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  SAUCE MAGAZINE
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Mar 03, 2015
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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: The Fresh Market grocery opens in Creve Coeur

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

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The Fresh Market, a North Carolina-based grocery store chain, opened its first Missouri location at 11557 Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur on Feb. 25. “We’re always on the lookout for where shoppers have a passion for great food and great service,” said Fresh Market district manager Amy Donati. “This area is very convenient for a lot of different people.”

The 25,000-square-foot building is designed in the style of an open-air European market and is stocked with fresh produce, seafood, deli meats, baked goods, freshly ground coffee, wine and beer. Local offerings include Billy Goat Chips, Fitz’s sodas, Two Men and A Garden salsa and pickles, Stone Hill wines and Kuva Coffee. In addition to grocery needs, The Fresh Market also offers a small six-seat dining area inside and another 24 seats on a patio where customers can enjoy the store’s prepared food offerings. Grab-and-go options include salads, paninis, wraps, sushi and an assortment of health-conscious meals.

The Fresh Market is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

-photo by Georgia Kaye

 

The Scoop: Retreat Gastropub to open this summer in the CWE

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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{Retreat Gastropub owner Travis Howard}

 

Retreat Gastropub is coming to 2 N. Sarah St., in the spot previously occupied by 6 North Café. Owner Travis Howard, who signed the lease to the Central West End spot last week, hopes to open the American gastropub in June.

The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner. Its midday menu will focus on flatbreads, sandwiches, salads and soups – quick-service items to facilitate area professionals. Howard envisions a dinner menu of burgers, plus small plates like poutine, chicken wings, crabcakes and other seafood dishes. Although a chef has yet to be tapped for the kitchen, Howard foresees the food prepared from scratch with as much local produce as possible.

The bar at Retreat will pour local and national craft beers. Expect a minimal selection on tap but an expansive number of bottled and canned brews. Retreat’s cocktails will feature house-made infusions, tinctures and syrups, said Howard, who spent the last three years at Baileys’ Range, initially as a bartender and most recently as general manager. This is his last week at the downtown restaurant.

Retreat takes its inspiration from the outdoors. That feel will be reflected in an interior design that Howard called “retro-modern,” outfitted with outdoors-y tables and benches that he is building with his father, a hobby woodworker. Besides 60 seats in the dining area, Retreat also will offer outdoor dining on its covered patio and sidewalk.

“This restaurant has been a project of mine for several years, and my personal experience of nearly 15 years in the industry has me prepared for this opportunity,” Howard said. “I have been able to hone my craft, build my knowledge, and gain invaluable experience while managing Baileys’ Range … I will take that experience with me and build upon it.”

 

 

The Scoop: First area Gus’s World-Famous Fried Chicken to open in Maplewood

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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More fried chicken is flying to Missouri this summer. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is set to open a franchise at 7434 Manchester Road in Maplewood. St. Louis will be one of nine places where the Tennessee-based restaurant plans to open this year.

Franchise owners Jim and Jane Zimmermann said Gus’s will offer dine-in, carryout and catering options at the 68-seat restaurant. Menu items incude fried chicken meals, fried green tomatoes, baked beans, greens, mac-n-cheese, fried pickles and various pies. Both draft and local beers will be offered as well.

“(Gus’s owner) Wendy McRory is very involved in choosing locations. We’ve been working on bringing Gus’s to St. Louis for quite some time, and Maplewood fit a lot of the criteria we’ve been looking for. It’s a thriving area,” Jane Zimmermann said. “We’re very, very excited to bring the brand to St. Louis.”

 

 

The Scoop: Phat Boys BBQ opens in Florissant

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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With the cut of a ribbon, Mayor Thomas P. Schneider helped Florissant welcome Phat Boys BBQ to Florissant earlier this month. Though the barbecue concept, located at 300 St. Ferdinand, has served customers since September 2014, the official opening ceremony took place Feb. 12.

“This started as a hobby. We had a food trailer for about a year, mostly during the summer, for family, friends and people passing by,” said co-owner Tracie Smith, who opened the brick-and-mortar location with husband Derek Smith and friend Torin Henderson. “Torin Henderson lives in Florissant, and he’s been looking around the area. This building was vacant, but it has good traffic, and we’re next to (Helfer’s Pastries).”

Phat Boys BBQ is mainly a carryout concept, although about four seats are available inside the 850-square-foot building. Delivery within a five-mile radius is also an option for customers who place orders of $30 or more.

The menu offers smoked barbecue classics like pulled pork, pulled chicken and beef brisket, along with side items such as mac-n-cheese, cole slaw and baked beans. Dessert options include peach cobbler, banana pudding and caramel cupcakes. Smith also mentioned pork steak, rib slabs and rib tips were frequent sell-out items.

“Florissant is awesome,” Smith said. “We have lots of repeat customers and lots of word-of-mouth business.”

The Scoop: The U Bar to open in old Sir’s BBQ space in U. City

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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The space at 6714 Olive Blvd., in University City will see new life next month as The U Bar, opening March 6. The U Bar is a venture by husband and wife team Jason and April Spain. Though the Spains have experience in the nightlife biz (He was the owner of now defunct J. Spain’s Waffles & Wings at 1901 Washington Ave.) , they aren’t going for a late-night club scene this time. Instead, The U Bar will lean toward neighborhood bar and grill.

The Spains hope to attract lunch-goers from offices on Olive Street and to keep the traffic flowing with a happy hour and as an evening hangout. “We want to create a neighborhood vibe that is comfortable, approachable, safe,” said Jason Spain, a University City resident.

The abbreviated menu includes just six or seven items. Spain ticked off hand-battered wings, a burger, fries, hand-battered shrimp, a chicken sandwich and a salad, plus periodic specials. “Everything hand-made. We’re not freezing anything,” Spain said. “We’re a bar with a great kitchen.”

The full-service bar will not be “fancy-dancy,” said Spain, but that doesn’t mean cocktails won’t be made with care. Expect fresh juice in that mixed drink “to get the flavor and taste of what great cocktails are,” he said. The U Bar will have six beers on tap and a small selection of wine.

The Spains made minimal changes to the 50-seat interior since its days as Sir’s BBQ, which closed in late 2012. Spain said the tweaks they have made emphasize the history and architecture of the building, whose art deco glass block windows are a prominent feature at the entrance.

The U Bar initially will be open Monday through Saturday from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. After a few weeks, it will open for lunch at 11 a.m.

 

 

The Scoop: Area distilleries win big at American Craft Spirits Association awards

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

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{Wood Hat Spirits owner Gary Hinegardner}

 

St. Louis and Missouri were well represented this month among the winners of the American Craft Spirits Association awards, held Feb. 15 in Austin. Area distilleries Still 630 and Wood Hat Spirits won a gold medal each for their RallyPoint Maple Sunset Whiskey and Blue Corn Whiskey, respectively. The Blue Corn Whiskey also took best in category for corn spirits.

“The craft distilleries in Missouri, and in particular St. Louis, are growing,” said Gary Hinegardner, owner of Wood Hat Spirits in New Florence. “We’re getting national attention. We’re doing good stuff. We can stand up in the world and be counted.”

These are the first awards from the ACSA for Still 630’s spirits, according to David Weglarz, owner and distiller of Still 630. Weglarz stated he was thrilled. “Two years ago, I taught myself how to distill,” he said. “It has been so validating to see others enjoy what I make.”

Ste. Genevieve upstart Defiant Spirits brought home a silver medal for its Defiance Whiskey. Missouri liqueurs, too, had a good showing: In addition to its top honors, Wood Hat won a bronze medal for its black walnut liqueur. Still 630 took bronze for its SS Sorghum Whiskey and Soulard Island Rum, as did Maryland Heights distiller Stilljoy Spirits for its Movados cinnamon, ginger and vanilla liqueurs.

The American Craft Spirits Association Awards was judged by industry professionals and featured more than 200 distillers from around the country. This is not the first year area liquor-makers have earned nods from the judges – last year, Wood Hat clinched a gold and bronze and Square One Distilling took two bronzes.

Sauce intern Rima Parikh contributed to this report.

The Scoop: Tiny sandwich shop The Little Dipper opens on Cherokee Street

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

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Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes. The latest one to open on Cherokee Street is tiny – as in six-seat tiny. The Little Dipper opened doors Friday, Feb. 20 at 2619½ Cherokee St., in the space formerly occupied by Small’s Tea and Coffee.

Working behind the counter of this shotgun space are owners Thomas Eversmann and Jason Paul. The pair has created an abbreviated menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and snacks. All but one of the six sandwiches are served hot. Since the cafe’s first day, the tuna sandwich has been a hot commodity, along with the open-faced toasted tomato with feta, Swiss and garlic oil. The namesake sandwich, The Little Dipper, is based on the Chicago-style wet sub of Italian beef and giardiniera that diners dunk in beef pan jus. Sandwiches feature bread from local bakeries Companion and Fazio’s, and all sauces and accompaniments are made in-house.

Among the snack selection, look for a cheddar quesadilla with cilantro pesto; hummus with pita and fresh vegetables; bagna cauda, an anchovy-laden warm Italian dip, served with bread and fresh veggies; and chips with salsa. Besides a daily soup, The Little Dipper offers a trio of fresh salads. Although dessert is currently not available, Paul said house-made date balls will soon be added to the menu.

-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: The Pig closes doors in Frontenac, The Shack to open second location in its spot

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

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{Fried chicken at The Pig}

 

Michael Del Pietro’s latest concept, the Southern-inspired The Pig (formerly The Salted Pig), served up its last plate of ‘cue last Saturday, Feb. 21. As reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe, The Pig struggled to stand out during its 10-month run at 731 S. Lindbergh Road amid the recent surge of area barbecue eateries.

Del Pietro confirmed the closure, saying the concept just didn’t work out. The Pig was a step outside of his restaurant wheelhouse; his other concepts are a lineup of well-known Italian spots, including Sugo’s, Babbo’s, Tavolo V and Via Vino Enoteca. Del Pietro said he does not have immediate plans for another restaurant and will focus on his other eateries. Sauce reviewed the barbecue spot in October 2014.

 

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{Breakfast fare at The Shack}

 

The Frontenac space won’t sit idle for long though. Brant Baldanza, co-owner of OG Hospitality Group (Cucina Pazzo, The Tavern and both locations of The Corner Pub & Grill), swept in to nab the space for a second location of The Shack, his breakfast, lunch and “sometimes” dinner concept in Valley Park.

“We were looking for a new location of The Shack for the last nine or 10 months,” Baldanza said. “We really like the concept with breakfast, boozy shakes and the fun atmosphere.” He expects to have the doors open by mid-April or early May.

“What a great area to be in, and we’re just super excited,” said Baldanza, who was quick to note that the new location near his home takes the cake for cutting down his commute.

The Shack first flew as a pub grub concept at 3818 Laclede Ave., in Midtown before making the jump to 13645 Big Bend Road in Valley Park in May 2014, where they zeroed in on morning and mid-afternoon menus. “We feel there’s an absence in the breakfast market that The Shack is trying to fill,” Baldanza said.

Jessie Gilroy, chef de cuisine at Cucina Pazzo and member of this year’s Sauce Ones to Watch class, and Steven Caravelli, executive chef of OG Hospitality, will develop the menu. Breakfast will not deviate much from The Shack’s current list of skillets, omelets and riffs on classics, like the Shack de Madam – two slices of Texas toast loaded with honey-glazed ham, thick-cut bacon, white cheddar cheese plus The Shack’s cheese sauce and a sunny-side up egg. A few changes will be made to the lunch and dinner menus, including wraps and house-smoked specials like chicken wings and prime rib.

Baldanza aims to replicate the bright, fun atmosphere of the Valley Park location. Expect to see repurposed wood door tables, a white tiled backsplash behind the bar and walls covered with guests’ graffiti. The Frontenac space will seat about 130, and Baldanza said developing outdoor seating is possible.

The Scoop: Butler’s Pantry signs on at The Coronado

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

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{From left, Gregory Ziegenfuss, Richard Nix Jr., Rob Schaefer, Samantha Gillstrom and Maggie Barton}

 

Butler’s Pantry said “I do” to exclusive catering operations at popular wedding and event venue The Coronado Ballroom & Meeting Facility. Butler’s Pantry takes over the lease held since 2000 by Steven Becker Fine Dining.

“Our lease was up in 2014, and we were not interested in signing another long term lease,” said co-owner Steven Becker. “We were very happy to do a smooth transition with Butler’s Pantry. They are the best candidate to handle the high-end clientele we have for weddings and corporate galas.”

Butler’s Pantry owner Richard Nix said he was excited to work at such a well-established event space. “Ballrooms like this are few and far between,” he said. “Our intent was to transition (Becker’s) current business with tremendous respect. We made sure we understood what people are looking for and respect the history and grandeur of the building.”

Nix plans to increase event options such as linens, after-hours affairs and drink offerings. The menu will also undergo renovation and will be “dedicated to seasonal items offered at the right time of year.”

To complete the transition, Nix will update the color palette and remove the lobby cafe to make a continuous space large enough to accommodate expanded cocktail and event options. Nearly $300,000 will go into The Grand Lobby renovations. Other improvements include upgrading the audio and visual technology in the ballrooms. Nix hopes to complete the projects by early summer without upsetting current commitments.

To ensure continuity of service during menu changes and renovations, Coronado’s director of sales Rob Schaefer will stay on in the same role.

For his part, Becker will continue to run his two area Nadoz Bakery + Cafes and move into the consulting business, taking his 35 years of experience and working with companies looking to do catering and banquets.

 

-photo by Sara Ketterer

The Scoop: Bootleggin’ BBQ serves up barbecue downtown at The Pour House

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

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Patrons at The Pour House downtown can now dig into Kansas City-style barbecue while they throw back a pint. Bootleggin’ BBQ has taken over the kitchen at 1933 Washington Ave., under the direction of pit master and co-owner Brenton Brown.

Brown, a certified barbecue judge, started Bootleggin’ BBQ in 2006 as a catering venture with co-owners Shane Hale and Eddie Belter. The trio began partnering with The Pour House for a series of pop-ups that led to a mutually beneficial arrangement. “Working with The Pour House gave us an opportunity to have a brick-and-mortar, an actual location, where they can visit us,” Brown said. “We thought, Business is good. Customers are happy. We’ll stay.”

Bootleggin’ BBQ offers Kansas City-style classics dry-rubbed and slow-smoked over Missouri hickory wood. Brenton serves up meats like pulled pork or brisket on nachos, in tacos and sliders. Bootleggin’ BBQ serves up food daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. or when the food runs out. Brown will host a grand opening celebration March 6 and 7.

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