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May 27, 2015
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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First look

First Look: Elijah P’s in Alton

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

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Alton is experiencing something of a foodie renaissance of late, with recent openings that include the massive Old Bakery Beer Co., the petite Spoon Baking Co., and the rockin’ bar-music venue Shakers. Now a new restaurant has entered the downtown scene: Elijah P’s quietly opened doors at the end of April, serving up creative burgers, hearty appetizers and plenty of suds.

As The Scoop reported in March, owner Russ Smith named the restaurant, located at 401 Piasa St., for Elijah P. Lovejoy, the Alton newspaper editor and abolitionist murdered by a pro-slavery mob in 1837. The name is just one nod to the river town’s past. The walls of the 8,000-square-foot eatery are decked with framed maps and prints extolling attractions and historical events from the 19th and early-20th centuries, and even the 17-seat bar was restored from a 1930s riverboat.

Smith, who co-owns Alton nightspot Bossanova, completely renovated a former furniture store, dividing the space into a 100-seat dining room, a private 70-person party room and a gaming room that will soon see video poker machines. Outside, a full 2 acres sees a 100-seat pavilion and ample parking.

Bossanova chef Jarvis Putnam also helms the Elijah P’s kitchen, creating a menu of familiar dishes with creative twists like house-made toasted ravioli breaded with crushed walnuts and pine nuts and served with a tomato-vodka sauce. Ten burgers are offered, all served on buttered house-made buns.

Sixty tap handles and 70 whiskey bottles gleam behind the bar. Two house cicerones have curated a wide selection of draft and bottled brews. Local heavy hitters like Civil Life and Urban Chestnut pour alongside local nanobreweries, such as Alton’s Templar and Scratch Brewing from Ava, Illinois.

Elijah P’s is currently open from 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, and until 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Here’s a first look at what to expect at Alton’s newest restaurant:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

First Look: Shakers

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

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From the outside, the building at 554 E. Broadway in Alton doesn’t look like much. But follow your ears – and your nose – inside, where local bands keep Shakers rocking all night long. Married co-owners Paul and Lisa Light quietly opened their new bar on weekends in March, and they are now open for regular business Tuesday through Sunday.

The Lights have long been a fixture in the local music scene; Paul Light operated bar and music venue The Lighthouse in Alton for 15 years. The two decided to create a space where their passion for music and the arts would also provide a venue for Lisa Light’s daughter, chef Lauren Everhart Washburn, to showcase her culinary abilities.

Three performance spaces are spread through the two-story, 4,000-square-foot space. Two smaller stages frame the entrance, and customers can stroll to the back of the building where a new, much larger stage is nearly completed. Order a bottle of beer at the bar, then grab one of 80 seats downstairs and settle in for the night’s entertainment, or head up the large metal staircase to the bright, airy second floor and watch the sunset over the Mississippi River.

Washburn serves up a different kind of pub grub; deep-fried fare is eschewed in favor of made-to-order paninis, wraps and house-made flatbreads. Weekends see additional items like baked jalapenos stuffed with apple, cream cheese and bacon, as well as a rotating selection of stuffed mushrooms and fresh salsa and chips.

Shakers is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Here, a first look at one of Alton’s newest nightspots:

 

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Editor’s Note: This post originally located Shakers at 544 E. Broadway St. It has been updated to correct the error. 

-photos by Michelle Volansky 

First Look: Kingside Diner

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

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Kingside Diner, a new restaurant from Herbie’s Vintage ’72 owner Aaron Teitelbaum, is now open in the Central West End. Located in the former Lester’s space at 4651 Maryland Ave., adjacent to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, Kingside serves breakfast all day, plus burgers, hot and cold sandwiches, salads and blue-plate specials.

Kingside looks to offer a modern take on classic diner fare, and most items ring up around $10. Many ingredients are made in-house, and dishes sport creative twists, such as French toast turned into a waffle or the massive Thanksgiving All Year sandwich, which piles quintessential Thanksgiving turkey and all the fixin’s between slices of bread. Such ideas are the work of Chris Vomund, promoted this week to executive chef for both Kingside and Herbie’s. (Vomund was executive chef at the now defunct The Nest, and briefly worked at Eleven Eleven Mississippi before joining Teitelbaum at Herbie’s.)

Beverage offerings include coffee and espresso-based drinks featuring Wild Horse Creek coffee, a specialty brand from local roaster Ronnoco. Once the restaurant’s liquor license is approved, it will also offer a full bar, and late May will see the launch of a dessert menu with a full range of shakes and floats.

The decor at Kingside stays true to the diner’s name with photos of chess matches adorning the walls of the 90-seat main dining area. Vintage travel chess sets sit on display near a stairwell that leads to a second floor patio with an additional 30 seats. Kingside has also partnered with its neighbor, the St. Louis Chess Club, which will offer occasional classes in one of the restaurant private dining rooms.

Here’s a first look at what to expect when you eat at Kingside Diner.

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

First Look: 99 Hops House

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

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There’s no mistaking the theme at 99 Hops House inside Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights. The beer-centric sports bar, which officially opened April 6, offers around 100 different brews, including prominently featured local craft options. O’Fallon Brewing created the signature house brew, the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This amber-colored, easy drinking glass of suds pairs with many menu items and drinks well on its own.

Not only is the list long, but many of the beers also feature in dishes themselves. Beers from Schlafly, Urban Chestnut, 4 Hands and O’Fallon  join other microbrews from across the country in the menu’s many sauces and condiments.

The menu offers generous portions of barbecue classics, as well as suggested beer pairings for each appetizer, soup, sandwich and entree. The Loaded Burger comes on a roll and is indeed loaded up with sauteed onions, mushrooms and a Hollywood Ale aioli. With a nod to St. Louis barbecue, 99 Hops House boasts a pork steak weighing in at least one pound and comes with your choice of crispy waffle, seasoned or sweet potatoes fries and a creamy coleslaw spiked with Woodchuck Cider.

Here’s a look at what else you’ll find at Hollywood Casino’s newest eatery:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

First Look: Vincent Van Doughnut in Clayton

Monday, March 16th, 2015

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Doughnut shop-on-wheels Vincent Van Doughnut opened doors at its Clayton storefront at 40 N. Central Ave., Saturday, March 14. Co-owner Vincent Marsden said the new shop will carry a dozen rotating options each day, including customer favorites like the chocolate-salted caramel, cheesecake cookie crumble and maple bacon doughnuts, as well as new offerings like a maple-bacon cinnamon roll.

Keep an eye out for specials like Doughzle Holes‚ doughnut dough prepared like pretzels and finished with crunchy salt. Dip these pop-able hybrids in that day’s sauce, like a Schlafly black lager-caramel option. Marsden said springtime seasonal doughnuts will include flavors like lemon-lavender, peaches and cream, and Biscoff-Bismarck doughnuts, too.

The small shop welcomes customers with warm wooden floors, exposed brick walls and the sweet smell of fresh fried pastry. Seating is limited with just three two-tops and a small three-seat bar, as well as a small standing bar. Nosh on your choice of the day’s dozen options over a cup of Community Coffee, milk, soda or juice. Vincent Van Doughnut is open Tuesday to Sunday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

 

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-photos by Meera Nagarajan

First Look: Lucky Buddha

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

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The former home of Jefferson Avenue Bistro is seeing new life as Lucky Buddha, which opened doors in late February. Since The Scoop reported its pending opening in January, the Asian restaurant at 3701 Jefferson Ave., underwent a name change, switching from a hungry Buddha to a lucky one.

Chef René Cruz’s menu of Asian-inspired comfort food draws from Japanese, Thai, Korean and Chinese cuisines, to name a few. The lineup features several vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, and carnivorous diners certainly won’t go wanting, either. A generous list of appetizers includes three spring roll options, gyoza, spicy fried chicken wings and a selection yakitori skewers. Look for three house-made dipping sauces, like a soy packing deep umami flavor, thick peanut sauce with hidden heat and a light tamari-mint sauce.

Five fresh salads offer variety in texture, temperature and crunch with ingredients like green papaya, mung beans, pressed tofu, radish, shiso leaf, cabbage, cashews, peanuts and deceptively hot chile threads.

Entrees are divided between large bahn mi sandwiches, pillowy steam buns and large noodle bowls. All are customizable; choose from fillings like sake-braised shitake mushrooms, chicken coated in house-made kimchi, beef tendon, char sui pork or pressed tofu. Noodle bowls feature rice noodles, mung bean noodles or udon with traditional pho or vegan broth.

Asian-inspired desserts include five sorbets with flaky texture akin to Italian ice in flavors like lychee, ginger-lime and chile mango. A creme brulee holds flavors of five-spice powder, while a lemon grass and basil seed cake is served with lemon grass ice cream.

The 80-seat dining room features vibrant blue walls decorated with Dragon Ball Z and other anime and film decals. Another 20 seats are available on a front patio, but it’s the large back patio that general manager and bar manager Naomi Roquet said will be the real outdoor draw when it’s ready in a few days. Nearly 80 seats and a separate bar will let guests enjoy dining al fresco while playing cornhole and washers.

While guests wait for their chance to toss a few washers, they can sip one of five house cocktails, a carafe of sake, Japanese whiskey, soju or shochu. If Asian spirits aren’t up your alley, opt for one of six local beers on draft or a bottle of the conveniently named Chinese lager, Lucky Buddha, as well 11 other beer options. Wine by the glass is also available.

Lucky Buddha is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

First Look: Chi Sushi in the Central West End

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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Things have been quiet for the last eight months at Chi Sushi & Sake in the Central West End. During that time, owner Jay Yoon sold the sushi lounge at 4 N. Euclid Ave., to his brother, Jae Hoon Yoon. Now, the restaurant has re-opened with an abbreviated name, Chi Sushi, and an expanded menu.

While Chi Sushi & Sake leaned toward the lounge scene, Chi Sushi posits itself as a full restaurant. Chef Whitney Yoon, wife of Jae Hoon Yoon, worked at Nippon Tei in Ballwin for 15 years before bringing her skills to the Central West End eatery.

The menu, previously a slate of sashimi, nigiri, maki and specialty rolls, now includes hot and cold appetizers and entrees. You’ll find a number of starters and small plates like tako yaki (crispy octopus balls) and kaki furai (fried oysters). Larger plates such as chicken teriyaki, grilled salmon and tofu-vegetable tempura are served in a bento box with miso soup, a house salad and rice.

The sushi bar has expanded its offerings as well. Look for more exotic fish and seafood, from giant clams to uni. More rolls have been added, including a number that feature crispy tempura thanks to the addition of a fryer in the kitchen.

Here’s a first look at the new Chi Sushi:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

First Look: Zydeco Blues

Friday, December 5th, 2014

If you’ve been gasping for New Orleans cuisine in West County, drink deep at the new oasis at 1090 Old Des Peres Road in Des Peres. Zydeco Blues, which tapped former 1111 Mississippi executive chef Wade Waller and sous chef Ian Martin to skipper its kitchen, opened the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, boasting a menu rife with New Orleans and Cajun standbys.

Savory, hush puppy-like beignets served with honey butter welcome guests to their tables and make for fine finger food while perusing the selection of Big Easy standards like etouffee, po’boys, red beans and rice, jambalaya and others. Soups, salads and whimsical starters, like the Asian-inspired crawfish potstickers, also make an appearance. Six house-made desserts are available, including sweet beignets with raspberry dipping sauce and creme brulee laid over with bananas Foster.

At the bar, look for eight draft beers (including several local offering), 14 wines by the glass and more by the bottle, and a selection of NOLA beverages, including bottled Abita beer and house-made hurricanes. All of it’s served behind a gargantuan reclaimed wooden bar from the late 19th century, the top newly resurfaced with gleaming copper.

At the moment, much of the decor is in progress while owner Ron Gordon select artwork for the walls, but expect more Big Easy than Mardi Gras, Gordon said. He is opting for an aesthetic that honors New Orleans’ musical roots – indeed, on Friday and Saturday evenings the dining room will host live blues, rock and other music (presumably zydeco, at least once).

Zydeco Blues is open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

First Look: Grapeseed

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

In February, The Scoop reported that chef Ben Anderson would open a restaurant at 5400 Nottingham Ave., in the South Hampton neighborhood. After months of renovation, the wait is over. Grapeseed quietly opened Friday, Sept. 19.

The menu is divided into snacks, small plates, sandwiches and entrees. The restaurant sources from numerous local purveyors, including meat from Rain Crow Ranch and Todd Geisert Farms, produce from Double Star Farms and breads from Companion and La Bonne Bouche.

Wine figures heavily in the beverage program. Patrons will find nearly 50 wines – 16 by the glass – on the menu. Craft beer enthusiasts can select from six local brews on tap; another 16 are available in bottled format. The cocktail menu holds nine drinks, including Todd’s Famous Sangria, created by bar manager Todd Brutcher. Brutcher keeps his sangria seasonal; the current offering is bursting with apple flavors, while butternut squash will make an appearance in the weeks ahead.

The remodeled interior features woodwork by local green-builder Mwanzi. The majority of the wood used for tables, banquettes and accent pieces, hails from the restaurant’s own space, including stairs repurposed into tabletops. Grapeseed also offers patio seating both near the front entrance and on a secluded back patio. Open Tuesday through Sunday, Grapeseed currently offers dinner; lunch service is anticipated in the near future.

 

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-photos by Meera Nagarajan

First Look: Butchery

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Carnivores, prepare your grills and break out your roasting pans. Full-service butcher shop and food emporium Butchery has opened its doors. In June, Truffles announced it would add the meat market next door to the restaurant at 9202 Clayton Road in Ladue. Since quietly unlocking doors in late August, Butchery has seen a steady flow of patrons hungry for everything from house-made sausages to premium cuts of beef.

Truffles executive chef Brandon Benack directs operations at Butchery, while meat geek Andrew Jennrich helms the chopping block. Together, they’ve created a unique shop. “Few people in St. Louis are dealing with whole animals,” said Jennrich, noting that Butchery can provide hard-to-find cuts like tomahawk steaks and secreto, a little-know piece near the pork belly, all typically not available at other butcher shops.

While beef, pork, lamb and chicken are sourced from highly regarded local and regional farms, Butchery also makes numerous meat products in-house. It boasts a state-of-the-art aging room for curing charcuterie and offers prepared and ready-to-cook items like sausages, beef patties and pork potpies. Butchery even renders animal fat and sells it in 8-ounce containers. “We’re selling flavor,” Benack said. The Butchery will even marinate your cut for free using the Cryovac machine at Truffles to vacuum-seal it.

Apart from all the meaty goodness, patrons will find local cheeses, myriad house-made condiments, grab-and-go sides, a sandwich menu, a selection of boutique pantry perks and wines that hail from Truffles’ award-winning wine list.

The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here’s a look at what’s happening at Butchery:

 

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-photos by Meera Nagarajan

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