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Apr 27, 2015
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The Scoop

The Scoop: Balkan Treat Box food truck to offer a taste of Eastern Europe

Friday, April 24th, 2015




Just when you thought that every cuisine imaginable was already available from St. Louis’ mobile eateries, Balkan Treat Box rolls onto the scene. A taste of Eastern Europe can be yours in a matter of weeks, since Balkan Treat Box is slated to hit the streets as early as May 17.

“We are going to be doing the best of best Balkan street food,” said owner Loryn Feliciano-Nalic. The truck will offer Eastern European street fare such as burek (savory pies), doner kebabs with various sauces and vegetable toppings, and cevapi (minced, grilled meat often served on flatbread). The latter will be plated with kajmak (a dairy-based condiment that Feliciano-Nalic described as a cross between cream cheese, feta, butter and sour cream) and ajvar (a red pepper relish). Watch also for freshly baked Bosnian flatbread known as somun, as well as a rotation of desserts like baklava and tulumbe, an Eastern European dessert similar to churros. Since many of these dishes are customarily cooked over fire, the truck will be outfitted with a wood-burning oven. “Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, Turkey, Serbia … all these countries that make up the Balkans have their own versions of dishes, yet they’re all traditionally cooked over fire,” she said.

Beverage options from will include mineral waters, juices, yogurt drinks and small bottles of soda, mimicking what Feliciano-Nalic referred to as, “quick, easy, little, dainty drinks you’d get from an Eastern European cafe.”

Though not from the Balkans herself, Feliciano-Nalic has been influenced by Eastern European culture for years (Her childhood best friend from is Croatian and her husband, Edo Nalic, is Bosnian.), which led to her interest in the cuisine and a two-month food research trip to the Baklans in 2013. Helping Feliciano-Nalic with the new venture will be her husband and her brother-in-law Emir Nalic, who moved to St. Louis from Bosnia 18 months ago.

Feliciano-Nalic said she hopes that Balkan Treat Box helps to raise awareness of what Eastern European cuisine has to offer. “We have a huge Bosnian community here, but not enough awareness of their culture,” she said. “I’m super excited to show people a fun representation of this beautiful culture that is enriching St. Louis.”


The Scoop: Former Côco Louco owners to open Brasilia on South Grand

Friday, April 24th, 2015



{Churrasco from Côco Louco, the Brazilian restaurant formerly owned by Jorge and Rachel Carvalho} 


The busy South Grand neighborhood is no stranger to international cuisine, studded with everything from Vietnamese pho to Thai to vegan eateries. Cue Brasilia, a new South American (mostly Brazilian) concept by husband-and-wife duo Jorge and Rachel Carvalho, slated to open in early June.

The new 1,700-square-foot digs will open at 3212 S. Grand Blvd., in the former Urban Lounge space, which closed suddenly last March. The updated décor will be “tropical, colorful, eclectic,” according to Rachel Carvalho, in keeping with traditional Brazilian aesthetic.

“We liked the location,” Carvalho said. “It’s very international, various cuisines from around the world. We like the feel of the neighborhood, the community. There really aren’t many (Brazilian restaurants) in town. We could certainly use more than one.”

The Carvalhos already possess an extensive if checkered restaurant pedigree. Their churrasco restaurant Côco Louco Brazil in the Central West End earned solid reviews from critics before closing in 2013 for allegedly failing to pay sales tax . Before that, the couple’s Café Brasil in Rock Hill routinely catered to block-long lines before similar tax allegations shuttered the eatery in 2008. Carvalho said they have put such turbulence behind them.

“What we really need here is a fresh start and an area supportive of multi-cultures and unique food,” she said. “We will do really well.”

Brasilia’s upcoming menu, while still largely in the works, will revive several popular dishes from the Carvalhos’ previous restaurants, including the traditional Brazilian feijoada, a black bean dish with bacon, sausage and beef. Jorge Carvalho’s version includes rice, collards, oranges and a house vinaigrette. Entrees of fish, chicken and steak are still in the planning stages. The nascent bar program will offer beer, wine and a collection of signature cocktails, including customizable flavors of caipirinha, the national Brazilian cocktail.

-photo by Brian Fagnani

The Scoop: The Kitchen Sink jumps on board the Washington Avenue restaurant bandwagon with second location

Friday, April 24th, 2015




Central West End nook The Kitchen Sink will set up a second location at 555 Washington Ave., downtown later this summer, according to chef-owner Anthony Ellerson Jr.

Ellerson said he is broadening his Cajun/Creole-inflected menu and hopes to draw crowds visiting the nearby National Blues Museum, which will open next year. The chef, who opened the first Kitchen Sink on DeBaliviere Avenue before moving to its current location at 255 Union Blvd., in 2013, confirmed the expansion has quietly “been going on for several months,” and he is aiming for an August opening.

Kitchen Sink devotees shouldn’t expect too many departures from the new menu, though Ellerson said the emphasis will be less on breakfast, which won’t be available all day (as it is at the Central West End location) and more on entrees and ambience.

“It’ll be more steaks, more seafood,” he said. “There will be a live band every night. I’m going to have a little dance floor. I want to have it be something a little more crazy and different.”

Though details on menu and décor are still rough, Ellerson said his plans to offer multiple varieties of steak and crab legs were absolute. He also confirmed several new additions to The Kitchen Sink’s eclectic burger selection, including a build-your-own option – with added incentive. The house will select one inspired diner’s creation to be featured on the menu as burger of the month. “We’ll offer a smorgasbord of things and still stay true to my roots,” he said.

Ellerson’s new venture will be among the ballooning cadre of restaurants set to orbit the new museum and growing Washington Avenue neighborhood, including a fourth location of Sugarfire Smoke House; Gerard Craft’s newest fast-casual venture, Porano Pasta + Gelato; and soon-to-open Tazé Mediterranean Street Food.




The Scoop: Elaine’s sandwich shop to open on Cherokee Street

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015



{A turkey and avocado sandwich on wheat bread from Great Harvest Bread Co., one potential sandwich in development at Elaine’s}


Sandwich lovers will soon be able to get their grub at a new sandwich shop, Elaine’s, at 2311 Cherokee St., as reported by Feast Magazine. Owner Elaine Gruener said she hopes to open doors by the end of May. Located east of Jefferson Avenue, the 600-square-foot shop was formerly home to an insurance office. The 18-seat restaurant will include eight outdoor patio seats and offer dine-in and carryout options.

Gruener first gained her sandwich-making experience at a Subway, where she worked for 15 years. “I found my niche creating sandwiches, and I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted that creative freedom that comes with owning your own business,” Gruener said. “We spent months searching for a location and fell in love with the overall feel of the Cherokee community. Everyone here has been so welcoming and accepting.”

Elaine’s menu will feature seven to 12 rotating sandwiches, including a BLT, roasted pork, roast beef and veggie options, along with sandwiches created by and named after the shop’s employees. Customers will have the option of creating custom sandwiches, too, or converting any sandwich into a salad. Gruener said she will source some of her ingredients from fellow Cherokee residents like Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop and Kern Meat Co. “I’m definitely trying to use fresh bread and ingredients, and I really want to keep a focus on local products,” she said.

Beverage options will focus heavily on teas and juice and a small selection of sides like Zapp’s Chips and Whisk baked goods.


The Scoop: Clayton debuts pop-up sidewalk seating with parklets

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015




Clayton’s first foray into pop-up sidewalk seating was recently unveiled in front of Barcelona Tapas. It’s called a parklet and the public space seating can seat up to 14 people, as reported by St. Louis Magazine. The expandable patio measures 6.6-by-18 feet, about the size of two parallel parking spots.

“This is the king of the parklet pilot program,” said George Ertle, assistant to the city manager in Clayton. “We’ll see if it’s an idea worth pursuing.”

Ertle said the parklet idea came from committee meetings for Clayton’s Strategic Planning Process, dubbed “C the Future.” Frank Schmitz, owner of Barcelona Tapas, said he had seen parklets popping up in his travels to various cities over the past three years, prompting him to bring up the idea while serving on the committee.

Designed by Tao+Lee Associates and built by Pinnacle Contracting for Clayton, the project cost about $30,000. The parklet is made of pine wood sideboards, a galvanized steel ramp for the walkway from the street to the portable street seating, and Trex composite decking for the flooring, that will stay cool when it’s hot outside.

“It’s a public space, but the city allows Barcelona Tapas to use it,” Schmitz said, noting that people can enjoy the parklet with or without ordering from the restaurant. He said the tiny addition to the alfresco seating on North Central Avenue has been well-received, with people eating, socializing and relaxing.

The lighter traffic flow on North Central Avenue and its narrow sidewalks make it a good spot to test the parklet prototype, Ertle said, adding that several nearby restaurants have expressed interest in using them as well.

“They’re aimed at being both business and resident friendly. Parklets absolutely enhance a restaurant or shop,” Schmitz said. “But it’s a learning process for everyone. It’s a big question of how these will be financed in the future.”

The Scoop: Athlete Eats to become Revel Kitchen

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015


{Athlete Eats owner Simon Lusky}


The food, juices and smoothies will remain the same, but Athlete Eats will soon be renamed Revel Kitchen.

“You don’t have to be an athlete to eat at Athlete Eats,” said owner Simon Lusky. “With the rebranding, we can keep expanding our reach, showing people that healthy food can taste good.”

As The Scoop reported in October 2014, Lusky announced plans to expand his business operations by adding a second location and a food truck this year. The transition from Athlete Eats to Revel Kitchen is expected to be complete by the end of the summer. Starting with the Revel Kitchen Food Truck, which will debut at Sauce Food Truck Friday on May 8 in Tower Grove Park, the rebranding will extend to the soon-to-open Brentwood location and a grand reopening of the Cherokee Street location this summer. Changes will include a new, more colorful look, revamped website and social media accounts.

The menu will continue to focus on the same seasonal, healthy, acclaimed fare with two additional menu items coming to the food truck, including a cold soba noodle salad with fresh veggies tossed in a house-made peanut sauce.

Lusky is working to expand the prepared-meal portion of the business that includes eyeing a space for a commissary kitchen off Interstate 70. With extra space and additional vehicles, he said the next move is to deliver nationwide.

Editor’s Note: This post originally called reported the food truck name as Rebel Eats Food Truck. It has been updated to correct the error. 

-photo by Ashley Gieseking


The Scoop: Bridge Bread to open a storefront on Cherokee Street

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015



After three years as a delivery-only bakery on South Grand, Bridge Bread has secured a storefront location at 2604 Cherokee St., according to founder Fred Domke. The bakeshop is slated to open doors between mid-May and mid-June, as reported by the Riverfront Times.

Bridge Bread is a nonprofit that provides employment to residents who are struggling with or who are at risk for homelessness in the St. Louis area. The bakers churn out pre-ordered artisanal loaves of sourdough, brioche, cinnamon rolls and other pastries during the week, and volunteers deliver the orders to participating churches from Edwardsville to Wentzville to Belleville on weekends.

Domke said the Cherokee Street storefront will allow customers to get their feel-good carb fix during the week, too. He plans to continue baking operations on South Grand and offer pre-packaged loaves of bread and rolls for purchase at the Cherokee Street shop. While the bake shop won’t have seating, Domke said neighbor Foam has informally agreed to welcome Bridge Bread customers to enjoy a cup of coffee with their roll. The storefront will also serve as a space to test out experimental offerings like the Chocolate Covered Cherry Roll, a cherry pie roll with a chocolate filling.

To start, the retail location will be staffed with volunteers, including Domke, but if the sales volume is high enough, he plants to hire additional staff though the Bridge Bread program. “The mission of Bridge Bread is to provide employment,” he said. “But we’re also dedicated to encouraging conversations about homelessness in our area. This new location will give us more opportunities to engage the community in those conversations and build relationship between people who otherwise may not have met.”

The Scoop: Andrey Ivanov takes third in TopSomm nationals

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015



Raise your glass to St. Louis sommelier Andrey Ivanov, who took third place in the Guild of Sommeliers TopSomm competition held April 19 in Sonoma, California.

“It was great, but it was a tough competition,” Ivanov said. “It was a veritable who’s-who of the somm world. If you’re going to lose, you want to lose in this group of somms.”

Ivanov, who most recently served as wine director at Elaia and Olio, reached the national competition after successfully scoring in the top eight in an online preliminary competition and winning the regional finals in Chicago on March 8. At the national competition, eight sommeliers, six regional winners and two wild cards, participated in the national, three-part competition, which included a theory section, a practical skills section and a blind tasting.

“It was brutal,” he said. “The scenario presented was of two tables of customers, and one of the tables would not let you leave. They kept asking irrelevant questions. I finally hijacked my maitre d’ to talk to the table and got away long enough to serve the other table their Champagne just in time. It was a fun competition.”

He will compete next in the 2015 Chaine des Rotisseurs’ Young Sommeliers Competition in Santa Barbara, California on May 14 and 15 before heading to Aspen, Colorado to sit for the service and tasting portion of the Master Sommelier exam.

After his exam, Ivanov will return to St. Louis, where he and former Taste executive chef Matt Daughaday plan to open Reed’s American Table in June.

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Weber Grill Restaurant set to take over former BlackFinn spot at The Galleria

Friday, April 17th, 2015


Weber Grill Restaurant is coming to St. Louis. The Chicago-based company recently announced plans to open its fifth location in early October in 9,000-square-feet of the space formerly occupied by BlackFinn American Grille at the Saint Louis Galleria in Brentwood.

“St. Louis became our top choice based on the culinary traditions, casual dining lifestyle, affinity for patio dining and love for great barbecue and grilling,” restaurant president R. Bryan Gerrish said in a press release. “We love the central location of the Saint Louis Galleria, as well as the strong mall traffic, ease of parking and variety of shopping, dining and entertainment that it offers.”

The 200-seat restaurant will include 130 outdoor patio seats and offer dine-in and carryout options. Diners can enjoy starters, salads and pizzas and choose from an assortment of steaks, burgers, seafood and classic barbecue options, all prepared on Weber charcoal kettle grills. An extensive wine list will also be offered, including a handful of local craft beer selections.

Meghan Parra, Weber Grill Restaurant sales and marketing director, said the restaurant will also feature a grill academy, which will function as an interactive, hands-on grilling facility. “We plan on offering grilling classes for public and private events and providing interactive dining nights for guests,” Parra said. “We will be keeping the area active every day.” Weber Grill Restaurants’ other locations currently offer both hands-on and demonstration-style classes ranging from $45 to $85.



The Scoop: J. Devoti Grocery to open inside Five Bistro

Friday, April 17th, 2015



{Anthony Devoti’s grandfather (third from left) with employees from the original J. Devoti Grocery}


Five Bistro chef-owner Anthony Devoti is set to resurrect a family tradition this May. Devoti’s great-grandfather, Joe Devoti, opened J. Devoti Grocery off Olive Boulevard after immigrating to St. Louis from Italy, and his son (Anthony Devoti’s grandfather) operated it for decades. More than 100 years later, the fourth generation is bringing back the J. Devoti’s inside his restaurant.

The permanent grocery will replace Devoti’s rotating pop-up concept on the bar side of Five. The grocery will feature a small, carefully selected stock of local cheese, wine, produce, canned and preserved offerings from the restaurant’s ample garden and baked treats – including those famous macarons – from pastry chef (and a member of this year’s Ones to Watch class) Britt Simpson.

“I’ve wanted to do something like this for three years,” Devoti said. “My aunt recently showed me this picture and I thought, ‘This is it.’ It’s all really worked and is a family thing.”

It’s also a staff thing. Devoti said the crew at Five Bistro supports the idea, and now that he is not on the line every night, he can focus on expanding the retail side. Part of that expansion, he said, will include the addition of Saturday lunch featuring burgers made with house-butchered beef. Devoti also hopes to add a lamb burger using Jenna Pohl’s Midwest Lamb. Pohl is also a member of the 2015 Ones to Watch Class.

“You can spend Saturday hitting all the shops on The Hill, then hit us for some boutique olive oil and a burger,” Devoti said. “This really fits our beliefs of selling properly made, top-quality food.”


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