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Mar 19, 2018
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Archive for January, 2010

Eckert’s grows (in size)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

012910_eckertsYee-haw and salutations! Eckert’s Country Restaurant of Belleville has announced a major, recession-defying project that will expand the humble eatery into a formidable 22,000-square-foot multiuse facility.

Come July, the public will be able to enjoy expanded space for local produce, locally raised beef and pork in a fresh meat shop, specialty foods, an expanded bakery, and a 1,200-square-foot cooking and workshop classroom. By September, the restaurant will also double its capacity, to 360 seats.

Eckert’s will continue to feature dinners served family-style, all-you-care-to-eat fried chicken, breakfast served daily, and complete meals to go for four (fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, pork sausage and sauerkraut, and meatloaf and mashed potatoes).

That’s all in addition to Eckert’s seasonal apple, peach, pumpkin and berry pick-it-yourself orchards, of course.

– Byron Kerman

Shannon-VanMatre named Restaurateur of the Year

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

012810_MikeShannonsSaucy congratulations to Pat Shannon-VanMatre! The Missouri Restaurant Association just named her Restaurateur of the Year, as co-owner of Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood. Her reaction? “Oh, my goodness – I’m honored beyond belief and just completely thrilled,” she told us. “Anytime your peers nominate you for something like this, it’s just an incredible honor.” Shannon-VanMatre will receive the award at the St. Louis chapter’s 2010 inaugural ball this Sunday, Jan. 31, at the Four Seasons Hotel at Lumière Place.

Did you say “free”?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

012810_jivenwailTo add some sparkle to Thursday, both locations of The Jive & Wail are now serving free beer that night. Yes – free. Gratis. Complimentary. The deal involves draft Bud Light and runs from opening (6 p.m.) to whatever unspecified time the tap goes to foam. So if you’re cruising Manchester Road or Mid Rivers Mall Drive and find yourself thirsting for a bit of lager accompanied by dueling pianists, you know where to go, folks.

Bridge opening postponed

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

012810_bridgeDavid Bailey’s new Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar, at 1004 Locust St., was supposed to open today, but will now officially open Feb. 10. He checked in with Sauce, saying, “We hit a snag, with a license taking a lot longer to process than I had planned for.” He also invited readers to e-mail him with “Sauce” in the subject line for an invitation to the opening – so what are you waiting for, folks? Hit those keys!

iTAP brews a boffo birthday bash

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

012810_itapSome folks really know how to observe a birthday. Case in point: Chesterfield’s International Tap House is taking the whole first week of February to commemorate its first year of making local suds-lovers hoppy … er, happy. The bash starts Monday, Feb. 1, when iTAP halves the prices of half of its 40 drafts. (Which 20? Drop by and find out.) It continues day by day with different events – including the local draft debut of New Belgium Brewing Co.’s Ranger IPA on Thursday, Feb. 4 – before concluding on Super Bowl Sunday with a chili cook-off. Beats the heck out of a stale sheet cake, doesn’t it?

Going out of our tree … over syrup

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

012710_maplesapStrange things happen in February. A groundhog in Philly emerges from his den with great trepidation to flashbulbs and sudden cult celebrity. Schoolchildren don beards and hats made from black construction paper. Men are forced to buy chocolates in heart-shaped boxes or face the prospect of never having sex again.

And in Missouri, it’s maple sugaring season. The combination of above-freezing temperatures by day and below-freezing ones by night churns up the sap inside maple trees. At Wildwood’s Rockwoods Reservation (2751 Glencoe Road, 636.458.2236), they celebrate this process with the annual Maple Sugar Festival, this year held on Feb. 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The free party’s all about tapping maple trees, boiling sap and sampling sweet treats. Attendees take guided hikes, and the guides explain and demonstrate the process; park workers, meanwhile, show how American colonists created tasty products from maple sap by cooking it down in giant copper kettles over an open fire (it takes about 40 hours to go from sap to syrup). Visitors can also sample “sugar on snow,” the all-natural original snow cone, made with – you guessed it – maple syrup and clean snow.

Visitors are often surprised at the distinctive taste of the real maple sugar and maple syrup at the festival, noted Rockwoods Reservation naturalist Anna-Lisa Tucker. “Usually the common store brands we eat now are made from high-fructose corn syrup,” she said. “A lot of people think that’s real maple syrup when in fact it’s not.”

– Byron Kerman

Changes coming at Maplewood art café

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

012610_artisancaffeCooperElla Coffee Shop & Cafe will become Artisan Caffé Monday, Feb. 1, noted chef Steven Baumgartner, who also promised a different approach to the menu in the coming weeks.

“Over in the café, we’re changing to fresher produce,” Baumgartner said. “We’re going to do as much organic or local producers as possible, which of course in the winter is not completely gonna happen. But we’re trying to get it all ready so that by spring, we can start really moving it in.

“I’m cutting the menu down,” he added, “and we’re going to basically have 10 new items that rotate out weekly … just to shake it up and make the menu a little bit more interesting.” The weekly rotation at the art café at 2743 Sutton Blvd. will draw on a pool of hundreds of potential menu items, said Baumgartner.

Shogun Japanese Steakhouse expanding

Monday, January 25th, 2010

012510_hibachiAs we speak, they are preparing for a festival of foodie theater that will happen seven nights a week in Creve Coeur. It is the theater of teppanyaki, Japanese hibachi cooking for an audience of diners. Zheng “Amy” Hui and Yan “Jason” Lin already own two successful Shogun Japanese Steakhouse restaurants (in Fairview Heights, Ill., and South County), and they hope to open their third in Creve Coeur’s Heritage Plaza shopping center by the end of this month.

Manager Chad Drmacich was kind enough to provide this play-by-play of the typical teppanyaki experience: “First the chef likes to shoot fire in the air to get everybody’s attention. Then he takes some spatulas and a two-pronged fork and does some flipping. Then, he usually makes a volcano that shoots fire and smoke out of a pile of sliced onion. Soy sauce shoots out of it like lava, too. Then he starts cooking. The chef talks to you, and he flips little pieces of vegetables to everyone, and you catch them in the air with your mouth. He talks some more, he cooks, he cracks jokes here and there, and then he’s done, and it’s time to eat.”

The new Shogun Japanese Steakhouse will also feature a sushi bar and an indoor pond.

– Byron Kerman

IFC adds to foodies’ TV menu

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

11910_tvBaby, it’s cold outside – but the Independent Film Channel just announced a TV-related reason for local foodies to keep living, despite St. Louis’ usual dismal winter: a block of food-related programming on Tuesdays starting April 27.

The block includes the new indie-rock cooking/concert hybrid Dinner With the Band – sneak-peek episodes of which aired late last year – as well as the return of the zany puppet cooking show Food Party.

In the first full season of Dinner With the Band, celebrated NYC chef (Tailor, WD-50) and James Beard Award nominee Sam Mason combines his two loves, cooking and rock music. In each installment of the show, he welcomes a band to his Brooklyn loft, and the group cooks together while trading tips and stories. After inhaling the vittles, the musicians jam in Mason’s living room. Scheduled for Dinner With the Band are Rufus Wainwright, the Mountain Goats, My Brightest Diamond, Theophilus London and other acts.

Meanwhile, Food Party, entering its second season, is billed as “a psychedelic melding of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and Rachael Ray with a dash of the J-Horror vibe.” Pixyish host Thu Tran continues to gambol through colorful handmade cardboard sets, interacting with a psychic potato, derisive china, the Corn Stalker, Monsieur Baguette and Grape Jenny, among other puppets. The cooking segments are appropriately surreal. Check out clips here.

So stock up on Schlafly and T-ravs, fellow foodies – and (as they say) check your local listings later this year.

– Byron Kerman

Wine shop/art gallery to open next month

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

012110_vinoRemember when hippies gave flowers to the cops (and the occasional National Guardsman) at protests? Well, now that the Vino Gallery is turning a former Central West End police substation into a wine shop and art gallery, let the conversion between the martial and the spiritual recommence!

Co-owners Rachael Buehrer and Alex Head are planning a mid-February opening for what Buehrer called “an artisan wine shop specializing in smaller and unusual vintages and a boutique art gallery spotlighting local artists.”

The Vino Gallery will occupy the former substation at 4701 McPherson Ave., a block east of Euclid Avenue. Buehrer promised “wine sampling every evening and all day on Saturday, wine classes, a wine-of-the-month club, a private space for wine parties and charity events, visits by vineyard reps, and we’ll possibly be selling wine by the glass by the spring. We’re licensed to do that, too.”

Buehrer also noted that the gallery’s Web site should launch in the next few days here.

– Byron Kerman

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