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Nov 01, 2014
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Archive for June, 2011

The Scoop: Craft reveals concept behind new restaurant Pastaria by Niche

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

063011_gerard2News came via Twitter this afternoon that Gerard Craft, chef-owner of Niche, Brasserie by Niche and Taste by Niche, will be opening a new restaurant: Pastaria by Niche. Craft is withholding the location of his new spot until the lease is signed (hopefully next week), but for now, we spoke with Craft about the concept and tentative open date of his fourth restaurant.

Tell me a little about the concept
So the concept is Pastaria; that is the main focus of this restaurant – the pastas. It will have a grill and a wood oven for cooking meats and stuff like that, but the main focus is going to be pasta: how it’s made, trying to include the public on the whole process. We’ll be making all our pastas, fresh and dried, and hopefully the customers can watch the process happen.

Does that mean there will be an open kitchen where diners can see the pasta being made?
Yes.

And you mentioned a wood-burning oven you’ll be using for meats; will it be used for pizzas as well?
We’ll probably do a little bit of pizza in there, but that won’t be our focus. We’ll have lots of small plates as well, appetizer style, but we want everybody to really come there for the delicious pastas.

And will the pasta menu be changing constantly?
Absolutely. We’ve wanted to do an osteria for a long time. We were gonna do Porano, which was gonna have a heavy pasta lift anyway, but we wanted something a little more focused and a little more welcome. We wanted to do something cool and interesting but do it in a way that’s something everybody can relate to. Anybody can relate to pasta, so that’s where we want to get them and have them come in. I want it to reach a broader audience. I didn’t want people to think that’s an osteria, that’s fancy, I can’t bring my kids there. I want people to want to come in and see what pasta’s all about.

Does family-focused mean a lower price point than Niche?
Oh yeah, affordable, rustic. We definitely want to attract some more families. This is a place where I’m going to bring my kids. … We just hope it’s gonna be fun, comfortable, delicious.

And the name, Pastaria, I guess is from Osteria?
Yeah, exactly.

Do you know who’s going to be in the kitchen with you over there yet?
We don’t have an executive chef named yet.

And have you signed the lease?
Almost, so we can’t disclose where we’re going, hopefully in a week.

Any idea on when it will be opening?
We are hoping for late November.

If you want to see more families in there, will be a pretty large space?
Yeah, probably a little more along the lines of Brasserie.

As always, we’ll be bringing you more on this story as it develops. In the meantime, take a look at all our coverage of Craft’s impressive career.

— Photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Gerard Craft announces new restaurant via Twitter

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

063011_gerardBreaking news from Gerard Craft via Twitter today:

@GerardFCraft “is this a good time to announce PASTARIA by niche? no jokes here…. Location to be revealed very soon…. can’t publicly disclose location for another week or so… Italian focused but we can be as creative as we like… all Italian… All pasta made in house even dried…”

More as we learn it.


— Photo by Brian Fagnani

Extra Sauce: Short List Runner-Up

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

062911_veggieburgerIn this month’s Short List, we told you about three restaurants around town that have mastered the ultimate challenge in vegetarian fare: the veggie burger. Now, we reveal whose meatless version of this American classic fell just shy of taking home a medal. Click over to the Extra Sauce section to see this month’s Short List Runner-Up.

The Scoop: Hiro to open next to 609 Lounge next month

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

062911_sakeAs first noticed by Riverfront Times’ food blog Gut Check, the space at 609 Eastgate Ave., in The Loop will soon be home to Hiro, a sushi and modern Japanese izakaya restaurant. The space, which sits next to 609 Lounge, was recently vacated when Blue Ocean Sushi moved to the former Seki space on Delmar Boulevard.

Bernie Lee, who owns 609 Lounge and Hiro, hopes to open the doors to his new Japanese eatery in mid-July. As we revealed when Izakaya Ren opened in Valley Park earlier this year, the Japanese word “izakaya” translates to “sake house with small plates.” Lee confirmed that small plates and sake will both be part of the menu at Hiro, which he likens to a Japanese tapas bar.

According to Lee, the sushi at Hiro will be rolled by the former chef of another local sushi restaurant, while the izakaya-style small plates will be prepared by Andy Wong, the former chef at 609 Asian Fusion (the restaurant which occupied the space before Blue Ocean did). In addition to the small plates, the menu will feature a slew of Japanese selections, including classic sashimi and sushi rolls as well as cooked rolls – items more for the meat-lover like teriyaki chicken rolls and even a Crunchy Pig roll, complete with bacon and roasted pork belly. In addition to sake, wine will be available by the bottle and the glass, and a list of cocktails and non-alcoholic mocktails will also be offered. Lee is keeping the price point low, with small plates ranging between $3 and $10 and no bottle of wine topping $35.

Opening date is tentatively scheduled for mid-July, after a facelift and some changes to the décor of the space are completed. Once the restaurant is up and running, Lee plans to transform the restaurant into a noodle house on Friday and Saturday nights after 11:30 p.m., giving Loop patrons a new late-night dining option. Other programs such as happy hours and dollar sushi night will also be rolled out. When the doors do open, Hiro will be open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and dinner only on Saturday and Sunday.

Stocking Up on the many meals of blueberries

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

062911_blueberriesLast week at the Maplewood Farmers’ Market, we learned that blueberry season is pretty short in Missouri. According to the folks at Centennial Farms, they’re only around for a few weeks here in The Lou. So get moving, buy up all of the little anti-oxidant packed beauties that you can and use them round the clock.

For breakfast, bake them into muffins or toss them into lemon-ricotta pancakes (such as these) at the last minute. Closer to noon, you’ll be able to use blueberries in a chicken salad, sprinkle them on top of mixed greens or into a cool mixture of hearty grains like farro or quinoa. Add pecans to that last one for extra crunch.

When cocktail time rolls around, purée some berries and add them into a simple syrup. Top with a little (or a lot) of vodka and a splash of lemon juice. Later, pour a couple handfuls into a bottle of vodka and let it sit for a few days at room temperature, then pop it into the freezer – almost instant aquavit!

When the dinner bell rings, use the fruit as a natural companion to game meats, particularly duck. After sautéing the breasts, use the pan drippings as a base for a sauce enhanced with blueberries and port.

We couldn’t possibly forget desserts. Blueberries are a natural in tarts and pies, especially when paired with a little nutmeg and lemon. You can also use blueberries in crisps, crumbles, buckles, grunts, slumps and a host of other funny-sounding desserts.

As if their versatility weren’t enough to fall in love with them, blueberries are also a snap to store. After washing and drying them well, just spread the berries out into a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze for a couple hours. Pour them into a freezer-safe bag and they’ll last for months, giving your baked goods a dose of summer flavor far into the fall.

The Scoop: The Fatted Calf to keep its doors open

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

060611_fattedcalfIt’s amazing what people can do. Earlier this month, we reported that The Fatted Calf, the beloved burger spot that has sat at 12 S. Bemiston Ave., in Clayton for more than 40 years, would close at the end of June if business did not pick up significantly. Well, as St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe reported, St. Louisans heard the restaurant’s cry.

Now, Riverfront Times’ Ian Froeb reports that instead of getting ready to close the doors to the legendary restaurant as the end of the month nears, owners Kathleen and Jason Portman have signed a new three-year lease and are even hiring new staff members. “There’s no question that business has dramatically increased,” Kathleen Portman told The Scoop, noting that they have reached their goal of 100 additional diners a day. The pickup in business, she said, has been mostly during lunch hours both from local businesses and individual diners, with lines out the door every day. “I just want everyone to know we are so grateful and so appreciative of what everyone did.”

But as the couple prepares to turn the page on this very eventful month, the uncertainty of the future is not lost on them. “We’re hoping we can sustain this,” revealed Portman. “It’s a little scary, but hopefully it will be all good.”

Tweet Beat: Saucy Soirée edition

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

062811_soireeOur sixth annual Saucy Soirée is in the can! More than 1,000 people gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel this past Sunday to sample fare from more than 35 local restaurants, breweries and wineries and to get a sneak peek at the winners of this year’s Readers’ Choice poll. After the tastings, the party moved to the rooftop terrace, where the Javier Mendoza Band played under the stars – and, thankfully, not the rain! See pics from the night’s events here.

It was an incredible evening and we want to thank everyone who attended as well as the hard working members of the Sauce staff who coordinated the event. We also want to thank all of our sponsors including Blue Moon, Sam Adams, NewCastle Brown Ale, Tank Farmhause Ale, MagicHat, Hofbrau, Summit Distributing, Falk Harrison, St. Louis Public Radio, The Raymond Experience, The Four Seasons Hotel and Diningcircle.com. A big thank you also goes out to the Brian Sullivan Trio and the Javier Mendoza Band for providing great music all evening.

Finally, thank you to the more than 100 tweeps who brought the event to life online by live tweeting more than 400 tasty tweets from the Soirée. See some of our favorite tweets from the event in this special edition of Tweet Beat. Hope to see you next year!

timjeby
Nearly 24 hours later I’m craving more Salty Caramel Ice Cream and Bacon that @RoosterStL offered last night’s at #saucysoiree (too good!)

CashewChicken
Dudes walks up to Peel Pizza – “I’d like to have a piece of all of your desserts” (6 of them…) good call sir, good call! #SaucySoiree

HilaryPerkins
Every time someone who went to #saucysoiree tweets their favorite from the evening I want to RT it. That’s how good everything was.

lisaderus
@cosmosgirl Tracked down those beef carpaccio/olive bundles at #saucysoiree per your recommendation– mmmm. Excellent call.

davidcraigstl
Now I can reveal that I did wear my pants w/ the expandable waistband to the #SaucySoiree. (Hand-me-downs from my son. Good idea tonight.)

apsana
@VinDeSet got me to try and COMPLETELY ENJOY escargot. Still surprised. #SaucySoiree

Mexicaninstl
A lil’ bit here, a lil’ bit there… U can’t blame me. Everything is sooo good. #saucysoiree #fourseasons

The Scoop: Terrene to close this week

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

062811_terreneWord came from a tweep this weekend that Terrene, the nearly six-year-old restaurant in the Central West End, may be closing. And today, owner John McElwain confirmed the sad news, noting that doors are scheduled to close this week. McElwain and his wife, Sunny McElwain, cited that “as our family dynamic changed so have our professional goals and direction.” The couple welcomed a baby into the family in early March.

Brian Hardesty recently left his role as executive chef at Terrene to enter St. Louis’ food truck scene with Guerrilla Street Food, which hopes to hit the streets very soon. Read what Hardesty had to say about exiting the restaurant here.

All of our coverage of Terrene

The Scoop: Falafelwich Wagon No. 2 put on hold for new meatball food truck

Monday, June 27th, 2011

062711_meatballsLast time we checked in with Gary Tripp, the face behind the freshly made falafel dished out of the Falafelwich Wagon, at our first Food Truck Friday, he revealed that he and partner Colin Shive were working on a new venture: Falafelwich Wagon No. 2. Now Tripp tells us that, though still in the works, the second falafel wagon is taking a backseat to the duo’s next project: a meatball-toting food truck called – what else? – Big Balls.

Shive, who prepares the meals served out of the Falafelwich Wagon to hungry food truck fans, will also be the chef and so-called “head baller” behind the new mobile meatball project. Tripp explained that he and Shive came up with the idea for Big Balls after they searched unsuccessfully for something beyond “the same marinara-laden and drenched sandwiches” available around town.

Thus, Big Balls will feature a selection of meatball “ball-wiches,” starting with four to five and adding new varieties each week, that are a step away from the traditional Provel and marinara meatball subs. The sandwiches will be served on three to four types of bread baked fresh every day and will feature several types of meatballs including a vegetarian option. Other meatball varieties could include a veal and pork blend as well as one with a bit of chicken in it, Tripp noted.

Big Balls will take a different approach to parking than most of the food trucks trolling St. Louis’ streets as well, stopping by multiple locations a day for 30 minutes instead of parking in a single spot for a three-hour time period. It will also extend from the normal lunch hours to serve the mid-evening and dinner crowds and will be hitting the streets a few times a week instead of every day. Look also for Big Balls to venture into new areas not currently visited by Falafelwich and other food trucks. For now, keep an eye on the soon-to-be addition to St. Louis’ growing food truck scene on Facebook and Twitter.

The Scoop: Dough To Door to deliver freshly baked cookies to sweet-toothed college students

Monday, June 27th, 2011

062711_doughtodoorFew food memories shine as brightly as jumping off the bus after school and running into the house just as mom is pulling freshly baked cookies from the oven. Native St. Louisans Jonathan Weinberg, Ernest Dixson and Tamika Moore are hoping to evoke these same memorable tastes and smells for area college students with Dough to Door, a new cookie shop and delivery service in The Loop.

When Dough to Door opens, St. Louisans will be able to stop by the storefront at 567A Melleville Ave., and order from a slew of sweet treats. Cookies will be available straight from the display case, while customers will also be able to choose from made-to-order offerings and full-custom orders in which they can pick both the dough and extra ingredients for their cookies such as Reese’s Pieces and M&M’s. Dough To Door will also be offering brownies, rice crispy treats and other baked items.

But you won’t have to stop by The Loop bakeshop for a taste of this childhood memory. Dough To Door will also be delivering its freshly baked cookies, milk and other sweets to the doors of hungry St. Louisans in The Loop, University City and parts of Clayton, as well as to students in the Washington University and Fontbonne University areas.

Weinberg expects Dough To Door to open in mid-July, at which point it will be open Monday through Wednesday, noon to midnight, and Thursday through Sunday, noon to 2 a.m., in hopes of hitting the late-night sweet spot of the Wash U college crowd. Until then, you can follow Dough To Door on Facebook and Twitter.

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