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Mar 23, 2018
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6 St. Louis breweries with great food

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

We know they make great beer, but area breweries have stepped up their gastronomic game, too. Some, like Schlafly and Civil Life Brewing Co., hire in-house talent; others partner with established concepts, as 2nd Shift Brewing did with Guerrilla Street Food. Still other breweries and chefs aim for something exciting and new (we’re looking you, Rockwell Beer Co. and Niche Food Group). Whether you’re hunting for tasty vegetarian ’cue or classic German fare to accompany that Pilsner, these six area breweries offer so much more than great beer.




1. Perennial Artisan Ales
Chef Kaleigh Brundick works wonders with a hot plate and panini press. Perennial’s menu changes weekly, but the humble grilled cheese with thick slabs of fontina, Prairie Breeze and a rotating jam (right now, it’s onion-thyme) is a constant that satisfies our inner child and our indulgent adult. (Pro tip: Accompany each bite with a Kicker Billy Goat chip for the perfect spicy/gooey/salty combo.) There’s always a locally sourced seasonal salad or tartine, each thoughtfully composed with pickled/shaved/raw/roasted elements that elevate this brewery fare to so much more than utilitarian snacks for continued drinking.



2. Heavy Riff Brewing Co.
Some of St. Louis’ best vegetarian barbecue is found at a rock-n-roll Dogtown brewery. Heavy Riff’s seitan actually spends significant time in the smoker and doesn’t require a deluge of sauce to make it enjoyable. Before you roll your eyes and jump to the next brewery on this list, pause and pay respect to Heavy Riff’s monster Reuben. This mountain of house-cured and smoked brisket, gooey cheese, kraut and smoked Thousand Island dressing is a force to be reckoned with. And everyone can agree to break Heavy Riff’s spent-grain beer bread; slather each dense slice with green onion cream cheese or orange-tinged butter.




3. Urban Chestnut Brewery and Bierhall
On any given night, the long wood tables at Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.’s massive Bierhall are laden with pints and trays of schnitzel, sausages and paper bags of pomme frites. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Eat. These. Fries. Order a large – for yourself – with garlic mayo and fry sauce, and live your best life. UCBC chef Andy Fair has a knack for making heavy German dishes seem lighter than they are, like the ethereal salt cod brandade beignets with house tartar sauce and puffy cinnamon-sugar churros (a decidedly not German dessert) with warm chocolate sauce.




4. 4 Hands Brewing Co.
James Beard Award-winner Kevin Nashan and sous chef John Messbarger bring a taste of Peacemaker Lobster and Crab Co. to 4 Hands, right down to the brisket po’boy and seasoned potato chips. The chopped salad lulls you into a false sense of health; surely the mountain of romaine and tomatoes (covered in ranch, bacon, egg and avocado) means you deserve another beer. We opt to split platters of meaty peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp with house cocktail sauce. Just wash your hands before you faceoff on “Tapper” – no one likes a shellfish-scented joystick.



5. Earthbound Beer
The quirky Earthbound crew has always championed Cherokee Street, so naturally they partnered with neighbor Vista Ramen to helm the brewery’s food program. Mothership is the meal you’d eat if Vista chefs Chris Bork and Josh Adams invited you to a backyard barbecue in North Carolina. Ascend to the floating mezzanine with a mushroom-y veggie burger (doctored with house Carolina mustard sauce and extra pickles, per Adams’ advice), all the sides and cornbread so good, you’d swear they stole the recipe from someone’s unsuspecting southern granny, if not for the gochugang-honey butter on the side.




6. Narrow Gauge Brewing Co.
Yes, dear reader, we know this Italian-American eatery was around long before Narrow Gauge co-owner Jeff Hardesty brewed in the basement, but Cugino’s has become the de facto tasting room for Hardesty’s stellar Northeast IPAs. Cugino’s unpretentious meaty, cheesy menu hits the spot after a drink or two. Exhibit A: Softball-sized meatballs, stuffed with a glob of Provel, then breaded and deep fried like a carnivore’s arancini. Crack them open and watch the cheese lava ooze. Exhibit B: The Luigi burger, the simplest on the menu, still weighs in at a whopping half-pound and is smothered with bacon and four cheeses. It’s not healthy, it’s not diet-friendly – and we’re so happy.


Photos by David Kovaluk, Izaiah Johnson and Meera Nagarajan

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: Guide to Beer 2018

Readers’ Choice 2017: Favorite Breweries

• Brewer in the Basement: How Jeff Hardesty made Narrow Gauge Brewing Co. an underground sensation


What I Do: Brian Ivers of Side Project Brewing

Thursday, March 1st, 2018



Brian Ivers takes chances. He quit his engineering job to hike the Appalachian Trail, despite having almost no long-distance hiking experience. On the advice of a taproom bartender, he quit that same engineering job (again) to take a Goose Island brewing internship.

A few years later, he was the first brewer his brother-in-law Cory King hired to work alongside him at Side Project Brewing in Maplewood. Oh, and that Goose Island bartender? She’s now his wife, Erica Ivers. Here, the engineer-turned-brewer talks about his college days, traveling the country on foot and his dream of opening a brewery in the middle of nowhere.

“Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be an electrical engineer. That was my main focus, so as an extension, all science and engineering always interested me. … I heard at one point that farmers make wine and engineers make beer. Maybe the people who make wine object to that, but as a brewer, that rings true to me.”

“I was drinking Shiner Bock and AmberBock [in college], and I thought I was pretty cool. I considered that I had a sophisticated palate because I chose Shiner over whatever [was] the lightest thing you could get. But then I found out about various styles of beer, and I thought, ‘Well, these all have to be investigated.’”

“It’s a familiar story. You suddenly get obsessed with something else. But I’d spent all this time and money going to engineering school, so I was like, I might as well give that a go. I just did homebrewing for quite a while. I spent gobs of my student loan money on homebrewing equipment.”

 “We brewed a nut brown ale, and I still have the bottle of the first one we ever capped. It was good. Of course, we thought it was good back then, but that was the big epiphany. … That night we got drunk drinking our own beer just to make sure there was alcohol in it.”

 “Everybody on the Appalachian Trail or any long-distance trail gets a trail name. Usually they get assigned to you throughout your first month on the trail. … Most of the time, they’re unflattering. I was eager to have a flattering trail name bestowed upon me, so the first night, I’m drinking this [Oskar Blues] Ten Fidy on the trail, and me or [my friend] Stephen said this should be my trail name. … I kept one of the cans, and I hiked it all the way from Georgia to Maine – almost 2,200 miles.”

“Baseweight was based on one of my old homebrew recipes. …  Right before I left for the AT, I left it in a fermenter. When I got back from the AT, that beer had soured. … Cory and I put fruit in it and added some bacteria and made it a sour. Later, that sour version of Baseweight became Trail Porter, which was brewed as a Side Project beer.”

“When you’re out hiking, you don’t have [creature comforts], and therefore when you get into town, all the sudden, beer tastes the best it’s ever going to taste. Suddenly being in a no-name bar in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, bellying up to that bar and having a beer is one of the greatest experiences ever.”

“Erica and I daydream of taking our kids on the Appalachian Trail one day. … We ran into a couple on the [Pacific Crest Trail]. They were hiking with their 12- and 10-year-old kids, and they did the whole trail. We were inspired by that. We were like, ‘You know what? If we have kids, maybe that’s not the end of the world after all.’”

“What my wife and I envision now is a hiker hostel-brewery kind of place in the middle of nowhere, maybe along the Continental Divide Trail. [Hikers are] fun people and honest people, and we think it’d be pretty cool to cater to them in the summertime. Then maybe in the wintertime, we’d be in the mountains, so we’d cater to ski bums. … That’s the scheme at this point.”

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Sneak Peek: Side Project Brewing in Maplewood

• The Rookie’s Guide to a Side Project Release

• Long Live The King: Meet Side Project Brewing’s Cory King

First Look: Wellspent Brewing Co. in Midtown

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018



St. Louis welcomes another brewery Friday, March 2, when Wellspent Brewing Co. opens doors at 2917 Olive St.

Kyle and Angela Kohlmorgen spent most of 2017 building out the 7-barrel brewery, which features a tasting room, kitchen, barrel room and spacious patio. Kyle, a former homebrewer turned professional, said the Midtown space housed the Bonanza Theater in the early 1900s, but has sat vacant for decades.

Wellspent will focus on “yeast-driven” beers, working with Belgian styles, sours and lagers to start. It will launch with three brews: a Belgian-style single made with buckwheat, a saison and a pale ale. Kohlmorgen has spent nearly 10 years cultivating his yeast cultures and plans to put many beers into spent wine barrels for further development.

The tasting room seats 80 and offers 15 drafts. Until more Wellspent makes its way to the lines, many taps will feature breweries like 2nd Shift, Narrow Gauge, The Bruery and Jolly Pumpkin. Kohlmorgen intends to eventually add a few wine and spirit options for non-beer drinkers . The large kitchen is currently empty. Until the brewery finds a culinary partner, rotating food trucks will park outside to sate hungry patrons.

Wellspent will be open Tuesday to Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m. Here’s what’s in store at St. Louis’ newest brewery:


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Photos by Michelle Volansky

Catherine Klene managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: Guide to Beer 2018

• Wellspent Brewing to open in Midtown

• First Look: Center Ice Brewery in Midtown

What I Do: Josh Charles, a St. Louis freelance chef

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018



Four years ago, then-23-year-old Josh Charles was a Sauce One to Watch at Elaia and Olio. He went on to prove his mettle as executive chef at Element, then Blood & Sand. But when his son, Aiden, was born, Charles suddenly found his restaurant career at odds with family life – so he quit. Today, Charles works as a private chef, consults for restaurants like Das Bevo, does research and development at Metabolic Meals and markets his own brand online with eyes on a national TV show. Here, the gig-economy chef explains what he’s up to.


“I went through a funk like three months in: ‘What am I doing?’ I realized it’s because 10 years being in this culture, of being around people where you can be yourself … but it’s also serious, there’s results, objectives. There’s that push to service, there’s adrenaline. All that stuff went away, so I had to really find myself again.”

“I just put out a thing on social media, on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn saying, ‘Hey, I’m available for freelance positions: food photography, recipe development, R&D, cooking classes, private dinners – whatever you want.’ And Jason, the owner [of Metabolic Meals], reached out to me through LinkedIn … It’s right up my alley. I get to make recipes. I get to develop. I get to cook, and I don’t have to do all the management stuff. I don’t have to check the clipboard and make sure people are showing up on time.”

“I have no marketing background. I have no idea what I’m doing – I have no idea. Not only is social media branding, but every engagement you do is branding. So it starts with yourself and face-to-face interactions, but then social media amplifies that. In this day and age, it’s crazy how far my message can travel. … Ten years ago, I could have done the exact same thing I’m doing now, and no one would know my name.”

“I can eat silly amounts of food. I went to L.A. to visit my uncle recently and he’s in perfect shape year-round. He watched me eat six meals a day. … I have two lunches, two dinners, a late-night dessert, and I just try to experience as much as possible in the few short hours I’m in a city.”

“I do CrossFit primarily because to me, it’s just like PE for adults. I don’t have to think about it. … Ultimately, I’m actually pretty lazy. Whenever I’m left to my own devices working out, I’m like, ‘Oh, I could lift this, or I could just go home. I think I’ll go home.’”

“I was in marching band in high school. … Drumline culture is very similar to kitchen culture. There’s no filter in drumline, essentially. You’re the noisy obnoxious kids in the back. Those kids go cook in a kitchen.”

“I have many avenues for what I want to do, and one of them is open a pizza and pasta restaurant in Collinsville. That’s where I live, and the overall thing is I want to create a community. I want a family restaurant where my son can be there doing stuff, and no one is going to bat an eye because, ‘Oh, that’s his son, Aiden, and he’s just back there playing with dough because he’s 2 years old.’”

“These fragments of fine dining, they don’t disappear. I’ll be in the shower and think, ‘Huh, I wonder… I know exactly how that would taste.’”

“It’s literally ingrained into my DNA, that rush of service, getting it over with and then getting a round of drinks for the crew. … I do miss it, but the second I start to miss it, I just look at my life and what I’m doing, and this is still cool and still fun.”

Find Josh at chefjoshcharles.com, Facebook: Chef Josh Charles, Instagram: @chefjoshcharles

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine.


Eat This: Gnocchi at Five Bistro

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018



On a menu that rotates almost daily, the gnocchi at Five Bistro appear often – and we’re eternally grateful they do. These delicate nuggets hold within their thin, shell-like exteriors airy potato that’s more fluff than mash. Whether served alongside an entree or snuggled in a rich ragu as the star of the first course, the only downside to these delightful dumplings is we’ll never get enough.

Photo by Carmen Troesser 

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Ones to Watch 2018: Evy Swoboda

Monday, January 1st, 2018



Chef de cuisine, Pastaria
Age: 26
Why Watch Her: She’s the next big thing in the Niche Food Group empire.

Fresh-faced, 17-year-old Evy Swoboda arrived at The Lodge of Four Seasons at Lake of the Ozarks to accept a garde manger position on the word of a friend. There was just one problem: The chef had hired her, but human resources hadn’t.

Swoboda was undeterred. Armed with a resume boasting a two-year stint as Subway sandwich artist, she talked her way into the job and a career crash course.

“I didn’t even know how to cut a pineapple,” she said. “I just faked it until I made it, basically. Read a lot, pretended I knew a bit more than I did until I knew what I was doing.”

Confidence, dedication and a whole lot of practice eventually led her to the grill station at 44 Stone Public House in Columbia, Missouri, and then to Pastaria shortly after it opened in 2013. The eager line cook rocketed up the chain of command, landing at chef de cuisine under executive chef Ashley Shelton.

“She can read my mind,” Shelton said. “I can give her a look and she understands, ‘You need me on pizza.’ She understands, ‘That burned.’”

There’s no doubt Swoboda can cook. She creates daily pizza specials and recently took over the entire menu of the popular Clayton restaurant. However, it’s Swoboda’s deft leadership on the line that sets her apart.

“I can be a little more hammer, and she’s a little more honey,” Shelton said. “She has a way with the line cooks that is very friendly. … She can get her point across without having to yell or be stern.”

It’s a quality Niche Food Group owner Gerard Craft has noticed, and the reason he wanted Swoboda to help open Pastaria’s Nashville location. “That’s one thing a lot of people overlook,” Craft said. “They might be really good cooks, but they might be terrible, terrible managers. I think she handles herself really well. She’s really well organized. She’s a really good teacher.”

Swoboda’s rapid ascent at Niche Food Group won’t stop if she has anything to say about it. “I want to continue helping open other Pastarias and hopefully get my own one day,” she said. “I definitely want one of the restaurants.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 


What I Do: Heidi Hamamura at Guerrilla Street Food

Monday, January 1st, 2018



Heidi Hamamura’s culinary education started when she absorbed her father, chef Naomi Hamamura’s, knowledge of sushi, Japanese and French fare in their kitchen after school. Since then, she has made a career out of exploring new cuisines: Italian with Jamey Trochtop at Stellina, Malaysian and Chinese with Bernie Lee at Hiro Asian Kitchen and modernist fine dining with Ben Grupe at Elaia. Now she’s diving into Filipino fare as executive chef of Guerrilla Street Food’s upcoming location on The Loop.


“The most I’ve had was five jobs at one time. It was intense, but I kept myself busy. … It’s like if someone likes yoga – loves it. It’s like going to different yoga classes all the time. Me going to different restaurants all the time and working was just fun. It was less like work.”

“My dad always told me you have to enjoy what you’re doing, and if you don’t, then I won’t back you up in life. If you love McDonald’s and you want to work at McDonald’s and you love everything about the company, then I will support you 100 percent. But if you work at McDonald’s and you bitch about life and complain all the time and do nothing about it, I’m not going to help you.”

“[My son] cooks already with my dad, too. … He likes to help cook his meals. He drags a chair over and wants to help hold the pan and sprinkle the salt on. He’s already there. My mom’s like, ‘No, you’re supposed to be a doctor!’”

“Since I didn’t go to culinary school, I promised [Trochtop] I wouldn’t leave if he taught me something new every day – a new word, anything. Even after work, I’d come back for my third shift and help him roll pasta until two in the morning. We’d grab a beer and roll pasta together because I wanted to learn.”

“Ben Grupe was one of the chefs that really inspired me. That’s the kind of cooking that I want to learn, that I love. It might be a small dish, but there is so much flavor in that, and creativity. It’s like art – you don’t want to eat it.”

“If we could find someone to open a [Japanese street food bar] in St. Louis, it would make so much money. … If the right investor comes or if I win the lottery, that would be really fun to do.”

“Making sushi is by far the most fun for me. … It’s the interaction and the different kinds of ways you can create and make sushi and display it. It’s like an art form. There are so many different ways you can beef up sushi or display an array of sashimi with different vegetables that go with certain fish or different spices. … I can eat sushi every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

“I remember the first time my dad took me out [to the lake]. … We were sitting on the boat drinking beers, and I had my fishing pole in the water and the sunset is going down and I said, ‘Whoever the hell created fishing is a genius. This is the best feeling ever.’”

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Guerrilla Street Food will open a location in The Delmar Loop

• The Story of Hama

• Sauce Magazine: January 2018

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.




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

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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.




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.




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

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• 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.




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.




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

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