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Mar 25, 2018
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The Scoop

DeMun Oyster Bar will close and be replaced by Barrio

Friday, March 23rd, 2018



After eight years, the owners of DeMun Oyster Bar will trade seafood for Mexican, Latin American and Spanish fare. Executive chef Daniel Sammons said the DeMun Oyster Bar will close after its last brunch and dinner service April 8, and the space at 740 DeMun Ave., in Clayton will reopen as Barrio as about one week later.

Sammons said the idea for Barrio was born out of the success of Backdoor Burritos, a concept DeMun started last summer, selling custom burritos during the restaurant’s Saturday farmers market. He said the increasingly high costs associated with flying in fresh seafood daily was another reason for the revamp.

Barrio’s menu will focus on locally sourced ingredients and feature items like street tacos, Cuban sandwiches, arepas, empanadas, enchiladas and assorted tapas, along with some of the original Backdoor Burritos. There will also be a breakfast menu of around eight items to fill that early morning niche in the neighborhood.

“Everything is going to be based on sitting around and socializing,” Sammons said. “It’ll be a more approachable concept.”

Sammons said he will work with general manager Kelli McMullen on the bar program, which will focus less on wine and more more on classic and custom cocktails made with tequila and mezcal and boozy aguas frescas.

Sammons said initially the only changes to the space will be cosmetic, including new furniture and paint. Future plans include moving the bar back. Barrio will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 7 a.m. to midnight on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of DeMun Oyster Bar

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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Ben Poremba will open The Benevolent King in Maplewood

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018



The Benevolent King, the latest restaurant in chef-restaurateur Ben Poremba’s stable of eateries, is scheduled to open in early April at 7268 Manchester Road in Maplewood. The space was previously home to Water Street, which shuttered earlier this year.

Poremba said the restaurant is inspired by Morocco, where his mother is from, and named for the country’s current king, Mohammed VI.

“I’ve been wanting to open a Moroccan-style restaurant for a long time,” Poremba said. He’d had his eye on the space for a while, and said he has long wanted to set up shop in Maplewood.




The seasonal menu at The Benevolent King will consist of approximately six small plates and five to six larger plates that will rotate almost daily. Poremba said the food won’t be traditional Moroccan but will take inspiration from the flavors of the region. The inaugural menu will feature such dishes as shaved veal tongue with golden raisins, capers and sumac; ris de veau, a tajine of sweetbreads, black garlic and harissa, parsnip and gem lettuce; and shrimp Mogador with urfa pepper and chermoula.

Tony Saputo, who most recently helmed the bar at Atomic Cowboy, will manage the bar program. The drinks menu will boast 18 signature cocktails, like the Sacred/Not Sacred with rum, rye whiskey, two types of amari, tiki bitters and Cocchi Rosa; and 6, a Green Chartreuse sour topped with a raspberry foam.




The interior of The Benevolent King will seat approximately 28 and will feature local artwork and eclectic furnishings and light fixtures for a laid back, yet upscale, vibe. “It feels like a social club – very comfortable,” Poremba said.

Poremba and another cook will run the kitchen, though Poremba said his mother, Rachel, will also help with some of the desserts and a daily mezze plate. “It’s the smallest kitchen in the world,” Poremba said. “But I love a challenge. I’m itching to get back in the kitchen.”

The Benevolent King will be open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner service. Poremba said the kitchen will most likely close at 10 p.m., but the bar will remain open later.

photos by Greg Rannells for The Benevolent King

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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No St. Louis-area chefs, restaurants make it to James Beard finals

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018


{ from left, Vicia chef-owner Michael Gallina and owner Tara Gallina }


The finalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards were announced today, March 14, and for the first time in seven years, none of the St. Louis semifinalists advanced to the final round.

As The Scoop reported last month, the James Beard Foundation named four St. Louis-area chefs as semifinalists for Best Chef: Midwest: Elaia executive chef Ben Grupe, Sardella executive chef Ashley Shelton, Privado chef-owner Mike Randolph and Lona’s Lil’ Eats chef-owner Lona Luo.

Tony’s was on the long list for Outstanding Service, and Vicia was singled out as a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.

Two St. Louis chefs have earned James Beard awards for Best Chef: Midwest: Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan in 2017 and Niche Food Group owner Gerard Craft in 2015 for his work at Niche.

Winners of the chef and restaurant awards will be announced at a gala in Chicago on May 7. A full list of the finalists can be found online. 

Photo courtesy of Vicia

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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Earthbound Beer expands its orbit with Earthbound Satellite in Soulard

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018


{ from left, Earthbound co-owners Jeff Siddons, Stuart Keating, Robin Johnson and Rebecca Schranz } 


Earthbound Satellite, the new cocktail bar and taproom from the team behind Earthbound Beer, is set to launch this April inside the Soulard Preservation Hall at 1921 S. Ninth St.

Co-owner Stuart Keating said the bar, which is part of a larger redevelopment of the Preservation Hall, was inspired in part by the Italian futurist art movement of the early 1900s. This movement spawned a culinary offshoot focused on experimental techniques and unconventional presentation. “It was a bit of cultural warfare almost,” Keating said.

Cocktail innovation was another notable part of the movement, and Keating said Earthbound Satellite’s drinks will stay true to that aesthetic, indulging in explorations of flavors and combinations of ingredients. The bar will start with a small rotating list of drinks to keep inventory low and reduce what Keating called “choice paralysis.”

Keating said barman Ryan Piers will helm Earthbound Satellite’s cocktail program. The bar will open with options like a White Manhattan with white whiskey, blanc vermouth and a Rainier cherry and as-yet unnamed beverage with J. Rieger Caffé Amaro, with a green Chartreuse rinse and served on crushed ice. A repurposed Jagermeister frozen drink machine will also be online to pump out batched chilled drinks.

In addition to cocktails, there will be four taps of limited-release Earthbound brews. “We’ll do some one-offs. We’ll do a couple of experimental beers. We really want people to have a reason to come in,” Keating said. “But since we only have four taps, and since it isn’t a brewery per se, I don’t have to worry about having a blonde ale on all the time or anything like that. We can put on four stouts or four variants of the Irish red that are all made with a different base malt, things like that.”

The decor at Earthbound Satellite will also pay homage to the futurism ethos.

“We want the overall vibe to be a dive bar on a space station,” Keating said. “We’re aiming for a hyper-modern feel.” Accouterments include a bar with a backlit, glowing front and a bleached white bar top, sound panels featuring large-format anime-style murals, and approximately 35 seats.

While the space does have a small catering kitchen, Keating said Satellite won’t feature food at the outset, but a menu might happen once the bar takes off.

Photo by Virginia Harold 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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Wok and Roll food truck to hit the road March 10

Friday, March 9th, 2018



Another food truck is joining the mobile foodie scene. Wok and Roll will debut at the Happy Little Craft Fair at Grant Gym on the Webster University campus, 175 Edgar Road, on Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Chef-owner Corey Marion, who has worked in numerous local hotels and country clubs, will be serving up what he called “Asian-inspired cuisine.” The inaugural menu features pork pot stickers, spicy dragon balls (crab- and smoked salmon-stuffed sushi rice crusted with panko and topped with a soy reduction and Sriracha aioli), Asian beef nachos with wonton chips and Thai coconut chicken soup.

The truck will be rolling out on the weekends only to start, but Marion said the schedule will expand in the future. Fans can keep track of the truck’s whereabouts on Facebook at Wok and Roll STL.

Logo courtesy of Wok and Roll

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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St. Louis’ first Levantine restaurant will open next month in the CWE

Thursday, March 8th, 2018



The Central West End will get a taste of the Levant next month. As reported by St. Louis Magazine, Levant is slated to open in mid-April at 386 N. Euclid Ave., taking the place of former Kopperman’s Deli.

Owner Ahmad Hameed is the brother of Aboud Alhamid, who owns Ranoush in The Loop. They will both helm the restaurant as head chefs. Hameed worked at Ranoush for more than three years and was ready to “go his own way,” he said, but the brothers will still work closely together to operate the new restaurant.

The restaurant takes its name from the Levant, a large region in the eastern Mediterranean that includes countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Levant will offer homestyle Middle Eastern dishes, including kibbeh bi laban (meatballs with cracked wheat and a yogurt-based sauce) and okra cooked with garlic, tomato sauce and fresh tomato. Vegetarian and grilled options will also be available.




“This is food we cook every day, food our mothers would cook for us … instead of restaurant-style food like at Ranoush,” said Hameed, who has been in the restaurant industry 20 years, including a stint at a seven-star hotel in Dubai.

Guests can expect more than just another Ranoush. Aside from a unique menu, the 100- to 120-seat restaurant will feature a more modern interior and a larger bar. “We’re going to do something really special for everybody in St. Louis,” Alhamid said.

Hameed also hopes to turn the space into a European-inspired lounge in the late evenings, complete with a dance floor and a DJ on the weekends. “I love the Central West End,” Alhamid said. “Sometimes you like something and don’t know why.”

Photos courtesy of Levant 

Claire Ma is an editorial intern at Sauce Magazine. 

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Valley Park will get its first brewery, Mackenzie Brewing, on Memorial Day

Thursday, March 8th, 2018



A strip mall in Valley Park will soon be home to a new craft brewery. According to owner Jeffrey Doss, Mackenzie Brewing Co. should pour beer around Memorial Day at 932 Meramec Station Road.

While he personally leans toward Belgian and high-gravity brews, Doss said Mackenzie will debut with a sessionable array that will most likely include a couple of IPAs, an American wheat, a French saison and possibly a red ale, a brown ale, a wee heavy and a double IPA.

Doss, who got his start as a homebrewer, said the brewery has been years in the planning. He and his brother, who is no longer with the company, put the first business plan together in 2011. Doss named the brewery after his niece.

“We’ve been on the search for the right location for a long, long time,” Doss said. “We’ve been in and out of two failed leases.”

Capacity-wise, the brewery will have a 3-barrel system, and Doss said he plans to brew two to three times per week, depending on demand. Initially, there won’t be any distribution – all of the beers will be available on tap and onsite – and there also won’t be a kitchen, but patrons are welcome to bring in their own eats or have food delivered.

Stock photo 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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Wang Gang owner will open Primo’s, an Italian delivery joint

Monday, March 5th, 2018



The owners of Wang Gang Asian Eats in Edwardsville plan to open Primo’s Italian Garage in late April.

As reported by Feast, the delivery-only restaurant will serve customers in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon, while catering services will be available in the St. Louis area. President and operating partner Ryan O’Day said Primo’s will operate out of a central location in Edwardsville.

Convenience for the customer and the restaurant drew him to the delivery concept. Nixing dine-in eliminates many overhead costs, he said, and makes the Primo’s concept ideal for franchising. He hopes Primo’s appeals to families, working couples and others those looking for a convenient, reasonably priced, quality meal.

“The experience is to take back the home,” O’Day said. “I want to bring families back to the table on Sunday nights, like I used to do as a kid.”

Primo’s will take online or call-in orders for family-style Italian classics like spaghetti and meatballs, mushroom fettuccine Alfredo and tortellini bianco. Each pasta is meant to serve three adults and comes with a 12-inch loaf of Italian bread. Salads will also be available for purchase.

O’Day plans to source the fresh pasta from a local business, Carla’s, and he’s working to obtain a liquor license so Primo’s can offer wine delivery, too. Primo’s will initially launch with dinner delivery, while catering can be arranged for lunch or dinner.

Stock Photo 

Laura Kern is an editorial intern at Sauce Magazine. 

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NYC chef David Burke reveals details about upcoming Grand Tavern

Friday, March 2nd, 2018


{ chef David Burke } 


Chef David Burke has opened restaurants all along the East Coast, as well as Chicago, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas. His next project: St. Louis.

Earlier this week, New York-based ESquared Hospitality announced a partnership with Burke to open Grand Tavern by David Burke this fall in the upcoming Angad Arts Hotel in Grand Center. St. Louis-based Lawrence Group is currently developing the property at 634 N. Grand Blvd.

Though St. Louis is a smaller market than some of his other projects, Burke said he’s excited by the opportunities here.

“It’s a smaller market, but I think the markets that are interesting right now are the smaller markets,” he said. “You’re starting to see Austin and Nashville and Charlotte, and St. Louis right there with them, starting to embrace the modern American culinary scene and get behind local restaurants. I’ve opened restaurants in lots of different cities, but I’m pretty excited about getting to know St. Louis.”

Burke described Grand Tavern as casual yet elevated, with food “loosely based” on the fare at his Tavern62 by David Burke in NYC.

“It’s a tavern by name, which means there’s a sense of casualness to it, but on the highest end of what a tavern would be,” Burke said. “We like to give some uniqueness to each property, so we’ll try to fold in some of the local favorites and do a twist on them. We have Pappy’s around the corner, which I couldn’t get into because it was so crowded. I know there’s a nice appetite [in St. Louis] for that type of flavor, so you might see us do something with a smoked or barbecue item on the menu, or maybe we’ll do a gooey butter cake-French toast or something like that.”

Burke is designing the menu, but he will search the area for local talent to helm the Grand Tavern kitchen.

“The best case would be to find someone local who has worked with me in the past or would be willing to come up and spend some time in my NYC or D.C. kitchens,” he said.

Photo courtesy of ESquared Hospitality 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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Five Bistro to rebrand and open as J. Devoti Trattoria

Thursday, March 1st, 2018


{ gnocchi at Five Bistro }


Five Bistro, located at 5100 Daggett Ave. on The Hill, will soon be rebranding. The restaurant will close after service on Saturday, March 24, and reopen on Wednesday, April 5, as J. Devoti Trattoria – named in honor of chef-owner Anthony Devoti’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

“Part of the driving force is that I have two kids,” Devoti said of the coming changes, which include the addition of more kid-friendly fare and a dedicated kids’ menu. “And I just wanted to do something different. We’ve been doing Five for 11 years. We want to keep the farm-to-table aspect and open it up a little bit to more of a family atmosphere. We’re going to call it farm-to-table Italian.”

The overall concept of the cuisine won’t change, he said, and seasonal menus focused on local vegetables, heritage breed meats and sustainable seafood will still be the norm.

“People can come in and have a Five Bistro-quality dinner, but if they have their little ones with them, they could have pizza or pasta,” he said.

The kitchen at J. Devoti’s will be open Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. A daily happy hour from 4 to 5:30 p.m. will feature small plate options, pizza by the slice, charcuterie and wine specials. There will also be a rotating Family Meal special from 4 to 8 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month, served family style.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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