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The Scoop: Summer Wright to helm Vicia’s pastry program, Reeds American Table names new pastry chef

Friday, December 23rd, 2016




{ Summer Wright’s panna cotta at Reeds American Table }


Summer Wright has been named executive pastry chef at new restaurant Vicia, set to open in late January 2017. Wright currently holds that position at Reeds American Table, where she will be replaced by pastry assistant Ashley Rouch.

Wright said she took the new position in part because of the opportunity it will provide to work with Vicia co-owners Michael and Tara Gallina, who previously worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a highly regarded restaurant in New York’s Hudson River Valley.

“Supporting local farmers is at the core of their cooking philosophy,” Wright said in an email. “It’s really fulfilling to work with Michael and Tara, who put so much emphasis on using the local farmers’ products.”

Wright, who has 16 years of experience in the kitchen, previously worked at Niche, Five Bistro and Claverach Farm. At Vicia, she’ll be responsible for creating sweet and savory pastries for the midday and evening menus. During the day, diners can expect croissants, quiche, scones, cookies and fruit tarts. “Having the opportunity to do a daily daytime service that includes a bakery menu is a major point of interest,” Wright said.

The pastry program will make use of whole grains milled in-house. That’s a big priority for Tara Gallina, who hopes to show people that there is much more out there than all-purpose flour.

“We are really excited to put an emphasis on how versatile and delicious freshly milled flour can be in baked goods,” she said. “Our hope is to spark a conversation with people that there is just as much seasonality and variety in grains as there is with other produce that we now think more about.”

At Reeds American Table, Rouch will have the opportunity to experiment with the pastry program, chef-owner Matt Daughaday said, but he doesn’t predict drastic changes to the dessert menu. “Summer created a formula that works,” he said.

Photo by Greg Rannells

Related Content

Save Room for Dessert

The Scoop: Gallinas to open Vicia in The Cortex

• The Scoop: Chef Michael Gallina to open series of pop-ups, new restaurant in native STL

Best New Restaurants 2015: No. 5 – Reeds American Table


Editor’s note: This post originally misspelled Ashley Rouch’s name. It was updated at 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 23 to correct the error. It was also updated at 4:40 p.m. to include an additional quote from Tara Gallina. 


The Scoop: Two specialty food businesses launch in St. Louis area

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016



Two new specialty food businesses aim to bring edible artisan products to St. Louis.

Fans of the fizzy, fermented tea beverage kombucha have a new local source: Komblu Kombucha. The Fenton-based company produces a certified-organic version of the drink in four flavors: grape, mango, ginger and citrus.

The bottled kombucha is available at Symbowl in Kirkwood and Chesterfield, Local Chef Kitchen in Ballwin, Farm To You Market in Washington and Roosters Health Food in Columbia, Ill.

It’s the first food venture for owner Andria Garcia, who hopes her kombucha appeals to everyone from trendy teenagers to health-conscious consumers looking for an alternative to soda. “My biggest goal is to not fit in the ‘health’ cliche,'” she said.




More interested in rich olive oil than funky tea? Olivino, a shop selling olive oils, balsamic vinegars, local food products, gift baskets and accessories for entertaining, recently opened at 1650 Beale St., at The Streets of St. Charles.

After a career in the corporate world, Debbie Baker-Oliver decided to channel her passion for good food into Olivino, where customers can sample pairings of olive oil and balsamic vinegars, plus try both as ingredients in foods ranging from caprese salads to brownies made with blood orange olive oil. The shop will also host private dinners with menus featuring olive oil.

Baker-Oliver owns a small winery in Washington and hopes to one day make her own wine available in the store. In the meantime, she plans to sell other local Missouri wine.

Olivino’s grand opening event will be on Jan. 3. The store is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Related Content
• The Scoop: Mission Taco Joint to open at the Streets of St. Charles, Tortillaria to close in CWE
• The Scoop: Di Olivas to open third location in CWE

The Scoop: The Blue Duck to open location in Maplewood

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016



After a yearlong search for a suitable St. Louis location, The Blue Duck is building a new nest in Maplewood at 7401 Manchester Road. The restaurant is part of new development in the space that once housed Monarch Restaurant, as reported by Feast. The Washington, Missouri restaurant is known for its riverfront views and DLT sandwich – that’s smoked duck, lettuce, and tomato.

Maplewood is “the place to be right now,” said owner Chris Rayburn. “It’s a hot spot for restaurants.”

The new location will have a similar menu of salads, sandwiches and entrees, Rayburn said, and will maintain his devotion to making almost everything in house, including breads and desserts.

Diners can also expect local beers, cocktails made with spirits from Pinckney Bend Distillery in New Haven, and a wine list featuring selections from Missouri wine country, which surrounds The Blue Duck’s Washington spot.

Several staff members will move to the new location, including pastry chef Karmen Rayburn and bar manager Adam Anglin.

Rayburn hopes to have the restaurant open by Thanksgiving. It will serve lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

The Scoop: Shack to open third location in Chesterfield

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016



Good news for early risers in Chesterfield: Pancakes, omelet and hashbrown skillets will soon be served at a third location of Shack, opening in October at 14810 Clayton Road.

Owner Brant Baldanza said he is “super excited” to bring an outpost of his breakfast and lunch restaurant to the town where he grew up. He thinks the location – formerly home to a Lester’s – has a “vacancy for breakfast,” and he hopes to attract diners from Wildwood, Ballwin and Chesterfield Valley.

The restaurant will have the same hours (breakfast 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday) and menu as its sister Shack in Frontenac, and all three locations will start serving a few new dishes in October.

There may be more Shacks springing up in the near future. Baldanza plans to expand his restaurant concept in the St. Louis market and hopes to open two or three more locations next year, with possible openings in St. Charles, St. Peters and Edwardsville. He’s looking for neighborhoods with high schools, churches and young communities with growing families. “Every Saturday and Sunday, we have lots of family breakfasts,” he said.

Cooking the Classics: Chicken and Dumplings

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015



Chris Vomund, Herbie’s Vintage ’72 executive chef, has taken traditional chicken and dumplings in some surprising flavor directions. Start with the classic recipe below, then dream up your own flavor combinations or try one of Vomund’s ideas like miso and mushrooms, ginger and lemongrass, juniper and marjoram, and tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and red wine.

Chicken and Dumplings
Adapted from a recipe by Herbie’s Vintage ’72’s Chris Vomund
4 servings

1/3 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, divided
2 lbs. boneless, skin-on chicken thighs*
2 Tbsp. butter
2 carrots, sliced
2 large celery ribs, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp. dried rosemary, divided
2 tsp. dried sage, divided
2 tsp. dried thyme, divided
2 cups dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
2 1/3 cups flour, divided, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
¾ cup water
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
• In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Cook the chicken skin-side down until browned and the fat renders, 10 to 15 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook another 5 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board. Pour all but 1 tablespoon pan drippings into a measuring cup. It should total about ¼ cup.
• Add the carrots, celery, garlic and onion to the Dutch oven over medium heat and cover, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon sage and 1 teaspoon thyme and stir about 30 seconds. Increase heat to high, add the wine and the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar and boil 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and return to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes to reduce.
• Meanwhile, prepare the dumpling dough: On a clean work surface, combine 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt with your hands. Gather the flour into a mound and make a well in the center. Slowly add the water, mixing with your hand until a dough starts to form. Knead the dough a few times to form a ball, but do not overwork.
• Lightly sprinkle the work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough to ⅛- to ¼-inch thickness and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon sage and 1 teaspoon thyme. Fold the dough in half, then roll out again to ⅛- to ¼-inch thickness. Use a sharp knife to slice the dough into 1½-inch pieces. Set aside.
• In a small saucepan over low heat, prepare a roux by whisking together the reserved ¼ cup pan drippings and the remaining 1/3 cup flour until well blended. Cook about 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
• Pour the roux into the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks. Stir in the chicken, pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, then add the dumpling dough to the stew, making sure the dough pieces don’t touch. Gently shake the Dutch oven to coat the dumplings in liquid. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 30 minutes, gently shaking the Dutch oven occasionally.

*Ask your butcher to debone skin-on chicken thighs, but save the bones to make stock.


-photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Chris Bork, Mud House owners to open Vista Ramen on Cherokee

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015



Seeing an opportunity to add an Asian restaurant to the eclectic food scene on Cherokee Street, Chris Bork, formerly executive chef at Blood & Sand, plans to open Vista Ramen with Jeremy and Casey Miller, owners of The Mud House.

Located at 2609 Cherokee St., the restaurant will offer ramen and other Asian-inspired dishes, although Bork is keeping the menu a secret for now.

The chef said he hoped to open “the restaurant of my dreams” after leaving Blood & Sand in December 2013, but the concept he had in mind proved to be too expensive. But having previously worked at the Mud House and missing the “tight-knit community” of Cherokee Street, he jumped at the chance to open a “super casual” restaurant with the Millers.

While he can’t discuss menu details, Bork said the food will feature Asian flavors and he plans to keep prices less than $15. He and the Millers plan to preview the Vista menu at pop-ups The Mud House and Maryland House in Central West End.

In additional to ramen, Bork said Vista will offer sake, Korean and Japanese soju, Japanese whiskey, and Asian and local beers.

Aaron Stovall, manager of the Mud House, will be general manager at the new restaurant, which will only serve dinner at first. Bork said he doesn’t yet have a projected timeline for when Vista will open.

The Scoop: Mission Taco Joint adds a food truck to its ranks

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015


Adam Tilford knows how to take a hint. Enough people asked the co-owner of Mission Taco Joint how to rent the restaurant’s food truck – and were surprised when he told them there wasn’t one – that he figured it was time to hit the road. The new Mission Taco Joint food truck debuted yesterday, July 28, at the restaurant’s Soulard location.

The Tilford Restaurant Group opened Cater Al Fresco commissary kitchen last summer, and the availability of the new food-preparation space also prompted the food truck’s launch. Tilford said he anticipates that much of the truck’s business will come from complementing the company’s catering services at events, while street vending will be secondary.

There’s no set menu, Tilford said, but expect to see favorites from Mission Taco Joint, including three or four tacos, plus possibly a torta or burrito option and carne asada fries.

The truck may also serve as a test kitchen. “Jason and the team can try out new tacos and ideas,” Tilford said, referring to his brother and co-owner, Jason Tilford. “You’ll see some surprises we might run in a month (in the restaurant).”

Follow the truck’s whereabouts on Twitter at @mtj_mobile and on Facebook.

The Scoop: Mi Caribe set to open in Midtown’s Coronado Ballroom

Friday, May 29th, 2015



The flavors of the Caribbean will spice up Midtown when Mi Caribe opens at the Coronado Ballroom at 3701 Lindell Blvd., in a few weeks. The restaurant and bar, serving Dominican, Cuban and Puerto Rican fare, is the first owned by Johnny Martinez, a former pitcher and scout for the Cleveland Indians, and Warren Duval, a mortgage banker.

Martinez, a native of the Dominican Republic who loves to cook, said it’s always been a dream of his to open a restaurant. He’ll be working in the kitchen with some of his family members, who have experience in the restaurant industry.

Islanders eat a lot of pork, Martinez said, so it will make several appearances on the menu, along with traditional beef and chicken stews, shrimp, rice dishes, empanadas and mofongo, a mashed, fried-plantain and shrimp dish. “Caribbeans are crazy about it,” Martinez said.

Other highlights include ropa vieja, a dish of shredded flank steak, and steak palomilla, a thin cut of sauteed steak served on bread, which Martinez hopes will appeal to hamburger fans. Unlike Jamaican food, Dominican food doesn’t make much use of chili powder, Martinez said; instead, expect to taste sofrito, a mirepoix of garlic and vegetables. There will also be whole fried fish – eyeballs and all. “I don’t know how people are going to accept that,” Martinez said.

Rum is the spirit of the islands, and there’s plenty of it available on the drink menu, which features Cuba Libres, daiquiris, piña coladas, mojitos and rum punch. The beer list includes Presidente, a Dominican brew Martinez said is hard to come by in the U.S.

Duval said they picked the Coronado spot, last occupied by Mexican restaurant Chuy Arzola’s, because of its Midtown location, big patio and attractive architecture.

Mi Caribe will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the bar staying open until 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The restaurant will serve brunch on Sunday.

The Scoop: The Boom Boom Room to open off Washington Avenue downtown

Friday, May 8th, 2015




The singers, dancers, aerialists and contortionists of the Jumpin’ Jupiter roadshow are ready to settle in – but not settle down – at The Boom Boom Room, a new restaurant and entertainment spot at 500 N. 14th St., formerly home to Lola.

The burlesque-inspired show has been performing at venues around town, including Copia Restaurant and Wine Garden, since the 2013 closure of The Jumpin’ Jupiter cabaret in Maplewood. Jim Callahan, who owned the shuttered club, is opening The Boom Boom Room with his fiancee, Brandy Dunn, this summer. “From the red velvet curtains and vintage decor, you will be transferred to a time where everything is exciting and in full swing,” Dunn said.

The menu isn’t final, but Dunn said they are planning to serve food with a “French flair” for lunch and dinner, plus a weekend pancake brunch with Champagne and bloody marys.

Large shareable martinis dominate the drink menu, which has several options designed to appeal to bachelorettes like the fruity Princess-tini and Drama Queen-tini. The Boom Boom Room also plans to serve wine and local beer from Alpha Brewing, Urban Chestnut and 4 Hands.

Dunn said she and Callahan had long searched for a location and jumped at the chance to secure a downtown spot. “We wanted to be accessible to everyone including locals and tourists and had been looking for spaces for awhile,” she said.

The Boom Boom Room will be open daily. On Wednesday through Saturday nights, there will be live entertainment and full shows on Friday and Saturday evenings.




The Scoop: Johnnie Walker’s San Loo to open in former Livery space on Cherokee

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015



Three friends with experience in the St. Louis bar and music scenes are opening a neighborhood watering hole called Johnnie Walker’s San Loo this month at 3211 Cherokee St. “If I’m going to frequent a bar, I’d rather do it the way I’d like to do it and have fun with it,” said co-owner Jon Coriell, who plays with local band Wolfpussy.

The space previously housed Livery Company, which moved two doors down to 3227 Cherokee St., as reported by the Riverfront Times. Because the interior doesn’t need much work, Coriell said, he hopes to open around May 15.

The bar’s unique moniker has two sources of inspiration. The first part comes from the name of one of its co-owners, John Walker Eckles. The second honors the San Loo Chinese Checkers games produced in the first half of the 20th century by the St. Louis-based Northwestern Products Co.

Johnnie Walker’s San Loo won’t serve food, and guests are welcome to bring their own meals. The bar will feature six taps with Pabst Blue Ribbon and a rotating selection of local beers from breweries like 4 Hands and The Civil Life. The liquor selection will lean toward whiskey, and Coriell said mixed drinks will be available, but don’t expect a full cocktail menu. “We’re not going to get too fancy-dancy on anybody,” he said.

Coriell anticipates hosting two live music shows a week, one on Wednesdays and another during the weekend, ranging from punk rock to blues to “jazz for a quiet weeknight show.” But music won’t be the bar’s main focus. “I want it to be a place where you can come and have a conversation,” he said.

The bar will be open daily from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. to midnight Sunday.



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