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Feb 20, 2018
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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11 reasons to go to Westport Social right now

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

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Westport Social is a versatile bar. You want to drink craft cocktails? No problem. How about getting crazy competitive while playing bocce ball? Sure thing. Even if you just want to sit in the corner with a glass of wine and a healthy-ish salad, you can do that, too. If you’re not convinced, here are 11 more reasons to go.

1. Pingpong tables + a killer beer list = grown-up beer pong, basically.

2. Funnel cake fries, please.

3. We’re into these nachos for more than the cheese sauce. They’re made with crisp wonton skins riddled with air pockets, burnt ends from heaven and the occasional vinegar blast of pickled banana pepper.

4. Big, comfy leather couches and other modern touches add sophistication to the warehouse-sized space.

5. The punch, made with Old Tom gin, Crown Royal, Giffard pamplemousse, lemon and yerba mate, is fresh and goes down super easy.

6. A solid wine list proves this isn’t just a bro bar – furmint, anyone?

7. Pop-a-Shot-style basketball hoops in the back are regulation-size. (Watch for a rogue elbow – competition gets stiff.)

8. With crowd noise and larger than life-sized players (one of the many TVs is 9-by-15 feet), it’s like you’re at the game – only better.

9. Karaoke in private rooms means you can make a fool of yourself to a select audience of your choosing.

10. When the energy gets too crazy inside, there are fire pits to cozy up next to on the patio.

11. Shuffleboard two ways: tabletop or on sprawling cruise ship-style floor courts. Those cues are fun even if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Photo by David Kovaluk

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: December 2017

• First Look: Westport Social in Maryland Heights

 

Best New Restaurants: No. 12 – Shawarma King

Friday, December 1st, 2017

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here are St. Louis’ 12 best new restaurants of 2017.

 

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You don’t go to places like this for high-end service and ambiance, you go because the food is good. Like, really good. And affordable. Shawarma King’s plentiful lunch veggie platter, for instance, offers hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, tabbouleh and pita for $8.99.

Owner Mohammed Alsalem, who grew up in Jordan, makes almost all the food himself. The falafel is crispy and fluffy, the baba ghanoush had a subtle smokiness, and the hummus is ultra-smooth and fresh. The tabbouleh is a must-have – its bright acidity is a nice complement to the menu’s richer items, particularly the tender, deeply flavorful beef shawarma, which Alsalem stacks and seasons by hand. Who cares if it’s on a paper plate? We’re ordering seconds.

Photo by David Kovaluk 

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

• Review: Shawarma King

 

Sauce Gift Guide: When money’s no object…

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

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Significant other always out-gift you? Never sure Mom knows just how much you appreciate all she does to keep you sane? We gotchu. When it’s time to spare no expense, order one of these gifts goals to put your money where your oh-so-grateful mouth is.

1. Farmbot
What’s better than giving someone a garden? Giving one they don’t have to tend. Farmbot is a farming machine operated by your phone that works day and night to plant, weed, water and grow food in a raised bed according to your preferences. It optimally cares for each plant, so you can grow a variety without having to remember all the details. Just harvest and eat!
$2,595. farmbot.io

2. June Intelligent Oven
If I told you there was a convection oven and computer in one that bakes, broils, toasts and roasts your food, and then sends you a push notification to let you know it’s done, would you want it? Same. A camera, a scale and presets mean she knows what you’re cooking and how to cook it without telling her a single thing. If that special someone has ever wanted a personal sous chef, here’s your chance to make their dream come true.
$1,500. juneoven.com

3. Wine Club Membership
Wine club memberships are the gift that keeps on giving. Every month, your loved one gets two thoughtfully selected bottles that fall in line with that month’s theme. Let the folks at Parker’s Table make you look like a star by gifting the perfect bottle again and again and again.
$360 to $900 per year. parkerstable.com

4. Staub Oval Cocette
What makes this particular Staub line seriously special is the eternally chic gold-and-white color combo. We love this size for searing then braising meats or even roasting a chicken. Yes, please.
5.75-quart: $325. shop.goop.com

5. Officine Gullo Professional Refrigerator
Made of handcrafted metal by artisans in Florence, this Lamborghini of refrigerators has a stainless-steel interior with wooden shelves and a temperature- and humidity-controlled wine cellar to keep your bottles in pristine condition. This is so much more than a machine to keep your food cold – it’s a work of art.
Price upon request. officinegullo.com

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: 2017 Guide to the Holidays

• Sauce Gift Guide: $25 to $50

• Sauce Gift Guide: $50 to $100

 

Meals That Changed My Life: Gian Nicola Colucci at Cielo

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

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Cielo executive chef Gian Nicola Colucci fell in love with food as a kid growing up in Turin, Italy. When he left Turin for the first time at 24 to work at Lidia Bastianich’s Felidia in New York, the city opened his eyes to foods and cultures he’d never experienced. Since then, he has worked at luxury hotels that have taken him all over the world and picked up influences from Capri to Hyderabad before landing at the Four Seasons in St. Louis. Here, he shares four meals from four countries that changed his life.

Turin, Italy
“My family [raised] rabbits. In Italy, the city where I grew up – Turin – rabbits are the famous ingredient. [My father] cooks rabbit with potato and tomato; it’s something unique, and today when I try to make it the same way it never comes out like his. I don’t know what he does to it. He doesn’t braise or anything – he puts all the ingredients together in a wood-burning oven, and 40 minutes later he takes it out and it’s perfect! Color, flavor, taste, texture, perfect. I say, ‘How you do that?’ and he says, ‘I don’t know.’

“I do the same – I don’t miss any ingredients – but the result is different. Then I try to sear the meat, roast the potato before, but some ingredients don’t completely cook or overcook; the color’s not there. I do it in the exact same oven. When he cooks, he doesn’t pay the attention I pay, but it’s perfect. Maybe one day he’ll tell me his secret. But it’s him – it’s just him. Food is really particular; a magic situation can happen from the beginning to the end, and even with the same ingredients different people give different results.”

Le Bernardin, New York, 1997
“We went to Le Bernardin – it was a kind of crazy moment of emotion. It was my first time in a three-Michelin star restaurant. What I remember is this parsnip truffle soup combined with escargot that was an explosion of flavor. The soup was creamy. Sometimes I joke with my guys that French people just [add] cream to make everything perfect. It was creamy, but the parsnip flavor was strong; a touch of garlic was there. The combination with the snails was amazing. That, for sure, is a plate you remember. When you do something correct, people come back for that plate. For that plate, I want to go back.”

Japan, 2011
“In Japan, I discovered matcha. Of course you can see this ingredient in the United States, but when you go there, you taste matcha in different kinds of items. I remember this matcha store where you can buy the tea, but you can taste [it in] their gelato, sweet items, cookies. That was really nice, to taste how one ingredient can be used in different items. There, I can tell you I tasted matcha in the right way.

“For chefs, it’s important to understand the ingredient, the flavor and how to use it in your style so that it makes sense, so everything is connected completely. Sometimes now in my gelato I use matcha tea; I use it in pastas. You can operate anywhere in the world if you’re able to open your mind, learn and accept different influences.”

Alain Ducasse, Monte Carlo, 2004
“We went out for dinner at Alain Ducasse in Monte Carlo at this beautiful hotel, Louis Cannes. It was a kind of dream to go there to eat. Each plate had a huge component of vegetables, but presented in a different way. At that time, vegetables for me were just a side. I realized that vegetables were the main ingredients – all the other components were the sides. Something changed in my mind – I never thought of that.

“He did a fillet of turbot (a flat fish, really common in Europe with a white, flaky meat, really sweet) with different roots, vegetables, foam, a base sauce and cream. The vegetables became the main component. The fish was there – it was OK, but all the components he put with different textures and combinations and consistency made the plate special, unique. From that moment, I said, ‘I want to change my concept.’ I continue today to increase vegetables in my plates.”

Illustration by Vidhya Nagarajan

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
Sauce Magazine: November 2017

• Meals That Changed My Life: Mike Randolph

• Meals That Changed My Life: Christy Augustin

What I Do: Bernie Lee of Hiro Asian Kitchen

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

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Leaving everyone and everything you know to come to the United States and pursue a dream is the quintessential immigrant experience. Hiro Asian Kitchen owner Bernie Lee’s story is no different. After leaving Malaysia to study, learn the culture and improve his English in St. Louis, Lee seized the opportunity to open his own restaurant (609 Restaurant & U Lounge).

Now Lee serves some of the city’s best Asian fusion at Hiro, where he has slowly added Malaysian dishes he grew up eating. At first, he wanted to have a business that welcomed all people. Now, it’s become a place where he can share his culture.

 

“You just have to learn how to survive. When I was in [college], one of my classmates told me I spoke the worst English he ever heard in his life. It was so embarrassing. I didn’t know how to express myself. In my class, I was always the last pick [in a group presentation] because they thought I didn’t speak well. I spoke six other languages they didn’t even understand. But it forced me to be better.”

“I’m Malaysian-Chinese. My parents are first-generation Malaysian-Chinese. My grandparents in the 1940s were refugees. They escaped from China, from the revolution, very young – 15, 16, 17. They were very poor, and as refugees, what do they know? They worked. They had tons of babies – work, have a baby, work, have a baby. Refugees, they all have to go through the same things. It’s never easy.”

“The motivation behind 609 was I was not treated nicely at a bar one day. I was bullied in public. I told myself someday I need to create a place where everybody is welcome. Two years later, I had an opportunity to open my own place. To be honest, I was 27, I was young. I said, ‘Screw it, let’s do it! If I fail, I fail.’”

“Americans only eat fish fillet. No bone! No skin! No head! No tail! Nothing! So that’s what I had been taught. Only fillet. So, this is what I know. I had opened 609 and one day I thought, ‘Why don’t we do whole fish?’ People said, ‘No, no, no. Nobody will touch that!’ All right. One day I went to [a local restaurant], and it’s all white folks, and they tell me, ‘Our most famous dish is a red snapper.’ I said, ‘OK, let’s order that.’ It came out whole fried red snapper! Everyone was ordering it, loving it, no problem. You go to this restaurant, pay $30 for a whole crispy fish – it’s just salt, pepper that’s it – you think it’s a great dish. The whole fish in an Asian restaurant, people say, ‘Oh, hell no.’ And I bet they would not even pay $15 for it. It drives me nuts. That’s why for Malaysian Week we [had] whole fish. Head, tail, bone, everything. This is how we eat it back home and that’s how it should be.”

“Just cook it the way you want it. I tell the kitchen, don’t worry how people will like it or not like it. If they don’t like it? Fine! Sorry! Pick another one. I’m very proud of them.”

“Even though the plate is nice, it still has the flavor that reminds them of home. The chicken clay pot [at Hiro], the origin is from Taiwan; we cook it Taiwanese style. This is a dish like meatball pasta – everybody makes good meatball pasta, but when you eat it you go, ‘Oh, my mom’s is better.’ One woman ordered it, and I saw she was crying. I asked if she was OK, I thought she maybe burned herself. She said, ‘No, this dish reminds me of my mom.’ Her mom had passed away. She said, ‘We ate this when we were kids, this is exactly what my mom would cook.’”

“You have to trust yourself. You have to believe in your culture. If you believe, you can deliver. If you don’t believe, there’s no point.”

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: October 2017 

• Best of Brunch 2017

• What I Do: Alisha Blackwell-Calvert of Reeds American Table

 

DTWE: 6 rosés for a hot September summer weekend

Friday, September 15th, 2017

St. Louis summers never end in September. What better way to combat 90-degree weekends than with a refreshing rosé? Here, six beloved bottles that cash in at $14 or less.

 

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1. Saint-Reine Traditionnelle Dry Rosé
$13. Total Wine, 90 Brentwood Promenade Court, Brentwood, 314.963.3265, totalwine.com

 

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2. Jacques Pelvas Brut Rosé
$11. The Wine and Cheese Place, 9755 Manchester Road, St. Louis, 314962.8150, wineandcheeseplace.com

 

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3. Charles & Charles Rosé
$13. Dierbergs, 1080 Lindemann Road, St. Louis, 314.238.0400, dierbergs.com

 

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4. Scaia Rosato
$12.50. Parker’s Table, 7118 Oakland Ave., Richmond Heights, 314.645.2050, parkerstable.com

 

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5. Gerhard Markowitsch Zweifelt and Blaufrankich blend Rosé
$14. Parker’s Table, 7118 Oakland Ave., Richmond Heights, 314.645.2050, parkerstable.com

 

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6. Alloy Wine Works Everyday Rosé
$8. Lukas Wine and Spirits, 15678 Manchester Road, Ellisville, 636.227.4543, lukas.store

 

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7. Axel des Vignes Bordeaux Rose
$12. Balaban’s, 1772 Clarkson Road, Chesterfield, 636.449.6700, balabanswine.com

Eat This: Root Vegetable Tagine at Olio

Friday, September 1st, 2017

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We are obsessed with the Root Vegetable Tagine at Olio. Turmeric-scented rice serves as the base for a plethora of root vegetables including rutabaga, parsnips, carrots and turnips. Their varied sweetness is complemented by coriander, cumin, ginger and the exotic flavors of cardamom and orange blossom. A handful of rehydrated cranberries provides a tart, fruity bite to this richly satisfying, aromatic vegetarian dish.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
Eat This: The Classic Breakfast Sandwich at Kitchen Kulture’s The Kart

Eat This: Trout Over Grit Cakes at The Muddled Pig Gastropub

Eat This: Kale-ifornication Salad at Pi Pizzeria

Meals That Changed My Life: Mike Randolph

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

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Chef Mike Randolph has opened a number of restaurants since working at Chicago’s now-shuttered Moto. Starting with The Good Pie in 2008, Randolph went on to open Half & Half, Little Country Gentleman, Medianoche, Randolfi’s and Público. As he gears up to open Half & Half’s second location in Webster Groves this summer, he told us about one meal he ate in 2001 when he was at a professional fork in the road and the late chef Michel Richard changed his life.

 

Citronelle, Washington, D.C. (2001)
“I was finishing school for political science and had just kind of realized I hadn’t done well enough to get the jobs I really wanted. I didn’t want to muddle around at the bottom of the industry, so I started thinking about culinary school. One night [my wife, my parents and I] went to Michel Richard’s Citronelle in D.C. It was in the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, and the restaurant had this beautiful glass-front kitchen. It was the first time I had seen four guys plating one plate of food. And I remember thinking, ‘Look how calm everything is.’ The kitchens I had worked in were like a mad rush, and here’s this place and nobody’s breaking a sweat.

“One of the things that really stuck out to me was that there was a sense of humor in the food. They had the toques, the pressed chef jackets, tweezers, all that … but at the same time they didn’t take themselves too seriously. I remember getting a plate that looked like a sunny side up egg with bacon and toast. I think the toast was marzipan, the bacon was something, the egg was set panna cotta for the whites and a mango for the middle. Now, that dish is the Food Network version of molecular gastronomy, like, ‘You can do this at home in six easy steps!’ But in 2001, it was eye-opening. Here you are at this French institution, and you expect this delicate little financier, and then here comes this cafeteria tray. There was the sense that Michel Richard was having fun with you at the end of your meal.

“This was before Moto and Alinea. Throughout the course of the night, I was just totally blown away that food could be something that I never knew about. It was perfectly seasoned small bites of food, tons of textures – that was Michel Richard’s big thing. Every dish had some crunchy element, some kind of creative textural contrast. It was absolutely my first exposure to any of that, and I think that’s what made me so interested in Moto. At this point in my life, [molecular gastronomy] is something I’ve grown out of – now I just want a perfectly cooked piece of meat with one sauce. But I felt like at that time it was cool to research and delve into what food could be – texturally and flavor-wise. I’ve had a lot of pretty transcendent meals, but that stands alone.”

 

Illustration by Vidhya Nagarajan

Editors’ Note: The print issue of this story incorrectly stated that the new Half & Half location would be in Kirkwood. This piece has been updated with the correct location. 

What I Do: Tyler Davis at Element

Monday, May 1st, 2017

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Tyler Davis is a details man. From crafting beautiful desserts as executive pastry chef at Element, to designing unique menus for weekly Purveyor’s Table pop-up dinners at Brennan’s, to single-handedly managing his online dessert business, Alchemy Artisan Bakery, Davis aims his self-proclaimed Type A tendencies at confections as visually stunning as they are delicious. Here, the busy sweet tooth shared about finding his passion and making it happen.

“Mom’s the strongest person I know. I didn’t have a father figure growing up – Mom was my mom and my dad. I fell into cooking because she couldn’t always be around to cook. When I was 9 or 10 I was like, ‘I don’t want to eat ramen noodles.’ I called her up and said, ‘How do you fry chicken?’ She was like, ‘Don’t burn down the house.’ She taught me over the phone and I made it.”

“She never bought us presents, but she would always ask what we wanted for our birthday meal and for me, that is the biggest way to show your love.”

“I went to school for cello. I wanted to be a classical musician. I love music, but when you start looking at grad school, auditions, and then you start to see the ratio of classical musicians that have jobs versus those that don’t have jobs and how difficult it is in that industry, I knew deep down inside I wasn’t passionate enough about that to take it to the next level.”

“My mind is always going. I like to start with an original thing and then mix and match it. We’ll have desserts on the spring menu like a cool version of an ice cream sandwich. It has taro ice cream with a matcha dacquoise and black sesame powder. It’s not your typical ice cream sandwich.”

“I started to cook on the side for a few friends to make a little extra money in college. … During that time, it was all experimentation, so anytime I would cook for my friends I was like, ‘Hey, I just saw this on Food Network – I want to try it.’ It definitely sparked a fire. That was the time when all the really cool shows came out, like ‘Top Chef.’ I had never seen anything like that – if I’m in college, I’m not going to spend $60 to $70 going out to eat, but when you see stuff on ‘Top Chef’ you’re like, ‘What is that! This is amazing.’ I became a sponge. Anything that had to do with cooking, I was about it. I watched ‘Yan Can Cook.’ I watched anything with Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, Anthony Bourdain, ‘Top Chef’ – Bravo! You couldn’t take me away from Bravo.”

“Alinea was overwhelming. All the courses were phenomenal, but the dessert course stood out – it was a chocolate dish. It had chocolate soil, chocolate rocks, chocolate creme brulee that was a liquid before and they poured it in a ring mold, took [it] off and it was already set and I was like, ‘I don’t even know what’s happening right now!’”

“You can’t be afraid to fail, because it’s going to happen. It’s definitely going to happen. One time I tried to bake – oh my God, it was horrible – this really, really cool pie crust. I wanted it to be cookie crust. I don’t know what I was thinking. … I ended up using baking soda instead of baking powder, and it completely went everywhere and flooded out the oven. But you can’t be afraid to try new things.”

 

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine.

Related Content
Sauce Magazine: May 2017

What I Do: Patrick Olds of Louie’s Wine Dive

The Scoop: Josh Charles leaves Element, heads to Blood & Sand

 

Eat This: Lobster turnovers at Sidney Street Cafe

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

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The Lobster Turnovers at Sidney Street Cafe are a study in richness. Sweet pieces of lobster are wrapped in flaky filo dough, brushed with clarified butter and baked until golden. If that wasn’t enough, they’re finished with a cream sauce infused with San Marzano tomatoes, brandy, tarragon and a hint of chipotle, Tabasco and cayenne for a subtle kick. Class dismissed.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Related Content

James Beard Foundation names Kevin Nashan, Kevin Willmann Best Chef: Midwest finalists 

The Scoop: Kevin Nashan to launch new food program at 4 Hands

The Scoop: Sidney Street Cafe pastry chef Robert Zugmaier nominated for The People’s Best New Pastry Chef by Food & Wine

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