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Jul 26, 2017
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First Look: Center Ice Brewery in Midtown

Friday, July 21st, 2017

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It’s blistering hot outside, but Center Ice Brewery is keeping things cool in Midtown. The hockey-themed brewery opened today, July 21 at 3126 Olive St., just a couple doors down from Pappy’s Smokehouse and Southern.

As The Scoop reported in August 2016, Center Ice is the brainchild of owner-brewer Steve Albers. “I’ve been playing hockey since I was a kiddo. It’s in my blood,” Albers said. “Breweries represent the brewer’s personality – and that’s me.”

The 5,000-square-foot brewery features reclaimed materials from the old St. Louis Arena – the wood bar and tables in the 2,000-square-foot main bar area used to make up the arena’s roof, and the old penalty box door can be found as a photo-op box adjacent to Center Ice’s brewing equipment. The brewing floor is separated from customers by a low rink wall, which also curves around a private event space that will accommodate 30 to 40 people and offers 10 private taps.

A long time homebrewer, Albers planned to open with three of his own brews along with supplemental taps from area breweries like Main & Mill and Charleville Brewing Co. Center Ice’s opening lineup includes Golden Contract (an American golden ale contract brewed with Charleville), Hop Shelf IPA (a West Coast-inspired IPA) and Off Season Saison (a light, summery example of the style).

Albers said he chose approachable styles to open, but plans on starting a berry series made with fresh fruit and other more unusual beers soon. “With so many beers out there, you should set yourself apart and make something exciting,” he said.

Center Ice is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Here’s a first look at what to expect from St. Louis’ first hockey-themed brewery:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

Heather Hughes is managing editor, print at Sauce Magazine.

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What I Do: Logan Ely at Square1 Project

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

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Chef Logan Ely doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s figuring it out. A St. Louis native, Ely moved back in February after stints at James Beard Award-winning restaurants like Blue Hill in New York City and Pass & Provisions in Houston, to name a few.

He started his underground dinner series, Square1 Project, while looking for a permanent restaurant space. With a propensity for fermented flavors and radically sustainable ingredients – think weaver ants, not just local produce – he serves unique, 14-course tasting menus prepared with minimal equipment and limited resources. He might just know more than he’s letting on.

 

“I had zero money. I had a couple friends who I knew would help me and be a part of it, but I had zero vendors. I was like, ‘Oh, shit. How are we going to do this?’ That’s square one: I know I need tables and chairs. I know I need to get a good credit card and max that thing out. I didn’t want help. I wanted to build this up to something … find my voice. I think it’s the same thing with a writer or a painter. You need a venue to write and get better at what you do, and this is what that is for me – and us, I should say. That’s Square1 Project.”

“Cooking is such a hard thing to do and dedicate your life to. To me, it has to mean something. It’s gotta be important. It’s not enough to just open a restaurant and be like, okay now I want to get an award or two. … I certainly wouldn’t call myself an activist at all, but I’m in that realm of, ‘Hey, it’s OK to eat insects, and look – I can make this taste really good, and it’s sustainable, and you get to support this woman in Denver that’s really trying to do this thing.’ [Wendy Lu McGill, from Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch] is an activist. She’s out doing speeches and all that stuff. I think that’s where I see this whole project, restaurant, team going.”

“I’m not going to hand you a bowl of maggots or anything. You won’t even probably see the bugs. Right now I have a garum, a fish sauce, going with crickets and a miso that will take 10 weeks with weaver ants. It’s not gross. I wish I had some on me – I’ve been giving people tastes. When the vendors come by I’m like, ‘Here, taste this.’”

“It’s not like a chef comes into a kitchen and writes a menu and teaches a cook how to do it and that’s it. It’s like, ‘Hey, the fish delivery didn’t show up,’ or, ‘Hey, there’s a gas leak,’ or, ‘This thing caught on fire,’ or, ‘The health inspector is going to shut us down unless this is fixed.’ It’s literally that every single day. It’s the unglamorous part of the gig. It’s what all these Netflix shows don’t show – the chef in the back trying to fix the oven.”

“[North Pond in Chicago] was the first restaurant I worked at where it was so hard, I hated every day of it. Nothing was ever right that I did, nothing was ever good enough. I wasn’t fast enough. I wasn’t clean enough. I was terrible. I had stomachaches every day. … And then, a year-and-a-half goes by, and you realize, ‘I’m way better than my first day.’ The chef [Bruce Sherman] pulled me outside and was like, ‘Hey, good job. You did really well. I pushed you really hard and you were there every step of the way and you grew a lot and I’m really proud of you.’ That was huge.”

“There’s always those things you don’t learn as a cook. Anything fermented, you don’t get a lot of in kitchens – most health departments or inspectors don’t like to see that shit around. So when we were in New York, me and my buddy decided we should know how to do charcuterie. So we started fermenting meat, and we ended up with like seven refrigerators full in our Brooklyn apartment – it was hilarious. He actually now owns a butcher shop in Brooklyn.”

“I get bored very easily. We’ll put something on the menu, and four weeks later I’m like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so embarrassing. I can’t believe we were actually serving that.’”

“At a successful restaurant, the chefs work more hours than the cooks. Dan [Barber, chef at Blue Hill] is a good example. Between the two restaurants, writing his book, doing TED Talks and all this stuff. He’s an awesome dude, very smart, but he’s working his ass off. He’s doing so much stuff. I think that’s inspiring, and it keeps you going if you’re having a hard night or a rough week.”

Book your reservation at Square1 Project, Twitter: @Square1_Project, Instagram: @square1_project

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

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First Look: Pizza Head on South Grand

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

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{ Pizza Head chef-owner Scott Sandler }

 

Scott Sandler, best known for his vegetarian Neapolitan pizzeria Pizzeoli, is putting the finishing touches on his latest pizza project, Pizza Head. As The Scoop reported in January Sandler took over the space at 3196 S. Grand Ave., the former home of Absolutli Goosed and Brickyard Tavern. The new restaurant will serve up New York-style pies to the sounds of classic punk music when it opens in early May.

The menu features cheese, white and vegan 20-inch pizzas with a short list of vegetarian toppings. With just one salad and a handful of drinks, the barebones menu is focused on pizza specials. An enormous cheese pizza and four 16-ounce cans of Stag are available for $25, or snag two foldable slices and a pint for $8.

“The great thing about this pizza is it’s great warmed up,” Sandler said. “Reheated it’s almost better.” He hopes about half the business will be carryout and plans to partner with Postmates to offer delivery.

Pizza Head will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, starting around the first week of May with a possible soft opening next week. Here’s a first look at what to expect on South Grand’s newest place to grab a slice:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky

Heather Hughes is managing editor, print at Sauce Magazine. 

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The Scoop: Pizzeoli owner to open Pizza Head on South Grand

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DTWE: Schlafly’s Dr. Kentucky’s Concoction from his Curious Cabinet Batch No. 40004

Friday, April 7th, 2017

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Get a sneak peek of Schlafly’s Art Outside festival when you pick up the fourth installment of the brewery’s Artist Series. “This is an area where we can step outside the norm a bit,” said brand specialist Wil Rogers.

Local artist Noah MacMillan worked with a team at Schlafly to develop the beer and illustrate branding for the special release with an absurdly long name: Dr. Kentucky’s Concoction from his Curious Cabinet Batch No. 40004. 

The beer, available in 750-milliliter bottles, is a riff on a whiskey buck cocktail: a golden ale flavored with ginger root, lime juice and bourbon-barrel chips. If you grab a bottle with a tag, hold onto it until Memorial Day weekend. Some will win a free gift from a curious cabinet at Schlafly’s Art Outside Festival May 28 to 26.

Of course, the beer itself is the real golden ticket: bright and bubbly with a subtle zip of ginger, we’re crushing some this weekend. Dr. Kentucky’s Concoction from his Curious Cabinet Batch No. 40004 is available at local bottle shops and groceries.

Photo by Heather Hughes

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DTWE: 3 tea-infused cocktails to try at Retreat Gastropub

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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 { Creole Colada at Retreat Gastropub }

 

When Retreat Gastropub bar manager Tim Wiggins comes up with a tea-themed cocktail menu, it’s going to be more than boozy glasses of your grandma’s finest.

“A lot of people hate tea,” Wiggins said. “These don’t taste like tea cocktails – they taste like cocktails with unusual elements.” The menu ranges from sweet and fruity to spicy and savory, balancing bold, unexpected flavors in strange-sounding, but highly drinkable cocktails.

1. If you like earthy flavors, the Parasol Shade combines the lush funkiness of Wray & Nephew overproof rum with a rooibos tea Wiggins said tastes like rich soil, all brightened by white rum, mango, cream and lime. The overproof rum’s raisin notes meet the mango’s sunnier sweetness, grounded by cream and a lively zip of lime on the finish. The complex combination is balanced – you’ll keep sipping as you try to figure it out.

2. If you like juicy and floral, try the tiki-inspired Creole Colada. Sweet, fresh pineapple juice and coconut cream are tempered by a full ounce of Peychaud’s bitters, Jamaican aged rum and an infusion of hibiscus and lemongrass. The drink is finished with a spray of hibiscus-infused absinthe and a sprinkle of nutmeg. A creamy pink, it looks throat-coating sweet, but it goes down easy with a hint of herbal spice and a pleasantly tart finish.

3. If you like vegetal drinks, order the Bells and Whistles. The savory, subtly sweet flavors of orange and yellow peppers are paired with Cana Brava rum infused with fragrant, tannic jasmine, along with green tea, honey-like white port and amontillado. Finished with a hint of lemon La Croix and garnished with a lemon wheel, it has a bright acidity and savory sweetness.

Photo by Meera Nagarajan

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Sneak Peek: Vicia in Midtown

Monday, March 20th, 2017

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More than a year after announcing their move to St. Louis, Michael and Tara Gallina’s highly anticipated Vicia opens for lunch this Wednesday, March 22 in the Cortex Innovation District at 4260 Forest Park Ave. Dinner service will debut on Tuesday, March 28.

The Gallinas, both alums of the internationally acclaimed Blue Hill at Stone Barns, made news in October 2015 when they announced a return to Michael Gallina’s hometown to open a seasonally driven, vegetable-forward restaurant where he would serve as executive chef and Tara Gallina as general manager.

The 2,500-square-foot space features a 14-seat bar, an exposed kitchen and a covered patio, all separated from the main dining room by walls of windows. The patio is bookended by a lounge area with more casual seating on one end and an enormous wood-fired grill on the other.

“I’d love to have that thing covered with meat and vegetables basically all day,” said Michael Gallina. His menu incorporates meat as a condiment more than main attraction and features vegetables as the unexpected stars of Vicia’s dishes. He plans to utilize the grill for everything from slowly cooking large cuts of meat to burying vegetables in the coals for unique charred sauces.

Lunch will consist of soups, salads, sandwiches and tartines with pick-two and pick-three options, supplemented by sweet treats from executive pastry chef Summer Wright. “The menu will not be set at all,” said Gallina, who plans to print offerings daily.

Though some dishes will have the same general structure – like a grain salad made with fruits or vegetables, goat cheese and vegetable-top pesto – the specific ingredients will depend on what the restaurant gets day-to-day from area farmers.

Dinner will have a more varied menu of bite-sized snacks, shareable plates and entrees. “I want it to change as much as we can,” Gallina said. “I’m holding off to see what’s available next week.” The restaurant also plans to eventually offer a tasting menu.

Vicia will be open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. When it begins next week, dinner service will be Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect from one of this year’s most anticipated new restaurants:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

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The Scoop: Gallinas to open Vicia in The Cortex

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Sneak Peek: Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade in St. Charles

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

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Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade officially opens doors this Saturday, March 18, at 2236 First Capitol Drive in St. Charles. As The Scoop reported in December 2016, Two Plumbers is the brainchild of owner Robert Schowengerdt and head brewer John Simon. “I was trying to figure out a way to make an arcade make money,” Schowengerdt said. “I know how to pour a beer and I knew this guy (Simon).”

The 21-and-older brewery will offer two of its beers at opening, the Ermac Irish Red IPA and Braunenmantel American brown ale. “All our beer names will be nerd references of some kind,” Schowengerdt said. Simon is hoping to add a honey blonde and a few other beers soon.

The bar has 10 taps supplemented by breweries like Logboat Brewing Co., Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., Schlafly and Great Divide Brewing Co., as well as one cider and a few wine options. Customers are welcome to bring in food, or order a Dan O’s frozen pizza from the bar. “We’re not complicated,” Schowengerdt said. “It’s pretty much just beer and video games.”

The 80-seat space includes more than 30 arcade games with classics like “Donkey Kong” and “Super Mario Bros.,” and old school favorites like “Dungeons & Dragons” and “Time Crisis II.”

Regular hours will be Tuesday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Saturday from noon to 1:30 a.m. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect when doors open at St. Charles’ newest brewery:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky

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First Look: The Dark Room at Grandel Square 

Monday, March 6th, 2017

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The Dark Room Wine Bar & Photo Gallery has reopened in its new location at 3610 Grandel Square in the Grand Center Arts District. As The Scoop reported in November, the bar is now housed in the Grandel Theatre building. The bar is now designated as a nonprofit under the umbrella of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, with about 40 cents from each dollar going to support local arts.

The space, menu, hours and stage have all expanded with the new location. The Dark Room now seats more than 70 with better acoustics for live music, ample standing room and increased gallery space, so patrons can enjoy rotating photography exhibits without standing over seated diners.

“Most brands don’t get this kind of opportunity to evolve and get a second start,” said director of hospitality Denise Mueller. She hopes the bar will become a neighborhood staple and nightlife destination with its new lunch and brunch menus and late-night happy hour deals. The bar also plans to open an extensive patio with an outdoor bar this May.

The Dark Room is now open Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Happy hour deals from 3 to 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday brunch is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Get a First Look at The Dark Room’s new home:

 

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Editor’s note: This post was updated at 4:50 p.m. to adjust hours of operation.  

Photos by Michelle Volansky

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Guide to Beer 2017: Class of 2017

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

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The St. Louis beer scene is always expanding, but with a dozen breweries slated to open this year, we’re entering a new beer boom. Meet the St. Louis brewers’ Class of 2017.

Top row from left: Greer Brewing Co. brewer-co-owner Chris Greer, Greer Brewing co-owner Becky Greer, Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade head brewer John Simon, Wellspent brewer-co-owner Kyle Kohlmorgen, Good News Brewing Co. brewer-co-owner Josh Miller,Steampunk Brew Works brewer-owner David Deaton

Middle row from left: Rockwell Beer Co. brewer-owner Andy Hille, Design2Brew head brewer Donn Christian, Third Wheel Brewing head brewer Abbey Spencer, Missouri Beer Co. brewer-co-owner Dave Johnson, Good News Brewing Co. brewer-co-owner Dan Tripp

Bottom row from left: White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery brewer-co-owner Mike Deutschmann, Senn Bierwerks brewer-co-owner Dustin Chalfant, Center Ice Brewery brewer-owner Steve Albers, Senn brewer-co-owner James Hellmuth

 

Photo by Ashley Gieseking 

Guide to Beer 2017: Where Brewers Drink

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

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Brewers can drink their own beer all day. Here’s where they go when they’re off duty.

With a big group
“We like Basso or Three Kings in The Loop. We live in U. City, so Three Kings is usually where we’ll go with friends.” – Ryan Sherring, Six Mile Bridge brewmaster-co-owner

Neighborhood spot
Frailey’s Southtown Grill in South County. I know the owners – it’s more of a regular’s place. … For what you get, I think it’s the best bang for buck in St. Louis. And everyone who works there is great. It has that family feel to it.” – Brian Ilg, Kirkwood Station Brewing Company brewmaster

“My favorite spot would be Main Street in Edwardsville – there’s a couple good restaurants and bars. A go-to is Recess Brewing down there. It’s nice to have places within walking distance.” – Patrick Thirion, Peel Brewing Co. brewer-co-owner

Something other than beer
“This is probably going to be your weirdest answer, but my place is Pho Grand on South Grand to get their French iced coffee.” – Thirion

“If I want to get a decent whiskey, there’s a couple places I like to go: Montrey’s in Ferguson. It’s a cigar bar. It’s right by the brewhouse, so that one’s easy. And I enjoy Eclipse. You can get a decent drink, and it’s a cool atmosphere. And you can’t go wrong with Shaved Duck, or BBQ Saloon always has a good whiskey selection.” – Taylor Wright, Ferguson Brewing Co. head brewer

Day drinking
“For outside in summer, a great place is 21st Street Brewers Bar. Or Square One – they do a mean grilled cheese.” – Sherring

“Pretty much anywhere that has games – anywhere I can play bubble hockey, shuffleboard or darts. And iTap in Soulard is always a good day drinking spot because it’s not going to be overly busy – you can have good conversations.” – Wright

 

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