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Jul 25, 2014
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Archive for March, 2010

The Scoop: Racanelli to open Market Pub House

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

033110_MarketPubJohn Racanelli, owner of Racanelli’s New York Pizza, will launch a new restaurant in roughly a month – and it won’t involve pizza.

The Market Pub House will occupy 6655 Delmar Blvd., the former site of Racanelli’s Cucina, which closed in February. “The target date is April 27, but I know we’ll be open that first week of May,” said company spokesman Paul Witwer.

The menu at the University City eatery will feature roughly 40 appetizers and entrées, most of them priced from $5 to $7 to accommodate today’s tight budgets. It will include Angus beef burgers, spring rolls, fresh pastrami and various specialty salads – but again, no pizza.

“It’s a totally separate concept,” Witwer said. “It’s been John’s baby for a long time. He was looking for something that drove that price point home but was a little higher level and a little more – I guess the term would be multinational.

“It’s kinda pub food for everyone, especially in that area,” Witwer continued. “We’ve been testing a lot of recipes and going through, item by item. I think the thing that really makes it stand out, other than the price point … is the scratch prep. And there’s some fresh-baked items as well, fresh-baked desserts.”

The Market Pub House will have a full bar with 25 specialty beers on tap. Its courtyard, to the side and to the back, will hold outdoor functions, and the restaurant will also incorporate a stage for live local music and DJs.

Witwer characterized the Market Pub House, which will seat 125, as “a neighborhood gathering place – a place to come and stay, not just come for food, but stay with friends, a neighborhood pub for the Loop.”

Hours there will run from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily, Witwer said. The Market Pub House will join other Racanelli operations in the Central West End, Fenton, Kirkwood, St. Peters and Webster Groves.

Let HOT Sauce add spice to your e-mail each day

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

033010_HotSauceEveryone savors a sizzlin’ deal – and now, get set to fire up your spring with one from us: HOT Sauce. Starting in April, you’ll have the chance to sign up online to be e-mailed daily about not just a single deal but a trio of deals.

What sorts of deals? Glad you asked! HOT Sauce will include offers from St. Louis restaurants. Among its many benefits, HOT Sauce will cost those restaurants less than other, out-of-town offers – which means they’ll be able to pass along their savings to customers who use HOT Sauce coupons. Further, HOT Sauce will be more flexible than those other offers – you’ll be able to buy HOT Sauce deals till 4 p.m. and use them the evening of the purchase, for instance.

And the icing on the cake? Each month, a different local charity will receive 10 percent of all HOT Sauce proceeds. So while you’re enjoying a deal at your favorite bistro, say, you’ll also be giving back to the community.

Want more details? Then click saucyhotdeals.com.

Monarch Mixologist Nate Selsor Wins Cocktail Contest

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

032910_USBarGuildA Saucy congrats to Nate Selsor, winner of the DonQ Rum Mix Off cocktail competition held last week at Sanctuaria in The Grove. Selsor, who tends bar at Monarch Restaurant in Maplewood, took first place for his recipe, Tektite. Selsor competed against nine other area mixologists at the event organized by the St. Louis chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild. Coming in second was TJ Vytlacil, who starts this week behind the bar at Franco in Soulard and also makes frequent appearances at Taste by Niche. Sanctuaria’s own Matt Seiter took third place for his Puerto Rican Seduction.

Each contestant was required to create an original cocktail using at least one DonQ Rum product. Judging was based on drink preparation as well as the appearance, aroma, creativity and taste of the finished cocktail. Selsor will head to New York in May to compete in the semifinals at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic with hopes of earning a spot on the USBG U.S. Drink Team to compete in the finals against Team Puerto Rico.

Ligaya Figueras

Gitto’s expands to Chesterfield

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

032910_CharlieGittosFolks who can’t get their fill of T-ravs and marinara should celebrate this summer, when Charlie Gitto Jr. launches his third namesake restaurant, in Chesterfield.

The eatery will be located at 15525 Olive Blvd. and will seat roughly 175. Gitto himself confirmed by phone that the third location will serve both lunch and dinner and that he’s targeting a mid-July opening.

Besides Gitto’s traditional pastas, pizzas, salads and apps – including, we strongly suspect, those T-ravs – its menu will feature steaks, seafood and, for dessert, specialty pastries from Rosciglione Bakery.

The Chesterfield Village location previously housed Uno Chicago Grill. It will join Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill and Charlie Gitto’s From The Hill at Harrah’s Casino in Maryland Heights.

History museum showcases a true can-do effort

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

033010_CanstructionCastles made of sand have a way of washing into the surf, but castles made of canned tomatoes, it turns out, are a good deal more practical.

The annual Canstruction design competition and canned-food drive nets a lot of help for the St. Louis-area needy; this year, the project is expected to rake in more than 56,000 cans of donated food, which goes to the St. Louis Area Foodbank and the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry.

The castles and other structures made entirely from stacks of cans are expertly created by St. Louis architects, engineers and students. You can check them out through Monday, April 5, in the first floor west gallery of the Missouri History Museum during regular museum hours. And for a peek at the winners of the international Canstruction competition, including a dandy Mr. Potato Head, Chinese takeout box and octopus attacking a submarine, head to the organization’s Web site.

– Byron Kerman

Donnelly discusses Atlas sale

Monday, March 29th, 2010

032910_atlasMichael Roberts and Jean Donnelly, the husband-and-wife team behind Atlas Restaurant, are selling the CWE bistro to Diane and Bryan Carr of Pomme Restaurant and Pomme Café & Wine Bar – and Donnelly just chatted with us about the transaction.

“Nothing terribly specific” prompted it, Donnelly said. “When we decided to move here from San Francisco, we agreed that it would be for a certain length of time, and more than that time has passed. And so it has been on our mind that we would be returning – we were just never sure exactly when. And it feels like a good time now. … We don’t want to wait until we’re tired or one of us is sick, anything negative.”

Although they and the Carrs have been friends for some time, a third party brokered the May 31 sale, Donnelly noted. She also said that she and Roberts wouldn’t return to California till they can sell their house here.

And after the sale and the return to the West Coast? “We might do something on a small scale, eventually, as far as our own business goes,” said Donnelly. “But I think we’d like a little bit of a break. And so Michael plans on getting a sous chef position somewhere and working more of a 40-hour week schedule for a while, and I’m thinking about studying accounting and doing some accounting for restaurants.”

Donnelly emphasized how much she and her husband will miss St. Louisans in general. “We have had such a devoted customer base,” she said. “Everyone here has been so great. It makes for such a warm, friendly environment for us, to be surrounded by people who want to be here. And that really goes for our staff, too.”

Otherwise, looking ahead to their return to San Francisco, Donnelly mentioned one last grace note. “Michael surfed for years,” she said with a chuckle, “and he hasn’t had much opportunity since we’ve been here.”

Murray’s greets spring with a twofer

Monday, March 29th, 2010

032910_murraysJust in time to help St. Louisans welcome rising temperatures, Murray’s Shaved Ice reopens this Saturday, April 3 – and it’s doing so with a deal. The St. Louis Hills stand is celebrating opening day with a buy one, get one free offer on its New Orleans-style shaved ices.

Murray’s offers more than four dozen regular flavors as well as custom blends in six sizes. So this weekend, treat yourself to a Murray’s Monster in, say, Tiger Blood or Rum & Butter. As the mercury spikes into the 70s, we suspect a shaved ice from the Watson Road landmark will taste … well … sweet.

Celeb vegan chef coming to Brentwood

Friday, March 26th, 2010

032310_talronnenThere must be something in the air … and local vegans likely couldn’t be happier. Following Bryant Terry’s two-day appearance at Washington University early this month, a second nationally acclaimed vegan chef will visit St. Louis late next month: Tal Ronnen.

Ronnen – author of The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat – will hold a free product demo and book signing at the Brentwood Whole Foods Market April 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. The Tuesday demo will involve Gardein, a line of plant-based meat substitutes made from soy, wheat and pea proteins, as well as various other vegetables and grains.

Besides the Whole Foods event, Ronnen’s visit here will include a workshop at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. His best-selling 240-page Conscious Cook appeared last October from William Morrow.

Griffin puts history in his mixes

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

032310_royaleWhat started as a gig managing the door at The Royale has now progressed to a position as one of the more historically accurate cocktail-makers in the city. He’s been a cab driver, a punk rocker, the owner of a record label and a runaway in Ireland. But what Royale bartender Robert Griffin has no experience in is bartending.

Now, this isn’t to say that he has no experience in mixing drinks (his midcentury modern cabinet’s bottle overflow extends into the pantry – and on top of the piano – and is used regularly) or that his professionalism is lacking (quite the opposite, with his patient smile and genuine consideration for his customers), but only that his perspective on the contents of a true cocktail differs uniquely from that of any seasoned barman or the overused “mixologist.”

Six months ago Griffin pitched the idea of a throwback cocktail night to Royale owner Steve Smith, and now the rest is history … cocktail history, that is.

Cocktail Museum Sundays have been taking place on, you guessed it, Sunday nights since that day, each week providing a historically accurate menu with complicated, rare and colorful drinks from the past for everyone from the car mechanic to the cosmopolitan. Using books published both pre- and post-Prohibition, Griffin composes an ornate, elaborate and often anecdotal list of anywhere from three to eight drinks that can take just as many minutes to muddle, shake and strain.

From fizzes to sours, juleps to toddies, flips to punches, Griffin tackles them all with natural ease and grace. So while the title of bartender may be applicable, a more accurate one could perhaps be “booze historian.”

Finally, a few quick facts about Griffin:

Favorite mixer – cognac
Favorite additive – bitters
Favorite liquor to mix – gin
Favorite garnish – fire

– S.C. Truckey

Kota shakes up shakes

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

032310_kotaYa know, when Archie and Betty and Veronica and Jughead would get together at the malt shop for burgers and shakes, it was a different time, a more innocent time, as people like to say.

Few people realize, however, that the gang from Riverdale High was actually getting high, drinking hard milkshakes with enough kick to make their struggles with trigonometry seem to float away into the boozy ether.

Perhaps the rumors of Archie’s debauchery have been exaggerated (although Jughead was certainly “on” something), but diners at Grand Center’s new Kota Wood Fire Grill have been relishing a curiously extensive menu of hard milkshakes.

The warmer weather has been accompanied by an uptick in the thirst for such exotics as the Grand Flamingo (a strawberry shake with Stoli Vanil, Bacardi Dragon Berry and a strawberry flower); the Seattle Delight (a mocha caramel cappuccino shake with Frangelico, Baileys Irish Cream and espresso beans); the Caramel Apple Pie (a caramel shake with Stoli Vanil, apple liqueur and a slice of apple); the Root Beer Float (a traditional root-beer float with root-beer liqueur, root-beer vodka and a vanilla-cookie straw); the Blue Bubbles (a blueberry shake with Stoli Blueberi, Three Olives bubble-gum vodka and blueberries dusted in powdered sugar); the Thin Mint (a chocolate shake with Baileys Irish Cream Mint Chocolate, Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur, a hard-shell chocolate rim and a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie); the Dreamsicle (a vanilla shake with Licor 43, Grand Marnier and candied-orange pills); and the Caribbean (a piña colada shake with coconut rum, crème de banana liqueur and toasted coconut on the rim).

Kota bartender Danica Babb reported that the grill’s barkeeps are encouraged to invent their own custom milkshakes, too. Her fruity concoction, the Plum Nutty Shake, sounds like a hard smoothie – it’s a cherry shake with Pearl plum vodka and crushed walnuts.

– Byron Kerman

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