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  SAUCE MAGAZINE
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Jul 25, 2014
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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: Bocci Wine Bar

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Former Italian restaurant Bocci at 16 N. Central Ave., in Clayton recently underwent a space and menu renovation to become Bocci Wine Bar. As The Scoop reported in April, Bocci Wine Bar’s new focus is wine and small plate, wine-friendly fare.

Among the changes at the reinvented spot, Bocci Wine Bar is now one of a handful of St. Louis restaurants to offer wine on tap from stainless steel barrels. “White wine is stored in its own compartment kept at 40 degrees and red wines at 54 degrees,” said owner Frank Schmitz, who also owns Barcelona Tapas and Coastal Bistro in Clayton. Two-ounce wine flights are also available for those interested in tasting and comparing a larger selection.

Executive chef Neil Alkobri’s menu is organized simply by farm, land and sea and is loosely based on the flavors of the Mediterranean. The regular menu is also accompanied by wine and food from a different region of the world each month. May recently featured Argentina; signature wines from the region were paired with ceviche, quinoa cakes, beef empanadas and churrasco. June focuses on French wine and cuisine.

While menu items feature locally sourced ingredients, it doesn’t get much more local than Thursday evenings, when diners can bring items purchased at the Clayton Farmers Market and hand them over to Alkobri, who will return a market-inspired dish to the table. A recent visit yielded a just-picked vegetable flatbread with zucchini, summer squash, asparagus and radishes, while another diner feasted on Naked Bacon-wrapped scallops.

Some elements remain untouched, like Bocci’s fabulous bi-fold window wall on Central Avenue that opens to seamlessly blend the restaurant and patio areas. It’s an ideal spot for a glass of wine on a beautiful day.

The restaurant is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. Here’s a look at what to expect at the new Bocci Wine Bar:

 

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First Look: Death in the Afternoon

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Like the expat loungers of Hemingway’s Pamplona, the midday clientele at Death in the Afternoon, located at the corner of Citygarden at 808 Chestnut St., might well start losing themselves in carefree lunch rendezvous. Co-owners Adam Frager and TJ Vytlacil, who also own members-only downtown spot Blood & Sand, have been hard at work, and devotees have noticed: Though its official opening took place today, June 9, Death in the Afternoon was serving lunch to crowds (many of them Blood & Sand members), as early as last Thursday, June 5. Yet unlike its exclusive older sibling, Death in the Afternoon is open to the public Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Executive chef Nick Martinkovic, who joined Blood & Sand in January, is putting the finishing touches on the menu of soups, sandwiches and salads with Japanese and Mediterranean flair. Some entrees, like pork ramen and falafel, are still being tweaked in the kitchen but will roll out in the first month.

The somewhat inchoate bar program is still being set up, too, though 10 draft beers and six wines by the glass are expected to be available this week. Brewers Mike Sinclair and Chris Gaglio will operate Upper 90 Brewing Company in the restaurant’s basement prep area, a separate venture that will brew small batches for Death in the Afternoon. No cocktail menu is planned, though spirits are available behind the bar.

Blood & Sand members may still be surprised at Death in the Afternoon’s adjusted concept – sleek, uncloistered, nonexclusive and, for now, staunchly devoted to lunch (though brunch service is on the horizon). The name, borrowed from an early title of Hemingway’s and, later, a cocktail he invented, actually is inspired by the vistas from the dining room floor. Frager said Citygarden’s foliage, on full display through the floor-to-ceiling glass, reminded him of the gardens at Papa H’s Key West, Florida, estate – not to mention the duo’s first venture was named for a cocktail, too.

Here’s a first look at what you’ll find downtown at Death in the Afternoon:

 

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-photos by Garrett Faulkner

First Look: Grand Hall and Grand Hall Market at Union Station

Monday, May 12th, 2014

St. Louisans cheered in 1985 when Union Station, once a bustling passenger rail terminal, was restored and redeveloped as a mixed-use project that included shopping, dining, lodging and entertainment. The historic landmark is seeing new life yet again with the $30 million renovation by Lodging Hospitality Management, which purchased Union Station in 2012. Grand Hall and Grand Hall Market were revealed to the public Saturday, May 10, marking the completion of the first phase of renovation.

Housed under a soaring 65-foot ceiling, the sweeping Grand Hall features a 70-foot, 22-seat bar and lounge where patrons can enjoy beer, wine and cocktails, and small plates. Grand Hall Market includes a Starbucks, gift shop and model train display.

The Midway at Union Station is already complete, and 30,000 square feet of event space now hold court where shops formerly sat. Phase two of the project will include renovation to guest rooms at St. Louis Union Station Hotel. Other plans include updates to meeting rooms, the hotel restaurant and the hotel’s front desk. St. Louis Union Station is currently open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Here’s what’s in store at one of St. Louis’ most treasured landmarks:

 

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First Look: Sweetology

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Need a sugar rush? Sweetology will help you get your fix. The new entertainment retail concept focuses on a hands-on baked goods decorating experience, as The Scoop reported in January. Sweetology opened doors April 29 at 9214 Clayton Road in Ladue, in the space previously occupied by the Women’s Exchange of St. Louis.

In addition to decorating a cake, cupcake or baked good (sourced from The Cup), patrons can relax in a small lounge area called The Drinkery with a beverage and a sweet bite or two. “Our brand is somewhere between sprinkles and chocolate martinis,” said co-owner Kara Newmark. Sweetology also sells bulk candy and grab-and-go decorated cupcakes, cakes, cookies and cake-related gifts.

The decorating experience is available on a drop-in basis or by reservation. Seating for 32 is available in the workshop area. A private space upstairs is also available for parties. Here, a first look at Sweetology:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

First Look: Art Bar St. Louis

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Doors recently opened at Art Bar St. Louis on April 25, revealing a creative, colorful space brimming with local artistic touches at 2732 Cherokee St. Co-owners Tom Halaska and Tatyana Telnikova told The Scoop in January they wanted to create a bar that embraced all kinds of art – visual, performance, musical and more. Already, local artists cover the walls with two large murals and about a dozen paintings for sale.

A 54-foot-long bar dominates the space, offering seats for 20 to 25 patrons. Halaska said Art Bar St. Louis currently does not have a drink list, as he wants the customers’ orders and the bartenders’ creativity to determine the menu. However, this doesn’t mean options are limited. The bar is well stocked with a growing selection of 15 wines by the glass, five local draft beers, several bottled brews, and plenty of spirits to go around. The Art Bar crew is also creating its own house simple syrups, like Serrano mint, lavender and beet.

Those feeling peckish can select from a daily menu of charcuterie, cheese and house-made pickles to create a board of their choice. Or order up a paper cone of freshly popped popcorn seasoned with the flavor of the day, from orange chipotle to tequila lime. Art Bar St. Louis will soon serve up their own pierogis, prepped at HandleBar (Telikova’s other restaurant), and Halaska said there are plans to build a kitchen and eventually serve a full menu.

Hours are Monday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Here, a look at what to expect at Art Bar St. Louis:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Three Reasons to stop in for sipping at the new 3500 Winehaus

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

100710_3500WinehausWelcome to Three Reasons, a new online column that tells you exactly why to visit certain spots around town. We won’t just tell you that a new restaurant has opened, we’ll tell you what dish we’d get there. We won’t simply report that a festival is happening this weekend, we’ll tell you which parts can’t be missed. Consider them recommendations or think of them as simple suggestions. Either way, here’s three reasons …

The grand opening celebration at 3500 Winehaus is Oct. 8 and 9, and owners John and Marci Kuehner have given customers at their wine bar and retail shop at 3500 Watson Road a handful of reasons to stop by. Here’s what we like:

1. If you don’t feel like ordering a bottle from the selection of 82 wines, you’re bound to find something on the by-the-glass menu that features 12 reds, 12 whites and two sparkling wines from around the globe.

2. The Kuehners support the city by purchasing salami, coppa and mortadella from establishments on The Hill, and Turkish bread dips (think baba ganoush, hummus and that roasted red pepper pleaser, biber ezme) from Aya Sofia. The wine bar doesn’t have a kitchen for making their apps and the Kuehners could be grabbing prepped food from, say, Sam’s. We’re glad they didn’t.

3. A plan for all seasons. The interior is tastefully decorated but when you need a breath of fresh air, the covered patio in front will be a respite. As the weather cools, they will be adding side flaps to ward off the chill and opening a back patio with a fire pit. In January, renovation of the basement commences. Upon completion, the room will service wine tastings and private dinner parties.

The Scoop: Oh Lolli Lolli brings sugar high to Clayton

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

081910_OhLolliLolliKids in the De Mun area of Clayton are all smiles thanks to the sweet arrival of candy shop Oh Lolli Lolli. Located at 802 De Mun Ave., the itsy bitsy store sells a wide selection of bulk and wrapped candies from the well-loved to the well-missed.

In the chocolate category, customers will find rocky road clusters, coconut haystacks and turtles, plus lots of chocolate- and yogurt-covered items like gummy bears, cherries and caramel corn. Oh Lolli Lolli sells 12 flavors of gummy bears, and other gummy delights shaped as butterflies, jet planes and army men. Lollipops too? Of course.

“We’re trying to get a little bit of everything into our tiny spot,” said co-owner Kathy Laufketter. She and her husband had wanted to open a candy shop for some time and eyed the space on De Mun Avenue after recently moving into the neighborhood.

Adults will appreciate Oh Lolli Lolli’s stock of nostalgic candy including marshmallow cones, flying saucers, Mary Janes, Turkish taffy and candy buttons, and obscure candy bars like Toffifays, Mallo Cups and Zagnuts.

Oh Lolli Lolli also takes suggestions, so don’t be shy about asking if you don’t see your fave sweet on the shelf. “A customer wanted milk chocolate sponge candy, so we ordered it. That just came in yesterday,” said Laufketter.

The store is open Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. If you want to stay in-the-know about what’s in stock, check out their Facebook page, where they will post all the latest arrivals.

Sneak a peek at Monarch’s new menu

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

072310_monarchHabitués of Maplewood’s Monarch are dying to know what the new dishes will taste like and what the new atmosphere will feel like when the popular bistro reopens with a Southern-inspired menu and ambiance this summer.

Well wait no longer. The National Children’s Cancer Society is hosting a sneak-peek fundraiser at Monarch on Saturday, July 31, that will satisfy the curious and benefit the charity.

The party will show off the new, more casual portion of the elegant restaurant. Monarch executive chef Josh Galliano, a New Orleans native, took a team of employees to his hometown for what must have been some tasty R&D sessions to plan the new menu. Look for a raw bar, crawfish étouffée, shrimp and grits, po’ boys, cocktails and live jazz on two stages.

You can preview the regional specialties at the benefit by reserving a spot at 314-446-5227, or clicking here.

The Scoop: Café Ventana adds French quarters

Monday, July 19th, 2010

071910_ventanaAnyone who’s been to weekend jazz brunches at Café Ventana lately knows that finding a seat at this hotspot can be a bit of a challenge. “It’s a madhouse and students aren’t even here right now,” said Amy Cox, marketing director for the Midtown locale. The solution? Add some French quarters.

The Café Ventana annex is located on West Pine in the building to the immediate west of the restaurant. The 1,800-square-foot first floor has been renovated and transformed into a multifunctional space that can serve as spillover for 100 diners or for private events. There are two meeting rooms at the front of the building, while the remainder of the space is open, with comfortable sofas, chairs and tables that are sure to entice a fair share of SLU study groups.

The décor at the annex retains Café Ventana’s Frenchy NOLA feel. Most notably, huge reclaimed stained glass church windows have been mounted on walls throughout the lounge area and are touched with lighting for full effect.

Cool décor, elbow room to enjoy great food – some of it grown in the garden out front – by Katie Case from a menu designed by the talented Chris Lee. Is it any wonder that Café Ventana has already begun lining up reservations for events at this new space?

The venue will open the end of this month and will follow Café Ventana’s hours of operation: Sundays through Wednesdays from 6:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., and until midnight Thursdays through Saturdays. Enter the annex from the breezeway between Café Ventana and the annex, or through the rear deck that adjoins Ventana’s outdoor dining area.

Have scoop on restaurants opening, closing or changing their menu in the St. Louis area? Email us at Scoop@saucemagazine.com..

Liederkranz cheese returns – and St. Louis has it

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

062310_Wine&CheeseLiederkranz, a famed American cheese out of production since 1985, has just returned to the market in limited quantities, and The Wine and Cheese Place plans to stock it.

“We are expecting Liederkranz on Thursday, keeping our fingers crossed,” Paul Hayden, manager at the Clayton shop, notified us by e-mail today. “I cannot wait to taste it myself. I have been at The Wine and Cheese Place for 23 years, and production of Liederkranz stopped two years before I started.”

Earlier this year, DCI Cheese Co. of Richfield, Wisc., began to reintroduce Liederkranz to the market in specialty retailers across the Midwest. Hayden described it as “an American re-creation of Limburger cheese, made subtly different by the use of a different bacterial culture for ripening – cow’s-milk cheese, with an edible pale yellow-orange tan crust and a semisoft, pale interior with a mildly pungent flavor and distinct aroma”

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