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Sep 21, 2017
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Readers’ Choice

Readers’ Choice 2017: Favorite Breweries

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

The St. Louis beer scene is inviting and ripe with awesome people and delicious suds. Every place is doing something different, so spend your weekend imbibing at your Favorite Local Breweries:

 

TastingRoom_4Hands

{ 4 Hands tasting room }

4 Hands Brewing Co.
Nestled just south of Busch Stadium, 4 Hands boasts one of the most creative beer portfolios the city has to offer. Hops, barrels and experimental collaborations are no stranger to this brewery’s lineup. The team behind the City Wide beer project, 4 Hands is synonymous with community involvement and support. Stop in before the next Cardinals game, check out the new upstairs bar and game area, order an Incarnation IPA, and grab grub from Peacemaker and Sidney Street Cafe’s new 4 Hands kitchen program.

 

TastingRoom_UCBC

{ Urban Chestnut Brewery & Bierhall in The Grove } 

Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.
As polka fans know, “In heaven there is no beer/that’s why we drink it here!” German-influenced Urban Chestnut has given St. Louis beer drinkers three options for imbibing. Planning a quieter date night or want some sun? Hit up the OG brewery and Biergarten in Midtown. The much larger and industrious brewery and Bierhall in The Grove plays a great host to happy hours and large groups, and the newly developed URB (Urban Research Brewery) across the street from the Bierhall is great if you want to nerd out over a Stammtisch and grab a slice of pizza.

 

TastingRoom_Schlafly

{ Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood } 

Schlafly
The original craft brewery in the land of Anheuser-Busch, Schlafly set the scene for the boom of smaller breweries in The Lou. Bar seats at the original Tap Room downtown are always filled with Billiken, Cards and Blues fans and lifelong regulars there to see their favorite tenured barkeep. Looking for a more broad and inclusive brewery experience? Head to Bottleworks, the production facility in Maplewood – that also plays host to some fantastic events – and reserve your spot for the super informative brewery tour. End your experience on the covered patio for some live music, nachos and a pour of Schlafly Kölsch.

 

TastingRoom_CivilLife

{ Civil Life tasting room }

Civil Life Brewing Co.
Consistently cited as the “brewer’s brewery,” Civil Life is the industry home away from home. True-to-style English- and German brews, friendly bar staff and a humble pub atmosphere all combine to create one of the most spectacular places to drink in the Tower Grove South neighborhood. Stop in on Sunday for chef Tony Collida taco offerings – or soup during the cooler months – and join in the camaraderie of friends, brewers and families. Although you can’t go wrong with any of Civil Life’s offerings, grab a pour of its Vienna lager or opt for anything on cask.

 

TastingRoom_SideProject

{ The Side Project Cellar }

Side Project Brewing
Just a few moments spent within the walls of Side Project’s new tasting room or at The Side Project Cellar, its beer bar down the street, and you’ll understand why the beer receives worldwide recognition and the James Beard Foundation gave a nod to The Cellar for Outstanding Bar Program in 2015. This Maplewood brewery houses barrel-aged beers that showcase funk, complexity and depth, as well as a knowledgeable staff (full disclosure: I used to manage The Cellar). Sip on a pour of Grisette and you’ll understand why this place draws the attention of beer hoarders and beer drinkers alike.

 

TastingRoom_Perennial

{ Perennial Artisan Ales tasting room } 

Perennial Artisan Ales
Home to Abraxas, Southside Blonde, an extensive barrel program and Thursday night hand pies, Perennial’s tasting room is bright, inviting, and always full of chatty locals and out-of-towners on their way through this beer city. Located in deep South City, this newly expanded brewery is kid friendly and has a wonderful patio for Saturday day-drinking after the 2 p.m. brewery tour. Looking for a weekday adventure? Stop in Thursdays around 6 p.m. for a weekly new beer release.

4 Hands and Side Project photos by  Michelle Volansky; Urban Chestnut and Perennial photos by Jonathan Gayman, Civil Life photo by David Kovaluk; Schlafly photo courtesy of Schlafly

Katie Herrera is account manager at Craft Republic. 

Related Content
Sauce Magazine: Guide to Beer 2017 

Guide to Beer 2017: Where Brewers Drink

Ones to Watch 2017: Troy Bedik of Civil Life Brewing Co.

Readers’ Choice Bartenders of the Year

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

bartenders

{from left, Elijah Barnes, Terry Oliver and Tony Saputo at Frazer’s }

What has been your most awkward moment on the job? 

“I had to cut off two guys who I’ve known for a long time as regulars [on different nights]. One I coaxed into drinking some coffee and eating something, but the other guy didn’t take it well at all. He stood up and got huffy. They decided they were never coming back. I felt bad, but at the end of the day you’re just trying to look out for them. They did eventually come back, though they didn’t mention what happened. Everyone’s on good terms.” – Winner, Elijah Barnes at ClevelandHeath

“One of the regulars at a bar I worked at was a call girl, and she met all of her johns at the bar. She’d come and go several times a night. I think she knew that I knew. Making small talk was really hard. You couldn’t really ask her, ‘How’s tricks?’” – 2nd Place, Tony Saputo at Atomic Cowboy

“We had a group that came in for a few hours and had a good time. One woman went to the bathroom and came back out, and their server came up to me and said, ‘That woman isn’t wearing any pants.’ I told him she was probably just wearing flesh-colored tights or something. He came back and said, ‘Nope, she’s not wearing any pants.’ Sure enough, she was buck-naked from the waist down. I went to the one woman in the group I knew and told her about it. She pulled her friend aside, and her friend said, ‘Oh my God, who took my pants?’ Thankfully all of the other guests were gone.” – 3rd Place, Terry Oliver at Frazer’s

Photo by Jonathan Gayman 

Related Content
Sauce Magazine: Readers’ Choice 2017

Ones to Watch 2017: Elijah Barnes of ClevelandHeath

Top Shelf: 5 bartenders you should know 

Readers’ Choice Favorite New Restaurant: Olive & Oak

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

oliveandoak

{ clockwise from top, mixed green salad, Cuban sweet potatoes, O&O Burger, The Dip, blue crab gratin at Olive & Oak }

 

If you could actually snag a standing reservation at the wildly popular Olive & Oak in Webster Groves, you’d find a different menu each time. Executive chef Jesse Mendica tweaks vegetable preparations or swaps a protein in her playful twists on classics nearly every day.

“Just trust us,” she said. “I won’t lead you into something you don’t want.” Here, Mendica shared her go-to salad, staff obsessions and the handful of constants on the flexible menu of your Favorite New Restaurant.

Mixed Green Salad
“It’s over grilled, awesome potato bread – that’s a sleeper hit. To call it a potato bread is a shame because its half mashed potatoes-half bread, so it’s dense and thick and gooey.”

Cuban Sweet Potatoes
“When you make people happy with vegetables, that’s a real feat. Steak is easy, a fatty burger is easy – vegetables take a little more effort and risk. When people dig on the vegetables, I’m so excited.”

O & O Burger
“We have to plead with [employees] to eat something other than a burger. We’re worried about you. You’re going to become a burger.”

The Dip
“It’s roasted leg of lamb with drunken goat cheese and lamb jus. Don’t miss it. We did a veggie dip and a ham dip and a pork dip, but nothing compares to this. I’m head over heels for it.”

Blue Crab Gratin
“It’s total comfort food. It’s just a cheesy crab dip – spicy and warm and sharable.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Related Content
Sauce Magazine: Readers’ Choice 2017

Best New Restaurants 2016: Olive & Oak

Review: Olive & Oak

The Scoop: Olive & Oak owners to open cafe in Webster Groves

Readers’ Choice Chef of the Year: Katie Collier

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

KatieCollier

 

The readers have spoken. Chef of the Year Katie Collier’s restaurant, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria, is one of the hottest spots in town. She and her husband/business partner, Ted Collier, are poised to open a second location in Town & Country this summer and their meal kit company, Vero Pizza & Pasta, debuts this month. Here, Collier shared her unconventional childhood, love for Italian and plans for the future.

Why focus on Italian food?
“When I was 18, my mom worked as a professor at Washington University in the fine arts department. They put her in charge of the study abroad program in Florence, Italy, so she moved there. I dropped out of high school when I was 14 years old. At 18, all of my friends were going to college and doing other things. I was working at Zoe’s Pan-Asian Cafe, so I saved up all of my money for a plane ticket to Florence and I flew there to live with my mom. I went every spring. Obviously, food is the epicenter of Italian culture – I became super passionate about Italian culture and cuisine.”

What did your folks think about you dropping out?
“My parents are both eccentrics, and we were kind of raised wild, so no one noticed!”

Where do you like to travel?
“We use travel to discover and explore. We go places and try to get with nature and chill out and calm the brain. Usually I come back with great ideas and inspirations from that silence. Ted is an amazing fisherman, so we go to places that are fishing destinations and we fly-fish for hours and hours and days and days. That’s where I came up with Vero Pasto – walking down a river. We also love to go to cities and eat. We go to California a lot and travel the coast and eat at great restaurants like Osteria Mozza, Juniper & Ivy, République and In-N-Out Burger.

What’s your guilty pleasure food?
“Chinese food, and I’m into Vietnamese food, too. I have to have it at least once a week.”

What are your favorite local restaurants?
“We just went to Reeds American Table for the first time and loved it. We also love Olive & Oak. It’s close to the restaurant, so we can go by and get an early dinner. We go to Mai Lee often. Ted’s obsessed with barbecue, and we’re friends with Mike Emerson, so we like Pappy’s. We also like Sugarfire Smoke House.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you do?
“When I was growing up, my dad worked in North St. Louis, buying fireplace mantles and doors and terra cotta from abandoned buildings. We opened a ‘junk store’ together, next to the original Katie’s Pizza before it opened. No name or phone number, just a big open room filled with architectural antiques and furniture. We’d travel to auctions and find stuff. I was pretty good at that. Whatever it would be, it would have to be something creative.”

What do you want to do next?
“We really love the brick-and-mortar concept we have. People often ask if we get bored doing the same thing, but if you really focus on Italian food, it can go in so many great directions. … Our goal – it’s delusional and crazy – but we’d like to have Katie’s Pizza & Pastas and Veros all over the country.”

How do you define success?
“Definitely not monetarily. Growing up, my family wasn’t wealthy. There were many times when no one had a car and we all slept on the floor. I can live with very little. Now that I have enough, I’m totally satisfied in that realm. I definitely feel successful right now because I get to work with my family and my husband every day and we’re good at what we do. My definition of success is when you can innovate something and change it and make it better.”

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Related Content
 Sauce Magazine: Readers’ Choice 2017

Review: Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria

Readers’ Choice Favorite New Restaurant: Olive & Oak

Readers’ Choice 2016: Favorite Restaurateurs

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

070116_restaurateurs

 

{Clockwise from bottom, Gerard Craft, Dave Bailey, Kevin Nashan, Nick Luedde}

The menus have been printed, revised, reprinted, revised … and reprinted again. The staff has been trained forward and backward. The silverware has been polished until it’s too shiny to behold. Friends and family have flown in for the soft opening with compliments fit for the pope/Shakespeare/Beyoncé of restaurant owners. But when the restaurant finally opens to the public, what’s going through a restaurateur’s mind?

 

Winner: Gerard Craft
Owner, Niche Food Group (Brasserie by Niche, Pastaria, Porano Pasta, Sardella, Taste)

“I think my opening of Niche was way different from any opening you will see today. In 2005, social media wasn’t really a thing. People finding out about new things were not overnight happenings. Now you open a restaurant and a million people line up out your door — definitely not with Niche. No one knew who we were. It was me, one other cook and my pastry chef who I basically kidnapped. We opened to 12 customers, and I think six of those were from the bar across the street, who I think I convinced to come over if I would feed them for free. …

“I was 25. My wife was pregnant. I was doing something a little bit different, which certainly didn’t make it easier. I would work from 8 a.m. until 2:30 a.m. every day. It was intense – a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress. … It was this dream, but also so much reality. And I physically remember when we finally got reviewed — (former St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic) Joe Bonwich just gave us this love letter. After, I looked up and … there were so many people, we didn’t know what to do. I almost threw up. I was like, ‘Oh shit, I have to cook for all these people!’”

 

2nd: Nick Luedde
Co-owner, The Libertine

“We had been in the press and had such a highly anticipated opening. … Ten minutes prior to opening — the staff looks great, and we had 200 people on the books — but I’m looking at my wife (Audra Luedde), afraid no one was going to show up. We had so much money invested. This was everything. … It all comes down to whom you’ve hired. If those people are people you actually want to have a drink with, the rest takes care of itself.”

 

3rd: Kevin Nashan
Chef-owner, Peacemaker Lobster & Crab and Sidney Street Cafe

“Obviously you want to throw up in your mouth. It’s such a big rollercoaster. You just hope people come and are so grateful when they do. It takes a village — everyone contributes to your success. … There are so many variables on opening day. The system you have sometimes completely changes during service, after service.”

 

Honorable mention: Dave Bailey
Owner, Baileys’ Restaurants (Baileys’ Chocolate Bar; Baileys’ Range; Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar; Rooster; Shift, Test Kitchen & Takeout; Small Batch; The Fifth Wheel)

“My seven stages of opening a restaurant for the first time:

Electric shock: Woke up early that sunny morning with no alarm clock with a surge through my body and the immediate thought, ‘I am opening a restaurant today! You’ve been working on this day and night, sleeping two hours at a time on top of the bar. It’s actually real now. Go go go!’

A burning sensation in the back of the head and neck: Is there enough time to get everything done? … What did I forget? Will anyone come? Will too many people come? Why am I doing this on a Friday? Why didn’t I do a soft opening?

Accelerated breathing and hypersensitivity to sound and touch: Almost there; we’re looking pretty good; it’s all about to happen; this is going to be amazing!

Calmness and solidarity of purpose: Ready. Everything looks right; everything feels right; everyone is in position.

Panic and self doubt: Why wasn’t there a line at the door? Is anyone going to come? Was this a terrible idea in the first place? I can’t afford for this not to work.

Total absorption in work and an extremely narrowed focus: Wow, it’s really busy. Everyone seems happy. We are almost keeping up; we need to go faster; we need to go much faster. Touch more tables … make them happy no matter what.

Complete relief and a feeling of having learned and grown more in hours than in the past several years: It worked. We built it, and they came. We are going to do an even better job tomorrow.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

Readers’ Choice 2016: Favorite Bartender – Tim Wiggins

Friday, July 1st, 2016

062816_bartenders

 

{From left, Tim Wiggins, Ben Bauer, Seth Wahlman and Ted Kilgore at Retreat Gastropub}

Your favorite bartenders of 2016 tell us: What’s the worst confession they’ve heard while tending bar?

Winner: Tim Wiggins, Retreat Gastropub
“I was talking to a boss of a company at the bar. I’m trying to remember the exact quote. It was basically, ‘I’m excited for our new hires because I’ve already slept with everyone in the office.’”

2nd: Ted Kilgore, Planter’s House
“All of the worst things people have confessed are unfit for print. I have worked at mostly classy places and have served Nebraska farmers, exotic dancers and movie stars. The one connection is people sometimes get really weird after a few drinks. … It’s like improv sometimes.”

3rd: Ben Bauer, The Libertine
“It’s mainly the things you see more than confessions. Most recently I had a couple sitting at the bar, and they seemed really happy when they came, but at some point during the meal they got super quiet. Then she just left, and he started slamming cocktails and talking to everyone about how she had just broken up with him.”

Honorable Mention: Seth Wahlman, Eclipse
“A robotics engineer once told me he felt bad about wiping out factory jobs and that his wife was a replacement for his first love. Other than that it’s mostly affairs.”

 

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

Readers’ Choice 2016: St. Louis’ Best Boulevard

Friday, July 1st, 2016

062816_map

With seven Readers’ Choice winners on one street, the Delmar Loop is the tastiest stroll in St. Louis.

Favorite food truck: Seoul Taco
Stuffed to the breaking point with kimchi fried rice, lettuce, cheese, carrots, green onions, sour cream and Seoul sauce, the spicy pork burrito is reason enough for a pilgrimage to the brick and mortar of this Korean barbecue mecca. Throw in a couple pan-fried pot stickers for good measure.

Favorite restaurant to take visitors: Blueberry Hill
This Loop staple serves a ridiculously good, flawlessly charred 7-ounce, 100-percent ground chuck burger. It’s worth the long wait. Stave off hunger pangs with a basket of fried cheddar cheese balls alongside salsa for proper dunking. Order your out-of-towners the fluffy toasted ravioli – some of the best in the city.

Favorite Middle Eastern: Ranoush
Standouts at this traditional Middle Eastern kitchen include the fried kibbe balls and cheese-stuffed grilled pita kalaj starters, along with the succulent grilled beef shawarma wrapped in a warm pita with creamy garlic sauce.

Favorite late-night eats (tie): Peacock Diner
Order the Loop Fling from the breakfast-all-day menu – a sinfully good slinger covered with chorizo gravy. With booze-fueled, Serendipity ice cream-laced milkshakes available well past midnight, it’s little surprise that the Peacock Diner is an after-hours favorite.

Favorite pizza: Pi Pizzeria
Take on Chicago deep-dish pizza at its cornmeal-crusted best in the South Side Classico, a supreme feast of gooey mozzarella, thick mushrooms, savory hunks of Berkshire sausage and crisp green peppers and onion.

Favorite Thai: Fork & Stix
Delve into an overwhelming bowl of khao soi, a rich and satisfying curry noodle soup swimming with soft wonton noodles, crispy yellow noodles and chunks of beef, chicken or tofu. And be sure to make use of the nam prik num, a fiery Thai hot sauce.

Favorite Mexican and favorite late-night eats (tie): Mission Taco Joint
Mission gives Mexico’s (and Baja California’s) darling finger food serious thought. Get the killer Mango-Hop-Anero Shrimp Taco, with 4 Hands Incarnation IPA-battered shrimp and fresh mango in hand-pressed corn tortillas. It begs for a cold sip of cerveza.

 

-illustration by Vidhya Nagarajan

 

Readers’ Choice 2016: Favorite New Restaurant – Southern

Friday, July 1st, 2016

062816_southern

 

 

Since it opened in 2015, St. Louisans have flocked to Southern for fried chicken. “People who were in here two days ago can’t believe they’re back,” said chef-owner Rick Lewis. “People literally get hooked.” And hooked you are. Offering more than a tasty bird, Southern took home this year’s Readers’ Choice Favorite New Restaurant award. Here, Lewis dished on his favorite dishes.

1. Bone-In Fried Chicken
“It’s the star of the show. I like it with medium heat. I prefer dark meat, but the bone-in breasts are delicious. The way we handle the chicken, it just stays so moist and flavorful.”

2. Collard Greens
“It’s the quality of the things we use that makes them really good. We steal (neighbor) Pappy’s smoked chicken drippings and pour some in.”

3. Fried Bologna Sandwich
“It’s an in-house favorite. We smoke the bologna over apple wood and cherry and put pimento cheese on it. Some of our guys put it on a biscuit.”

3. Biscuits
“It’s a real buttery biscuit that has a golden brown crunch outside and is light and fluffy inside. We whip butter with good honey and make jams – so simple but so good.”

5. Fried Pickles
“I took them off the menu but had to start doing them again because people kept asking for them. … We use dill seed that gives them a tasty, dilly flavor. I have to say, in the world of fried pickles, they’re up there.”

 

-photo by Greg Rannells

Readers’ Choice 2015: Favorite Frozen Desserts – Ted Drewes

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

A trip to Ted Drewes is a St. Louis tradition. Your favorite place for frozen desserts has been inverting bright yellow cups filled with thick, rich custard before handing them over to your greedy little fingers for decades. Single-topping concretes – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, anyone? – are tried-and-true, and when you want to pile on the calories, Ted’s custard crew comes through with specialties like Hawaiian (pineapple, banana, coconut and macadamia nuts) and Cardinal Sin (cherries and hot fudge). With dozens of toppings and add-ons, the mixing and matching possibilities are endless. Here, six of our favorite concrete creations from this town’s beloved custard stand.

072915_teddrewes

Clockwise from top left: Coconut, chocolate chips and almonds – Michelle Volansky, production designer | Oreos and cookie dough – Meera Nagarajan, art director | Hot fudge and raspberries – Rebecca Biundo, intern | Banana, marshmallow and hot fudge – Angie Rosenberg, account executive | Heath Bar, banana and hot fudge – Allyson Mace, publisher | Pretzels and chocolate chips – Catherine Klene, managing editor, digital

-photos by Jonathan Gayman 

Readers’ Choice 2015: Best Patio – John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub and Garden

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

070115_bestpatio

 

John D. McGurk’s in Soulard has an outdoor patio with room enough for multiple Irish family reunions (yep, it’s a big ’un). Featuring a mix of canopied bar seating and more intimate tables surrounded by a lush romantic garden, the Old World-inspired courtyard can get raucous in the summer, yet there are plenty of nooks and crannies to steal a quiet moment. We suggest parking yourself out back around the tinkling fountain under the dappled shade of trees as you start Leopold Bloom-ing your way through the selection of Irish and craft beer and pub-style nibbles that will take you straight to the Emerald Isle.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

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