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Dec 18, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’

The Scoop: Post-Agrarian, John Perkins to stick to southern food

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

091013_johnperkins

 

If you’re wondering what will become of John Perkins after his latest temporary restaurant, Agrarian ends after dinner service Oct. 5, you’re not alone. The space won’t be the hyper-local concept Perkins described late last year when he outlined his plans for four short-lived restaurant concepts at 360 N. Boyle Ave., in the Central West End, nor a wild game-focused menu.  In fact, the Agrarian is “the last time for the quarterly thing,” he told The Scoop. “I’m not going to do that or a game-themed restaurant.”

Instead, Perkins plans to return to – and hopes to stick with for good – the southern dining concept he explored this spring with pop-up A Good Man is Hard to Find. “I want to explore that a little bit more. It went well in terms of numbers, and it was fun cuisine for us to make,” Perkins said. “The other factor is it’s kind of an unexplored style of cuisine here, I think, at least [being that it’s] southern food that’s not Cajun or Creole. I don’t see a lot of low-country southern, Mississippi Delta southern food.”

Perkins is still deciding what to call the southern-focused restaurant (It won’t be named A Good Man is Hard to Find.), which will debut mid-October. He expects it to be open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, the same days of operation for his previous concepts. However, he plans to add carryout at lunch featuring fried chicken plus sides.

In the meantime, Perkins hopes for a strong finish for Agrarian in its final four weeks. The menu, which offers many plant- and grain-based dishes, was never exclusively vegetarian. “There’s always been meat on the menu,” he said. “Now we have four meat entrees on the menu – but we can make most dishes vegetarian – so we’re friendly to a vegetarian diet but extremely friendly to carnivores, as well.”

-Photo by Jonathan Gayman

 

 

In This Issue: Trendwatch – A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

{The High Rise at Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood and Mike Shannon’s Grill}

 

Thank You for Smoking: Barbecue spots may be spreading like wildfire around these parts, but it’s the smoke in our glasses that really has us talking. After a cold-smoke infusion of the bartenders’ wood chips of choice, the liquor becomes a sort of paintbrush, casting its smoky stroke on everything it touches. Dive right in with the smoked-vermouth-laden High on the Hog at Hendricks BBQ or the cold-smoked aperol at Cielo. For a milder entry to this smoker-to-sipper trend, try the High Rise at Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood and Mike Shannon’s Grill, where a flicker of smoke deepens as the cold-smoked ice melts.

Less Is More: When Niche opened the doors to its new Clayton home with a tasting menu-only format, the shift was met with both excitement and frustration. But the renowned fine-dining restaurant isn’t the only one testing the local waters with limited options. Diners at nearby Little Country Gentleman must opt for either the 3-course menu or the grand tasting menu (The latter, numbering around 16 courses, has dropped in price to $78 a head.), while Anthony Devoti is offering a 5-course taster at Five Bistro on The Hill. Will we see more fine-dining spots move in this direction? Considering the creative license such a pared-down approach lends the chef, we sure hope so.

Head, Shoulders, Ears and Toes: You’ve had pig’s face and feet, butt and belly. The latest body part to benefit from the nose-to-tail trend: pig’s ears. We had ‘em deep-fried as a rich counter to hearty kale in a sprightly salad this spring at pop-up restaurant A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and we’ve sliced into the naturally chewy meat rendered silken in a terrine at Farmhaus.

Ingredient Alert: Umami in a Bottle: Considering folks are aging just about everything these days and the fact that so many chefs covet fish sauce as their secret weapon, we should’ve seen this one coming. Sneak into the kitchens everywhere from Blood and Sand to the here-now-gone A Good Man is Hard to Find to newly opened The Libertine, and you’ll find a bottle of BLiS Barrel-Aged Fish Sauce. For this wax-sealed condiment, Red Boat Fish Sauce gets aged for seven months in bourbon barrels that have already worked their magic on BLiS maple syrup. The result: a rich sauce with slight sweetness and subtle smokiness that lets chefs infuse umami into just about anything.

White Out: When YellowTree Farm’s Justin Leszcz grows it, the chefs will come. The latest crop making its way onto menus? Japanese white sweet potatoes. Find them stuffed – along with house-made chorizo – into a taco at Mission Taco Joint or head to Mission’s sister restaurant Milagro Modern Mexican where chorizo and sweet potato are the filling for empanadas or turned into a tasty hash. At Farmhaus, the veggie is cozying up to house-smoked ham and scallops at Farmhaus, and embracing its Asian roots with curried rice at The Agrarian.

Riding the Third Wave: When Scott Carey first opened the doors to his third-wave coffee bar Sump Coffee, he wasn’t sure anyone would be willing to wait for his hand-brewed methods and precisely pulled espresso shots. Two years later, the South City spot is the watering hole of choice for the city’s coffee-loving cognoscenti. And with local coffee chain Kaldi’s launching a renewed focus on hand-brew techniques at all of its cafes, it’s easier than ever to get a taste of coffee’s third wave no matter where you live. Stop by Picasso’s Coffee House in St. Charles, Comet Coffee in Dogtown, VB Chocolate Bar in Cottleville and soon-to-open Rise Coffee House in The Grove for a hand-brewed cup.

Meals on Wheels: Why go to dinner at one restaurant when you can eat an appetizer at one, enjoy an entree at another, nibble dessert at the one next door and have a night cap just down the street? That’s the idea behind STL Culinary Tours, Dishcrawl and Savor Saint Louis, three new businesses offering food tours of our city’s most food-filled streets and neighborhoods, complete with behind-the-scenes tables, chats with the chef and strolls from one hot spot to the next.

–Photo by Jonathan Gayman

Hit List: Two new restaurants to try this month

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013



{John Perkins}

A Good Man is Hard to Find: 360 N. Boyle Ave., St. Louis, 314.632.6754, entrestl.com/presents

If you’ve ever had John Perkins’ food, you know that it is as creative as the ways he delivers it – from his Entre Underground dinners to his first chicken-themed pop-up, Le Coq, this past winter. So hurry up and snag a seat at his newest pop-up, a southern-comfort concept named after the classic Flannery O’Connor short story. Start with a basket of house-baked bread, then bask in the supporting characters – from the pickled beet terrine with goat cheese and blood orange to the jarred sides of house-brined pickles, spiced nuts, sunchoke relish and chow-chow (a low-country mustard-based staple). When you finish off your entree with a blueberry buckle, order it topped with a scoop of buttermilk ice cream, a slightly sour foil to the sweet, juicy berries. This short story ends on Derby Day, so better crack it open soon.



Mission Taco Joint: 
6235 Delmar Blvd., The Loop, 314.932.5430, missiontacostl.com

From Adam and Jason Tilford, the busy brothers behind Milagro Modern Mexican, Barrister’s and Tortillaria Mexican Kitchen, comes this über casual ode to the taquerias dotting San Francisco’s Mission district. Seat yourself, then go with the a la carte tacos, wrapped in house-made tortillas and served with a bowl of onions, cilantro and hunks of lime for the squeezing. Brave souls should try the extra-fiery Nopales Taco (That’s Spanish for cactus.), while carnivores who can’t pass on pork belly will enjoy the crispy bits crumbled atop the tender Roasted Duck Tacos. The bar is in the creative and capable hands of Sanctuaria alum Joel Clark, who opted against an obvious tequila-heavy theme (There’s just one, solid margarita.) in favor of unique bottles like Blackwell Jamaican rum and Del Maguey Single Village mezcals. Sip apricot-heavy The Chaplinesque or place a pint glass under one of the 10 local taps.

– photos by Jonathan Gayman and Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Perkins’ pop-up Le Coq now a dead chicken, but diners can soon find A Good Man is Hard to Find

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Late last year, John Perkins, chef-owner of underground dining and mobile catering business Entre, announced that he would be holding themed restaurants at 360 N. Boyle Ave., in the Central West End. With chicken-centric Le Coq, the first of his concepts, recently retired, Perkins is ready to share more details about his next short-lived happening: A Good Man is Hard to Find.

His next pop-up restaurant, scheduled to launch on Thursday, March 14, is inspired by Flannery O’Connor’s short story of the same name and will feature Southern comfort food. A Good Man is Hard to Find will operate Thursday through Saturday, serving dinner from 6 p.m. (which might change to 5:30 p.m., noted Perkins) until 10 p.m. The restaurant will be open for a total of seven weeks, finishing with a flourish on May 4 with a Derby Day party.

Unlike the prix-fixe menus developed for Le Coq, the menu for A Good Man is Hard to Find will be a la carte and limited to 12 to 14 items that will rotate every few weeks. The food and drink menus will be posted by the end of the week on the Entre website. Reservations are not necessary but are already being accepted at entrestl.com/presents/.

Editor’s note: The reservations web page currently sports the Le Coq logo. Reservations for A Good Man is Hard to Find can still be made on this page.

The Scoop: Chefs on the move

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Three area chefs are adding heat to an already hot restaurant scene. Brian Hardesty (pictured, left) co-owner of food truck Guerrilla Street Food, is planning to open a restaurant, as reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe. Hardesty, who was executive chef for the short-lived Root at Starr’s in Richmond Heights and who previously helmed now shuttered Terrene, plans to open his restaurant, Element, at 1419 Carroll St., on the doorstep of the Lafayette Park neighborhood.

Element will be a “modern American restaurant that is local, seasonal and affordable,” said Hardesty. Its home will be on the second and third floors of the former power plant for City Hospital. The industrial feel of the space – there will be a restaurant and a lounge as well as two outdoor terraces – is also one of the inspirations for the restaurant’s name, related Hardesty, adding that the name was abstract enough to give the concept and the cuisine some “freedom.”

Leeway will be key, Hardesty emphasized, since his newest project is still in its infancy. “We’ve got blueprints drawn out. But until construction starts, I can’t say when it will be completed. Summer of 2013 is totally a guess. It’s more like, ‘hope [for] summer.’”

While Hardesty is excited to be back in the world of fine dining, he is still involved with Guerrilla Street Food, noting that he and his business partner, Joel Crespo (pictured, right), remain on the hunt to find the right brick-and-mortar place for their Filipino fusion operation. “We’re not in any hurry,” he said in regards to that business move.

John Perkins, chef-owner of underground dining and mobile catering business Entre, is another local food figure making moves. Starting in January, Perkins will be holding month-long, themed restaurants at 360 N. Boyle Ave., in the Central West End, another news item that Mahe was first to report.

Perkins’ first concept is chicken-themed Le Coq. Why chicken? “I love chicken, and I feel like it’s not very well appreciated as an ingredient,” said Perkins. “We’re trying to improve its reputation, [to show] that you can do a lot with chicken, use it a lot of ways. Pretty much every dish on the menu has chicken on it.” To get an idea of the pointedly poultry menu, check out the November 26 post on Entre’s Facebook page.

Le Coq is one of four concepts that Perkins has planned. Following Le Coq, and likely to debut in April, is A Good Man is Hard to Find. The concept, inspired by Flannery O’Connor’s short story that explores tensions between the old and new South, will feature Southern comfort food. This summer will see the arrival of a vegetarian restaurant, Green. The fourth concept, Black Walnut, will feature dishes prepared from hyper-local food sources.

Le Coq (and subsequent concepts) will operate for one month only, Thursday through Saturday, serving dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. At Le Coq, diners can choose from a 3-course prix fixe for $35, a 5-course prix fixe for $55, or a chicken dinner for four that runs at $160. The latter, noted Perkins, will also be available for carryout. Reservations to Le Coq are not necessary but will be accepted. Perkins is in the process of updating the Entre website so that reservations can be made online.

Finally, Jon Dreja is the new executive chef at Franco, as reported first by Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch. Dreja replaces Kris Janik, who took over this spring when Chris Williams moved over to Nico, Franco’s sister restaurant in The Loop, to help open the new eatery. Dreja has worked for restaurateurs Paul and Wendy Hamilton at Eleven Eleven Mississippi and most recently at Vin de Set.

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