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Oct 01, 2014
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Archive for November, 2011

The Scoop: Shake-up at Salt puts a seasoned local chef in the kitchen

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

113011_rolandJosh Roland joined Salt in the Central West End two weeks ago. Chef-owner Wes Johnson told The Scoop that he had been hoping to share the line with Roland, whom he befriended several years ago, for quite some time. “I always wanted to work with him but it never seemed to work out where we were at [in our careers], until now.” Roland, who developed the menu while chef at Jim Edmonds’ 15 Steakhouse downtown and served as executive chef at The Wild Flower in the Central West End, has recently been working as a restaurant consultant around the country. He has also worked in the kitchens at Orrery and Mezzo in London, as well as Jean-Georges in New York City. Roland’s official title at Salt has yet to be determined, though Johnson surmises that it will be chef de cuisine. Roland is assuming many of the duties formerly assumed by Salt’s former chef de cuisine, Brendan Hickham. As reported yesterday by Matt Sorrell for Feast, Hickham left Salt to take the top kitchen spot at Demun Oyster Bar.

See our 2010 Chef Talk interview with Roland back when he came on board at The Wild Flower here.

— Photo by Brian Fagnani

The Scoop: Fox Park neighborhood to get a new restaurant and bar

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

113011_openThe Fox Park neighborhood will soon see a new restaurant and bar. Fox Park Grille is taking the space at 2855 Shenandoah Ave., formerly home to Shenandoah Bar & Grill. The eatery will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, operating Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. However, The Scoop has yet to hear details regarding the concept or menu. No word either on when Fox Park Grille will open, though it may be fairly soon, since staff interviews occur this Friday. More as we learn it.

UPDATE 12/7/11: According to Fox Park Grille general manager Ryan O’Donnell, the restaurant is expected to open by December 12. Fox Park was formerly known as Bodegas but is undergoing a complete change of concept. “We are currently revamping the inside as well as the staff, menu and hours of operation,” said O’Donnell, who added that Fox Park may offer delivery to local businesses and surrounding neighbors once doors open.

The Scoop: Amy Zupanci no longer the chef at Vino Nadoz – UPDATES

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

101811_amyzChef Amy Zupanci is no longer working at Vino Nadoz Wine Bar & Café. Zupanci departed from the wine bar located at 16 The Boulevard in Richmond Heights less than six weeks after being hired as the eatery’s chef and manager. She stepped into the kitchen at Vino Nadoz after closing her Edwardsville, Ill.-based fine dining restaurant, Fond, and selling her shares of grocery/corner store Township Grocer, also in Edwardsville. The Scoop has been unable to discuss the departure with Zupanci or Vino Nadoz co-owner Kathy Becker. More as we learn it.

Update 11/30/11: Steven Becker, co-owner of Vino Nadoz and its parent company Steven Becker Fine Dining, had the following to say regarding Zupanci’s departure: “I guess it wasn’t a good fit,” he said, explaining that her exit earlier this week was sudden and unexpected. Becker added that he was pleased with the changes Zupanci had made to the wine bar menu. “It’s her menu that she developed with the staff; she did a great job.” Currently overseeing food operations at Vino Nadoz is Steven Becker Fine Dining executive chef Trent Thrun.

Update 12/1/11: The Scoop spoke today with Amy Zupanci regarding her abrupt departure from Vino Nadoz. “It just wasn’t going to work out,” she said, citing that she felt torn between her desire to cook sustainably and her need to make a living. “At Fond, I worked with 40 farmers; people would show up [with food] at the back door. I knew that would be limited [at Vino Nadoz]. I worked at Fond for three years. I didn’t take a salary for three years. At the end of the day, I needed to take a paycheck; I needed to make a living … so I made a personal sacrifice. [But] it’s not worth being unhappy.”

So what’s up next for Zupanci? The Edwardsville native intends to pursue a culinary career in California, particularly in the gastronomic scene stretching between Mendocino County and the city of Monterrey. She has already sent resumes to restaurants and hopes to set up stages for the spring to “lay the foundation” for a new job. In the meantime, Zupanci will continue to teach cooking classes at Dierberg’s as well as Kitchen Conservatory.

— Photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Coming soon to a curb near you: grilled cheese and soup, Japanese fusion

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

102511_harrisThe folks behind Sarah’s Cake Stop had a meltdown: They went and bought another truck and are preparing to launch a second mobile food operation. The new truck – cleverly named Sarah’s Meltdown – will specialize in soups and gourmet grilled cheeses. According to Jeff Pupillo of Sarah’s Cake Stop, the truck will offer five varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches and a rotation of scratch-made soups just in time to warm up diners as chilly temps move in. While the truck will have a Twitter handle and Facebook page distinct from Sarah’s Cake Stop, hungry food-truck trackers will likely see the vehicles parked together, as Pupillo is hoping diners will eat lunch and dessert together. Look for the meltdown to happen in early January.

The Scoop also caught up today with Eliott Harris (pictured), the chef who left Miso on Meramec to launch a Japanese-themed food truck called Chop Shop. The launch menu will include starters like miso soup and seaweed salad, wok creations of fried rice and fried soba noodles, and a selection of sushi rolls. As Harris explained, Chop Shop will prepare two types of rolls: “One style is almost a burrito-sized roll. It’s not a cut roll you eat with chopsticks; it’s a sizeable, beefy roll you pick up and eat. We’ll serve it with wok-popped wasabi popcorn folded with butter. The other type is a deconstructed roll – more like a rice bowl – with rice, vegetables, fish of that day and a signature sauce.” For dessert, Harris will tempt diners with a tempura-fried Twinkie with yuzu curd, Serendipity ice cream and a touch of whipped cream. Look for Chop Shop to roll out this Thursday, likely hitting Purina for lunch.

As if Harris didn’t have enough on his plate right now, Chop Shop will also be hosting food-related events at brick-and-mortar locations. He will offer private dinners at the Koken Art Factory, housed in the same building as Chop Shop’s commissary kitchen at 2500 Ohio Ave., and he will be organizing an “indoor monster food event” at a 30,000-square-foot warehouse where the Chop Shop truck is parked. “We’ll have five to six trucks, a DJ, plenty of seating, a bar; it will be a huge event,” he explained. Harris is still working out the logistics for both events, but those interested can watch for updates on the Chop Shop Facebook page and Twitter feed at @ChopShopStl.

The Scoop: Drinking in some news from the craft beer scene

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

112911_prohibloungeNews from the drinking world gives area craft beer drinkers another excuse to raise a pint today. Tony’s Restaurant, located at 312 Piasa St., in downtown Alton, Ill., appears to be moving in the direction of small-batch brews. Per an employee at Tony’s, the bar and lounge formerly known as 3rd Street Café has been renamed Prohibition Lounge. As part of the re-branding, the bar and lounge area are receiving a complete overhaul, with 20 new taps having been added to its existing 10 (seen here). So while you can still choose from a wine list that includes 30 by-the-glass selections, you can now also find craft beers from microbreweries in town and around the country on draft. A bar menu has also been added. Among the offerings, the Ultimate Potato Burger: two 10-ounce patties, mashed potatoes, bacon, cheese and grilled onions sandwiched between a bun. (Get a glimpse of this beastly burger and the Prohibition Lounge here.)

Beer drinkers on this side of the Mississippi will be happy to hear that they will soon be able to stock up on more than 600 brews when Wolfbräu House of Beer opens its doors. The specialty beer store, located at 286 Mid Rivers Center in St. Peters, will sell craft and import beers as well as beer accessories. According to a report yesterday by Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch, Wolfbräu owner Ryan Wolf is hoping to open his beer shopper’s haven in December. The Wolfbräu website appears to be down, though you can find the company on Facebook.

The Scoop: Davis Street Market Deli to join Perennial Artisan Ales in Temtor Building

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

112911_davisstreetSome local craft beer drinkers are already familiar with the Temtor Building in the South Carondelet area of St. Louis, since it is the home of new microbrewery Perennial Artisan Ales. Located at 8125 Michigan Ave., the recently renovated historic building – formerly a Coca-Cola syrup plant – will also house Davis Street Market Deli in the very near future.

Although details are sparse, according to the deli’s Facebook page, Davis Street will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and offer made-to-order sandwiches, soups and salads using products from local farmers and merchants. Sandwiches will feature house-smoked deli meats, artisan cheeses and house-made sauces. The deli will also have a liquor license, as Davis Street will be carrying bottled craft beers and wines. A selection of packaged grocery items and household goods will also be available.

Per a post on the Davis Street Facebook page in late October, the deli’s owners had hoped for a November opening. While The Scoop has been unable to contact the owners, Emily Wymore of Perennial Artisan Ales stated that health inspectors had visited Davis Street Market Deli this week, so it appears that doors could be unlocked within a matter of days.

Just Five: Lamb Chops with Arugula Pesto

Monday, November 28th, 2011

112811_just5I was a young adult before I realized that I liked lamb, and it took even longer to realize that cooking with lamb is no different than working with pork or beef. I’m not sure why I thought lamb would be less forgiving, perhaps because a lamb chop will set you back a few more dollars than its porky brother.

Lamb is traditionally served with mint, but I love how the peppery arugula and garlic in this dish work with the brightness of the lemon. The toasted pine nuts give the pesto a really pleasant, almost buttery richness. On these first cold nights of winter, this dish reminds you that spring is never far away.

Lamb Chops with Arugula Pesto
Adapted by Dee Ryan from a recipe by Meghan Pembleton

4 Servings

Olive oil, for coating
8 lamb chops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lemon
3 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups arugula, rinsed and dried

• Preheat the broiler.
• Rub a bit of olive oil on each lamb chop and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
• Arrange the chops in a single layer on a broiler pan.
• Broil for about 5 minutes on each side.*
• When the lamb is finished, let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
• While the lamb cooks, zest 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon rind and squeeze about 2 teaspoons of juice from the lemon.
• Place the toasted pine nuts and garlic in a food processor or blender and pulse until minced.
• Add the lemon juice and zest, arugula, and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Process until smooth, adding a bit of water to reach desired consistency. Season with salt to taste.
• Place about ¼ cup of pesto on each plate and top with 2 lamb chops.

* I prefer my lamb medium-rare, but if you prefer your lamb more done, add about a minute to each side.

credit: inspired by Meghan Pembleton http://www.azcentral.com/style/hfe/food/simplemeals/articles/0617dtrecfortwo.html

The Scoop: Lampert’s Plush Pig BBQ closes

Monday, November 28th, 2011

112811_plushpigLampert’s Plush Pig BBQ has closed, at least temporarily. Over the weekend, owner Larry Lampert sent word of the immediate closure to supporters. “The new owner has made demands for rental increases that we are unwilling to accept,” explained Lampert regarding the shuttering of his restaurant at 2809 S. McKnight Road in Rock Hill. “I will be looking for a new location and hope to be able to supply your needs in the future,” he added.

Lampert’s moved to its location in Rock Hill in early 2010. Prior to the move, the barbecue joint was located on Forsyth Boulevard in downtown Clayton. Lampert’s was also featured this summer in our barbecue issue as one of Ten Spots to Try around town.

— Photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Food truck chef keeps foot on solid ground at brick-and-mortar restaurant Nosh

Monday, November 28th, 2011

060711_gsfBrian Hardesty (pictured at left) has been hired as the executive chef at Nosh, the bistro located inside wine shop Starrs in Richmond Heights. As reported by Byron Kerman for St. Louis Magazine, Hardesty will be splitting his time between the restaurant, located at 1135 S. Big Bend Blvd., and his burgeoning food truck biz, Guerrilla Street Food. Last spring, Hardesty resigned from the top kitchen spot at the now-defunct Terrene to devote himself to his meals-on-wheels operation.

How will Hardesty juggle helming the kitchen at Nosh and keeping a hand in food truck affairs? “With a full staff on the truck and in the restaurant, I won’t be on the truck for daily service,” explained Hardesty. “Instead, I will get more time to create dishes for the truck in the prep kitchen.”

Hardesty is planning a complete menu overhaul at Nosh, a restaurant that has seen several chef changes as well as a move from its original Maplewood location where it sat for less than a year. So, can customers at the brick-and-mortar eatery expect to see some items from the Filipino-inspired Guerrilla Street Food menu? “No, completely separate [menus],” Hardesty confirmed.

— Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Drink This Weekend Edition: Five Bistro’s fab burger is no secret, but how ‘bout those cocktails?

Friday, November 25th, 2011

112311_peardrinkYou go to Five Bistro for a standout burger. You go to Five Bistro to sup from a menu crafted from 90-percent local ingredients. But cocktails? Five Bistro wasn’t on my typical suspects list for a well-crafted mixed drink – until now.

Bartender Mary Mangan came aboard Five this past March. Mangan has tended bar at Carmine’s, Lucas Park Grille and Herbie’s. Her training at the latter – by seasoned bartender Heather Dodderer (now at Taste) – shows in the quality selection of liquors, smart pairing of ingredients for original recipes, and blessed willingness to measure.

Classic drinks on Five’s 10-item cocktail menu include pre-Prohibition gin cocktail The Last Word, a Moscow Mule and a seasonal Bloody Mary. Mangan brings these oldies into the 21st century using products from boutique, small-batch distilleries like North Shore (No. 6 gin for the Last Word and its aquavit for the Moscow Mule) and Boyd & Blair (The distillery’s potato vodka, my personal vodka fave right now, is poured into Five’s Autumn Mary).

Among Mangan’s own creations, the winner was the Prickly Pear (pictured), which showcases Mangan’s ability to stick with chef-owner Anthony Devoti’s fresh-is-best and make-it-from-scratch philosophies. The drink is made with muddled pears, house-made ginger syrup, Ransom Old Tom Gin, Belle de Brillet Pear Liqueur, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lemon juice and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. Pear, ginger and a touch of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg from the allspice dram keep the Prickly Pear bundled in winter flavors. Another of Mangan’s originals, The Muse, is an unexpected trio of New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout, locally produced Spirit of St. Louis Island Time Amber Rum and a tawny port by Portuguese maker Dow’s. This delicious beer cocktail is filled with chocolate and sweet cherry notes, but, as my husband cautioned, that ounce of rum and half-ounce of port added to the beer is “just gonna get you into trouble.” My response: “Stick with one and be done.”

Ah, but don’t leave without ordering one little edible: the fried deviled egg. This deep-fried delight is filled with a smooth mix of egg yolk, aïoli, crème fraîche, whole grain mustard, freshly grated horseradish, Sriracha and Spanish smoked paprika. It’s served on a bed of micro mustard greens with a dollop of tangy mustard-balsamic aïoli and a smidgeon of subtly citrus lemon-caper vinaigrette. You wont find it on Five’s menu but Devoti’s kitchen brigade will be happy to get this crazy-good creation down your gullet.

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