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Feb 18, 2018
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The Scoop: Josh Galliano to open The Libertine with restaurateurs Nick and Audra Luedde

January 4th 12:01pm, 2013

UPDATE 1.8.13: Co-owner Nick Luedde expects to sign a lease for The Libertine within the next few days at 7927 Forsyth Blvd., in Clayton. This is the former home of Chez Leon, Leon Bierbaum’s upscale French restaurant that closed in May of last year. Luedde noted that, although the contract has yet to be signed, the terms still being negotiated are “all minor stuff.” St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe broke the news of the location, which Luedde has now confirmed to The Scoop.

Ever since Monarch restaurant closed in March of last year, St. Louisans have been waiting for news on what its executive chef, Josh Galliano, would do next. The wait is over. Galliano is teaming up with restaurateurs Nick and Audra Luedde to open The Libertine this spring. An announcement regarding the restaurant’s location is expected in the coming weeks, though Galliano did tell The Scoop that it will be in Missouri, not Illinois.

According to a press release, The Libertine will be a “reminagined neighborhood eatery” that combines the “warmth and easy one finds in their favorite local ‘everyday’ eatery.” It went on to say that it will “defy convention with fresh and creative cuisine, exemplary drink and impeccable service, all provided in a space that is fun, comfortable, but also stylish and perhaps, even a little bit sexy.”

The culinary focus will be to offer the “nuance and flavor” of top-tier restaurants but “without the pretension or the hefty price tag.” The menu, comprised entirely of shared plates, will be divided into the three categories: vegetables, meat and seafood. Galliano will prepare numerous items in-house, including bread, cheese, charcuterie and desserts. Initially, the restaurant will only offer dinner service; lunch service is anticipated later in the year.

The beverage program, under Nick Luedde’s direction, will include “modernized parlor cocktails” prepared using fresh and house-made ingredients, as well a diverse assortment of eclectic, value-driven wines and a selection of small-production craft beer. Nick Luedde, a St. Louis native, and his wife, Audra Luedde, have extensive experience in the beverage world. He is a sommelier and mixologist with 15 years of experience, including time working at restaurants and nightclubs in New York and Chicago, and has been recognized as Chicago’s Best Sommelier and Best Mixologist-Midwest. He also received The Wine Spectator’s Grand Award of Excellence.

According to the release, the design of The Libertine will be inspired by “the pared down styles of the early 19th century English Georgian and French Directory. The English club and the French salon were the beginning of the modern venue for socializing and drinking. The project will not only use stylistic cues from these precedents but, more importantly, will use spatial references: exposed brick, glass, metal, industrial accents and clear hand-blown glass along with rich accented lighting to create places of intimacy conducive to the art of conversation.”

Since Monarch shuttered, Galliano has kept busy. He launched a couple of one-day-only pop-up restaurants in August and September, and he recently signed on to design the menu for MX Movies, the new dine-in movie theater slated to open in the Mercantile Exchange downtown.  We’ll have more on The Libertine, including location details, as we learn them.

By Ligaya Figueras

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