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Dec 22, 2014
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Sneak Peek: Seoul Taco and Seoul Q

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

“This city has never seen anything like this.” Seoul Taco co-owner David Choi was talking about the barbecue grills fitting inside tables at his upcoming Korean barbecue and hotpot restaurant, Seoul Q, but the statement holds true for everything Choi has done at 6665 Delmar Blvd., in University City. The space is the new home for Choi’s relocated Seoul Taco, and its sister restaurant, Seoul Q. While they share a space, Seoul Taco will open later this week, and Seoul Q is slated to open at the end of December.

Upon entering, diners encounter a host stand in front of a partition made from colorfully painted boomboxes. Step right for Korean-Mexican fusion; step left for Korean barbecue and hotpots. The decor is as much a cultural mashup as Seoul Taco’s fusion fare is. A sculpture made from a 1942 Ford Metro van is mounted on the wall next to murals of Korean martial arts fighters wearing Mexican luchador masks.

Seoul Taco is still counter service, but there’s plenty more elbowroom at 76-seat space compared to its former 18-person confines down the street at 571 Mehlville Ave. The menu at Seoul Taco remains the same, but patrons can expect daily specials like Korean barbecue tortas and nachos. And now that it has a liquor license, patrons can wash down their tacos and burritos with 4 Hands brews on tap.

On the other side of the boomboxes, full-service Seoul Q is just as boisterous, but with a more industrial feel. Eight cylindrical exhaust hoods extend over those DIY barbecue grills in the center of poured concrete tables, and a dark wood scape runs the length of one wall, a signature touch of Smartmouth Designs, the Chicago-based interior design company that worked on the space.

The Seoul Q menu is divided into appetizers, soups and hotpots and barbecue. Patrons ordering the latter choose between various cuts of beef and pork to grill at the table. The meat comes with rice, six sides, vegetables and a choice of soup. A barbecue order generally serves two to three people. Meanwhile, meat and seafood hotpots are kept warm at induction stovetops set into some tables. Beverages include bottled craft beer and cocktails featuring soju, a Korean spirit.

Here’s a look at what to expect at Seoul Taco and Seoul Q when both restaurants open:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky


The Scoop: Andrew Jennrich departs from Butchery, joins Annie Gunn’s

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014


{From left, Butchery’s former head butcher Andrew Jennrich and Truffles executive chef Brandon Benack}


Andrew Jennrich has left his post as head butcher at Butchery, the butcher shop and food emporium at 9202 Clayton Road in Ladue. Jennrich said he is now reporting for work at Annie Gunn’s, where’s he’s doing a little bit of everything at the Chesterfield restaurant and its smokehouse next door, he said.

Aleksander “Alex” Jovanovic, general manager at Truffles (which is under the same ownership as Butchery), said he appreciated Jennrich’s contribution to the fledgling butcher shop that opened in late summer. “He helped us get our feet off the ground,” Jovanovic said. “I was hoping he would have stayed longer.” However, he noted the unexpected split was still amicable.

Jennrich said his decision to leave came down to a difference of opinion regarding Butchery’s direction. “We saw things differently,” Jennrich said. “I had a great time being with Brandon (Benack, Truffles’ executive chef) and Alex. I miss being with those guys. Other aspects – (It) just wasn’t going to work out.”

Taking the head butcher slot is Ryan McDonald, who joined the team at Truffles and Butchery as executive sous chef in late October. Jovanovic said that despite the unanticipated change, the transition has been seamless since the Jennrich and McDonald had many weeks to work together prior to his departure. McDonald’s primary role at the shop is butchering; two line cooks from Truffles are now responsible for charcuterie.

Jennrich said his move to Annie Gunn’s has been an educational one, noting the restaurant’s quality and talented staff, particularly executive chef Lou Rook. “Lou Rook, Steve Gontram, Vince Bommarito, Bill Cardwell – they laid the track for all of us. It’s cool to work with someone who set the groundwork,” Jennrich said. “They were all the guys doing farm-to-table before it was cool.” Jennrich’s official title at Annie Gunn’s is still to be determined, but he anticipates it will be settled in January after the holiday season.


-photo by Meera Nagarajan

The Scoop: Chef Matt Daughaday to leave Taste, Heather Stone will step up

Thursday, December 11th, 2014


{From left, Matt Daughaday and Heather Stone}

Editor’s Note: This Scoop has been updated to include comments from Matt Daughaday.

There’s a change in the top toque at Taste. Executive chef Matt Daughaday is leaving the cocktail bar and lounge at 4584 Laclede Ave., in the Central West End to open his own restaurant, as reported by Feast. Daughaday’s replacement is Heather Stone, who will step up from her current position as the restaurant’s sous chef.

While the news may come as a surprise to some, owner Gerard Craft and the team at Taste have had months to plan for the transition, which will officially occur Jan. 1.

“This has been a few month’s now that we’ve been working on the transition, so it’s not like a sudden departure,” said Craft, who added that he and Daughaday have been talking about his potential departure for the past year. “I said, ‘If there’s a time you want to go, tell me. I’ll help you in any way possible.’ He’s given a chunk of his life to the Craft team in multiple ways. We’re excited for him. I find it extremely exciting to have a young chef find his voice. That’s awesome. It doesn’t happen all the time.” Daughaday, a member of Sauce’s Ones to Watch class of 2013, has worked for the Craft family of restaurants for more than five years.

Daughaday said the transition to leave Taste is the first step toward opening his own restaurant in the course of a year. He is currently looking for a location, possible in the St. Louis Hills area, and considering concept options. If all goes according to plan, Daughaday said he could open doors as early as August 2015.

Daughaday said he learned valuable lessons under Craft’s guidance, including keeping both customers and employees happy. “Watching his growth and how he’s had to deal with a staff of maybe 20 people to over 100 … It’s a difficult thing, and I think he’s done a really good job with that,” he said. “It’s why I stayed with him for six-and-a-half years.”

Stone came aboard Taste two years ago, having previously worked at One Sixtyblue in Chicago. “I think Heather’s style fits into what we’re doing,” he said. “Heather is very farm-to-table and very ingredient-driven, so if nobody’s noticed a difference now, they won’t notice a difference then. Her food is phenomenal.” Craft said Stone created more than half of the dishes on the current Taste menu. “The team at Taste loves her,” Craft said. “She’s a great presence, a great leader. She brings a lot to the table, more so than just the food.”

Daughaday said he was more than confident in Stone’s ability to run Taste’s kitchen. “There’s no way I could have left taste unless I thought there was someone who could do a job equal to what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I definitely think she has that potential. In my eyes and Gerard’s, she’s more than capable of stepping up.”


-photo courtesy @chefh88 Instagram

The Scoop: Alcohol delivery service Drizly arrives in St. Louis

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014



Remember those nights you wished booze could be delivered to your doorstep like pizza or Chinese food? Dreams are about to be fulfilled when Drizly, an alcohol delivery service company, launches its smartphone app and website in St. Louis tomorrow, Dec. 11.

The Boston-based company has partnered with St. Louis liquor retailer Randall’s Wines and Spirits to bring beer, wine and liquor delivery to customers and businesses. To shop, users download the free Drizly app on their iPhone or Android device or order on Drizly’s website. Once the beverage selection is submitted and paid for online, the order is fulfilled and delivered by a Randall’s employee in 40 minutes or less. Delivery drivers authenticate and validate IDs upon arrival.

Customers can choose from a wide selection of beer, wine and spirits, as well as mixers, bitters, juice and even ice. Everything costs the same as Randall’s in-store prices with an added $5 delivery fee. Delivery hours are the same as Randall’s store hours of operation.

Drizly will be available throughout St. Louis city and the surrounding communities, including: Ballwin, Boulevard Heights, Brentwood, Clayton, Creve Coeur, Frontenac, Kirkwood, Ladue, Manchester, Maplewood, Olivette, Princeton Heights, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, Town & Country, University City and Webster Groves. Drizly founder and CEO Nick Rellas said he hopes to add more communities in the area. “As awareness grows, we’ll bring on more new retailers in suburban areas,” he said.

Rellas said he introduced Drizly to St. Louis after studying our city’s food and drinking culture, consumer use of technology and our sports culture. “It makes for a really great market,” Rellas said. “Randall’s is a fantastic retailer. You won’t find one as sophisticated as Randall’s. An overwhelming majority of their products are online. Randall’s is so tech-savvy that we’re able to do that.”

Drizly launched in Boston in early spring 2013. This year has seen expansions into New York, Chicago, Austin, several cities in Colorado, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington DC. “We went from one to 12 this year,” Rellas said. “You’ll see us in quite a few more cities by the end of next year.”



Trendwatch: A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now – Part 2

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Click here to read Part 1 of Trendwatch.






4. Eveything’s Better with Uni: Whether it’s Peter Gilmore at Quay in the land down under or April Bloomfield at The John Dory in NYC, top chefs around the world are diving into uni. When the sushi chefs at Baiku get their hands on the sweet, briny roe sacs from a prickly sea urchin, they get egg crazy with an uni shooter special: The creamy uni, a quail egg, masago and tobiko (capelin roe and flying fish roe, respectively) all swim in a sake-filled champagne flute. Or, try the spreadable version when Baiku runs its special of salmon with uni butter. The Libertine’s Josh Galliano proved uni has a place outside of Asian and seafood restaurants when he pureéd the raw orange lobes with sungold tomatoes for an uni sorbet to accompany tomato toast. Uni is nothing new to Vince Bommarito Jr. When the venerable Tony’s chef gets the itch to cook with the delicacy, it usually ends up on a billowy bed of house-made fettuccine. And we thought the egg-on-everything trend was nearing an end.

5. A Side of Flan: Jiggly flan always equals caramel custard, right? Wrong. Stop looking for the silky egg custard on the dessert menu and check out the entrees instead. Find carrot flan served on the side of duck confit at newly opened Avenue in Clayton, spoon up the horseradish flan served with rainbow trout at Three Flags Tavern or try Modesto’s goat cheese and salmon flan.

6. Don’t Be a Chicken … Eat the Skin: We all know the best part of fried chicken is the crispy, greasy skin. Recently, area chefs indulged us by ditching the meat altogether and taking strips of fatty chicken skin straight to the fryer. During the summer and into fall, Juniper featured fried chicken skins as a starter, and during a one-night-only event at the CWE restaurant, guest chefs Jeff Friesen of Farmhaus and Andrew Jennrich of The Butchery unveiled their ingenious idea for chicken skin: Wrap it around okra. At Franco, it wasn’t decadent enough for chef Jon Dreja to roll chicken around black truffles and pistachios; he served the roulade with a wedge of crispy chicken skin.

7. Tapping into Local Maple Syrup: Funk’s Grove was once the only local choice for sweet tree sap, but now the maple syrup market is booming, and chefs are stocking up. Just a year after its first bottling, DeSoto homestead Such & Such Farm saw its liquid amber stocked in pantries at Juniper, Dressel’s and The Libertine. New among maple syrup suppliers is Michael Gehman, the man formerly known as Veggie Boy, now the owner of Double Star Farms. Gehman peddles Raber’s Sugar Bush, a grade B maple syrup from Flat Rock, Illinois, to numerous area restaurants.







Trendwatch: A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now – Part 1

Monday, December 8th, 2014



1. Fishy Doughnuts: French fritters stuffed with fish and seafood have been washing up on menus all over town. Even if you missed Niche’s smoked trout beignets with sorghum butter and chives, you can still bite into beer-battered brandade beignets of salted cod, potatoes and garlic at Urban Chestnut’s Brewery & Bierhall in The Grove, lobster beignets at Three Flags Tavern and spicy crab beignets at Vin de Set. The classic French market doughnut has never tasted so much like the sea.

2. Top Muffins: What could go better with eggs than a homemade English muffin? You don’t have to head to David Chang’s Momofuku Ko to get a killer house-made version. Restaurants like Death in the Afternoon and Winslow’s Home ditched the bag of Thomas brand rounds and baked their own. Grab a fried egg sandwich at Winslow’s to experience the difference. And any time you eye the sporadically available English muffin at microbakery Comet Coffee, snatch it. Prepare to become an English muffin addict when cafe-bakery Union Loafers opens (“Soon!” promised owner-baker Ted Wilson.). Look for the breakfast staple at the Botanical Heights shop along with a bialy, a Polish roll that’s a cross between an English muffin and a bagel.

3. Forest on the Plate: Cooking with conifer is an art form at René Redzepi’s restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen, and pine has popped up on plates here at home, too, at places like Sidney Street Cafe, where spruce oil brightened pistachio-encrusted scallops, or Blood & Sand, where they’re grinding toasted juniper berries to season chicharrónes. Also spied at B&S: an Asian pear salad with a buttermilk-juniper sauce and juniper-hemp seed crumble.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of Trendwatch.





The Scoop: Nick Martinkovic parts ways with Death in the Afternoon, Blood & Sand

Friday, December 5th, 2014


{Nick Martinkovic}



Nick Martinkovic is no longer executive chef for Death in the Afternoon or its sister restaurant Blood & Sand. The change, which occurred in mid-November, sees colleague and chef David Rosenfeld leading the culinary team at both locations.

“We just felt that our vision of how to grow the restaurants in the future were similar but not exact,” explained Adam Frager, who co-owns both restaurants with business partner T.J. Vytlacil. “We realized it would be in both parties’ best interest to part ways at a time when we were at a point of strength and not ignore potential differences that may arise in the future … We are appreciative and grateful for his contributions. He has his own style that was really well received.”

Martinkovic said the separation was an amicable one. “It was a heartfelt separation with tears and everything. It’s better to end it that way than kind of butting heads,” he said.

Martinkovic has made local food headlines since he arrived here in early 2013 from New York City (where he worked at popular pizzeria Roberta’s) to open Central Table Food Hall. He left that post nearly one year ago to take the helm at Blood & Sand. Martinkovic said he is in the process of starting his own venture focused on healthy, in-home cooking classes. “Most likely it will take me outside of St. Louis,” he said. “I’ve loved my time here. All the other chefs I’ve met – I’ll miss everyone like crazy.”

One of those chefs will be David Rosenfeld, whom Martinkovic tapped to come with him from Roberta’s to open Central Table and then join him at Blood & Sand. Rosenfeld said he felt the chef transition was fairly seamless. “The food at Blood & Sand, since I came on in January, has had a lot of my influences, especially since Death in the Afternoon opened, since Nick was over there,” Rosenfeld said.

Rosenfeld hopes to make the menu at Death in the Afternoon a little more static. “It’s confusing for diners how much the menu changes,” he said. “We’ve gotten great reviews for our pastrami sandwiches and for a lot of other things. For a lunch diner, they want consistency. They read about it; they want to eat that. It should be on the menu when they are there.”

Rosenfeld is also gearing up for collaboration with Mike Sinclair and Chris Gaglio, founders of Upper 90 Brewing Co., whose brewing operation is located in Death in the Afternoon’s basement. Earlier this week, The Scoop reported that Death in the Afternoon will add beer tastings and a truncated evening menu in February 2015. Frager said Rosenfeld will be working with Sinclair and Gaglio to craft dishes around specific beers. Upper 90 will commence brewing operations next week with its first beers slated to be released Feb. 1

Extra Sauce: Carl McConnell’s Creme Brulee with Strawberries

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

“Creme brulee is my favorite thing to eat,” remarked Carl McConnell, chef-proprietor of Stone Soup Cottage. “It goes back to my childhood.” McConnell first tasted creme brulee when he was 7 or 8 years old and his mother took him to dine at The Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. “I ordered a creme brulee for dessert and have been in love with it ever since.”

Creme Brulee with Strawberries
Courtesy of Stone Soup Cottage’s Carl McConnell
4 servings

5 egg yolks
1 egg
¾ cup sugar, plus ¼ cup for dusting
Pinch salt
¼ tsp. vanilla
1 pint heavy cream, heated
8 fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved
Drizzle of lavender honey

• Whisk the egg yolks, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla together in a stainless steel bowl. Temper eggs with one ounce hot cream (add cream to the eggs, whisking vigorously). Add remaining cream and stir well.
• Skim the accumulated foam off the top of the custard with a spoon. Evenly distribute the custard base to 4 to 6 ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with very hot water, to a level half way up the side of the ramekins. Place in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until the custards are firm. Refrigerate custards for at least 3 hours.
• Dust the tops of the chilled custards with sugar. Shake off excess sugar. Using a creme brulee torch, flambe the sugared tops until caramelized.
• In a bowl, toss strawberries with lavender honey. Serve the berries with the creme brulee.

Read more on McConnell, Stone Soup Cottage and his business partner and wife, Nancy McConnell, in this month’s What I Do.


What I Do: Carl and Nancy McConnell of Stone Soup Cottage

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014



Is it possible to run a restaurant and have a balanced family life? “Absolutely,” said Carl and Nancy McConnell in unison. Here, the husband-and-wife proprietors of 5-year-old Stone Soup Cottage – and parents of two sons, ages 13 and 10 – share their recipe for success.

Stone Soup Cottage is only open three nights a week. Dinner is by reservation only. There is one seating of 40 guests. The menu is a six-course prix fixe with no a la carte options. Why has this business model worked?
Nancy: We’ve stayed true to the fact that we are not for everyone. We are not in it to feed the masses. We just need to have 40, and that’s OK with us.
Carl: We communicate clearly and honestly with prospective clients about exactly what we are and who we are. We don’t mind telling people we might not be for them.
N: On paper, it should have failed. What happened? Word of mouth. That’s what has made the success of our business – and an extremely loyal clientele.

Carl worked for 10 years as a chef on a cruise ship, and Nancy was an international travel director. How does your background in the hospitality and travel industry help you?
N: Whereas he was on the ships, I was on the high-end luxury travel side. I would escort guests on trips like the around-the-world Concorde. The service had to be impeccable. When Carl and I met on the icebreaker ship where we fell in love, we talked about if we were going to do something down the road, it would be an extension of what we did with our travels and hospitality on a very small, personal level.

What is the hardest part of operating a destination restaurant?
N: The expectations of the guest. We are so unique in what we’re doing. For guests who’ve never been here before, (who) may have heard or read something, it’s trying to meet their expectations.

Your New Year’s Eve extravaganzas have always surpassed expectations. What are your plans this year?
N: We’re doing an early seating. Eight courses. At 9:30 p.m., we’re done. Our kids are going to come up for the first time, and we’re going to toast our family. I think that’s going to be the tradition from now on.

In what ways has your family benefited from the restaurant’s hours?
N: We are able to make our schedule for the restaurant to not miss out on any major milestones for our children. We’ve always closed for Halloween. Any of their birthdays, we close. Band, concerts – anything important to them.

Do they help at the restaurant?
N: Our youngest, Colin, loves the creativity with Carl. … Christian is –
C: Terrified of it. … Printing menus, being out here with Nancy, polishing glasses. He’s cool with that.

Will you extend your hours when your sons get older?
N: Yes. We have guests ask us all the time, “When are you going to bring brunch back?” We’ve said from day one, when our kids don’t want to be with us anymore or don’t need us or they have their own jobs, the business will take its twists and turns. But as long as they need us … that is our main job.

What restaurant decisions do you make together?
N: Almost everything. But we are normal. We fight. We disagree. We have to compromise, and we’re two completely different people.
C: I’m the dreamer. Nancy is the realist. She makes it happen.

Even though you manage the front of the house, do you ever feel like a restaurant widow?
N: I am like a restaurant widow.
C: When I’m working back there, I tune everything out. I’m in the zone and unaware of anybody that’s around me. That can be hard, I imagine.

Do you ever sneak into the kitchen and give him a quick peck?
N: Absolutely. Many people have caught us giving (each other) a little smooch.
C: I love her! She’s everything to me.
N: If we’re having a crazy night, just a loving hand on the shoulder, or us looking at each other saying, “We can get through this” – that connection gets us both through.
C: But then there are nights when she wants to kill me …


Want to bring a little Stone Soup Cottage into your kitchen? Get the recipe for chef’s classic Creme Brulee with Strawberries on Extra Sauce.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Sneak Peek: Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Chris Bolyard announced in February that he would be leaving his post as chef de cuisine at Sidney Street Cafe to open a butcher shop with his wife, Abbie Bolyard. Some 10 months later, the Bolyard’s are ready to unlock doors to Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions at 2810 Sutton Blvd. The boutique butcher shop opens this Friday, Nov. 28 in Maplewood.

Old-school, artisanal and whole-animal all figure into the Bolyards’ approach to their business. Animals are sourced from smaller family farms in Missouri and Illinois that raise their hogs, cows, lambs and chicken on pasture and without hormones, antibiotics or grain. Chris Bolyard got a taste for whole-hog butchery at Sidney Street and honed those skills further, staging at butcher shops in Chicago, Nashville and New Orleans.

At their new shop, a glass window provides a view to the cut room, where Bolyard will don a scabbard and break down whole animals like cows into sections like the chuck and brisket, rib and plate primal, hanger steak, short loin and sirloin.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute and a member of the Ones to Watch class of 2011, Bolyard will also put his charcuterie skills to work. Among prepared meat products, Bolyard will make sausages like chorizo, andouille, bratwurst, hot dogs, Toulouse (a French sausage of diced pork) and kielbasa. Also behind the deli counter, look for bacon, porchetta di testa and deli meats such as mortadella, pastrami, Bastardo (a bastardized style of salami made with beef and pork), ham and roast beef. Liver cheese, head cheese, pork rillettes and braunschweiger will be among pressed and pulled meat offerings. The shop even offers to-go cups of hot beef, chicken or pork broth, bags of fresh, house-made chicharrónes (pork rinds) and beef jerky.

Not sure what meat to buy? Need a special cut? The Bolyards aim to be a service-oriented, custom butcher shop. “It’s our job to let them know what’s in, what we have,” said Abbie Bolyard, who worked as a maitre d’ and server at Niche for five years before leaving the restaurant in 2013.

As for provisions, Bolyard’s refrigerator is filled with house-prepared kitchen staples like lard and stocks, condiments such as Worcestershire, ketchup and harissa, and fresh eggs from Vesterbrook Farm in Clarksville.

The airy, window-lined space (most recently the Black Cat Theatre lobby) rounds out its inventory with beef tallow soap, hand and lip balm made by Maplewood neighbor Maven, Woodside Urban honey, Missouri charcoal and wood chips and Yellow Tree Farms wooden kitchen utensils and cutting boards. There’s even something for four-legged friends: smoked pig ears and beef trim dog food. (A portion of profits from dog products will benefit Humane Society of Missouri.)

Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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-photos by Michelle Volansky




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