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Jan 19, 2018
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Inside the Server’s Stomach: June 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015


{Sanctuaria’s Wicked Good Shrimp}


Ever wonder what servers order for themselves? Here’s the insider intel on what to eat at St. Louis restaurants right now. 

“The Wicked Good Shrimp. Tiger prawns are sauteed in spices and served with bread for dipping. People come specifically for that dish.”  Skylar Finan, Sanctuaria

“Chicken tikka masala is a dish of good-sized roasted pieces of chicken in a creamy, bright orange tomato sauce with lots of flavor. It’s one of my all-time favorite meals.” Sarabjeet Jaswal, Rasoi

“Definitively the Jungle Love Nachos. It features house-smoked barbecued pork, seasoned ground beef, spicy cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives and jalapenos and is served with sour cream and house-made salsa. When I first started working here, I had it three times a week. There’s a lot of love in those nachos.” Jen Zoyles, Three Monkeys

“I love a slab of ribs. They are smoked slow, tender. The spices are perfect. They are fall-off-the-bone good.”  Dakota Diamond, PM BBQ

“Our Blue Ribbon Burger is an amazing combination of port-braised onions, bacon and Gorgonzola. It’s the best a burger can get.”  Kelly Filla, 5 Star Burgers

“Our Brussels sprouts salad is my current addiction. Tender roasted Brussels sprouts, strips of bacon and crumbs of creamy goat cheese are tossed in burnt honey vinaigrette. The flavor combination turns lifelong Brussels sprouts haters into enthusiasts.” Megan Ehrhart, HandleBar

“Our house-made lamb sausage is food fit for the foodie. It’s served over hearty white beans with tender sauteed spinach and lamb jus. Bread-and-butter pickles add a touch of sweetness.”  Jamie Moody, Bixby’s

“The BrieLT sandwich with tomato marmalade and Nueske bacon from Wisconsin is so, so good.” Sam Kichline, Cafe Osage

“The Drunken Noodle with beef. It’s filling, and the shrimp sauce has a perfect little spicy kick to it. I love the crunch of the fresh vegetables and the rich egg – it all just works.” Andy Jaeger, Wang Gang Asian Eats

“The Goat. It’s a vegetarian sandwich with a goat cheese spread topped with greens, cucumbers and apricot chutney and served on toasted wheat. It’s simply the best.”  Ethan DeGhelder, The Mud House

“The shrimp Alfredo pasta. The fettuccini noodles are handmade in-house. The shrimp Alfredo sauce is fabulously creamy and perfect for dipping with garlic bread.”  Melissa Schlecht, J. Fires’ Market Bistro

“All shift long I dream about the steak sandwich with fries. Gotta have that spicy mayo for those fries, too. “ Katie Seitz, West End Grill and Pub

The Scoop: St. Louis pastry chefs win TLC’s ‘Next Great Baker’

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014



Al Watson and Lia Weber are finally able to announce their big news: They have earned the title “Next Great Baker” from season four of TLC’s reality show of the same name. The finale episode aired last night, Aug. 19, when they beat nine other teams and emerged victorious with their final cake design — a 4-foot-tall red Japanese pagoda with a cherry tree branch covered in blossoms.

Weber said her emotions were running high during the taping of the final episode in April. “Every emotion you can image was going through my mind at the moment,” she said. “I was already crying and when I realized I had won, I fell to the ground. When I opened my eyes and my entire family was there, whom I hadn’t seen in two months.”

Watson and Weber met while working at Wedding Wonderland in Florissant. Weber is now the pastry chef at Hendel’s Market Café and has launched her own specialty dessert company, Made. by Lia. Watson, who is general manager and wedding cake decorator at Wedding Wonderland, said the whole experience was an amazing surprise. “The ride was remarkable, and to actually win the entire thing was beyond what I could have ever expected,” he said.

Weber and Watson will split the $100,000 award. As for the other prize, a potential opportunity to bake at Buddy Valastro’s new bakery at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, they are still waiting on final details before they make a decision.

If you missed the Next Great Baker” finale, the show will be rebroadcast at 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Readers’ Choice 2014: Pappy’s Smokehouse – Favorite Barbecue

Thursday, July 31st, 2014


Just what does it take to deliver the internationally acclaimed Memphis-style (with a St. Louis twist) ribs, pulled pork and brisket to the daily throngs at Pappy’s Smokehouse? Owner Mike Emerson lays it all out, by the numbers.

5 smokers: Walter, Big Ron and LeRoy, plus two new ones, Waino and Porkey LaFarge
6 years since Pappy’s opened its doors in 2008
6 to 8 local meat producers sourced from Missouri, Illinois and Iowa
4,000 pounds of pork smoked daily
14 to 18 hours to slow smoke pork over apple or cherry wood
30 minutes average wait time in line
Nearly 60 employees keeping Pappy’s running daily
14,000 gallons of barbecue sauce produced last year
82,650 pounds of sweet potato fries made last year
Around 400 rib slabs smoked a day
27,000 bottles of Fitz’s root beer sold last year
360,000 customer hands shaken by Emerson and 10,400 pretty ladies hugged last year (He aims to beat that this year)

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

-photo by Greg Rannells

First Look: Bocci Wine Bar

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Former Italian restaurant Bocci at 16 N. Central Ave., in Clayton recently underwent a space and menu renovation to become Bocci Wine Bar. As The Scoop reported in April, Bocci Wine Bar’s new focus is wine and small plate, wine-friendly fare.

Among the changes at the reinvented spot, Bocci Wine Bar is now one of a handful of St. Louis restaurants to offer wine on tap from stainless steel barrels. “White wine is stored in its own compartment kept at 40 degrees and red wines at 54 degrees,” said owner Frank Schmitz, who also owns Barcelona Tapas and Coastal Bistro in Clayton. Two-ounce wine flights are also available for those interested in tasting and comparing a larger selection.

Executive chef Neil Alkobri’s menu is organized simply by farm, land and sea and is loosely based on the flavors of the Mediterranean. The regular menu is also accompanied by wine and food from a different region of the world each month. May recently featured Argentina; signature wines from the region were paired with ceviche, quinoa cakes, beef empanadas and churrasco. June focuses on French wine and cuisine.

While menu items feature locally sourced ingredients, it doesn’t get much more local than Thursday evenings, when diners can bring items purchased at the Clayton Farmers Market and hand them over to Alkobri, who will return a market-inspired dish to the table. A recent visit yielded a just-picked vegetable flatbread with zucchini, summer squash, asparagus and radishes, while another diner feasted on Naked Bacon-wrapped scallops.

Some elements remain untouched, like Bocci’s fabulous bi-fold window wall on Central Avenue that opens to seamlessly blend the restaurant and patio areas. It’s an ideal spot for a glass of wine on a beautiful day.

The restaurant is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. Here’s a look at what to expect at the new Bocci Wine Bar:


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The Scoop: Fit Fuel 365 relaunches in Des Peres under new ownership

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014


{Alumni St. Louis chef Eric Brenner}

Fit Fuel 365, a grab-and-go restaurant specializing in healthy prepared meals, quietly opened doors May 29 at 11742 Manchester Road in Des Peres. As reported by the St. Louis Business Journal, this is actually a resurgence of the Fit Fuel 365 brand; Ben Stratton opened an earlier iteration opened in Stratton’s Café in Clayton and Webster Groves in 2012. Stratton recently sold the concept to co-owners Michael Staenberg, Matt Handler and Jen Handler.

Jen Handler said Fit Fuel 365’s mission is “to make healthy eating, simple, delicious, affordable and convenient,” adding that the owners hope to expand quickly. This first location is the first of 12 retail stores in St. Louis, Handler said, with locations in Clayton, St. Charles and downtown St. Louis next in line and, eventually, national expansion.

The new owners have tapped Eric Brenner, general manager and executive chef at Alumni St. Louis, to create the menu of customizable meal plans designed to aid health and fitness goals. This latest venture is a natural fit for Brenner, who helped launched Bold Organics in 2012, a line of organic, gluten- and dairy-free frozen pizzas. The meals are prepared in the Alumni St. Louis kitchens, where Brenner said he and his team get a chance to create outside its usual routine. “I’m interested in how the food industry is evolving and how people’s wants and needs are evolving,” he said. “That’s why I was excited to be involved.”

Customers can stop by to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner, or they can plan out a program with a nutrition expert to create daily, weekly or 21-day meal plans. The meals, which will rotate seasonally, are designed to be less than 490 calories, gluten-free, contain no added salt or sugar and are cooked to retain nutrition and flavor.

Breakfasts include items such Pro-cakes made with egg whites, protein powder, Greek yogurt and oats; a traditional breakfast of Fit Fuel Eggs (one whole egg to every four egg whites), chicken sausage and roasted potatoes; and Eggs Rancheros with fajita-seasoned ground turkey, black beans, white corn, cheese and salsa.

Lunch includes protein-focused dishes like fajitas, quinoa bowls and brown rice bowls with chicken, steak, turkey, fish or tofu. Dinner entrees include Asian-inspired or bistro-style fare served with generous helpings of vegetables. Several snack options and additional sauces are available, too.

Fit Fuel 365 is open Sunday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Editor’s Note: This post originally stated that Fit Fuel 365 is located in Creve Coeur. It has been updated to its correct location, Des Peres.

6 Foodie Finds at St. Louis Earth Day

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014



This year marks the 25th anniversary of St. Louis Earth Day Festival, which takes place Sunday, April 27. The day’s festivities kick off at 11 a.m. on The Muny grounds near the Pagoda in Forest Park. According to Earth Day Network, St. Louis Earth Day is now ranked the second largest such celebration in the nation. Along with the festival’s traditional focus on education, art, music, crafts and food, there are a few new foodies finds we’re excited for.

1. Come to the festival a day early for Earth Day Eve. At this family-friendly evening, find food, beer and music in the Earth Day Cafe area.

2. At this year’s festival, eight Green Dining Alliance members ­– Atomic Cowboy, The Dam, Handlebar, Lulu’s Local Eatery, Onesto Pizza & Trattoria, Traveling Tea, Urban Eats Cafe & Bakery and Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop – will offer their sustainable dining choices. These restaurants have been certified “green” for their commitment to reducing, recycling and composting restaurant waste; operating facilities with efficiency; and sourcing sustainable food, to-go ware and cleaning supplies.

3. Food vendors will not use high-fructose corn syrup, highly processed foods or transfats. All serving containers, cups and utensils will be either compostable or recyclable.

4. Reusable bamboo cutlery will be available for $15, so you can “reduce your forkprint” during the festival and all summer long.

5. Schlafly will serve an organic pale ale along with its usual favorites. All of its beer will be served in a souvenir cup that is reusable and recyclable, and it can be refilled at a discount.

6. Pick up your pre-ordered rain barrels from RainReserve, just in time for the spring gardening season at the festival’s Recycling Extravaganza. This is a collection event for hard-to-recycle items, including the DEA Medication Take-Back Initiative, carpet and “anything with a cord.” Check the take-back list here.

For more information about fun events and services happening during St. Louis Earth Day (Dog washing! Bike valets! Free shuttles!), visit its website.

-photo courtesy of St. Louis Earth Day

Sauce Magazine is a sponsor of St. Louis Earth Day. Sara Graham is a Steering Committee Member of the St. Louis Green Dining Alliance.

First Look: 801 Chophouse

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

801 Chophouse opened doors Dec. 20 at 137 Carondelet Plaza in Clayton. The new restaurant is the fifth location of Midwest-based steakhouse for owner Jimmy Lynch. Other 801 Chophouses are located in Kansas City, Mo.; Omaha, Neb.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Leawood, Kan.

The 10,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Araka was transformed to reflect the concept’s signature 1920s style. The vast space features high ceilings, dark wood and sumptuous leather booths. In addition to the expansive dining room that seats 275, the restaurant has five private dining rooms. 801 Chophouse’s menu offers USDA Prime beef, seafood and an extensive wine list.


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-photos by Sara Graham

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