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Jan 21, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Acero’

The Scoop: Brad Watts takes the chef’s toque (again) at The Crossing

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014



Brad Watts has worn the white toque in several places during his 12 years in Jim Fiala’s constellation of restaurants, including Clayton’s The Crossing and the now-defunct Liluma in the Central West End. On May 31, Watts resumed his erstwhile role of executive chef at The Crossing, located at 7823 Forsyth Road, replacing Mike Craig.

“(Watts is) very creative, he’s a good manager, (and) he takes great care of my staff … he’s just a superstar,” said Fiala, who also owns Maplewood’s Acero. “He’s been a loyal team player, and I’m delighted to have him running our busy kitchen at The Crossing.”

Beginning in 2003, Watts was executive chef by turns at The Crossing, Acero and Liluma, rotating frequently to the position where he was needed most. When Liluma closed in late 2012, Fiala, seeking to keep the chef with the company, made Watts The Crossing’s front-of-house manager, where he kept tabs on the beverage program and oversaw service. When Craig departed last week, Watts resumed his post in the kitchen.

“I want to make sure I keep people excited,” Watts said. “I want to stay within the realm of (Fiala’s) philosophy: seasonality, making sure we have as many local spring vegetables on the menu as we can.”

Other than a few subtle tweaks to a dish here and there, Watts said he has no plans to change the menu. His goal, he said, is to continue the sturdy reputation already enjoyed by The Crossing’s kitchen, known for its deft fusion of French, Italian and other Continental cooking styles.

“I’m a very technique-driven chef,” he said. “I just want a piece of fish cooked perfectly and a sauce that really complements all that and is done just right.”

The Scoop: Old Liluma to become Gamlin Whiskey House, opening in June

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Whatever happened to Derek and Lucas Gamlins’ plans to open a steakhouse in the old Liluma space in the Central West End? We were asking the same question, considering that the brothers, who also own Sub Zero Vodka Bar, had announced the venture back in November and pegged this month to open their contemporary American steakhouse.

Today, Derek Gamlin provided an update regarding action at the space at 236 N. Euclid Ave. The restaurant, whose name had been heretofore undisclosed, will be called Gamlin Whiskey House. While it will still be a steakhouse as previously planned, Gamlin emphasized that it would not be an “old-school” steakhouse. Rather, it will have a casual feel and be “bar forward.” As the name implies, Gamlin Whiskey House will carry an extensive selection of whiskey, with an emphasis on bourbon. The Gamlins, along with bar manager Dustin Parres (who currently oversees bar operations at Sub Zero) will be hand-selecting barrels of bourbon and making the spirit available on tap. “Eventually, we want to have six barrels on tap,” Gamlin said.

Gamlin declined to provide details of the food menu; however, he confirmed, that Ian Craig, executive chef at Sub Zero, is still slated for the top kitchen spot at the steakhouse. Jim Fiala, chef-owner of The Crossing, Acero and the shuttered Liluma, continues to be involved in the project, per Gamlin.

When asked what had delayed the project, Gamlin explained, “There was a snag in the lease.” The Gamlins expect to sign a renegotiated lease next week, and he noted that the restaurant has already been given its liquor license. Construction is expected to commence in two weeks; June 1 is the target opening date.

The Scoop: Liluma to Close, Steakhouse to Open In Its Place

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Liluma, Jim Fiala’s upscale bistro at 236 N. Euclid Ave., in the Central West End, will close this year and be converted into a steakhouse that’s set to open in 2013. Liluma’s Side Door, the small plates concept that Fiala launched in Liluma’s back room in August, is also closing.

While considering making changes to Liluma earlier this year, Fiala was approached by Derek Gamlin, who owns Sub Zero Vodka Bar with his brother, Lucas, about converting the Liluma space into a steakhouse. Fiala quickly accepted the offer to be a partner, excited that the concept would make the neighborhood residents happy. “Liluma has been there for 10 years and has run its course,” Fiala said.

The steakhouse will be a contemporary American steakhouse with an affordable price point. Ian Craig, currently the executive chef at Sub Zero, will take the top spot in the kitchen at the steakhouse, and the Gamlin brothers will promote from within to appoint a new chef at Sub Zero. Dustin Parres will oversee bar operations at the steakhouse while also continuing his role as bar manager at Sub Zero. The name of the steakhouse is set to be revealed in the next few weeks.

Fiala will stay on as a consultant and be “a touch more than a silent partner because of my skill set. I can offer knowledge on food and wine and service,” he explained. “I didn’t want to leave the Central West End. This keeps me in the West End, even though it might be more limited.” The change will also give Fiala more time at his other restuarants, The Crossing in Clayton and Acero in Maplewood.

The space will be given a total gut rehab to “put the Sub Zero and Gamlin twist on it,” said Derek Gamlin. “This is not a Fiala Food restaurant,” he continued. “It’s totally different; it’s from our corporate side.” Though no exact date has been given, Fiala said that Liluma will close sometime in December, possibly as late as December 31. Construction will begin on January 1, and the steakhouse is tentatively slated to open on March 1. More as we learn it.

The Scoop: Sous chefs battle at Kitchen Conservatory on Monday

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Sous chefs (and chef de cuisines) from five of the area’s top restaurants will be battling it out for bragging rights and a cash prize this coming Monday, October 15. The Sous Chef Battle Royale contestants – Chris Bolyard (Sidney Street Cafe), Adam Gnau (Acero), Nate Hereford (Niche), Andrew Jennrich (Farmhaus) and Jesse Mendica (Annie Gunn’s) –  will be going head-to-head at Kitchen Conservatory. Each chef will have 90 minutes to prepare two dishes, both of which must include a secret ingredient. Dishes will be scored on taste, originality and presentation by a panel of celebrity judges. The winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000.

Want to get in on the action? You can purchase a $5 ticket here, which includes complimentary wine and beer. The event is limited to 65 guests.

A tour for your taste buds: StL Culinary Tours offers intimate experience for food enthusiasts

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Looking for a unique way to experience the local culinary scene? Check out StL Culinary Tours, a brand new business that offers guided tours of gems from the St. Louis food scene. Guests of the tour will enjoy an intimate evening of food and drink in the company of chefs, beverage experts, artisan food producers and local farmers. The newly launched tour company is a project by self-proclaimed “culinary evangelist” Beth Huch in response to what she calls the region’s growing appreciation for all things culinary.

The first guided tours – scheduled for October 4 and 18 as well as November 1 and 15 – will showcase Maplewood’s culinary scene. At the boutique shop Vom Foss, guests will enjoy a craft cocktail, learn about innovative oil and vinegar pairings, and leave with two of their favorite oils and vinegars in hand. Moving on to Italian restaurant Acero, guests will enjoy dinner and wine in a private dining room where chef Adam Gnau will create appetizers, pasta dishes and entrees. The tour culminates at the cocktail lounge Water Street Cafe, where brother-sister team Gabe and Maria Kveton will prepare dessert and a nightcap for guests. Each tour begins at 6 p.m. and is limited to 10 guests.

Subsequent tours are being planned for downtown St. Louis, Clayton, Webster Groves, Central West End and Chaumette Winery. StL Culinary Tours also offers private, corporate, alumni and group tours, as well as gift certificates. For more information, including pricing, or to reserve your spot on a tour, visit the company website.

The Scoop: The Terrace View to close due to lack of downtown dinner-goers

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

010710_terraceviewJim Fiala is calling it quits for The Terrace View, his downtown restaurant at 808 Chestnut St., that sits adjacent to Citygarden sculpture park. As first reported by Matt Sorrell of Feast, Fiala cited a lack of dinner patrons as the reason for closing the restaurant a little more than two years after it debuted.

While Fiala noted that lunchtime business has been consistent, dinner service has not seen the same success. “No one goes to the park at nighttime,” he said, noting that “last year about this time” was when he first harbored thoughts of closing the restaurant. “Once the newness of the park wore off – then you go through a winter of 10 degrees with blasting cold wind; no one will go to the park to see the garden.” Likewise, Fiala has seen excessive heat affect dinner service in the summer. “I had 45 people on the books on a Saturday night in July. But it was 105 degrees outside. By noon, every single reservation had called and canceled.” In Fiala’s view, the general public deems the restaurant and Citygarden as “a package deal.” While he would like to offer this amenity, “it’s not worth the hassle,” he summed.

As you’ll remember, The Terrace View has seen quite a bit of activity this year in the kitchen as well. In April, Jonathan Olson, formerly the executive chef at Erato Wine Bar in Edwardsville, took the top spot at The Terrace View. It wasn’t but a couple months later that Fiala confirmed that Olson had left The Terrace View and been replaced by Mason Denton, who formerly cooked at Pomme Café and Wine Bar in Clayton.

Beginning October 1, the restaurant will switch to its winter hours, serving only weekday lunch. Doors will close for good after service on December 31, which is when Fiala’s lease ends. Employees at the Terrace View, said Fiala, will be offered positions at his other three restaurants, Liluma, Acero and The Crossing.

List of restaurants featured at this year’s Saucy Soirée revealed

Friday, June 24th, 2011

062411_soireeNo one likes when the weekend comes to an end, but this weekend, we can’t wait until Sunday arrives. That’s because we’ll be over at the Four Seasons for our biggest party of the year: the Saucy Soirée.

Each year, thousands of hungry St. Louisans come out for the event, which honors the winners of our annual Readers’ Choice Poll. Guests get to enjoy food, wine and beer from their favorite hot spots, listen to live music from local bands and toast the night away under the stars on the rooftop terrace of the Four Seasons. And the cherry on top? All Soirée guests get a sneak preview of this year’s Readers’ Choice winners before the July issue comes out next month.

Tickets are still available, but time is running out to be able to enjoy all this great food for just $25 – what a steal – so be sure to order yours today. And now, we’re excited to reveal the list of 37 restaurants, wineries and breweries who will be dishing up what they do best at this year’s Soirée. See you there!

• Acero

• Annie Gunn’s

• Baileys’ Chocolate Bar

• Baileys’ Range

• Brasserie by Niche

• Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar

• Chandler Hill Vineyards

• Chaumette Vineyards

• Chauvin Coffee

• Cielo

• Companion

• Crown Candy Kitchen

• Crown Valley Winery

• Eleven Eleven Mississippi

• Farmhaus

• Ferguson Brewing Co.

• Fritanga

• Harvest

• Hollyberry Catering

• Jilly’s Cupcake Bar and Café

• Kakao Chocolate

• Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood

• Modesto

• Molly’s In Soulard

• Niche

• Pappy’s Smokehouse

• Peel Wood Fired Pizza

• Prime 1000

• Rooster

• Salt

• Salume Beddu

• Schlafly

• Sidney Street Café

• Stone Hill Winery

• Truffles

• Vin De Set

• Wasabi Sushi Bar

The Scoop: Water Street adds to downtown Maplewood drinking and dining scene

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

121510_cafeGabe Kveton has long held hopes of operating a cocktail bar. He’ll get his wish when he opens the doors to Water Street at 7268 Manchester Road, next to Acero, scheduled for February. Water Street, nostalgically named for Kveton’s father’s now defunct publishing company, will be both cocktail bar and café, with a focus on local, organic fare.

The 1,200-square-foot venue will initially only keep dinner hours, serving small plates, appetizers, paninis, house-made pastries and, of course, coffee drinks. Cocktails on the menu will include both signature and classic potions – some that call for Kveton’s own house-made infusions, grenadines and limoncello.

Running the cocktail bar and café means that Kveton will be leaving his post as manager and server at I Fratellini, where he’s worked since the Italian restaurant opened in 2001. He’s excited for the new venture. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a while,” he said. “This spot opening on Manchester and my ideas – the timing seems really right.”

Fiala’s chefs battle it out in the St. Louis Chef Wars

Monday, October 18th, 2010

101810_battleJim Fiala is the owner of four restaurants around town: Liluma in the Central West End, The Crossing in Clayton, Acero in Maplewood and The Terrace View downtown. But he’s also a chef. And you may not know it yet but those who wear the white coats at each of his acclaimed restaurants will soon battle one another for the grand daddy of cooking competitions: Taking on the boss.

The St. Louis Chef Wars start out Nov. 8 at The Terrace View with the restaurant’s chef, Brad Watts, taking on The Crossing’s Ian Vest in a six-course Bottleshock Smackdown. Watts will be putting his California cuisine up against Vest’s French fare in a six-course meal that will include wines from both France and California, including Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, which was featured in the 2008 movie, Bottleshock. A $100 ticket will buy you dinner, wine and the right to vote on the winner.

The chefs from Fiala’s other two spots around town, Adam Gnau of Acero and Nick Cox of The Terrace View, will battle it out in December, followed by the winners’ battle in January and the grand competition against Fiala in February.

Now, as the Iron Chef chairman would say, let the games begin! To make reservations, call 314.436.8855.

Tasty deals at all four Fiala restaurants

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

040710_eggIf you’re a Jim Fiala devotee – that is, you make The Crossing, Liluma, Acero and The Terrace View part of your dining circuit – you’re going to love the deal that the chef-restaurateur is offering throughout the month of April at all four of his restaurants: a four-course dinner for $25. While the menu will vary at each eatery, the offer includes a soup or salad, an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert and is available evenings, Monday through Saturday.

The occasion for this buck-saving, fine-dining experience? Fiala is celebrating the 12th anniversary of The Crossing in Clayton, the third anniversary of Acero in Maplewood and the first spring at The Terrace View perched in Citygarden downtown. We can’t think of a tastier, more affordable way to observe these merry milestones.

– Ligaya Figueras

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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