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Oct 06, 2015
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Posts Tagged ‘Basso’

Better Than Nonna’s: Chef secrets for the perfect plate of pasta

Friday, September 25th, 2015



{Spaghetti with Heirloom Cherry Tomato, Shrimp and Arugula} 


A beautiful plate of pasta is nothing short of enchanting – rich aromas, nuanced flavors and the painstaking presentation of the professional chef. It’s easy to boil a pot of noodles, but turning strands of wet spaghetti into a Michelin-starred dish can be a tall order for the home cook. Here, area chefs share their better-than-Nonna’s recipes and secrets for everything you need (Pro tip No. 1: Start with fresh pasta.) to take your pasta from basic to bellissima. Get the recipes for:


-photo by Greg Rannells

Trendwatch: A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list (Part 1)

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015



1. The Wonder Years: Children of the ’70s can’t complain: Their parents let them run amuck outside, eat cheese from a spray can and buy candy cigarettes at the corner drugstore. Relive those glory days at Sidney Street Cafe, where house-made Wonder Bread is turned into panna cotta on a deconstructed tuna fish sandwich, or head to The Libertine for the aged white cheddar “Cheez Whiz” atop the burger. Finally, go to Social Gastropub in Edwardsville and get the lobster and shrimp pie topped with smashed Ritz crackers and reminisce about all the crushed crackers (or corn flakes) your mom sprinkled over every genius casserole.

2. Move over, Sriracha: Harissa, a red-hot North African condiment, has immigrated to the Midwest. Find the garlicky chile pepper paste accenting carrots at Basso, veggies and rice at Eclipse and the tomato salad at Cleveland-Heath. Harissa meted meatier fare at Element, where chicken wings were dunked in harissa hot sauce, and it added oomph to roasted cauliflower at Taste, too. It even served as inspiration for a dry-spice blend dusting the farro salad at Juniper.




3. Steamed buns head West: Everyone is putting a spin on Asia’s answer to the burger lately. East meets West in Peacemaker’s steamed bun roll stuffed with lobster and sour cabbage and in Kitchen Kulture’s everything-bagel steamed bun filled with house-made pastrami. In September, Blood & Sand will begin stuffing its house-made everything-bagel steamed bun with chopped chicken liver, but in the meantime its Peking bun holds Maryland-style crab cake.

 Click here to see Part 2 of Trendwatch. 

-Photo by Carmen Troesser

Happy Hour Like a Boss – Part 3

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

When the whistle blows at 5 p.m., there’s nothing like a strong drink to wash away the pains of the workday. You can find happy hours at any neighborhood bar and at watering holes near office buildings and factories. All of them will settle your fix for a cheap drink just fine, but a few get high marks – whether for the top-shelf drink selection, awesome food options or the duration of the deal. Our July issue features 22 places to unwind after work, whatever your reason for grabbing a seat at the bar.


{The Potted Pig at the Block} 


For the entire office: The Block
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri. – 5 to 7 p.m.

Schmooze your way to the top at The Block’s happy hour at its Central West End location. Though the workingman’s nirvana is available in the bar, invite your coworkers for drinks on the picturesque back patio, a fenced urban oasis decorated with string lights and fresh herbs from The Block’s garden. House cocktails ($5) are boozy enough to take the edge off a long day without turning you into the topic of office gossip tomorrow. Try the Mint-Basil Lemontini, an herbaceous combination of basil vodka, fresh mint, fresh lemon juice and prosecco that sings of summer. A happy hour menu of starters ($5) provides generous sustenance for sharing, like the Potted Pig, a jar of house-made pork confit served with ample slices of grilled country bread, plenty of sour house-made pickles and sweet apple-raisin chutney. Don’t want to share with Double-Dipping Steve from accounting? Order the ham and cheese panini ($5), perfectly griddled with bacon jam and spicy mustard, and enjoy an early dinner. – C.K.


For the wine enthusiast: The Dark Room
Happy hour: Tue. – 4 to 11 p.m., Wed. to Fri. – 4 to 6 p.m.

At this wine bar and photo gallery in Grand Center, you could shell out $195 for a bottle of a benchmark Napa cab, like 2010 Chateau Montelena. Better yet, go to The Dark Room during happy hour, when you can sip contentedly on a glass of select sommelier wines ($5). You might be in store for a 6-ounce pour of a white Bordeaux like the 2013 Chateau Buisson Redon or a Spanish rosé, such as Garnacha de Fuego Rosado. The wine menu, like the engaging exhibits on the wall, changes every two months, but we guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with the options on this list. Pair that vino with one of the discounted flatbreads ($6) or toasted pita with a dip ($3) of house-made hummus, olive tapenade or Romesco. If conversation lags, walk the room and let the photos speak to you. Currently on display is Chronicle Ferguson by photographer Santiago Bianco. – L.F.




{Fried calamari with chile-lime mayo and a mojito at BC’s Kitchen} 


For Sunday funday: BC’s Kitchen
Happy hour: Sun. – 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon. and Tue. – 3 to 9 p.m., Wed. and Thu. – 3 to 6 p.m.

Happy hour occurs almost daily at BC’s Kitchen, but the best day to hit up restaurateur Bill Cardwell’s casual outpost in Lake Saint Louis is Sunday, when the deal lasts from open to close. Take a seat in the bar area or on the patio and have a glass of Vista Point chardonnay or merlot ($3.50). If wine isn’t your wish, order your go-to highball from BC’s talented bar team. Well drinks ($4.50) are not a bad deal, considering that Broker’s gin, Old Forester bourbon, El Dorado 3-year rum and Lismore Speyside single malt – solid products at value prices – are among the rail spirits available. BC’s has a lengthy list of happy hour-only noshes from snacks like house-made Saratoga chips ($5.50) to filling bites such as a trio of mini cheeseburgers served with fries ($6.75) or the standout: fried calamari with chile-lime mayo and cocktail sauce ($6.75). If you haven’t discovered BC’s yet, it’s time to make the trek; there are no excuses – you’ve got all day to get acquainted. – L.F.



 {The open kitchen at Basso}


For a first date: Basso
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri. – 4 to 7 p.m.

First dates are rife with pressure. Give yourself and your wallet a break and meet face to face, like in ye olde days, at Basso for happy hour. Craft beers ($4), selected wines ($5), cocktails ($6) and small bites ($7 or less) are reason enough, but the forgiving lighting and hip atmosphere boosts everyone’s kissing potential. We can’t get enough of the truffle fries ($4) and crispy meatballs ($7), both also easy to eat in front of a perfect stranger. We found it difficult to resist the Peter Rabbit, a take on a Mexican mule that mixes Espolón reposado tequila, blood orange liqueur, carrot and lime juices, ginger beer and muddled basil. If all’s going well, you and your date could easily commit to a full, chef Rex Hale-designed meal that doesn’t break the bank. – M.P.

-Basso photo by Jonathan Gayman, The Block and BC’s Kitchen photos by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Patrick Connolly leaves Basso

Monday, January 12th, 2015


{From left, Patrick and Suzanne Connolly in their home}


Chef Patrick Connolly is no longer at the helm of Basso, the Italian gastropub in the basement of The Restaurant at The Cheshire. The James Beard Award-winning chef confirmed he has left St. Louis, moving back to the East Coast with his wife, Suzanne Connolly. His last day at Basso was Dec. 22, 2014.

Connolly said after two years with Lodging Hospitality Management, the company that owned Basso, it was time to move on. “It was never the right fit,” Connolly said. “I love the O’Loughlins and I love my team at Basso, but it was tough … It’s a hotel company and it never quite fit into the way that I run a kitchen.”

Connolly arrived in St. Louis in November 2012 and helped open doors at Basso just 19 days after moving in. A St. Louis native, Connolly made a name for himself in New York City, earning a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast in 2008.

LHM president Steve O’Loughlin said he was sorry to see Connolly go but was not surprised by the decision. “His ultimate dream is to open up his own place, and I feel fortunate that he helped us get off the ground and get us where we are now,” O’Loughlin said. “I just wish it was longer … I was just hoping he would love St. Louis and maybe change his mind, and end up staying with us.”

Connolly said currently he plans to move to Philadelphia to assist a friend with his three restaurants. Though he has no immediate plans, the chef said he does intend to open his own restaurant one day in New York. The move also allows the Connollys, including their new child, to be closer to his wife’s family. “It was more of a personal decision to move back east,” he said.

O’Loughlin said Rex Hale, executive chef at The Restaurant at The Cheshire, now oversees all culinary operations at The Cheshire. “The idea is to still embrace what Patrick has downstairs,” O’Loughlin said. “I don’t want to tweak too much that’s going on down there. I love everything that Patrick has done … I can’t wait to see what he creates in New York.”


-photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: The Market at The Cheshire to close Sunday, Sept. 7

Friday, September 5th, 2014



It’s the last weekend for breakfast sandwich fans to grab-and-go at The Market at The Cheshire; the restaurant’s last day for business is this Sunday, Sept. 7.

The Market, which originally opened in March 2013, will be replaced by a Starbucks in mid- to late-November, said Steve O’Loughlin, president of Lodging Hospitality Mangement. When The Restaurant at The Cheshire began serving lunch earlier this year, O’Loughlin said the two establishments were competing with each other for business.

“We want to narrow that focus,” he said. “The Starbucks will be a morning focus, The Restaurant will be lunch focus, and Basso will be night focus. We’re trying to create something where we don’t have redundancy.”

But The Market fans need not fear losing their favorite lunchtime treats; chef Rex Hale will continue to serve The Market’s entire menu of fresh salads and sandwiches at The Restaurant during lunch for dine-in or carry-out.

Georgia Kaye contributed to this report.

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right now

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Welcome to Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 9 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

1. The new Happy Hour Menu at WildSmoke offers all the barbecue joint’s appetizers at half off from 2 to 6 p.m. daily. We’re talkin’ garlic barbecue delta shrimp over pepperjack grits ($5.50), smoked wings ($4), jumbo “doorknob” onion rings ($3.50), deviled eggs made with cheddar cheese and “pig candy” (brown sugar-roasted pork belly) ($3), a trio of sliders featuring brisket, smoked turkey and pulled pork ($4.25), and a half-dozen other choices.

2. Is Sauce on the Side poised to take over the world? That may be premature, but the newly opened second location of the calzone kitchen certainly has a hold on Clayton. The menu stars calzones like the Costanza, a dough pocket stuffed with pepperoni, eggplant, roasted garlic, basil, mozzarella and ricotta, brushed with garlic honey oil and served with red dipping sauce, as they say, on the side ($9).




3. If you’re into fruit-infused, summertime beer, check out the Rubaeus Raspberry Ale by Founders Brewing Co. ($6), currently issuing from the tap at Basso. This sweet-tart double-fermented ale is made with raspberries introduced at multiple stages during fermentation. The bartenders there also offer their take on a snakebite, a “Black Raspberry” double-pour with Left Hand Chocolate Milk Stout on the bottom and Rubaeus on top to make a chocolate-raspberry beer ($7). Yummy.

4. Take away one of the five ingredients, and this dish falls apart. Put them together, and you get the winning gestalt of a classic app. The Bacon-Wrapped Dates ($7) at Joyia tapas restaurant are suitable for sharing, but you won’t want to. The dates are stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped with bacon, and roasted with tomato chutney and a red-wine reduction. Mmm…




5. It’s tough to say but fun to eat at the new Sizzle, Swizzle & Swirl Happy Hour at Ruth’s Chris. Slide up to the bar in Clayton or downtown from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and order some of the steakhouse’s signature bites for almost half price. Dig into three crab BLT sliders, normally $12, with zucchini fries, a plate of beautifully seared ahi tuna (normally $17) or even a steak sandwich and fries, typically $13, all for $8. While you munch, sip a cosmo, blueberry mojito or Ruth’s Manhattan for $8 or a select beer for $3.

6. Carondelet burger palace Stacked STL has a cure for the Sunday-morning hangover: the $8 Sunday Morning Breakfast Buffet from 9 a.m. to noon. The spread features biscuits, gravy, eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, muffins and fruit, and once you find your seat, a server will take your order for French toast, pancakes or an omelet. Order up a mimosa, bloody mary or unlimited coffee and settle in for an easy morning.




7. The All-Night Happy Hour at Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant wins our Inaugural Cuteness Award. Available from 5 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the promotion is a lineup of 15 adorable one-bite samples. Consider the cerdo, grilled pork with quince (75 cents); the alcachofa relleno, artichoke stuffed with chorizo and cheese ($1); the queso frito, fried goat cheese with cumin honey ($2.50); and many more.

8. Haggis is probably eaten on a dare at least as often as it’s eaten by choice. The infamous dish – organ meats and grains encased in tripe (stomach) – gets a modern makeover at The Scottish Arms. At the CWE gastropub, house-made haggis is breaded and fried to make Haggis Fritters, and served with a whiskey sauce. You don’t have to know what’s inside to enjoy them. The end result – additional hair on your chest – is just a bonus.




9. One way to try the fried fantasies at Vincent Van Doughnut is to track down “Clyde,” the vintage van converted to a doughnut food truck. Another way is to order them at Sunday Brunch at Atomic Cowboy. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Sunday, the Grove restaurant offers a rotation of two or three different varieties of Vincent Van Doughnut. Recent flavors have included Rumchata, maple bacon, salted caramel, turtle, Highlander (made with Highlander Grogg coffee), and Tuxedo (a doughnut with a vanilla glaze, chocolate-covered nuts, chocolate chips, and a drizzle of liquid chocolate). At the Cowboy, they serve the doughnuts with an ice-cold glass of milk for $5.

10. A single S’more is sold in a roast-it-yourself kit nightly at new pub Los Punk (which we told you about here). A mere two bucks gets you a pre-portioned packet of jumbo marshmallows, graham crackers and a single mini-candy bar, plus a wooden dowel conveniently soaked in water for roasting. After buying the kit, head out back to the fire pit to make your s’more. Los Punk is open every night but Tuesday and sells s’mores every night that weather permits.

The Scoop: Heritage BBQ by Cochon returns to St. Louis Sept. 14

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014


{From left, Blackberry Farm’s Michael Sullivan, 2013 Cochon competing chefs Fabrizio Schenardi, Gerard Craft, SPQR’s Matthew Accarrino, Kevin Willmann, Kevin Nashan and Cochon founder Brady Lowe}


Pork lovers, rejoice! Heritage BBQ by Cochon is returning to St. Louis this year. The national tour that celebrates heritage breed hogs will take place Sept. 14 at the Four Seasons Hotel-St. Louis. Cochon founder Brady Lowe brought his Heritage BBQ to town for the first time last year, and his 2014 ‘cue fest is set to be even bigger.

The main attraction at the event is a whole hog barbecue competition. Five area chefs will each cook up a 200-pound heritage breed swine to create six dishes judged by a panel of local industry professionals. The lineup of competing chefs is: Gian Nicola Colucci (executive chef, Four Seasons – St. Louis), Eric Heath (chef and co-owner, Cleveland-Heath), Patrick Connolly (executive chef, Basso), Josh Galliano (chef and co-owner, The Libertine) and Lou Rook III (executive chef, Annie Gunn’s).

But the pig-crazed can dine on more than competition barbecue. New this year is Barbecue Traditions, during which area meat moguls will serve a dish exemplifying their take on barbecue paired with wines, bbers or spirits. Look for Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse and Chris Bolyard of soon-to-open Bolyard Meat & Provisions to be among those educating eaters on barbecue culture. Other food attractions will include a pop-up butcher shop featuring Andrew Jennrich of soon-to-open The Butchery, a tartare bar with edible delights by Creekstone Farms, a cheese spread by Rogue Creamery and ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

Even though there will be pound upon pound of tender, juicy meat prepared every which way, libations aren’t an afterthought. Festival-goers will can partake in top-tier bourbons, Crispin ciders, wines, mezcals and Goose Island beers, including its rare Bourbon County brews.

VIP tickets are $200 and include a 4 p.m. early admission, as well as access to reserve wines and spirits. General admission tickets are $100; tickets available online.

Sauce Magazine is a sponsor of this event.

On the Line: Staci Powell of Basso

Thursday, January 30th, 2014




Line cook Staci Powell started her career in corporate kitchens at P.F. Chang’s and The Cheesecake Factory. But when the she heard about an opportunity to work in at Basso under James Beard award-winning chef Patrick Connolly, she jumped at the chance. Today, you can find Powell at the pasta station, whipping out hand-made noodles, and often working at Connolly’s side during events like Taste of St. Louis and Sidney Street Cafe’s 10th anniversary dinner. Here, she shares her experience moving to an independent kitchen and impressing Connolly with her grandmother’s fried chicken and greens.

On moving from a corporate kitchen
“You can be a lot more creative. … We take a lot of [food] from local places. … [Chef Connolly] is really big on seeing that from us, and you don’t really get that at a corporate restaurant. We also have a lot of events outside the restaurant. You get to see a different side. To do stuff like [the Sidney Street 10th anniversary dinner] is one of the best parts of this job.”

On her go-to staff meal of fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, greens and cornbread
“At staff meal, he wants you to put a lot of love in. It’s your chance to be creative and try other things and kind of wow the other employees… Chef loves [when I make that meal] because he loves Southern food. He loves when I do greens. They’re his favorite.”


-photo by Michelle Volansky


Still Can’t Quit the Fish?

Monday, October 7th, 2013



After reading about the allure of fly-fishing in Julie Cohen’s “Rite of the River”, wow your friends by preparing trout recipes from The Tavern Kitchen & Bar and Panorama. Still can’t quit the fish? Try these three fish finishing techniques inspired by some favorite trout dishes around town. And after that? Well, it’s time to go fishing.

1) Marinate a trout fillet with olive oil, toasted cracked fennel seed and thinly sliced oranges for 24 hours. Place fillet on a baking sheet and put in a 325 degree oven skin-side down. Bake for 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve on a plate brushed with almond butter.

– Inspired by chef Patrick Connolly’s red trout from Basso. For the exact recipe for this dish, including directions on how to make the accompanying green bean salad, click here.

Basso, 7036 Clayton Ave., Clayton, 314.932.7820, basso-stl.com 

2) Rub a trout fillet with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sear for 2 minutes on either side. Put the fillet on a baking sheet and top with sauteed vegetables (minced garlic, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, quartered artichoke hearts and sliced asparagus). Put in a 350 degree oven for 3 minutes. Finish with a splash of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.

– Inspired by chef Nathan Bennett’s grilled trout from Hendel’s Market Café & Piano Bar. For the exact recipe for this dish, click here.

Hendel’s Market Café & Piano Bar, 599 St. Denis St., Florissant, 314.837.2304, hendelsrestaurant.com 

3) Salt and pepper the inside of a clear-cut trout. Close the trout and dredge it in flour and then cook in a lightly oiled saute pan for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden. Top with a sauce of white wine, whole peppercorns, shallots, fish stock, butter, lemon juice, capers and dill.

– Inspired by chef Bryan Carr’s rainbow trout from Pomme Restaurant. For the exact recipe for this dish, click here.

Pomme Restaurant, 40 N. Central Ave., Clayton, 314.727.4141, pommerestaurants.com/restaurant 

-Photo by Greg Rannells





Nightlife: Basso

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

 {Second from left: Patrick Connolly, executive chef at Basso}

Wood-fired pizzas and bowls of steaming house-made pasta reinforce pseudo Italian-style cocktails at Basso, the boisterous and continuously packed gastropub burrowed below The Restaurant at The Cheshire. An upscale, casual spot where the flames of wall-mounted gas lamps crackle and illuminate an Old World charm, Basso is best enjoyed as a late-evening drinking and dining spot.

Read the rest of Matt Berkley’s Nightlife review of Basso here.

— Photo by Jonathan Gayman

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