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Dec 14, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Best New Restaurants: No. 7 – Polite Society

Friday, December 1st, 2017

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here are St. Louis’ 12 best new restaurants of 2017.

 

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A meal at Polite Society makes you feel like you’re hanging out in some sitcom Brooklynites’ open-concept living room, not snagging a seat at a slick new restaurant. Owners Jonathan Schoen and Brian Schmitz spent more than a year renovating the former home of Ricardo’s in Lafayette Square into their dream business – a concept they’d been working on for much longer than that.

Polite Society’s three rooms are reminiscent of a shotgun-style brownstone with exposed brick, refinished hardwood and enough open, salvaged shelving to inspire a run on Restoration Hardware. Dishes are familiar, yet presented with unexpected touches – an herbaceous olive oil dip with aggressively caramelized Brussels sprouts or a lacquered halibut so delicate it melted into the accompanying miso-spiked jasmine congee.

Wine from the extensive cellar flows; the congenial staff offers friendly, professional assistance and is quick with a recommendation. The space can be loud as friends linger over drinks, chatting with neighboring tables. As with any good dinner party, there’s no sense of urgency to depart. Order another bottle and pass it around as you enjoy good company and Polite Society.

Photo by Jonathan Gayman

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Review: Polite Society

• Best New Restaurants: Top 3 Dishes of 2017

• Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

Best New Restaurants: No. 3 – Grace Meat & Three

Friday, December 1st, 2017

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here are St. Louis’ 12 best new restaurants of 2017.

 

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At Grace Meat & Three, Rick and Elisa Lewis answer to no one but themselves. “Grace is about our freedom and our liberation, honestly,” Rick Lewis said.

He is a familiar bearded face in the St. Louis restaurant scene. Diners have experienced Lewis’ take on comfort food since he left fine dining to take the helm of Quincy Street Bistro, his in-laws’ pub and grill in South City, in 2012. His birds at Southern led the flock during the fried chicken fury of 2015.

“We went back and forth with what we wanted to do and probably the best option would be to keep it in the wheelhouse of what I enjoy cooking,” he said.

 

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Yes, Grace Meat & Three serves the classic southern fare St. Louis has come to expect from Lewis: fried green tomatoes, griddled bologna sandwiches and, of course, fried chicken. But he never settles – even lowbrow ingredients are crucial to Lewis’ success.

“You have to have Velveeta in your mac and cheese in order to make it creamy,” he said. “We’ve got $9-a-pound Gouda in there, and then we’ve got hunks of Velveeta – name brand, none of that fake stuff. It must be Velveeta, it must be Duke’s mayonnaise, and it must be Busch beer.”

Devotees will notice subtle changes to well-known dishes and unexpected additions. Burgers are a combo of house-ground brisket and bottom round; the carnival-sized turkey leg is shockingly tender from overnight brining; a hummus starter is spiced up with harissa; the seasonal salad is tossed with a charred onion vinaigrette, a name that doesn’t do justice to its complex depth.

“I feel like 90 percent of the time, no one notices but ourselves,” Lewis said. “What you do notice is people coming in … and going, ‘Man, the food just keeps getting better.’”

Photos by Carmen Troesser

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Amazing Grace: Meet the team at St. Louis’ Grace Meat & Three

• First Look: Grace Meat & Three in The Grove

• Rick Lewis to open new restaurant in The Grove

 

Best New Restaurants: No. 2 – Privado

Friday, December 1st, 2017

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here are St. Louis’ 12 best new restaurants of 2017.

 

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Reservations only. Open just two seatings on Friday and Saturday. Sixteen diners, max. A 12- to 15-course tasting menu that changes nightly.

But don’t get the wrong idea. Privado is high-concept dining performed to a Bruce Springsteen soundtrack by a Midwestern chef who is genuinely having fun – and guests are having a blast, too. This is fine dining according to Mike Randolph.

“I really wanted to prove to myself as much as anyone else that we could – in this particular market, two nights a week – change the way the people thing about a ‘fine dining’ experience,” Randolph said.

Yes, there are a handful of seats at the bar, where those who still pine for Randolfi’s can walk in and select from a tight menu of pasta and snacks. Randolph even hosts occasional weeknight pop-ups to stretch his creative muscles (curry, anyone?). But to truly experience Privado, book a reservation online and prepare for a three-hour multisensory meal.

When you arrive, you feel like you’re in on a secret – sneaking into a restaurant for a private meal on the chef’s day off. Swing by the open kitchen before service and chat with Randolph and his team (no starched chef whites here, just a couple of guys in baseball caps and aprons) while you sip an aperitif and snack on an amuse bouche served at the pass. That’s the whole point: to create a relaxed, organic interaction between diner and kitchen. “We want people to feel disarmed, like they can come in and be themselves,” Randolph said.

 

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As First Aid Kit’s cover of “America” cues up, settle in to the first course – perhaps Missouri paddlefish caviar atop a crema cloud – and feel free to audibly marvel. Everyone else is, and it gets louder as the wine pairings flow to a steady playlist of rock, bluegrass, soul and jazz.

The meal features two- to three-bite dishes you’ll stretch into seven or eight nibbles just to study their complexity and savor the moment. Observe the crisp skin atop a meaty cube of pork belly and how it provides textural contrast to the unctuous liver (yes, liver) ice cream. Swoon over a raviolo stuffed with braised turnips and buried under a snowbank of white truffle shavings, presented on its own hand-carved spoon.

Swipe the perfect cylinder of mind-blowing Taleggio cheese wrapped in dried pear through vibrant sorrel ice cream. Wonder why on earth you never thought to pair earthy porcini mushrooms with rich dark chocolate ganache before now. Savor the last bite as Roy Orbison croons “It’s Over” and collect your thoughts between sips of Madeira and French-pressed coffee. You’ll never experience that meal again – and neither will anyone else.

Photos by Carmen Troesser

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• First Look: Privado in The Loop

• Mike Randolph will open Privado in former Randolfi’s space

• Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

What I Do: Reginald Quarles at Teatopia

Friday, December 1st, 2017

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Reginald Quarles is a contradictory man. A competitive athlete obsessed with jujitsu, he’s also a peaceful vegan who loves Paulo Coelho and Deepak Chopra. After the sudden death of his mother two years ago, Quarles quit an unfulfilling career in insurance to open his teeny tea shop, Teatopia, on Cherokee Street in January. Less than a year after opening, he has a new, larger space down the block with around 70 teas and blends available. Here, Quarles shares his experiences with meditation, secret tearooms and finding balance.

 

“The biggest thing behind Teatopia – our mission statement – is brewing better lives one leaf at a time. We encounter so much negativity on a daily basis, and we need a space to counter that, to make us feel safe. That’s why it’s so peaceful and clean-cut and relaxing. I feel like we need that.”

“Before I opened this, I worked at a mental health insurance company. I worked with the critical incident team: robbery and homicide, suicide, major layoffs anywhere across the U.S. My job was to provide counselors to respond to it. … I was 27 at the time, and everyone else I worked with was fine with where they were at. They were complacent. I wanted to be more. I wanted to do more, so in June of last year, I walked out in the middle of the day.”

“I took an extended trip to New York, and I spent a ton of time in Chinatown. I had this guide show me around. I like to call them secret tearooms because they’re so easy to miss. They’re probably smaller than the small space I was in at first, but there is so much knowledge and culture. I learned a ton.”

“Everyone has their way of meditating. My way of meditating is making tea. Sometimes I get a ton of meditating done in a day just because I make so many different teas.”

“If you use water that is too hot for a white tea or a green tea, it will scorch the tea leaf and get really bitter and dry. Tea has tannins just like red wine has tannins, and the more that you steep it and the hotter the water, that’s when those tannins start to release.”

“I’m currently drinking a tea that’s called pu-erh tea. Raw pu-erh is the tea you would buy and probably give to your grandkids. It can take 20 years to age and ferment. All teas ferment to an extent. This tea takes a long time to ferment, and the idea is the longer it ferments, the better it will be. These tea leaves come from tea trees that are about 500 to 1,000 years old, if not older.”

“Jujitsu is really difficult because it’s like chess with your body. That’s what it boils down to. It’s getting in and out of certain situations and being able to protect yourself. When I compete, I’m at peace.”

“I’m actually super hard on myself. It may not seem like it, but I have a very high standard for myself. I have this belief that no one should want my goal more than I want it.”

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Tiny tea shop Teatopia opens on Cherokee Street

• What I Do: Mandy Estrella of Plantain Girl

• Sauce Magazine: December 2017

First Look: Louie on DeMun Avenue

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

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St. Louis restaurant veteran Matt McGuire is almost ready to open doors at Louie as soon as Tuesday, Dec. 5.

As The Scoop reported in November 2016, the former King Louie’s owner announced he was taking over part of 706 Demun Ave., in Clayton, the space that used to house Jimmy’s on the Park. The 2,800-square-foot space  underwent a significant makeover and now features custom wallpaper, a 21-seat bar and shelving units constructed from old post boxes. Louie’s focal point is a massive wood-fired oven at the back of the restaurant, where house pizzas are fired each night.

McGuire tapped head chef Sean Turner and chef de cuisine Josh Poletti to helm the tight, Italian-inspired menu. Dishes will rotate frequently, featuring small plates, pizzas, a house pasta or two and a few meatier mains. Turner and Poletti developed simple dishes relying on quality produce and careful execution, like charred broccolini with a Calabrian vinaigrette.

 

McGuire’s passion for wine is evident in the bar program, where around 55 Italian varietals are available by the bottle and a dozen or so by the glass. Local bartender Samm McCullough designed the aperitif-focused cocktail menu featuring classics like a Negroni, a spritz and an Old Pal. One tap pours Bells Amber Ale, and easy-drinking bottles and cans round out the beer selection.

Louie’s will start with dinner service Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m. Here’s a first look at what to expect from DeMun’s newest restaurant when it opens next week.

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Matt McGuire to open Louie in former Jimmy’s on the Park space

• What I Do: Matt McGuire

• Jimmy’s on the Park closes after more than two decades

First Look: Frankly on Cherokee

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

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Bill and Jamie Cawthon have put the finishing touches on the brick-and-mortar iteration of their popular food truck, Frankly Sausages. Frankly on Cherokee is set to open at 2744 Cherokee St., tomorrow, Nov. 17.

The husband-and-wife team launched the truck in December 2015, specializing in artisan sausages and fries. As The Scoop reported in July, they announced plans to open a restaurant and expand the concept.

The former home of Calypso Cafe has been transformed into a 38-seat counter-service eatery with an open kitchen. While they order, patrons can watch chef Bill Cawthon and his team break down whole animals from Grand Army Farms, Such & Such Farms and others for house-ground, handmade sausages.

Large menu boards are divided into classic sausages like German, Polish and beer bratwursts, and more nontraditional options like a Thanksgiving-inspired turkey and an alligator sausage. A board of rotating sharable plates feature salads and off-cuts dishes like chicken liver crostini. Frankly Sausages fries will also be available at the new space, and on Fridays and Saturdays, Cawthon will break out the raclette wheel for funky, gooey cheese fries.

The Cawthons recruited pastry chef Michelle Hedman, formerly of Sarah’s on Central, to helm their dessert program. Look for seasonal options like a maple-pecan cheesecake, apple pie and caramelitas, caramel and chocolate oat bars.

Instead of a full bar program, they tapped friend and barman Phil Haltom to craft single-serve batch cocktails for on-site consumption. Classics like a Manhattan, a bubbly Gin and Tonic and a carbonated Negroni are available in 6.2-ounce glass bottles. Local draft beer and wine will also be available in the coming weeks.

Frankly fans need not fear the loss of their favorite meal on wheels. The Cawthons said the new space will serve as a commissary kitchen, and the truck will actually increase business after the restaurant opens.

The brick-and-mortar will be open 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Here’s a First Look at what to expect when doors open tomorrow:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Frankly Sausages announces details, location on Cherokee Street

Best New Food Trucks

• Sneak Peek: Frankly Sausages Food Truck

 

Eat This: Pork Belly BLT at Capitalist Pig

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

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We reject wimpy bacon strips and sad translucent tomatoes. We only accept the best – in this case, the Pork Belly BLT at Capitalist Pig. Two thick layers of house-smoked pork belly bacon get cozy with sweet tomato jam, fresh green leaf lettuce and a swipe of rich chipotle aioli. Precisely assembled inside a sturdy Companion brioche bun, each bite yields the perfect balance of salt, smoke, sweet and crunch. Never settle.

Photo by Izaiah Johnson

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
Sauce Magazine: November 2017

Eat This: Vegetable Samosa at Everest Café & Bar

• Eat This: Root Vegetable Tagine at Olio

What I Do: Mandy Estrella of Plantain Girl

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

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Mandy Estrella didn’t grow up with pernil and plantains – it wasn’t until she married a Dominican man after culinary school that she fell in love with the cuisines of Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. That passion prompted Estrella to launch Plantain Girl, a Caribbean catering service that’s popped up at places like Crafty Chameleon, Six Mile Bridge Beer and, most recently, Anew. Here, Estrella talks education, sweet plantains and respecting another culture’s cuisine.

 

“I learned how to cook most things more so out of necessity when we moved back here, because the food wasn’t here. [My ex-husband] would constantly complain, ‘The food is not here – there’s nothing to eat.’ He knew how to cook some things, so I was able to take what I learned and start learning new things.”

“Oxtail was another thing you couldn’t find. We used to go to Soulard Market, and they had the whole tails. … You couldn’t find them in a regular supermarket. It was so expensive, which was crazy because the reason these cultures adapted these foods is because it was so cheap.”

“I’m not trying to misappropriate someone’s food culture. I have to be very cautious of this. I didn’t know if people were going to perceive it correctly. I didn’t know if [Hispanic] people would be like, ‘You’re just trying to make money off our food.’ … As long as the food is correct, they’re just thrilled anyone is making it.”

“I went to work at a bank for a few years. It’s the only job I had outside of a restaurant, and it was the most boring experience of my life. I was just sitting there. I found myself bothering account holders at other people’s desks because I was so bored. … I just kept thinking, ‘I have to have a 401(k). I have to have insurance. I have to sit at a desk. That’s what everybody does.’ I lasted about two years, and then I said, ‘I can’t do it.’”

“Most of what I’ve been doing so far is one big giant test kitchen. … It’s trying to figure out in St. Louis: what do people want to eat, which foods do they know, which foods do they not understand – that they’re not even going to order. It’s trying different things I haven’t cooked before and getting the recipes correct, putting it in front of Hispanic people to try and say, ‘Yes, that’s correct,’ or ‘No, you probably needed to do this.’”

“Sweet plantains are always on the menu. Even if [customers] don’t want them, I make them because I just know if it’s not put in front of them, they aren’t going to request it. When you put it in front of them they go, ‘This is fantastic!’ I know – I know!”

“[A woman] contacted me about catering at her home for her husband’s birthday. They’re both Venezuelan, and all their friends are Venezuelan and Colombian. So we did that in her home. It went great, and then six days later, they were at our popup at Anew, eating. … I was like, ‘You probably still have leftovers in your fridge and you’re up here buying food again.’ And they ordered probably five times more food than they needed and took it home with them.”

“I usually have 23 independent thoughts in my brain at all times. It’s tough to keep it all straight.”

Catch Plantain Girl at The Cuban Café pop-ups, Nov. 10 to 12 and Nov. 16 to 18 at Anew in Grand Center.

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine.

Related Content
Sauce Magazine: November 2017

• What I Do: Bernie Lee of Hiro Asian Kitchen

• What I Do: Alisha Blackwell-Calvert of Reeds American Table

Guerrilla Street Food will open a location in The Delmar Loop

Monday, October 30th, 2017

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Guerrilla Street Food’s take on Filipino fare is heading to The Loop at 6120 Delmar Blvd. Owners Brian Hardesty and Joel Crespo plan to open before the end of the year in the space that once housed Pita Pit across from The Pageant.

“The Loop has always been in our business plan,” Hardesty said. “There’s a lot of investment going on [east of Skinker Boulevard] and we feel like that’s something we want to be a part of – besides the fact that it’s just a really cool neighborhood.”

Guerrilla Street started as a food truck in 2011 and has since added a brick-and-mortar location at 3559 Arsenal St., just off South Grand Boulevard, as well as operating the kitchens inside 2nd Shift Brewing’s tasting room and the forthcoming Tropical Liqueurs in The Grove.

Hardesty said The Loop location will operate as a dine-in, counter-service restaurant like its sister location off South Grand. The 2,100-square-foot space is three times the size of the South Grand space and will seat 50 to 60 patrons inside and another 20 or so on the front patio.

Hardesty tapped chef Heidi Hamamura to helm the new kitchen. She will create new offerings exclusive to the Delmar location, while also executing dishes the restaurant is known for like the Flying Pig and chicken adobo.

“We constantly try to push the edge of what Filipino food means to us, and she’s going to continue that conversation,” Hardesty said. Hamamura joined the Guerrilla team a few months ago; her culinary resume includes time with chef Ben Grupe at Elaia and Olio, Skip to Malou chef-owner Malou Perez-Nivera and a lifetime working with her father, noted sushi chef Naomi Hamamura.

Guerrilla Street has grown its brand as well as its footprint around the city in recent years, hosting pop-ups and visiting Filipino chefs. “The whole reason behind the pop-ups concept is to spread the word of what we do and who we are and gauge interest in certain areas,” Hardesty said.

He and Crespo aren’t done yet; they intend to open more locations throughout the Midwest and “spread the good word of Filipino food.”

Photo by Dave Moore

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Review: Guerrilla Street Food

• Guerrilla Street Food will take over 2nd Shift kitchen

• Guerrilla Street Food to open second STL location in new Trops

Spring 2018 Editorial Internship – Apply Now!

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

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Attention journalism, communications and English students: Sauce Magazine is seeking Editorial Interns for spring 2018.

 

We need students with a passion for the St. Louis food scene who want to translate that love to print and online media. As a Sauce Editorial Intern, you will:

-Assist Sauce editorial team with the production of the monthly print publication and daily online products. Duties include, but are not limited to, reporting, conducting interviews, writing articles for The Scoop, fact checking, assisting with research for upcoming articles, interview transcription, etc.
-Attend occasional events and tastings with the Sauce editorial team, gaining real-world experience as a food journalist.
-Hone your reporting, writing and editing skills with the goal of producing published clips for use in future portfolios
-Perform other duties as assigned

 

The Sauce Editorial Intern must have:

-A passion for the St. Louis food scene and the written word
-A working knowledge of AP Style, grammar rules, Microsoft Office and Mac computer systems
-A working knowledge of various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.)
-Experience conducting phone interviews and writing news articles for print/online publication
-A personable and professional attitude in online, phone and written communication
-The ability to manage his or her time efficiently; should be a self-starter
-A reliable mode of transportation

This internship is unpaid; internship begins in mid-January and ends in early May. Scheduling is flexible, but the intern must be available 10 to 12 hours a week. Interested applicants may submit a cover letter, resume and three to five writing clips to Catherine Klene, Managing editor, digital, at cklene@saucemagazine.com. All resumes must be submitted no later than Nov. 15. No calls, please.

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