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The Scoop: 5 Star Burgers to open third Missouri location in Creve Coeur

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015



5 Star Burgers is set to open a third Missouri location at 11621 Olive Blvd., in Creve Coeur as early as March 2016. As reported by Feast, owner Steve Gontram said new location will serve the same fan favorites as the Kirkwood and Clayton locations.

The 2,750-square-foot space will be a comparable size and design as the other locations, seating approximately 90 people with another 36 on the patio. Gontram said Creve Coeur was the right choice for their expansion because it was a similar location as their two previous restaurants. “Opening a restaurant is something I really love to do,” he said. “I love the energy and the stress. It’s never easy, but at this point, we’ve learned a lot from the other two locations.”

Although no other expansion plans have been officially announced, Gontram said he is entertaining the idea of opening additional St. Louis locations, as well as reaching beyond the 314 into other  markets. Gontram’s father originated the 5 Star Burger concept it New Mexico, where there are four locations.



The Scoop: New sushi restaurant opens in Webster Groves

Monday, August 3rd, 2015




After seven years managing Blue Ocean Sushi on The Loop, Pui Nammakhot is opening her own restaurant in Webster Groves. The Sushi Station will celebrate its grand opening at 29 N. Gore Ave., in Webster Groves in early September. The restaurant had a soft opening Friday, July 31 and is currently operating with a limited menu.

The full-service sushi restaurant will offer dozens of sushi rolls with fresh fish delivered from Chicago every three days. Sushi Station will seat 35 inside and soon another 25 on an expanded patio. Nammakhot will also offer carry-out and delivery.

The 14 nigiri options include surf clams, shrimp and snapper, while the 17 regular and 24 specialty rolls range from simple vegetarian options to creations like The Old Webster that features salmon, tuna, yellow tail, asparagus, gobo and a honey-wasabi mayo. The Sushi Station also serves a selection of entrees like katsu kare (Japanese-style curry with chicken or pork), udon noodles and Japanese fried rice.

Nammakhot said Webster Groves was the ideal location for her first sushi restaurant. “Webster Groves was always my dream place to come and open and do business in this community,” she said. “Webster Groves is a family community. I wanted to go to a place that doesn’t have much sushi and introduce (it) to the area.”

Nammakhot said she wanted to cater to families, so she planned an affordable menu that isn’t overwhelmingly spicy and features make-your-own sushi options for especially picky eaters.

On the beverage side, The Sushi Station will feature bottle Japanese brews like Sapporo, Hitachino and Kirin, as well as sake and Japanese whiskey. Currently Sushi Station operates from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; doors will be open daily after the grand opening.

The Scoop: Yo! Salsa food truck to open a brick-and-mortar in Wentzville

Friday, July 24th, 2015



Yo! Salsa food truck announced plans to open a brick-and-mortar location at 2 West Pierce Blvd., Wentzville in mid-September. The restaurant will offer an expanded menu of small-plate options and shareable entrees, along with food truck-favorites like tacos and nachos. Chef-owner John Lutgen also hopes to provide family-sized portions available to carry out and heat up at home.

The restaurant plans to source locally as much as possible, with produce from Lee Farms in Truxton, Missouri and a proposed partnership with Friendship Brewing Co., slated to open in Wentzville this October. “From the very beginning, we’ve focused on being fresh and innovative and don’t use processed food in anything we do,” Lutgen said.

Offering 85 seats (55 indoor and 30 on the patio), the 1600-square-foot space won’t accommodate a full bar. However, Yo! Salsa will have table service for a rotating selection of local beers, wines and a couple margarita options for now.

With 25 years of corporate experience under his belt, Lutgen hopes to eventually expand Yo! Salsa into a brand with multiple trucks and brick-and-mortar locations. “I am excited for the opportunities owning a storefront will offer,” Lutgen said.

The Scoop: New sushi restaurant, Sushi & ?, to open doors in Midtown

Monday, July 6th, 2015




A sushi restaurant with a peculiar name is going in at 3043 Olive St., in Midtown. Sushi & ? is slated to open doors across from Pappy’s Smokehouse this Friday, July 10.

This is the fourth sushi venture for married co-owners Kang and Hana Na. They also own Sapporo Sushi in Ballwin, and Hana Na said they hope to change Sushi & ?’s name to Sapporo 2 in the near future. The Nas previously owned two locations of Little Tokyo in St. Peters and in Clayton. The latter was purchased by Wasabi Sushi Bar.

Hana Na said the new 70-seat restaurant will see weekly fish deliveries to create dozens of sushi offerings, including 26 nigiri options, 22 traditional maki (rolls) 14 specialty rolls, as well as Japanese entrees like spicy grilled squid. The question mark in the restaurant’s name stands for a selection of Korean and Japanese dishes, like soondooboo, a Korean tofu soup dish, and both Japanese- and Korean-style ramen.

Na said their new restaurant differs from their previous ventures because it will offer more of a variety of Korean and Japanese dishes and a more extensive bar program to attract college students and international students who frequent Midtown.

“We added some more Korean dishes here and some hard liquor, mixed drinks,” Na said. “The main thing is, of course, the sushi. My husband is really good. He’s the best chef.”

The bar program will feature a bottle beer list including Sapporo, a Japanese rice-lager, as well as local favorites like Urban Chestnut, Schlafly and 4 Hands. Eight sake-based cocktails will also be available, including a sake margarita and variations on a martini and cosmopolitan.

Sushi & ? will be open daily for lunch and close mid-afternoon to prepare for dinner service.


By the Book: Carla Kelly’s Strawberry Basil Scones

Saturday, May 30th, 2015



I used to be an avid baker, but things changed a few years ago after I started a small kitchen fire with an errant kitchen towel. Since that not so holly-jolly Christmas, I’ve taken an extended hiatus from baking, but after spying this recipe for summery strawberry basil scones, I decided my stomach would overpower my fear.

Carla Kelly’s book, Vegan Al Fresco, is a collection of vegan recipes meant to be consumed at picnics and on patios. They also seem simple to prepare and boast versatility; the strawberries in these scones, Kelly claimed, can be replaced with blueberries.




Strawberry and basil are a classic combo, and both are available in abundance at farmers markets right now. And while the recipe is techincally vegan, the only changes from a traditional scone recipe is soy milk in place of cow’s milk and canola oil in place of butter. All other ingredients are available in any baking aisle, so I didn’t have to hit three different specialty shops hunting down an obscure dairy substitute.




I began the recipe with high hopes and an empty stomach. First, I chopped the strawberries and basil, which smelled divine. Then I combined the soy milk and the apple cider vinegar, a vegan substitute for buttermilk. The soy milk immediately began to bubble, but don’t fret – it’s suppose to do that. The reaction is meant to create the tangy flavor notes buttermilk provides.




Whisking in the jam, sugar, oil and extract was pretty straightforward, and left a pink milky mixture with chunks of jam throughout. Don’t mix the batter too thoroughly; the chunks of strawberries and jam throughout the scones are the tastiest part.




Rather than shaping the dough and then slicing it into triangles, Kelly advocated scooping 1/3-cup portions onto the baking sheet, hence their more freeform shape. They required only 15 minutes in the oven – perfect, since I was hungry now.




The finished product was light and cakey, more like a strawberry bread than a denser, crumbly scone. They also lacked the berry and basil punch I expected, though I quickly remedied that with a thick smear of strawberry jam on top. Next time I make these summer treats, I’ll add more sugar and jam to up their sweetness – even if that loses my outdoor fete a few healthy points.


Strawberry & Basil Scones
10 scones

1 cup (250 ml.) plain soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. strawberry jam
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. strawberry or vanilla extract
2 cups (500 m.) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 m.) whole wheat pastry flour
3½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup (125 ml.) finely diced fresh strawberries, about 8 medium
2 heaping tsp. finely chopped fresh basil

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• In a large bowl, combine the soy milk and vinegar. Let it thicken for 5 minutes. Stir in the jam, sugar, oil and extract and whisk to combine and eliminate large lumps of jam.
• Sift in the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to just combine. Gently fold in the strawberries and basil.
• Portion the dough into 10 scones with a 1/3 cup (80 ml.) measure. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
• Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to complete cooling, or serve warm.

Reprinted with permission from Arsenal Pump Press

What’s your favorite use for seasonal strawberries? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Vegan Al Fresco.



The Scoop: Taste Budz Take Out hits the road with a food truck

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

052815_tastebudzTaste Budz Take Out, a primarily carryout restaurant with a storefront at 280 DeBaliviere Ave., has rolled out a food truck. Taste Budz Express, which made its debut in early April, offers up a lunch menu with popular offerings from the restaurant, including made-to-order burgers, BLTs, fish sandwiches, onion rings, wings, Phillies and more.

Taste Budz Express rolls through both St. Louis City and County, although co-owner Eric Tomlin said he has mainly set up shop in North County thus far. Tomlin said he wanted to open a food truck ever since he opened his brick-and-mortar in May 2014. “(I’m excited) being able to get the taste of (my) food and restaurant out to different clients,” he said.

Spring proved the perfect time for Tomlin to focus on the food truck’s opening, as the DeBaliviere location is currently closed due to The Loop Trolley construction. He said he hopes to re-open the brick-and-mortar Taste Budz by September.

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