built open-wood hearth that also has smoking capabilities will turn out everything from Argentinian-style steak to whole grilled snapper. Although menu items cap at $15, expect an elevated presentation reminiscent of Randolph’s former restaurants-within-a-restaurant, Little Country Gentleman and Medianoche.

On the beverage side, bar manager Nick Diogiovanni will put rum, tequila and mezcal center stage. A frozen drink machine will also churn out a rotation of boosy slushes like Fernet and Coke. The wine list will focus on South American and Spanish wines, along with cellar wines (that include an extensive riesling selection from Little Country Gentleman days).

SPACE Architects + Design renovated the former hair salon, which now offers seating for 60 guests at a bar, a wall of booths, a 10-seat community table and a few stools along the counter next to the open kitchen.

Here’s what to expect when Público unlocks doors March 3:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: Taco Circus

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Quick-service Mexican restaurant Taco Circus is opening doors at 4258 Schiller Place in Bevo Mill Friday, Feb. 27. As Sauce reported in November, the restaurant is a venture by longtime friends and taco lovers, Mikey Carrasco and Christian Ethridge.

Although the entire menu is available all day (Taco Circus will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.), the morning crowd might prefer to fill up on breakfast tacos filled with farm eggs, potatoes or house-made chorizo, saving the ground beef, chicken, pork steak and other fillings for lunch and dinner. Diners choose between soft flour, soft corn or a fried corn tortilla and toppings of either cilantro and onion or lettuce and tomato. Other additions, such as cheese and sour cream, are extra. Sides like beans, rice, chips and salsa are offered a la carte.

While tacos are the main event, other offerings include a Frito pie, a taco salad and funnel cake dusted with cinnamon sugar and drizzled with lemon-butter icing. No item is priced higher than $2.25, even though the meat is sourced from respected Missouri farms such as Rain Crow Ranch and Root + Holler. “We want (customers) to compare us to Taco Bell as far as price goes,” said Carrasco.

Service will also be as fast-casual as Taco Bell. Considering that the brightly painted 700-square-foot space only has 14 seats, Carrasco and Ethridge expect to do more carryout that dine-in business.

Here’s what to expect when Taco Circus unlocks its front door on Feb. 27:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Tiny sandwich shop The Little Dipper opens on Cherokee Street

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015



Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes. The latest one to open on Cherokee Street is tiny – as in six-seat tiny. The Little Dipper opened doors Friday, Feb. 20 at 2619½ Cherokee St., in the space formerly occupied by Small’s Tea and Coffee.

Working behind the counter of this shotgun space are owners Thomas Eversmann and Jason Paul. The pair has created an abbreviated menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and snacks. All but one of the six sandwiches are served hot. Since the cafe’s first day, the tuna sandwich has been a hot commodity, along with the open-faced toasted tomato with feta, Swiss and garlic oil. The namesake sandwich, The Little Dipper, is based on the Chicago-style wet sub of Italian beef and giardiniera that diners dunk in beef pan jus. Sandwiches feature bread from local bakeries Companion and Fazio’s, and all sauces and accompaniments are made in-house.

Among the snack selection, look for a cheddar quesadilla with cilantro pesto; hummus with pita and fresh vegetables; bagna cauda, an anchovy-laden warm Italian dip, served with bread and fresh veggies; and chips with salsa. Besides a daily soup, The Little Dipper offers a trio of fresh salads. Although dessert is currently not available, Paul said house-made date balls will soon be added to the menu.

-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Change is in the air for several Clayton restaurants

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015



Open, closed or relocating – a handful of Clayton eateries are in the midst of change.

Say farewell to the soda shop at Jennifer’s Pharmacy. An old-fashioned soda fountain is not part of owner Jennifer Rich’s future plans when she relocates her pharmacy from 30 N. Central Ave., to The Oxford Building in Clayton at 141 N. Meramec Ave., Suite 315 at the end of March.

“(Rich) sees this health pharmacy as something that’s really taking off. She likes that and wants to concentrate on that more and be there for the patients,” said employee and spokesperson Isabel Biesterfeld.

March 14 is the last day for the soda shop. “We have had an amazingly wonderful time here,” said Biesterfeld, who has worked the soda fountain for the last decade.

Tani Sushi Bistro will also have a new home by April if construction continues as scheduled. Owner Eric Heckman is moving the restaurant from its perch at 16 S. Bemiston Ave., to 7726 Forsyth Blvd., in a two-level space next to Kakao Chocolate in the Centene Building. Look for minimal changes to the menu with minor swaps to hot entrees.

House of Wong has moved around the corner from its spot at 46 N. Central Ave., to a new home at 19 N. Bemiston Ave. Restaurant manager P.J. Lohani said the move occurred three weeks ago. The new space is smaller than House of Wong’s previous home, offering seating for 32 diners.

Look for doors to open in early March at Vincent Van Doughnut’s first brick-and-mortar location at 40 N. Central Ave., the space vacated by Pomme. Owner Brian Marsden had originally hoped to unlock doors by late December, as Sauce reported last fall.

-photo by Jonathan S. Pollack




The Scoop: 5 St. Louis-area chefs, Annie Gunn’s wine program named 2015 JBFA semifinalists

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015



{Clockwise from top left, James Beard Foundation Awards 2015 semifinalists chefs Gerard Craft, Kevin Nashan, Annie Gunn’s wine director Glenn Bardgett, chefs Ben Poremba, Ed Heath and Kevin Willmann}


The James Beard Foundation has announced its 2015 restaurant and chef award semifinalists. St. Louis is again represented among this year’s nominees for the organization’s annual esteemed culinary awards.

In a national category, Anne Gunn’s Smokehouse was nominated for Outstanding Wine Program. “It’s just an honor that someone’s recognizing us on a national level,” said Glenn Bardgett, Annie Gunn’s wine director. “We’re not a flyover city anymore. What an honor. The first time this happened for me in 2011. It was the only time in Missouri that anybody was nominated for wine. Lightning struck twice.” Bardgett, who is also a Sauce wine columnist, was a semifinalist in the Outstanding Wine Service category in 2011.

In the category of Best Chef: Midwest, four area chefs made the list: Gerard Craft, chef-owner of the Niche family of restaurants; Kevin Nashan, chef-owner of Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.; Kevin Willmann, chef-owner of Farmhaus; and Ben Poremba, chef-owner of Elaia, Olio and Old Standard Fried Chicken. “I’m so grateful to be on the bus,” Nashan said. “It’s so cool. Yeah for The Lou!”

Ed Heath of Cleveland-Heath was nominated for Best Chef: Great Lakes. This is Heath’s first time on the semifinalist list. He found out about his nomination when The Scoop called for comment: “Holy shit!” he said. “(Co-owner Jenny Cleveland) and I were certain we’d close in six months after we opened. Everything has been an awesome surprise … Everyone that has (worked here) has helped shape it.”

Nashan, Craft, Willmann and Poremba have all previously garnered James Beard Foundation award nominations. Last year, St. Louis saw five chefs (Gerard Craft, Josh Galliano, Kevin Nashan, Ben Poremba and Kevin Willmann) on the semifinalist list, with Craft and Nashan moving on as finalists. “I’m super humbled to be on a pretty amazing list,” Craft said. “(It’s) an honor to be included with all those guys … St. Louis’ dining scene, especially in the past few years, is amazingly strong. I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Willmann said the list reflected St. Louis’ diverse dining scene. “It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “There’s so many new and talented people in this town.”

Poremba also found out about his nomination from The Scoop. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Poremba said. “That’s just awesome!”

Finalists for the 2015 awards will be announced March 24, with the winners announced at a gala ceremony in Chicago May 4.

See a full list of restaurant and chef semifinalists here.

Ligaya Figueras, Catherine Klene, Garrett Faulkner and Meera Nagarajan contributed to this report.

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