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Oct 17, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Archive for March, 2017

The Scoop: Bissinger’s to re-concept

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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Bissinger’s at Maryland Plaza in the Central West End is undergoing a transformation this spring. The location, at 32 Maryland Plaza, will be rebranded as Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, and feature an expanded menu and a self-serve wine wall, along with Bissinger’s gourmet chocolates.

The current menu will be expanded to include breakfast, lunch and dinner options, courtesy of sister company 23 City Blocks Catering executive chef Nicholas Miller. Breakfast will feature a selection of quiches, lunch offerings will include soups, salads and sandwiches, and dinner will be “light bites,” as opposed to large plates. Orders will be placed at the counter, where guests can also purchase cards to use at the wine wall. The wall will feature 24 rotating bottles to choose from, available in 2-, 5- or 8-ounce pours.

Kennedy Calton, marketing coordinator for 23 City Blocks, said renovations are expected to begin sometime in May. The restaurant should only be closed for three to five days, and reopen by June.

“We don’t have much to do in there,” she said. “We’re just looking to make it a bit more warm and comfortable.” Changes will include the addition of some soft seating and a bar along the front window.

Once the doors reopen, hours will be extended to Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

The Scoop: Café Piazza to open in Benton Park

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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Vito La Fata III, owner of Vito’s Sicilian Pizzeria & Ristorante in Midtown, is opening a new concept in Benton Park. Café Piazza will debut in the former Benton Park Cafe space at 1900 Arsenal St., early this summer.

La Fata described the cafe as a hybrid between a fast-casual pizza concept and a more traditional dine-in restaurant with approximately 50 seats and possibly outdoor seating.

Café Piazza will be open for breakfast with frittatas, breakfast pizzas and pastries on the menu, and additional morning offerings on the weekend. Lunch and dinner will feature pizzas, salads, soups, panini and a gelato case.

“There won’t be any pastas or entrees,” La Fata said. “The main focus is on pizzas, but we’ll have some fun appetizers, and we’ll bring our arancini recipe over to the cafe.” Beer, wine and cocktails will also be available.

La Fata said the inspiration for the project is the Italian piazza, a gathering place where anyone can take some time out of their day and relax a bit. “We want to make it a neighborhood pit stop, where people can stop their hectic day, sit down and have a conversation,” he said.

Courtesy of Cafe Piazza 

DTWE: 3 tea-infused cocktails to try at Retreat Gastropub

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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 { Creole Colada at Retreat Gastropub }

 

When Retreat Gastropub bar manager Tim Wiggins comes up with a tea-themed cocktail menu, it’s going to be more than boozy glasses of your grandma’s finest.

“A lot of people hate tea,” Wiggins said. “These don’t taste like tea cocktails – they taste like cocktails with unusual elements.” The menu ranges from sweet and fruity to spicy and savory, balancing bold, unexpected flavors in strange-sounding, but highly drinkable cocktails.

1. If you like earthy flavors, the Parasol Shade combines the lush funkiness of Wray & Nephew overproof rum with a rooibos tea Wiggins said tastes like rich soil, all brightened by white rum, mango, cream and lime. The overproof rum’s raisin notes meet the mango’s sunnier sweetness, grounded by cream and a lively zip of lime on the finish. The complex combination is balanced – you’ll keep sipping as you try to figure it out.

2. If you like juicy and floral, try the tiki-inspired Creole Colada. Sweet, fresh pineapple juice and coconut cream are tempered by a full ounce of Peychaud’s bitters, Jamaican aged rum and an infusion of hibiscus and lemongrass. The drink is finished with a spray of hibiscus-infused absinthe and a sprinkle of nutmeg. A creamy pink, it looks throat-coating sweet, but it goes down easy with a hint of herbal spice and a pleasantly tart finish.

3. If you like vegetal drinks, order the Bells and Whistles. The savory, subtly sweet flavors of orange and yellow peppers are paired with Cana Brava rum infused with fragrant, tannic jasmine, along with green tea, honey-like white port and amontillado. Finished with a hint of lemon La Croix and garnished with a lemon wheel, it has a bright acidity and savory sweetness.

Photo by Meera Nagarajan

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Sneak Peek: The Chase Club in the Central West End

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

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The Chase Club, formerly Café Eau, debuts at The Chase Park Plaza tomorrow, March 31. The new concept features a new food and drink menu and revamped decor.

Executive chef Colin Smelser, chef de cuisine Theron Pajares and executive pastry chef Eric Phillips put together a menu that features favorites like burgers and flatbreads, along with creative twists on classics like the Shrimp St. Paul Sliders, served with spicy mayo and a selection of house pickles alongside.

“We have the same menu all day long now, and the food is geared toward the atmosphere we have now,” said Pajares.

Beverage manager Joshua Johnson created a locally focused beer list featuring 18 beers on tap and another 27 in bottles and cans. There’s also a selection of wine and a cocktail list that includes original creations and classics like the oft-overlooked Airmail, a refreshing combination of rum, honey, lime juice and sparkling wine.

The space itself is a combination of high-end sports bar and stately hotel bar. Tables have replaced booths, large-screen TVs surround the bar and the new billiards area, and the room is dotted with eclectic appointments from black-and-white photos of the hotel from years past to elegant, mismatched light fixtures dangling from the ceiling.

The Chase Club is open daily from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., and the kitchen closes at midnight. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect from The Chase Park Plaza’s newest dining option:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

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Best New Restaurants 2016: No. 7 – The Preston in The Chase Park Plaza

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The Scoop: Edwardsville Frozen foods is now Goshen Butcher Shop

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

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An old Edwardsville favorite is getting a new name, a renewed focus and a top area chef. Local butcher shop Edwardsville Frozen Foods at 246 N. Main St., is now Goshen Butcher Shop, and chef Ben McArthur, most recently behind the range at J McArthur’s in Lindenwood Park, will helm its culinary program.

Edwardsville natives Bob Keyser and Jeff Merkel recently purchased the 70-year-old butcher shop. Keyser said they plan to keep the main butcher business and add a farm-to-table component with carryout and catering services.

Merkel recently joined the board of the Land of Goshen Community Market, and Keyser said they plan to partner with the market to source local products.

“We want to have a one-stop shop, where you can come in and get local produce and locally sourced meats,” Keyser said.

Keyser said they’re working with the Edwardsville Historical Society to recreate what the exterior of the building looked like in 1940s. “For the physical changes, we’re in the mapping and planning phases of those right now,” Keyser said. “We’re going to ease in and do things on a step-by-step basis.” He said the intention is to complete as many renovations as possible without shutting down parts of the operation. Interior renovations include a full kitchen, which should be ready in early summer.

While the kitchen is built out, McArthur said he’ll assist in the planning process and ramp up his knowledge of butchery. “What I’ve learned in school doesn’t always carry over into real life,” he said. “They’ve been doing it for 70 years here, so it’ll be cool to get more hands-on experience with it.”

McArthur will focus on private and public events and  high-end carryout items, as there won’t be seating in the shop. McArthur said the dishes include local produce, foraged greens and mushrooms and freshly butchered meat. “It’s going to be composed though,” he said. “It’s not just going to be thrown in a to-go box.”

McArthur said he’s excited to work in the area. “I love Edwardsville, I love the small-big town feel of it,” McArthur said. “When I was at J McArthur’s, we were working with 40 or 60 different farmers, and it was a bit of a challenge. But here, it’s not. It’s just a drive up the road, so it was attractive to me to be able to get develop closer relationships to the farmers.”

And longtime fans need not fret: Keyser said Herbie the Hereford, the oversized cow mascot, will remain on his rooftop perch.

 

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First Look: Polite Society in Lafayette Square

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

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Polite Society quietly opened in the in Lafayette Square at 1923 Park Ave. on March 23. As The Scoop reported in October 2016, co-owners Jonathan Schoen and Brian Schmitz have spent nearly a year renovating the former home of Ricardo’s, which closed in 2015 after 26 years in business.

Schoen and Schmitz met in the late ’90s as servers at Bar Italia. Since then Schoen opened Savor in the Central West End, as well as restaurants at The Cheshire, while Schmitz opened The Grind coffee house and Sol Lounge. When the 3,000-square-foot space on Park Avenue became available, they leapt at the chance to open a restaurant together.

The co-owners collaborated with executive chef Thomas Futrell, most recently of Scape, to create a menu of appetizers, snacks, salads and entrees that can easily accommodate palates and dietary preferences from all-consuming omnivores to gluten-intolerant vegans. Entrees include a duck breast, a mushroom raviolo and a crispy tofu and riced cauliflower stir-fry.

Another Scape alum, Travis Hebrank, helms the beverage program. With a year to experiment, he created an extensive portfolio of syrups, tinctures and infusions that feature in 10 house cocktails. Around 20 wines are available by the glass, and an extensive cellar is available by the bottle. There is also a curated bottled beer selection.

Brunch and lunch plans are the works, but for now, Polite Society is open daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., with dinner service ending at 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 p.m. Sunday. Here’s a first look at what to expect at Lafayette Square’s newest eatery:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

Related Content
The Scoop: Details emerge as Polite Society plans on late 2016 opening

The Scoop: Ricardo’s closes in Lafayette Square

The Scoop: Miss Leon’s Sunday Supper to debut at The Capitalist Pig

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

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Miss Leon’s Soul Food‘s fried chicken has built quite the following around town, featured at venues including Rehab Bar & Grill and Hiro Asian Kitchen. Fans will be happy to learn that her wares will soon be available weekly. Miss Leon’s Sunday Supper debuts April 30 at The Capitalist Pig, located inside Mad Art Gallery at 272 S. 12th St. in Soulard.

“We both have a passion for cooking,” said chef-owner Leon Braxton, noting that she and Capitalist Pig chef-owner Ron Buechele have a similar focus on southern cooking. “It’s like two great minds coming together.”

Sunday Supper will be served at three one-hour seatings between 5 and 8 p.m., with a maximum of 60 people each, though carryout will also be available. Sides offered include mashed potatoes and gravy, greens, sweet buttered corn, mac n cheese and rotating seasonal options. The menu will also include Chicken Gobs –fried white and dark meat nuggets – Capitalist Pig’s corn muffins and Miss Leon’s peach cobbler and bread pudding.

 

The Scoop: St. Louis Soup Dumplings to open in University City

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

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{Private Kitchen co-owners chef Lawerence and Emily Chen }

 

Fans of Private Kitchen, the reservations-only Chinese restaurant in University City, will soon have a more casual venue to indulge in one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. As reported by the Riverfront Times, Private Kitchen owner Lawrence Chen will open St. Louis Soup Dumplings at 8110 Olive Blvd.

Chen said he was inspired to open the restaurant because many Private Kitchen customers enjoyed the pork soup dumplings, but didn’t always want to make reservations and text ahead to order. St. Louis Soup Dumplings will be a no-reservations affair with 15 to 20 seats, quick service and carryout.

In addition to pork, Chen said St. Louis Soup Dumplings will offer chicken, shrimp and vegetable versions, along with some non-dumpling dishes. The full menu is still a work in progress.

“I’m still thinking about how many different kinds we can make,” Chen said.

He expects the restaurant, which used to house a cell phone store next to Private Kitchen, to open late spring, depending on renovations.

Photo by Greg Rannells

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The Scoop: Nadoz Cafe & Catering sold to Deer Creek Cafe owner

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

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Steven Becker Fine Dining has sold Nadoz Cafe & Catering, located at 12 The Boulevard in Richmond Heights, to Deer Creek Cafe owner Kent McCarty. As reported by St. Louis Magazine, McCarty took possession of the space on Tuesday, March 14.

“I liked the feel of the cafe,” McCarty said. “And it’s far enough away from the first Deer Creek to complement it.”

McCarty said he’ll rebrand the restaurant as another Deer Creek Cafe this summer, but for now, it will remain open as Cafe Nadoz and feature the same menu. He said in the coming weeks the hours will be expanded from 3 to 7 p.m. McCarty also owns a Mississippi chain of coffee shops called Java Moe’s.

Steven Becker said the cafe was the last restaurant or banquet facility owned by the company. Going forward, he will concentrate on hospitality consulting and management work; the company has been renamed Steven Becker Hospitality Consulting. Becker said 35 years in the industry have given him a unique perspective to help others up their game.

“The plan is to help people out and use some of the experiences that I’ve lived through from all of the different ventures and facilities and things that I’ve done,” he said.

 

The Scoop: Riverbend Restaurant closes

Monday, March 27th, 2017

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Riverbend Restaurant & Bar, located at 1059 S. Big Bend Blvd., in Richmond Heights, has closed. The last day of service was Sunday, March 26, as reported by St. Louis Magazine.

Owner Sam Kogos opened Riverbend in 2010 in Soulard after relocating from New Orleans. The restaurant moved to its Richmond Heights location in 2014.

Kogos did not return requests for comment, but Riverbend’s website and a message on the restaurant’s voicemail confirmed the closure.

This follows on the heels of another prominent closing, Three Flags Tavern, in early March, also reported by St. Louis Magazine. Owner John O’Brien did not respond to multiple requests for comment since the closure. The restaurant opened in 2014; Sauce reviewed it in August of that year.

 

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