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Sep 02, 2014
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The Scoop

The Scoop: Kitchen House Coffee to open in Tower Grove East

Friday, August 29th, 2014



The neighborhood coffee shop may be the penultimate community establishment, and on Sept. 15, Tower Grove East and Compton Heights residents will be able to stroll to Kitchen House Coffee, a new coffee shop owned by Tower Grove residents Paul Whitsitt and David Rodgers.

Inspired by their personal urban farm on Michigan Avenue and a desire for a coffee shop within walking distance, Whitsitt and Rodgers set out to open a coffee shop that is a community destination. Their new spot at 3149 Shenandoah Ave., aims to provide a quiet country oasis in an urban setting. “I was looking for an opporutnity to extend what I was doing at the farm,” Whitsitt said, adding that as the business grows, he hopes to sell some fresh produce and farm-fresh eggs at Kitchen House Coffee.

The shop will serve Blueprint and Stringbean coffees in both drip and pour-over styles, as well as cold brewed. An espresso bar will also provide customers with lattes, mochas, cappuccinos and more. Whitsitt and Rodgers will also offer a juice bar, featuring fresh-squeezed juices in healthy-sounding concoctions like the Emerald City with kale, apple, cucumber, celery and lemon juices.

The breakfast and lunch crowds can enjoy pastries from local bakery Whisk, as well as farm bowls filled with everything from crunchy granola with yogurt to a vegetarian pasta salad delivered twice weekly by chef Dennis Rodgers of World Class Catering.

Tables made from repurposed wood will accommodate up to 25 customers inside, or customers can enjoy their food and drink outside on a 15-seat patio. Given Whitsitt and Rodgers’ enthusiasm for their urban farm (also called Kitchen House Farm), the coffee shop décor will reflect a homey warmth with pieces of farm life scattered throughout, including a chicken coop out back.

Kitchen House Coffee will operate Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.



The Scoop: YoFresh Yogurt Café to open in Fenton

Thursday, August 28th, 2014


I scream, you scream, we all scream …  for yogurt? That will soon be the case in Fenton, when DIY YoFresh Yogurt Café is set to open later next week, around Sept. 3 or 4, and with another way to stay cool during these waning days of summer. The store will be located at 699 Gravois Bluffs Blvd., in Fenton just east of Highway 141.

Franchise owner Zafar Langrial is a longtime resident of Chesterfield and said the Gravois Bluffs location previously housed an ice cream shop. Soon, instead of a scoop of ice cream, customers can enjoy soft serve frozen yogurt and toppings.

YoFresh Yogurt Café is a Boston-based national franchise with more than 25 locations in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Langrial’s shop will be the first YoFresh Yogurt Café franchise location in Missouri. “We are very excited to join this great community and promise to offer a fun atmosphere that is sure to please everyone’s taste buds,” Langrial said. “Our store appeals to anyone of any age seeking a healthy, sweet organic food at any time of day.”

YoFresh customers pay by the ounce after filling their cups with a variety of organic, kosher flavored yogurts including nonfat temptations like New York cheesecake, pistachio, Georgia peach and more. Tart options will include classic plain, blueberry acai, pom raspberry and pink grapefruit. Flavors with no sugar added will range from vanilla to praline to cheesecake. Flavor availability will vary, and most offerings will be gluten-free. Customers can then top their selection with more than 40 rotating choices including cereal, nuts, candy and organic fruits.

YoFresh Yogurt Café will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m.



The Scoop: Morgan Street Brewery up for sale

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014



The owners of Morgan Street Brewery, a fixture on the historic, rambunctious Laclede’s Landing downtown, have put their craft beer operation on the market, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Co-owner Steve Owings, who founded the brewery at 721 N. Second St., with Dennis Harper in 1995, was blunt when explaining his reason for selling. “(I’m) looking at retirement. I’m old,” he said. “Just trying to bow out gracefully.”

Even so, this won’t be the end of Owings’ and Harper’s business ventures. The two will continue to own and operate Sundecker’s Bar & Grill, also on Laclede’s Landing. Harper also is co-owner of two Harpo’s locations with another individual.

Owings said selling Morgan Street had been on their minds for the past two years, though they only just listed the property earlier this summer. No buyer has inked a deal just yet, but the anticipated sale price will be at least $5 million, according to the business adviser assisting with the sale.

Morgan was among the first craft breweries to set up shop in St. Louis in the early to mid-90s, along with the St. Louis Brewery, who owns the Schlafly brand, and Trailhead Brewing Co., in St. Charles. Owings said he hopes the new buyer, whoever it might be, will continue the tradition of making good beer. “(I’d) love to see them keep the name and everything going forward. But whoever picks it, it will be up to them,” he said.


The Scoop: Mi Linh to reinvent itself as Mi Lounge and Spa

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014



Popular Rock Hill Vietnamese restaurant Mi Linh is getting a major beauty makeover. Owner Dee Dee Tran has closed the restaurant for renovations and will reopen in October as Mi Lounge and Spa, a cafe with Mi Linh’s most popular menu items on one side and a spa on the other side. Mi Linh’s last dinner service was Saturday, Aug. 23.

Although Mi Linh was successful, Tran said the long hours operating a restaurant were taxing. Mi Linh, which opened in May 2013, saw the departure of its executive chef, Tran’s brother Nelson Tran, in January. Dee Dee Tran said while her brother’s passion was food, hers is beauty. She also owns Jasmine Nails and Skin Care in Brentwood and said she has always wanted to operate a spa that also serves cocktails and food. “I wanted people to be able to come in and have lunch or dinner while they have their spa service done,” Tran said.

The lounge side will offer Mi Linh mainstays like its Canh Ga Chien (fried butter garlic chicken wings with sweet chili sauce, named the No.1 dish of 2013 by Sauce critic Michael Renner), egg rolls, spring rolls and buttermilk shrimp. The menu will also include bun, a classic Vietnamese dish of cold rice noodles served in a bowl with shredded lettuce, cucumber, herbs, sauteed green onions, roasted peanuts and meat. Tran will also add a selection of banh mi, traditional Vietnamese sandwiches.

On the beverage side, a full bar will serve cocktails, as well as healthy smoothies. Tran said food can be ordered in the lounge or delivered to spa patrons at their manicure or pedicure stations. She also plans to offer weekly spa specials featuring a cocktail and matching spa treatment, such as a margarita manicure featuring the cocktail to sip while the customer receives a salt and lime hand scrub.

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

The Scoop: SugarfirePie to open in Olivette

Thursday, August 21st, 2014


{Carolyn Downs of soon-to-open Sugarfire Pie}

Desserts are taking center stage at Sugarfire Smoke House’s latest venture set to open this October in Olivette – a sweets-centric storefront showcasing the pies and treats of co-owner and long-time pastry chef Carolyn Downs. As initially reported by Feast Magazine, Sugarfire Pie will be located in the former space of L’Ecole Culinare Academy at 9200 Olive Blvd., which happens to be a mere two doors down from the original Sugarfire Smoke House.

Sugarfire co-owner Mike Johnson said Sugarfire Pie is a solution to the cramped conditions and growing demands Downs has faced while baking in the Olivette kitchen. “We have such little space, and we’re cooking there 24 hours a day,” said Johnson, who estimates that Downs bakes roughly 500 pies a week and a few hundred cookies each day.

Downs, who also owns and bakes at the dessert-driven Cyrano’s in Webster Groves, plans to capitalize on the new space by adding to her repertoire of decadent creations. Alongside her infamous crack pie (a pie we love so much that it made our list of 10 Pies to Try) and chocolate chip cookies studded with flakes of smoked sea salt, Downs plans to churn out soft serve chocolate and vanilla custard that will be topped with everything from crumbled slices of pie and cake to Sugarfire’s own house-made bacon dipped in chocolate.

Downs’ lineup of pies will come in all shapes and sizes, including pop tarts, hand pies, gooey butter pies and whoopie pies. She also plans to offer Cyrano’s bread pudding, a cake of the week and a variety of cookies.

Inside Sugarfire Pie, an open kitchen will allow guests to watch as Downs and her team mix, roll and bake their creations. Johnson estimates about 16 seats and said the shop will be decked out in a 1950s motif with an eclectic spirit similar to Sugarfire Smoke House. Expect to see retro TV sets, tile mosaics and plenty of vintage mid-century décor.

Sugarfire Pie will be open daily for dine-in or carryout service and will offer online ordering. Specific hours have yet to be determined.

The Scoop: St. Louis pastry chefs win TLC’s ‘Next Great Baker’

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014



Al Watson and Lia Weber are finally able to announce their big news: They have earned the title “Next Great Baker” from season four of TLC’s reality show of the same name. The finale episode aired last night, Aug. 19, when they beat nine other teams and emerged victorious with their final cake design — a 4-foot-tall red Japanese pagoda with a cherry tree branch covered in blossoms.

Weber said her emotions were running high during the taping of the final episode in April. “Every emotion you can image was going through my mind at the moment,” she said. “I was already crying and when I realized I had won, I fell to the ground. When I opened my eyes and my entire family was there, whom I hadn’t seen in two months.”

Watson and Weber met while working at Wedding Wonderland in Florissant. Weber is now the pastry chef at Hendel’s Market Café and has launched her own specialty dessert company, Made. by Lia. Watson, who is general manager and wedding cake decorator at Wedding Wonderland, said the whole experience was an amazing surprise. “The ride was remarkable, and to actually win the entire thing was beyond what I could have ever expected,” he said.

Weber and Watson will split the $100,000 award. As for the other prize, a potential opportunity to bake at Buddy Valastro’s new bakery at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, they are still waiting on final details before they make a decision.

If you missed the Next Great Baker” finale, the show will be rebroadcast at 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26.

The Scoop: Riverbend to move to former Harvest space in Richmond Heights

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014


Riverbend Restaurant & Bar is taking it New Orleans fare to Richmond Heights. Owner Sam Kogos has signed the lease for 1059 Big Bend Blvd., the former location of Harvest Restaurant. He hopes to make the move in early October.

Kogos has kept his eyes open for another location for about a year, citing logistical issues with a tiny kitchen in his 95-year-old building at 701 Utah St., in Soulard. “My building has a lot of issues,” Kogos explained. “My kitchen is so small that I’m really having trouble getting out the food that we have right now.”

The new location has a full industrial kitchen including a range, hood, fryer and walk-in cooler that will allow Riverbend’s executive chef Steve Daney and Kogos to expand the menu. “I’m going to be able to do so much more stuff I can’t do now,” said Kogos, who hopes to add a fresh fish option, charbroiled oysters, fried fish and more to his menu.

Kogos said the Richmond Heights location, which will add about 20 extra seats to his current capacity, will also have more exposure than the Soulard location, currently dwarfed behind the massive expanse of the Anheuser-Busch brewery. With increased traffic, Kogos said he will be able to accept reservations and open on Sundays with the possibility of a jazz brunch. He also wants to accept Bear Bucks from Washington University students and add a late-night menu to lure the hungry college crowd.

Riverbend, which opened in 2010, is the second restaurant for Kogos; he ran another spot in New Orleans for years before Hurricane Katrina. He hopes his Soulard-based patrons will head to Big Bend for a bite to eat, but he added that 60 to 70 percent of his business currently comes from St. Louis County. “There’s a lot of people in the Soulard area already serving my type of food,” he said. “Where I’m going, nobody is serving my type of food.”

-photo by Wesley Law

The Scoop: The Libertine’s Josh Galliano to cook at James Beard House

Thursday, August 14th, 2014


Heads up, New York: Josh Galliano is headed to the James Beard House. The executive chef and co-owner of The Libertine will prepare a five-course menu in this hallowed kitchen on Oct. 17, an honor granted to only a few St. Louis area chefs over the years.

The theme of Galliano’s dinner, Along the Mighty Mississippi, will highlight the unique food cultures that developed, merged and evolved for centuries along the Mississippi River’s banks. “(Beard House) asks you to come up with a dinner that reflects you and (that) you’re going to be proud of,” Galliano said. “We live in St. Louis, and we have our feet still in New Orleans. That connection to the Mississippi is more than just the drive. You see it in the community and culture, and you see it a lot in food tradition.”

The New Orleans native has written a menu that includes dishes like Southern vegetables with guanciale powder, green goddess dressing and crab-stuffed zucchini flowers; hay-roasted coppa with pickled collards, field beans, and sprouted wheat berries; and whole-roasted lamb with fried cauliflower purée, piquillo peppers and coffee-infused olive oil. Many of his dishes and hors d’oeuvres will be paired with St. Louis-area wines, beers such as Schalfly and Perennial and Kaldi’s coffee.

“Those are the people who have been supporting me and what I’ve done and what The Libertine has done for a long time,” Galliano said. “It’s also a way of showing the heritage of the food and showcasing what’s going in St. Louis, in our region, and (that’s) very much a part of the theme, too.”

Want to catch Galliano in action? If you can’t book that flight to New York, just head to The Libertine on the big night. A webcam installed in the Beard House kitchen will live-stream the chef in action at a special happy hour event at the Clayton restaurant. Galliano said he hopes to host the same meal here at home after the event for loyal customers and friends to get a taste, too.


The Scoop: Bissinger’s The Caramel Room nabs Nick Miller as chef

Thursday, August 14th, 2014



Nick Miller, former chef-owner of the recently shuttered Harvest has been hired as executive chef for The Caramel Room at Bissinger’s. The Caramel Room is a private event space situated on the top floor of the chocolate company’s new downtown location at 1600 N. Broadway, scheduled to open Sept. 29.

“The day I found out Harvest was closing, I called him (Miller),” said Amanda Little, director of events for 23 City Blocks, management company for The Caramel Room and Lumen event space, which it acquired in late July. After an interview and a seven-course tasting, the chef was offered the position. “We want a chef that can have our guests feeling as if they were at a culinary restaurant,” she said.

The Caramel Room will be used for weddings, corporate events and other private parties. The 13,000-square-foot space features large, warehouse-style windows that give way to a flood of natural light and sights of the downtown skyline, plus an outdoor terrace that offers views of the Mississippi River. “It’s modern but not over the top,” Little said.

While menus will be tailor-made for guests, chocolate-inspired offerings will be a focus at The Caramel Room. “We’re a working chocolate factory,” she said. “We want to infuse chocolate in our menu.”

As the 23 City Blocks team prepares to open, the rest of the four-story building is bustling with activity as Bissinger’s relocates its headquarters and local manufacturing operations from 3983 Gratiot St.

“We’re in the throes of moving the operation now,” said Dave Owens, Bissinger’s vice president of taste and chief chocolatier. Owens said the company would vacate the building by the end of August and production will commence at the new location as early as next week.



The Scoop: Urban Eats opens second location downtown at St. Louis Public Library

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014


Devour more than books when you visit St. Louis Public Library downtown. Urban Eats Café Central celebrates its grand opening today, Aug. 12, in the west wing of the SLPL’s central branch at 1301 Olive St.

The cafe is the second Urban Eats location. Its sister spot sits at 3301 Meramec St., in the Dutchtown neighborhood. Urban Eats is known for fresh, healthy food and beverage options. The menu at the new location will be similar, but more limited in scope to that in Dutchtown, according to Caya Aufiero, who opened Urban Eats in 2008 with husband, John Chen. Look for salads, sandwiches, a couple flatbreads (bacon and pepperoni or sweet-spicy goat cheese), hummus and sweet treats like scones, muffins and a gluten-free/vegan lemon bar. Smoothies, teas, espresso and coffee drinks are all in the beverage lineup.

Urban Eats Café Central is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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