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Sep 20, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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The Scoop

The Scoop: Hydroponic gardening shop opens in Overland

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

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Don and Heather Willman, co-owners of Advanced Garden Supply in Jefferson City, have opened their second shop Sept. 2 at 2126 Woodson Road in Overland. They’re aiming to provide customers with the essentials to grow their own healthy garden with a hydroponic twist.

Hydro-what? The difference is in the soil – or lack thereof. Hydroponic, literally “working water” gardening, utilizes nutrient-packed water to raise crops. These plants grow suspended above nutrient-enhanced water, as their roots grow freely in the liquid underneath. “You get all kinds of weather (in Missouri), from hot and dry, to wet and soggy,” Don Willman said. “When you grow a garden inside on a water-based system, your possibilities are unlimited … Instead of working with soil, water is the main delivery system for getting all the nutrients needed.”

The Willmans, both longtime hydroponic farmers, have grown a variety of vegetation from shiitake mushrooms to banana plants. Advanced Garden Supply sells plant nutrients, LED lighting and other tools necessary to successfully grow hydroponic gardens at home.

Willman chose the St. Louis area after witnessing a growth of hydroponic gardening in the city. “There are all kinds of people getting into it right here in the St. Louis community,” he said, including rooftop gardeners, professional farmers and novice gardeners.

Advanced Gardening Supply is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

 

The Scoop: Former Cuban and Mexican cafe La Tropicana Market sees new life as El Tropical

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

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When the Trabanco family closed doors to its La Tropicana Market last October, St. Louis waved a sad goodbye to the nearly 40-year-old market-cafe at 5001 Lindenwood Ave., that was an institution for Cuban and Mexican food. But La Tropicana is seeing new life with a different name and under new ownership.

Now known as El Tropical, the South City corner eatery is a project by Daime Gomez and Lorena Roble Munoz. “We’re following La Tropicana’s traditions of serving Mexican and Cuban food,” said Munoz in her native Spanish during a break from making fresh tamales. Munoz has ties to the state of Zacatecas in north central Mexico. Gomez, a native of Cuba, has lived in St. Louis for the past four years.

 

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Like its predecessor, El Tropical offers a menu of Cuban and Mexican cuisine patrons can eat at the cafe (including outside on the patio) or carry out. With Munoz as the primary cook, the menu leans heavily Mexican and includes items such as tacos, burritos, fajitas, tamales and empanadas, all featuring a variety of meats like chicken tinga, chorizo, pulled pork and shredded beef. Gomez will lend his hand to Cuban offerings that include Cuban-style empanadas, Cuban sandwiches and yuca herbida (boiled yucca).

While El Tropical does not have a grocery component like La Tropicana did, Munoz and Gomez hope to soon see the refrigerated cases along the walls stocked with some fresh market items, as well as beer and other adult beverages. The approval of a liquor license is pending.

“It’s great. It’s wonderful to know (the space) is going to be occupied, that there will be food, and that we’ll keep the Cuban aspect in the city,” said former owner Luis Trabanco.

Although El Tropical opened quietly Aug. 29, its website and Facebook page have not yet launched. El Tropical is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Those looking to contact the shop can call 314.833.3513.

The Scoop: Blind Tiger in Maplewood to close this week

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

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After almost a year in business, Maplewood’s Blind Tiger will close its doors for good on Thursday, Sept. 18 or Friday, Sept. 19. The closure was first reported by 40 South News.

“It was just a perfect storm, and we had to close,” said owner Mike McLaughlin, citing strategic mistakes and bad luck including a break-in and robbery in late August. Blind Tiger opened in December 2013 at 7376 Manchester Blvd., and featured a wide selection of whiskey and New York-style pizzas.

Blind Tiger chef Jackson Noon will move just down the block to McLaughlin’s other restaurant, The Crow’s Nest, where he will turn his attention to updating its food offerings. McLaughlin said the new menu will “be a more creative take on what we’re already doing. We want to use the best quality stuff we can.” Fans of Blind Tiger’s barrel-aged cocktails can still get their fix at The Crow’s Nest; those drinks will find their way over to that bar, too.

-photo by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Two restaurants heralding breakfast open quietly this summer

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

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{Belgian waffles with berry compote at County Seat Cafe}

Jonesing for a shortstack at 1 p.m. on a Wednesday? Two new restaurants can both sate your craving, whether you’re in St. Louis or across the river in Edwardsville.

County Seat Cafe adds its name to a growing roster of 2014 openings in Edwardsville, a list that includes Brevan’s Patisserie, Doc’s Smokehouse, Stur, Uncle Munkey’s and Cunetto’s, while Gulf Shores and Social Gastropub are slated to open this fall. County Seat Cafe opened quietly July 21 at 316 S. Buchanan in Edwardsville, serving home-style American fare in a spot formerly occupied by a Pizza Hut.

Stefanie Franklin owns the restaurant with her parents, Scott and Belinda Franklin. The family has been in the restaurant industry for years – but on the supply end. Scott Franklin owns Franklin Fixtures, an Edwardsville-based restaurant equipment supplier, where Stefanie Franklin has worked for years. “I have wanted to open a restaurant since I was little, but we’ve always been on the other end of it,” she said.

Head chef Randy Lueker, who previously worked at Peel in Edwardsville, makes approximately 80 percent of the food from scratch, Franklin said. Breakfast staples are served until 2 p.m. daily, including enormous pillow-shaped biscuits, which are topped with a country sausage milk gravy. Other dishes are more whimsical like pineapple upside-down pancakes, which are cooked over roasted, sliced pineapples and maraschino cherries and served with whipped brown sugar-cinnamon butter and drizzled with butter toffee sauce.

Traditional fare like soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, steaks, fish and pasta populate the lunch and dinner menu. Dishes include double hand-dipped fried chicken, a BLT club with basil pesto mayo and a Reuben with corned beef brined, cooked and sliced in-house.

County Seat Cafe seats 72, and pictures of the old Court House in Edwardsville and old pictures of downtown Edwardsville adorn its walls. “We wanted to pay homage to old Edwardsville,” Franklin said. The Restaurants is open from Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m and until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

 

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{Sweet and spicy chipotle wings with cheese fries from Taste Budz Take Out}

 

Meanwhile, in the Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood, Eric Tomlin and chef Jason Dickerson are slinging diner fare fast and furious at Taste Budz Take Out. Tomlin opened Taste Budz in May at 280 DeBaliviere Ave., the former home of The Kitchen Sink.

Dickerson, who used to work with Tomlin at his previous North County spot Best Happy Hour, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in St. Louis. Tomlin aims to give students and other busy individuals in the neighborhood a quick spot for tasty takeout. Dishes like hot sandwiches, chicken wings, salads and fish dinners are all cooked to order 15 minutes or less, Tomlin said, including breakfast anytime. “For some reason, people like to eat breakfast all day,” he said. “It gets hard for everyone working on a budget, and a lot of students don’t work or are on an allowance. I want to give them good food fast.”

About 15 seats seats are available to dine-in. Taste Budz Take Out is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

County Seat Cafe reporting by Greta Weiderman; Taste Budz Take Out reporting by Grace Kennedy. 

 

The Scoop: Sushi House offers Japanese cuisine and karaoke in Chesterfield

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

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You don’t have to sing for your supper at Sushi House in Chesterfield, but you can sing with your supper at the new Japanese restaurant and karaoke bar at 17265 Chesterfield Airport Road. Doors opened at the eatery Aug. 25.

Chef Jin Bae joins his parents and restaurant owners Hyeong and Myong Bae, who previously owned Momoyama, in the family’s new venture. Sushi House offers traditional Japanese cuisine, including a variety of sashimi and sushi rolls, along with a full compliment of rice and noodle dishes like udon, fried rice and grilled teriyaki chicken.

Bae has six years of sushi-making experience at Lumiere Casino’s Asia restaurant and developed the sushi, lunch and dinner menus. “We wanted to satisfy everyone that comes in,” he said. “Some people don’t like sushi. With this menu, everybody can enjoy their own food.” Bae’s favorite item is the Sea of Love Roll which has shrimp tempura, eel, cucumber, avocado, asparagus, tataki tuna, spicy mayo, eel sauce and crunch.

Sushi House offers a wide variety of wines, beers and spirits to accompany its dishes.  More than 10 different sakes are available, each of which can be paired with different types of sushi. For example, Bae said the sushi rolls pair best with a full-flavored sake, while the unfiltered sakes work well with sashimi. The bar also offers 12 draft beers, some of which will rotate seasonally.

The 143-seat restaurant also has five private rooms equipped with karaoke equipment where guests can dine until 10 p.m. and croon late into the night. Sushi House is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight. A grand opening celebration is slated for the end of September.

 

 

The Scoop: Brew Hub to construct second partner brewery in Chesterfield

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

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First we had big breweries. Then we had craft breweries. Now St. Louis prepares for its first brewery dedicated to partner brewing. Enter Brew Hub, which this week announced it will construct a new brewing facility in Chesterfield.

This will be the second such facility for Brew Hub, which opened its first location last weekend, Sept. 5 and 6, in Lakeland, Florida. The company was founded by Tim Schoen, a former Anheuser-Busch executive.

The new Chesterfield location will also serve as Brew Hub’s corporate headquarters as it prepares to expand to other three other states. Construction is slated to begin on the massive facility at the end of this year, and when doors open in early 2016, its initial brewing capacity will register at 75,000 barrels. “The overall master plan has always been to build five breweries strategically located in regional hubs,” Schoen said. “We’re on a mission to build the first high-end craft brewery network that serves … partner brewers.”

Partner brewers use Brew Hub’s facilities to brew their products under the remote supervision of their own brewmasters, as well as bottle, package and distribute their products. Brew Hub will make additional business services available, Schoen explained, including sales, marketing, legal matters and logistics. Partners, who enter three-year contracts with Brew Hub, can range from established craft brewers looking to expand to other markets to home brewers who want to transform their hobby into a business enterprise.

In addition to its central location, Schoen said St. Louis’ passion for craft beer was one deciding factor when looking for Brew Hub’s next location. “(St. Louis has) a great emerging craft beer scene,” he said. “Really, the talent pool on the craft side is outstanding, and on the business services side, we have a lot of really good talent in the market.”

Once completed, the Chesterfield facility will include a 3,000-square-foot tasting room and Biergarten, where the public can sip beers currently produced at Brew Hub. The brewery will also offer tours, and Schoen said food will not be forgotten. “Food pairings with beer are really essential and something that consumers want,” she said. “As we look at a St. Louis brewery, we’re going to be looking at … what that might look like. There will be a unique (community-based) food option.”

 

 

The Scoop: Sia’s Italian Ice to expand kitchen, add retail space

Monday, September 8th, 2014

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Sia’s Italian Ice, a food truck known for its from-scratch frozen desserts since it first gassed up in April 2013, is expanding. Owner Barth Halohan said the operation will continue its food truck rounds but is upgrading its prep kitchen in Des Peres to a larger space and adding public seating and a retail counter.

“Our food truck’s been doing really well, and more and more people have requested our product,” Halohan said. “We want to give space for people to see Italian ice the way it should be made.”

Previously, the staff prepared the frozen desserts in a cramped, 200-square-foot shared kitchen space before loading them onto the truck. Though Sia’s desserts have been stocked in stores widely throughout the area, Halohan said customers have long clamored for a brick-and-mortar location.

The expanded space at 12878 Manchester Road is now a whopping 1,500 square feet. The open concept kitchen will offer 18 seats and a counter where the public can watch Italian ice being made. Patrons may also purchase their favorite treat on site or prepackaged in pint, quart and half-gallon sizes. The company plans to test new flavors with visiting customers using a voting system.

Halohan anticipates opening the new digs in late September. He added that regular hours haven’t been instituted just yet, but from the start the kitchen space will be open at least one to two days a week for eager fans to gather.

 

The Scoop: The Market at The Cheshire to close Sunday, Sept. 7

Friday, September 5th, 2014

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It’s the last weekend for breakfast sandwich fans to grab-and-go at The Market at The Cheshire; the restaurant’s last day for business is this Sunday, Sept. 7.

The Market, which originally opened in March 2013, will be replaced by a Starbucks in mid- to late-November, said Steve O’Loughlin, president of Lodging Hospitality Mangement. When The Restaurant at The Cheshire began serving lunch earlier this year, O’Loughlin said the two establishments were competing with each other for business.

“We want to narrow that focus,” he said. “The Starbucks will be a morning focus, The Restaurant will be lunch focus, and Basso will be night focus. We’re trying to create something where we don’t have redundancy.”

But The Market fans need not fear losing their favorite lunchtime treats; chef Rex Hale will continue to serve The Market’s entire menu of fresh salads and sandwiches at The Restaurant during lunch for dine-in or carry-out.

Georgia Kaye contributed to this report.

The Scoop: Yacovelli family to exit the restaurant business after 95 years

Friday, September 5th, 2014

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After nearly a century in business, doors are set to close at Florissant dining institution, Yacovelli’s Restaurant and Catering. Third-generation owners Jack and Jan Yacovelli announced today, Sept. 5, that they will retire at the end of this year and are shutting down the restaurant. “They’ve been doing this for almost six decades,” said their son and Yacovelli’s general manager Joe Yacovelli, who added that the couple looked forward to spending time with their soon-to-be 10 grandchildren.

John Yacovelli founded the restaurant in 1919 after immigrating to the U.S. from Italy. The family has operated the business in the St. Louis area ever since, including its current location at 407 Dunn Road in North County. The restaurant has been the site of many family celebrations over the decades. “Our legacy is all the people who have been married between these walls, birthday parties, anniversaries (and) dinners,” Joe Yacovelli said.

Before doors close for good at a New Year’s Eve party Dec. 31, Yacovelli’s will host a number of special events for loyal customers, including a Last Chance/Last Dance final hurrah party on Dec. 27, a food drive and 95 days of daily specials.

 

 

 

The Scoop: Bar and restaurant manager Cory Cuff to leave Cielo for Houston

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

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{Orange shrub by Cory Cuff}

 

Cocktail aficionados in the Lone Star State will soon have new talent shaking up its cocktail scene: Cielo bar and restaurant manager Cory Cuff has accepted a position as the operations manager at Four Seasons Hotel Houston. His last day at Cielo is Sept. 26. “It’s an amazing opportunity,” he said. “I’ll miss all the friends I’ve made in St. Louis, but I’m happy that Houston is the next step.”

Cuff, who joined the Four Seasons – St. Louis team in May 2011, said his new responsibilities will involve coordinating the hotel’s culinary and beverage services, like banquets, room service, poolside dining and more. He also looks forward to taking Houston’s bar program to the next level. “I can’t wait to drive that home like I did for Cielo, to build on what I’ve learned here and grow it in a new market,” he said.

While he’s excited for the next step in his career, Cuff said he will miss the rising St. Louis culinary scene. “This city is on the upward swing with food and beverage, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like in five years,” he said. “Not just Cielo, but everything from amazing talents of Ted and Jamie Kilgore (of Planter’s House) to Kevin Nashan (of Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.) and Gerard Craft (of Niche Restaurant Group) and the next generation as well.”

This is the second change-up among Cielo’s staff this year. Chef Gian Nicola Colucci took the kitchen’s helm in April after Fabrizio Schenardi left for a position at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World. Cuff and the Four Seasons – St. Louis staff are currently reviewing candidates to fill his position here.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

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