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Nov 01, 2014
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Readers’ Choice 2014: Favorite Cajun/Creole – Broadway Oyster Bar

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014


{Meet some of the Broadway Oyster Bar staff: From left, Casey Donavan, Donna Hornachek, Josh Chartrand, Tory Johnson, Blair Govero, Mike Bridgeman, Brett Johnson, Bobby King, Kathryn Pilch, Jenny Hammond, Stefanie Ricci, Michelle Vessells, Brad Zipprich}

Why did readers vote Broadway Oyster Bar the Best Cajun/Creole restaurant in St. Louis for the 12th year running? Because the menu is packed with the tastiest oysters, crawfish, crab legs and alligator north of NOLA. We sat down with owner John Johnson and his staff to find out what it’s like to work in a place that’s impossible to define with customers who defy stereotyping. As the seasoned, snarky waitstaff tells it, they love each other almost as much as they love the food, and they can always find something to laugh about, even after a 15-hour shift. Just don’t ask for separate checks.

What dishes do you snarf on back in the kitchen?
The alligator sausage and shrimp cheesecakes, crawfish enchiladas, Crawfish Mona. – Mike Bridgeman, server

What’s it like to work during a Cardinals day game?
You get to see the beginning and then (the fans) come back, and sometimes they take the same table. I’ll think, Oh my gosh, you were so different earlier. You did a lot of drinking in three hours! – Michelle Vessells, server

Fill in the blank. Whatever you do, don’t order the:
Mozzarella sticks and toasted ravioli. We don’t have that stuff. – Kathryn Pilch, server

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen a customer do?
Eat a whole bucket of boiled crawfish. – John Johnson

Why is that strange?
He ate the whole thing. Seriously, the whole bucket. Shells, heads and all. – Stephanie Ricci, server

Tell me a musician story.
Dick Dale, he’s the King of Surf Guitar … he was playing with a cordless guitar. All of the sudden – (he’s) an older guy – he jumped down off the stage, walked through the crowd, all the way out the front door. Everyone was like, ‘Where’d he go?’ He went around the corner, over to the White Castle, and walked through the drive-thru. His whole band is still playing on stage. The car that’s getting served pulls away and he walks up, with his guitar, playing, and sticks his head in the window. He just felt like going over and saying hi. He never stopped playing. Obviously everyone went crazy. – Johnson

When is it hard to be a server here?
When you try to (serve) the food, and no one responds to you. You ask, “Who had the jambalaya?” and nobody knows what they ordered.
– Bridgeman

What do you do when someone orders something right before the kitchen closes?
We smile, and serve them, and cross our fingers they don’t order the crab legs. Crab legs take a long time to eat. In the last 30 minutes, you just know you’re going to get two orders of crab legs. And I’m like, if you’re going to wait for one order of crab legs, might as well wait for two. – Vessells

What do you wish people knew about Broadway Oyster Bar?
We don’t take separate checks. Why? Imagine having a big party at your house, 200 people, and trying to keep track of what everybody ate and drank. It’s the same thing here. People get upset, but they don’t realize. This ain’t Tony’s, where people come and sit in their seat. That would be way easier. – Johnson

Find out who else you voted your favorites in St. Louis. Click here to see all our Readers’ Choice winners.


-photo by Ashley Gieseking

Meatless Monday: Summer Lasagna

Monday, July 7th, 2014


Lasagna has something for everyone. Cheese. Starch. More cheese. But vegetarian lasagna? Well that’s usually just Mom’s recipe without the meat. Bo-ring. (Nothing against your mom. She’s lovely.) Since it’s too hot to turn on the oven and my farmers market produce overfloweth, it’s time to find a new twist on this old favorite.

Ready for a vegetarian lasagna that doesn’t require gallons of tomato sauce or even pasta? Click here for the recipe and click here to read more about how a friend’s love affair with polenta inspired Kellie Hynes to create this vibrant vegetarian dish.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Meatless Monday: Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas

Monday, June 23rd, 2014



Barbecue season is upon us, which means meat, meat and more meat … and leaves poor vegetarians and vegans to make a meal with some sorry sides. Fear not; it’s jackfruit to the rescue.

Looking at a fresh jackfruit, you wouldn’t expect it to inspire anything. In fact, if one snuck into your house, you’d probably whack it with a baseball bat. A fresh jackfruit is humongous, oblong and yellowish green. Like an 80-pound alien booger with tumors. But the inside, ah, the inside of this gentle giant is interesting. Crack open a jackfruit and you’ll find pale yellow, fibrous flesh that vaguely resembles a pineapple. With tumors – er, seeds. OK, the jackfruit is not going to win any beauty prizes, but those fibers and seeds are where the magic happens. They soak up the flavors of the sauce you cook them in. And, yes, when you tear it up, braised jackfruit has the exact look and mouth feel of pulled pork.

Read more about the weird, wonderful powers of jackfruit here, and get the recipe for Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas here.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Meatless Monday: Black Bean, Spinach and Feta Empanadas

Monday, April 14th, 2014



Looking for a Mexican restaurant? Ask vegetarians. Their GPS will find one like chips find salsa. Mexican restaurants, no matter how plain or fancy, promise a variety of meat-free options well beyond the ubiquitous iceberg wedge. Plus, margaritas are vegan.

As a home cook, I heart Mexican cuisine because the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to prepare. But how many taco nights can you have? (Not a rhetorical question – I’m really asking. Is two per week too many?)

So … in hopes of expanding my repertoire beyond cheese quesadillas, I studied up on empanadas. “Empanada” is Spanish for a pastry stuffed with yumminess. The specific yumminess depends on what’s produced locally. In some parts of the world, you’ll find empanadas filled with beef or eggs. In other parts, street vendors sell sardine or chorizo empanadas. And in warmer regions, sweet empanadas ooze with gooey yams and fruit.

Here in the Midwest, our empanadas usually tout chicken or beef, so I decided to create a vegetarian version. Black beans are the abundant resource in my habitat and would make a substantial filling.

Find out how Kellie Hynes took black beans to the next level. Get the recipe for Black Bean, Spinach and Feta Empanadas.

The List: Stone Soup Cottage

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Welcome to The List, our annual homage to the people, places, dishes and drinks we love in St. Louis. Don’t miss a single pick; click here to read the whole List and share your thoughts on Twitter with #thesaucelist.



If your urbane coastal friends think St. Louis is a cow town surrounded by fields, embrace their misconception with an evening at Stone Soup Cottage. Located in the footprint of a 1929 barn, this elegant, fine-dining restaurant, which was built with much of the original barn’s wood, really is surrounded by farmland. It provides chef Carl McConnell and his wife, Nancy, almost all of the produce for their seasonal six-course, prix fixe dinners. Stone Soup is farm-to-table cuisine at its most literal and just a 45-minute car ride from downtown.

5809 Highway N, Cottleville, 636.244.2233, stonesoupcottage.com

-photo by Carmen Troesser

The List: Beef Brisket Sandwich at Busch Stadium

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Welcome to The List, our annual homage to the people, places, dishes and drinks we love in St. Louis. Don’t miss a single pick; click here to read the whole List and share your thoughts on Twitter with #thesaucelist.



You can only eat so many nachos without feeling cheesy. Next time, check out chef Norman Taylor’s brisket. It’s marinated in a secret house-made wet rub, then smoked for 13 hours on-site. One bite of the tender, barbecued bliss tucked inside a toasted onion kaiser roll, and you’ll know why more than 1,200 pounds of brisket are sold at every home game. Pick the house salad as a side, and you’ve got a plate worth guarding.

Available at The Carvery in Section 148, Broadway BBQ in section 128 and in the private suites. 700 Clark St., St. Louis, 314.345.9600, stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com

-photo courtesy of Busch Stadium

Meatless Monday: Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Monday, March 31st, 2014



If chocolate equals seduction, how do you woo the dairy-adverse? I searched for a vegan chocolate mousse recipe. Several called for mashing up avocados, adding unsweetened cocoa and drizzling the whole thing with agave nectar. It was just so weird; I had to try it.

Find out how Vegetize It took a recipe that tasted like “sweet dirt” and turned it into a faux-chocolate mousse so smooth and light, you’re vegan friends may accuse you of deception. Click here for the recipe.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Meatless Monday: Fearless Matzo Ball Soup

Monday, March 3rd, 2014



The first (only) time I made matzo balls for my Jewish in-laws, Shiksa Dough Bombs of Doom dropped out of the pot. They were tough with gritty, uncooked centers that resembled the desert their people wandered for 40 years. Only drier.

Those concrete-filled matzo balls haunted me. But it’s a classic, nourishing dish that should be in everyone’s cooking repertoire, so I decided to try again. And this time, I’d make a healthier version without chicken broth and schmaltz (chicken fat).

My mother-in-law’s chicken broth is the pretty, translucent color of warm sunshine. My homemade vegetarian stock has a russet tone better suited to heavy stews. The color comes from slowly simmered vegetables, which also give it a hearty taste. Could I make a lighter-looking broth that wasn’t light on flavor?

Click here to read more about this warm bowl of comforting matzo ball soup without all the schmaltz. Or, go straight to the recipes for soup and matzo balls.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

In This Issue: Vegetize It – No Problema Paella

Thursday, October 24th, 2013



The signs were there. Zucchini piled up like unpaid bills. Twenty-minute recipes that felt 18 minutes too long. An empty sea salt container I couldn’t be bothered to recycle or replace. When I served scrambled eggs for the third dinner in a row, this home cook had to admit she was burned out.

The obvious solution was to check into a hotel with fabulous room service. The practical solution was to undertake a culinary challenge. Maybe mastering a tricky dish would bring my cooking mojo back.

Paella is a rice-and-things dish that hails from Valencia, on Spain’s eastern coast. The “things” vary, but typically include meat, seafood and veggies. The best part about paella – besides eating it – is the special vocabulary paella aficionados use. Your pan is a paellera. Your sauteed vegetables are sofrito. And while you might call burnt rice a mistake, paella folk call the crust that forms on the bottom of the pan a socarrat.

Any dish that specifically instructs you to overcook the rice is right up my alley, so I bought a paellera and assembled the ingredients to make vegan paella.

To read more about Kellie Hynes’ quest for the perfect vegan paella, click here.

-Photo by Carmen Troesser

In This Issue: Vegetize It – Pasta and a Glass of Pinot

Friday, September 27th, 2013



Cooking dinner is fun, but you know what’s really fun? Sipping wine while Internet shopping. Or Facebook stalking. Or watching your favorite TV show while the kids clean the house. And yet, even if they ate breakfast and lunch, even if you made them dinner yesterday, right around 6 o’clock, your people are going to take the pinot out of your hand and demand another meal.

Which, I’m 98 percent certain, is why the Italians invented carbonara. Whipping up a batch is faster than picking up takeout, and it uses ingredients you probably have around the house anyway – pasta, eggs, bacon, cheese and pepper. Omit the bacon for a vegetarian version, and you’re looking at a yummy homemade meal in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.

So how do you omit the bacon when the traditional recipe relies on it? I had no idea. But I ran the question past my friend Lucinda, who is a good cook and never throws a pizza at her family so that she can watch Game of Thrones.

To see what Kellie Hynes and her friend Lucinda cooked up, click here.

-Photo by Carmen Troesser



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