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Mar 22, 2018
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The Scoop: Chef Bob Brazell launches catering business, revamps The Corner Cup menu

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014



Chef Bob Brazell, former executive chef at Athlete Eats, has recently launched Snack STL, a catering business that will also offer the occasional pop-up dinner. Brazell said he hopes to collaborate with other local chefs and food purveyors, and menus will vary widely depending on the event.  “I enjoy cooking everything from Southern to Korean to Thai to Mexican,” Brazell said.

At Athlete Eats, Brazell created clean, low-carb, high-energy foods as the restaurant’s executive chef. Before that he cooked at Entre, Monarch and Niche and worked as a personal chef to professional athletes like Sam Bradford.

Brazell also plans to consult for area restaurants, beginning with a new menu at The Corner Cup in Dogtown that focuses on specific dietary needs and lifestyles. The rotating menu has lots of vegan, vegetarian and paleo choices using only locally sourced meats. Diners can also build their own burritos, omelets and breakfast sandwiches.

“We have a really great group of regulars now, and we’re interested in driving people here from all over St. Louis who are interested in quality and locally sourced food,” said Joe Buechler, general manager at The Corner Cup.

New menu highlights include apple-cinnamon French toast topped with caramelized apples and candied walnuts and drizzled with a coconut milk-horchata glaze, paleo pumpkin pancakes topped with toasted cashews and a coconut maple glaze, and a breakfast meatloaf made from grass-fed beef and topped with an egg from Cock and Bull Farms.

The Corner Cup chef Sean Gibson phased in the new menu two weeks ago, served 7 a.m. to noon Thursday through Monday. One staple that won’t change is Buechler’s house-made granola bars, packed with nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, honey, toasted oats and a vegan protein. The Corner Cup has also added catering, delivering “meetings to go,” with coffee and pastries, and Buechler said he will soon add hot onsite breakfasts as well.

-photo by Greg Rannells


The Scoop: Seoul Taco and Strange Donuts to open shop together in downtown Columbia

Saturday, October 4th, 2014


{From left, co-owner Corey Smale, chef Mary Boehne, co-owner
Jason Bockman}

Strange Donuts and Seoul Taco are expanding into Mizzou territory. The owners of both businesses are finalizing negotiations to rent the former Panera Bread space at 102 S. Ninth St., in downtown Columbia. Each restaurant will operate its own kitchen and counter, but will share a dining area. The restaurants are slated to open in December or January, before the start of the spring semester at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Seoul Taco owner David Choi and Strange Donuts co-owners Corey Smale and Jason Bockman hit it off when they collaborated to create the “Seoul Done,” a savory doughnut sandwich filled with Seoul Taco’s Korean bulgogi and glazed with a chili sauce. At the time, the owners of both eateries were aggressively searching for spaces in downtown Columbia in which to bring their concept to that city. Both parties liked the Hall Theater Space at 102 S. Ninth St., which was too large for them individually but could accommodate both restaurants nicely.

“We thought it would be a cool concept to bring something new and fresh to the area,” Choi said.

The two businesses have a lot in common. “Our businesses and personalities are really similar,” Smale said. “We are all young. We have a concept right now that’s hot, so we’re going to push it as far as we can.”

Seoul Taco’s Columbia location will offer the same menu as that available at its St. Louis location, which is relocating to the former Ginger Bistro spot at 6665 Delmar Blvd., in The Loop in December and adding a second concept at its new space – a cook-at-the-table Korean barbecue and hotpot restaurant, Seoul Q. The Scoop reported this news yesterday, Oct. 3.

Strange Donuts will likewise serve the same menu at its location in Columbia that it offers to done-lovers in The Lou, including its biggest hit, the gooey butter doughnut. “Our goal is to continue the Strangers there (like the chicken and waffle, hog burger and pizza donuts) and collaborate with some Columbia restaurants,” Smale said regarding the expansion into the Columbia market. “I also want to bring out St. Louis restaurants that aren’t represented in the Columbia market.” He’s already lining up a collaborative doughnut with Sugarfire Smokehouse. Strange Donuts currently operates a shop at 2709 Sutton Blvd., in Maplewood and will be unlocking doors at 107½ E. Argonne Drive in Kirkwood within the next two weeks. Plans for a fourth location are also in the works.


-photo by Adrian O. Walker

The Scoop: David Choi to move Seoul Taco, open new Korean barbecue restaurant, Seoul Q

Friday, October 3rd, 2014


{Seoul Taco owner David Choi}


Seoul Taco‘s brick-and-mortar is moving around the corner to a larger space in the Delmar Loop, and owner David Choi is adding a second concept to the new space – a cook-at-the-table Korean barbecue and hotpot restaurant, Seoul Q. Both restaurants will open at 6665 Delmar Blvd., former home to Ginger Bistro.

The move, scheduled for December, gives Choi 3,700 more square feet. Half of the new location will operate as Seoul Taco and the other half will be Seoul Q, which will have cooking implements and eight to 10 barbecue grills at the tables.

The menu at the new concept will include meats, traditional Korean banchan, or sides, like pickled vegetables, tofu, stews and soups. Diners will have the option to cook marinated or plain meats, which will be served with dipping sauces to eat inside as ssamjang, Korean lettuce wraps. Sauces include a sesame oil-based sauce with salt and pepper and one made with gochujang, a spicy, slightly sweet fermented chile paste.

Another menu item Choi is excited about is bo ssom, pork belly simmered in Korean spices for eight to 10 hours and paired with fresh tofu and kimchee. “(The recipe has) been in my family for years,” he said.

Choi has also secured a liquor license for each restaurant, and he plans to serve local craft brews at Seoul Taco and soju cocktails at Seoul Q.

Except for the addition of liquor, the menu at Seoul Taco (which fuses Korean barbecue and Mexican cuisine) won’t change, Choi said. It’ll still offer its famous Korean bulgogi (marinated steak) that Choi learned from his mother and grandmother and tweaked himself. The move came about because Seoul Taco’s existing 900-square-foot location was too cramped, especially since it also serves as commissary kitchen for its food truck. “It’s been elbow to elbow, whether it’s in the back of the house or the front of the house,” Choi said. The new restaurant will seat 160 total, 80 seats on each side for Seoul Taco and Seoul Q.

-photo by David W. Johnson Photography

The Scoop: Homebrew shop Design 2 Brew opens in O’Fallon, Missouri

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014



St. Charles County homebrewers have a new resource in O’Fallon, Missouri with the recent opening of Design 2 Brew at 9995 Winghaven Blvd., whether they’re searching for hops, equipment or even honey for mead-making.

Stephanie Drilling, who co-owns the shop with her husband Donnell Christian, opened the education-based homebrew shop Aug. 29. Design to brew offers 90 varieties of hops, 80 types of grains and 26 honeys, and instructors also teach classes in winemaking and brewing with topics like all-grain brewing, cider-making, wine tasting and water chemistry.

Patrons can brew their own beer on site or bring in their basement brews to be inspected for contaminants in the facility’s lab. Eight house-made draft beers are available for sampling, and Drilling and Christian make similar recipes available for new brewers to recreate those varieties.

Drilling is especially proud of Design 2 Brew’s honey selection, which includes honey from bees that feasted in peach orchards, coffee blossoms and blueberry farms across the world, creating distinct aromas and flavor profiles that translate into tasty meads.

Longtime entrepreneurs, Drilling and Christian are making a major change. They operated a forensic lab consulting business together for two decades, and the two started brewing their own cider about 18 months ago. They quickly became engrossed in their new hobby, moving onto making mead, fruit wines and then beer. “To create something that tastes so good, it’s a fascinating process,” Drilling said. “It’s an addicting hobby.”

Design 2 Brew is currently open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and Sundays, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.




The Scoop: Mi Linh to reinvent itself as Mi Lounge and Spa

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014



Popular Rock Hill Vietnamese restaurant Mi Linh is getting a major beauty makeover. Owner Dee Dee Tran has closed the restaurant for renovations and will reopen in October as Mi Lounge and Spa, a cafe with Mi Linh’s most popular menu items on one side and a spa on the other side. Mi Linh’s last dinner service was Saturday, Aug. 23.

Although Mi Linh was successful, Tran said the long hours operating a restaurant were taxing. Mi Linh, which opened in May 2013, saw the departure of its executive chef, Tran’s brother Nelson Tran, in January. Dee Dee Tran said while her brother’s passion was food, hers is beauty. She also owns Jasmine Nails and Skin Care in Brentwood and said she has always wanted to operate a spa that also serves cocktails and food. “I wanted people to be able to come in and have lunch or dinner while they have their spa service done,” Tran said.

The lounge side will offer Mi Linh mainstays like its Canh Ga Chien (fried butter garlic chicken wings with sweet chili sauce, named the No.1 dish of 2013 by Sauce critic Michael Renner), egg rolls, spring rolls and buttermilk shrimp. The menu will also include bun, a classic Vietnamese dish of cold rice noodles served in a bowl with shredded lettuce, cucumber, herbs, sauteed green onions, roasted peanuts and meat. Tran will also add a selection of banh mi, traditional Vietnamese sandwiches.

On the beverage side, a full bar will serve cocktails, as well as healthy smoothies. Tran said food can be ordered in the lounge or delivered to spa patrons at their manicure or pedicure stations. She also plans to offer weekly spa specials featuring a cocktail and matching spa treatment, such as a margarita manicure featuring the cocktail to sip while the customer receives a salt and lime hand scrub.

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

The Scoop: Former Riddles owner KT Ayers now executive chef at Purple Martin

Friday, August 8th, 2014



KT Ayers is back at what she was born to do. Three weeks ago, she joined The Purple Martin as executive chef, and she’s set to launch a new menu Thursday, Aug. 14, which will double the restaurant’s offerings.

Food at The Purple Martin, which opened in this spring at 2800 S. Shenandoah Ave., is inspired by flavors from the northern and southern Mediterranean. Ayers said she and owner Brooke Roseberry, a long-time Fox Park resident, wanted to serve interesting but accessible food that appeals to destination diners as well as neighborhood families.

New dishes to debut on the menu include:

• Mischa Fish Stew, a hearty, Moroccan-inspired curry with three types of onions, carrots, tuna, white fish, lemon and orange served over Israeli couscous.
• Hindia’s Plate: Roasted potatoes tossed in berberé paste (an Ethiopian spice blend), braised green lentils, gomen (sauteed cabbage and greens) and a fresh tomato salad topped with a chopped hard-boiled egg.
• Roasted chicken: boneless, skinless chicken breast rubbed with thyme, roasted and served over wilted spinach, drizzled with pomegranate molasses and served with a goat cheese fritter coated in pistachios and pine nuts.

Ayers was previously the chef-owner of Riddle’s Penultimate Cafe & Wine Bar in The Loop, which her parents opened in 1985. She took over in 2007, but the restaurant didn’t weather the recession and closed in 2010. After Riddles, Ayers worked for two years as a line cook for a high-end steak and chop house in Chesterfield Valley.

Ayers said her background at Riddles taught her the value of sourcing locally and thinking on her feet. It’s this dedication that sparks ideas like making an abundance of dill and creating dressings, paste, sauces and compound butter and a quick bread with Schlafly Pale Ale for The Purple Martin.



The Scoop: Social Gastropub to open in Edwardsville, Friar Tuck Beverage and HotShots break ground

Thursday, August 7th, 2014




Another month, yet another new restaurant coming to Edwardsville, this one in the former Shenanigans Bar and Grill space on Route 157. Social Gastropub will join Edwardsville newbies Cunetto’s, Unkle Munkey’s, Stur and soon-to-open Gulf Shores, alongside town staples like Cleveland-Heath and Peel.

Co-owner Mike Graber said the restaurant’s second location is set to open Sept. 17 at 2 157 Center. Graber, who is originally from Fairview Heights, Illinois, now lives in Perrysburg, Ohio, where he owns the flagship Social Gastropub with Bruce Gradkowski, backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore.

Why Edwardsville? Graber said it’s an up-and-coming foodie town. “People are coming to Edwardsville from St. Louis to eat,” he said. Thirty craft beers will be on tap, and other beverage offerings include 30 wines and bourbon flights (with 100 choices). Like the Perrysburg location, Social Gastropub’s menu will change every two months. “We change 75 percent of the menu,” he said, describing the fare as “comfort food with a twist.”

Dishes include a fried bologna sandwich (bologna, aged white cheddar, a medium egg and pickled red onion on a brioche bun), egg salad sandwiches made with avocado, and a one of Graber’s personal favorites, Baja fish tacos made with a salmon fillet, smoked jalapeno-cilantro cream, avocado, sweet-and-sour coleslaw, sea salt and parsley fries.

Social Gastopub also offers a signature build-your-own mac-n-cheese dish that begins with cavatappi noodles doused in a base of 25-year aged white cheddar and eight other cheeses. Forty toppings are offered, including lobster, shrimp, pork belly, Sriracha, pesto and fried plantains. Graber’s 10-year-old son Harrison invented one of the most popular topping combos – buffalo sauce and chorizo. Another favorite is lobster and truffle oil topped with herb breadcrumbs.

Chef Jeff Dinnebeil, who most recently served as sous chef at Spiaggia in Chicago, will helm the kitchen, and Graber said food will be sourced from Sunfarm Foods in St. Louis, Behrmann Meats in Alberts, Illinois, and Companion in St. Louis.

In other Edwardsville food news, HotShots Sports Bar and Grill has broken ground for its 14th location on Route 157 near Edison’s Entertainment Complex. Jason Durnett, director of franchise development, said the Edwardsville location is slated to open in October or November.

Friar Tuck Beverage is also building a store on Goshen Road next to Target in Edwardsville. The liquor store has eight other locations, including Crestwood, Fenton and O’Fallon, Missouri. General manager Mark Maskey said its wide selection of beer, wine and liquor will be the same as other locations, and it is slated to open sometime next year.



The Scoop: Kakao Chocolate’s Brian Pelletier to open specialty shop in Maplewood

Monday, August 4th, 2014


{Clockwise from top left, Kakao chocolates, Salume Beddu sausage, Baetje Farms goat cheese, Marcoot Jersey Creamery cheese}


With Kakao Chocolate‘s third location is set to open in Clayton in two weeks, its owner Brian Pelletier is already embarking on another new business venture. Pelletier plans to open a specialty food store around Oct. 1 called Larder & Cupboard.

The shop at 7310 Manchester Road in Maplewood will sell condiments, sauces, preserves, grains, desserts, snacks and, of course, Kakao chocolates. Cheese will take center stage – including products from Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, Illinois, and Baetje Farms in Bloomdale, Missouri. The store will also sell cured meats from Salume Beddu in St. Louis and products that have won awards from the American Cheese Society, World Cheese Awards, Good Food Awards and Sofi Awards. Food will be sourced from small, independent producers.

Pelletier said store manager Cindy Higgerson, known on Twitter as Madam Charcuterie (@Mcharcuterie), is an expert at sourcing hard-to-find items. “She is well known in St. Louis food circles,” he told The Scoop. “She is known by a lot of chefs and home cooks and a lot of people who like to eat good food.”

He said the shop will complete the “foodie puzzle” in Maplewood. “This is the only thing really that’s missing in Maplewood to make it the food destination,” he said. “We’ve got chocolate, we’ve got tea, we’ve got oils and vinegars (Vom Foss), we’ve got spices (Penzeys Spices), we’ve got doughnuts (Strange Donuts) and we’ve got pies (Pie Oh My).”

He also mentioned the new Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions, set to open in Maplewood this fall by Chris Bolyard, former chef de cuisine at Sidney Street Cafe. Bolyard noted in February that people in Maplewood are very supportive of small boutique-type businesses.

-chocolate and charcuterie photos by Greg Rannells; cheese photos courtesy of Marcoot Jersey Creamery and Baetje Farms


The Scoop: Cunetto’s Corner Cucina joins Edwardsville’s great leap forward

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014


Know where to track down Italian nachos? The correct, if somewhat unexpected, answer is Cunetto’s Corner Cucina in downtown Edwardsville, now undergoing a renaissance as new restaurants and watering holes emerge up and down Main Street and the surrounding blocks.

There’s Cleveland-Heath, of course, whose meteoric rise to prominence in the area dining scene shows no signs of letting up. But a rapid procession of others have opened their doors, too, including Stur, Uncle Munkey’s, soon-to-open Gulf Shores and the recently opened Cunetto’s, located at 1114 N. Main St. (The restaurant opened quietly on May 11, as first reported by the Edwardsville Intelligencer.)

Those nachos have become a best-selling appetizer there, according to chef and manager Mike Cunetto. He invented the dish: fried lasagna noodles topped with meat sauce, Provel cheese, black olives, pepperoncinis and Parmesan cheese. “People love them,” he said. “It’s a unique item.”

Cunetto, who studied at the Chicago Culinary Institute and has previously owned restaurants in Alhambra, Greenville and Vandalia, Illinois, as well as St. Louis, has labored to create a diverse menu, venturing beyond his background in Italian cuisine to new territory.

“It’s mostly Italian, but there’s something for everybody,” he said.

Twelve sandwiches currently populate the menu, such as the bison burger, Alaskan white fish burger, fish tacos and the popular Italian beef. “I throw a little twist on it and make it Philadelphia style and added cheese, sweet peppers and onions,” Cunetto said.

Traditional fare like steaks and fried chicken are also on the menu, as well as a pomegranate-glazed pork chop. Vegetarian offerings include a portobello mushroom sandwich and the vegan fettuccine. Cunetto said the house-made gooey butter cake is another fan favorite, made by his mother, who also works as a server in the restaurant.

Cunetto’s Corner Cucina is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and 4 to 9 p.m. Saturdays.

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