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Feb 20, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Araka’

The Scoop: Clayton’s newest steakhouse nears December opening

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013



The space at 137 Carondelet Plaza in Clayton hasn’t seen diners since Araka shuttered in March. Doors are just weeks away from reopening, this time to a steakhouse instead of a Mediterranean-inspired concept.

801 Chophouse is slated to open early-to-mid December. This will mark the fifth location for the Midwest-based steakhouse. Others are located in Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Neb.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Leawood, Kan. The restaurant is the flagship concept for 801 Restaurant Group, which also operates 801 Fish and Pig & Finch Gastropub. According to Ian Rockwell, general manager for the St. Louis restaurant, the menu will mirror that of the other 801 locations, and there will be “features, seasonal things and fish preparations that change,” Rockwell said. Such offerings are noted on the restaurant’s Fresh Sheet menu and can include sushi-grade ahi tuna, live Maine lobster or wild salmon from the Pacific Northwest. Rockwell added that fish is flown in daily and filleted in-house.

Helming the kitchen will be Christopher Dennis. He recently relocated to the Gateway City from Leawood, where he worked as executive chef at that city’s 801 Chophouse. Dennis has worked at each 801 location, noted Rockwell, who likewise recently moved to St. Louis. He transferred from the restaurant’s Omaha location, where he worked as general manager.

While USDA prime beef and other steakhouse classics are the restaurant’s calling card, beverages are not an afterthought. Look for an extensive by-the-glass wine list. 801 Chophouse also will have a signature cocktail menu, including its signature 801 Martini that combines gin and vodka. Rockwell also said the bar program includes some house-made bitters and infusions.

Those who once frequented Araka will notice drastic changes to the space. The mezzanine has been removed, and a 35-seat oval-shaped bar will serve as a focal point. The restaurant’s footprint has been expanded to include the storefront to the west; the additional space enabled the construction of five private dining areas, the largest of which seats 50 guests. Expect a classic steakhouse feel to emanate from dark wood, leather booths and polished brass fixtures that decorate the venue.



The Scoop: Araka to shutter on March 9

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

After more than five years in business, Araka is closing its doors. Owner Brad Beracha announced today in a press release that he was shuttering the restaurant, located at 131 Carondelet Plaza. The restaurant’s final day will be on March 9 and will conclude with a farewell party beginning at 9 p.m.

News of Araka’s fate comes on the heels of the January closure of Miso, Beracha’s other restaurant. According to the release, “Though he has no immediate plans to re-open in a different location, Beracha doesn’t rule out the possibility of bringing a new concept to St. Louis sometime in the future.”

According to St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe, first to report the news on Araka, the space will not remain empty for long. It is slated to become 801 Chophouse, a restaurant with locations in Des Moines; Omaha; Kansas City, Mo.; and Leawood, Kan. Per Mahe, 801 Chophouse will assume control of the space on April 1. No opening date for the restaurant has been announced.

—  photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Miso on Meramec to Close

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Sushi restaurant and lounge Miso on Meramec is shuttering. “All good things must come to an end, and after an awesome 11-and-a-half-year run, Miso on Meramec will be closing its doors,” wrote owner Brad Beracha in a letter sent to supporters this past Monday. St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe beat Beracha in sharing the news last Saturday about the Clayton restaurant’s fate.

Beracha explained that multiple issues factored into his decision to close. “I put a lot of effort into Clayton this year helping with strategic planning. They lost a lot of traffic on that side of Clayton. Everyone has noticed that the vibrancy is gone. There’s not a lot of traffic to draw from.” Beracha also cited a change among his clientele: “After over a decade we just cycled through our regular, loyal customers even though we expanded and probably had more square footage than we needed.” The Underground Lounge was remodeled in May of last year. “When we remodeled, we did it for a demographic that isn’t anywhere to be had in the city of Clayton.”

Will St. Louisans see the Miso concept moved to another space? “It is a consideration,” responded Beracha. “With a smaller footprint, I could have similar success to Miso as we had in the early going. Right now, I’m keeping that door open but not aggressively pursuing it.”

Beracha confirmed that his other restaurant, Araka, also located in Clayton, will be untouched by Miso’s closing. “Araka has had a good holiday season. The two business models are so different; they still operate independently. My kitchen staff is the best that I’ve had in the five-year run that I’ve had down there. We’re still fighting the fight.”

Miso will offer dinner service through this Friday, January 4. A final farewell will be held on Saturday in the Underground Lounge, beginning at 7 p.m. Beracha noted that numerous previous employees will be on hand during the final days. Eliott Harris, Miso’s former executive chef who left to open sushi food truck Chop Shop, will be behind the sushi bar this Friday, while other former bartenders will be stirring and shaking things up on Saturday for what Beracha called “one last throwdown” that will feature a DJ spinning 1980s tunes.

— Photo by Brian Fagnani

The Scoop: Caravelli spins over to Pi Pizzeria

Monday, August 8th, 2011

061311_caravelliChef Steven Caravelli is a self-professed “man about town.” The Scoop caught up with Caravelli tonight to discuss his latest move: Serving as executive chef for trendy pizza chain, Pi Pizzeria, as first reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe. Caravelli will be responsible for the menu and recipe development at all Pi locations, including four brick-and-mortar restaurants in St. Louis, a soon-to-open spot in Washington, D.C., another restaurant set to open in downtown St. Louis next year, and the Pi On the Spot food trucks currently trolling the streets of St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

Caravelli has most recently juggled part-time positions at The Mud House and with Entre Underground, after leaving the top spot at Araka in mid-June. “This is more stable,” said Caravelli. “It’s one job. It was fun at Mud House, and with the underground I got to cook crazy food over the last month.” Caravelli explained that he will still have creative outlets at Pi via pizza toppings, appetizers and desserts, and that he’s looking forward to sourcing from more independent farmers. “No one farmer can sustain all of Pi’s restaurants, but five pork farmers can sustain Pi restaurants in St. Louis,” he cited as an example. “[Pi management] wants to go in that direction. They want to be as sustainable as possible.”

Caravelli noted that he has been in conversation with Pi management for the last five or six weeks regarding the job.

— Photo by Wesley Law

Get a free sneak peek at Araka’s new menu before it debuts

Monday, July 18th, 2011

071811_arakaWith a new chef at the helm, Araka, the Clayton restaurant known for good eats and craft cocktails, will soon be launching a brand new menu that transforms this Southern European-inspired eatery into a hot spot for market fresh cuisine. While many of the meat and fish dishes you’ve come to love at Araka aren’t going anywhere, chef Michael Burnau has added a variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free selections that are sure to have diners swooning. From duck confit tacos to short rib flatbread, watermelon gazpacho to grilled eggplant timbales, dozens of new items have been added to the menu to offer something for every hungry St. Louisan.

And now, the good news: You don’t have to wait until the new menu launches to get a glimpse (and a taste) of it. Join the Sauce staff as we sample many of the standout dishes from the new menu and sip house-made red and white sangria this Wednesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., in a complimentary sneak peek. So, how can you reserve a seat? Just be one of the first 25 people to e-mail us here. So go on, get e-mailing!

— Photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Where’s Caravelli?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

061311_caravelliSometimes, keeping track of where chefs are cheffing can be like playing a game of Where’s Waldo? Such is the case with Steven Caravelli, who left the top job at Araka in mid-June. Yesterday, Caravelli was cooking up Sunday Supper, a multi-course family-style dinner at Claverach Farm and Vineyard. And today, The Scoop received news that he will be participating in the next Entre:Underground affair, joining forces with chef John Perkins for an all-dessert underground meal to be held on July 28 at, of course, an undisclosed location (More on Entre:Underground here).

Does that mean that Caravelli will become a permanent fixture with Entre? The short answer, according to Perkins, is that nothing is set in stone yet. For the time being, however, Perkins confirmed that Caravelli will essentially be the pastry chef for all Entre endeavors, which include underground dinners and catered events. “I’ve never been much for desserts,” explained Perkins. “I think that desserts have been the one thing that have been an afterthought for Entre dinners and not executed really well. Steve has a passion for it. … There is so much freedom with our business for him to be as creative and [as] off-the-wall as he wants to be. He brings a very significant skill set to what we have … His coming on board is just huge for us. We’ll see what happens.”

The Scoop: Caravelli Leaves Araka

Monday, June 13th, 2011

061311_caravelliSteven Caravelli is no longer at Araka. As reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe, Caravelli, who left his post as chef de cuisine at the now defunct Sleek Steakhouse last summer to assume the executive chef position at Araka, has ended his tenure at Brad Beracha’s fine-dining restaurant in Clayton. Michael Burnau, who worked with Caravelli as sous chef, will take over the Araka kitchen.

Caravelli explained to The Scoop the reason for his departure: “It was a mutual thing that it wasn’t working for me and it wasn’t working for him [Beracha]. We left on good terms.” Caravelli plans to seek another culinary position in the area.

The Scoop: Miso on the Go delivers Japanese fare to corporate tenants

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

060411_misoRestaurateur Brad Beracha, owner of Araka and Miso on Meramec, has launched Miso on the Go, a catering business that offers on-site lunches to tenants of area office buildings. The program launched a few weeks ago, delivering pre-packaged sushi and other Japanese fare to tenants at Centene Plaza, located at 7700 Forsyth Blvd., in downtown Clayton.

Soon, Beracha expects to also be offering lunch at four area Monsanto campuses. In addition to delivering pre-packaged lunches prepared in Miso’s kitchen, a Miso sushi chef will also be on location at each of the office buildings once a week making lunches to order. Beracha is pleased with the new business Miso on the Go is providing, noting that the venture works out well since Miso is closed for lunch.

— Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Drink This Weekend Edition: Legendary libations at Araka

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

042211_dtwe2Even if you’re down to the last $20 in your wallet, entering into the sophisticated space at Araka in Clayton can make you feel like you’re rolling with rock stars. This spring, bar manager Tim Kosuge has extended that celebrity-like sensation to the brand new drink menu, complete with a slate of original cocktails named after historical legends.

The Secretariat, a nod to the famous racehorse who Kosuge recalled “everyone thought too pretty to be a winner,” is a nice grapefruit-forward variation of a mint julep and a bestseller on the spring menu.

The Benevolus, which features a house-made rhubarb juice reduction, Ransom Old Tom Gin and Madeira wine, is a play on a Negroni, with bitter rhubarb juice subbing for Campari and the fortified wine taking the place of sweet vermouth.

When Kosuge combined Hendrick’s Gin with St. Germain Elderflower and Green Chartreuse liqueurs, he wanted a name that expressed the union of French and Scottish spirits. A bit of historical digging revealed that the first known alliance between France and Scotland existed under the rule of Charlemagne, who lends his name to Kosuge’s lovely tall drink that also calls for fresh cucumber, lime juice and a topping of seltzer water.

Kosuge’s The Sparrow (pictured) is a rum drink he named after Jack Sparrow, the quippable protagonist from the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. The juices of fresh pineapple and lemon, dark rum, Licor 43 and a splash each of sambuca and agave nectar make this a stellar patio sipper.

Who’s your hero? Good guy? Bad guy? Entrepreneur? Dark horse? No matter who you root for, you can sip like a star with these winning libations.

Clayton Restaurant Week returns to get you out of your winter restaurant rut

Friday, January 14th, 2011

11411_CRWHaven’t had time to get away for a nice dinner lately? Is there a great restaurant you’ve been hoping to try but can’t justify shelling out the extra cash? Or, as the temperature drops, are you just stuck in a take-out rut? Well, fret not: Clayton Restaurant Week is returning for a little bit of culinary salvation.

Just like last year, diners can show up to several Clayton restaurants from Jan. 24 to 30, to enjoy a three-course meal for just $25. The list of restaurants this year is at 19, with a smorgasbord of cuisines available. Grab shrimp gyoza and the Erik Johnson Roll (filled with crab, cucumber, avocado, cream cheese, tuna, salmon, eel sauce, house-made creamy wasabi sauce and special seasoning) at Tani Sushi Bistro, enjoy lobster bisque and scallop of pork loin Zingara at the legendary Chez Leon or get a taste of Italy with  house-made gnocchi, lamb ragout and lemon-herb ricotta at Luciano’s Trattoria. Salivating yet?

Even better: Sip on a Pearl Vodka cocktail or a glass of Casa Lapostolle wine at a special restaurant week price. Not sure what to with all that cash you’ll be saving? Put it to good use by adding a few bucks to your bill for KidSmart, a charity which provides school supplies and educational resources to thousands of local students each week.

Here’s the full list of restaurants participating this year: Alexander’s, Araka, Bar Napoli, Barcelona, Bar Napoli, Cardwell’s, Chez Leon, J. Buck’s, Jimmy’s On The Park, Luciano’s Trattoria, Mazara, Mosaic Bistro Market, Oceano Bistro, Portabella, Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar, Roxanne, Ruth’s Chris, Tani Sushi Bistro, The Crossing and The Grill at The Ritz-Carlton.

With such a great deal available to all hungry St. Louisans, reservations are highly recommended. For more information, or just to drool over the slated menus, click here.

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