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Posts Tagged ‘Central West End’

First Look: Shake Shack in the Central West End

Monday, December 11th, 2017

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The day has finally come. Shake Shack opened for business at its first St. Louis location today, Dec. 11, at 32 N. Euclid Ave.

“I never would have predicted that Shake Shack would be the thing that would bring me home,” said founder Danny Meyer, whose Union Square Hospitality Group is best known for fine dining.

Meyer grew up in St. Louis before becoming one of New York’s most famous restaurateurs. The newest location of his internationally popular burger chain is blocks away from where he was born and where his dad lived in the Central West End.

Meyer was inspired by his childhood favorites when he originally developed Shake Shack’s menu of griddle burgers and hot dogs, crinkle-cut fries and concretes – including Steak ‘n Shake, Fitz’s and Ted Drewes. “A great Saturday was when Dad would say, ‘Let’s go to Fitz’s,’” Meyer said.

His hometown also inspired his hospitality philosophy. “I continue to believe that the secret ingredient in all of our restaurants has always been the values that I was fortunate enough to grow up with here in St. Louis, which is: people are nice,” Meyer said.

 

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St. Louis-style hospitality is one of two secret ingredients Meyer credits for Shake Shack’s success. “The other is coming from a fine dining background. Through years and years of opening restaurants like Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern and Eleven Madison Park and The Modern, we know people,” he said. “We source our products just like we do in our fine-dining restaurants.”

The beef in Shake Shack’s smashed patties is all hormone-free. The concretes are made with real sugar and offer a range of local flavors including slices of Pie Oh My!, Park Avenue Coffee gooey butter cake and Winslow’s Home chocolate cookies. “I grew up with the family who started Winslow’s Home,” Meyer said.

Meyer’s attention to detail was evident just two days before opening. He didn’t choose the location or oversee construction in St. Louis, but he did make sure staff knew how much fizz should top a draft pour of Fitz’s root beer.

While walking through the local bottled beer selection – Schlafly, 4 Hands and Urban Chestnut are all represented – he took a step back and glowered at the display. “Do you see the problem I see?” he asked.

A stack of Mast Brothers chocolate for sale sat beside the beer. If they went through all the trouble of getting excellent local chocolate in the St. Louis concretes menu, Meyer explained, why would they sell Mast Bros. bars? “Not that I’m ashamed of Mast,” he said. “I’m just really proud of Askinosie.”

He had the kitchen staff bring out a huge bag of Missouri-based Askinosie chocolate chunks. “That’s really good,” he said as the staff started passing them around.

“I haven’t been sleeping – I’ve been so excited for this,” Meyer said. Shake Shack is now open Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. Here’s a first look at the highly anticipated new restaurant:

 

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Photos by Caitlin Lally 

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Shake Shack will open Dec. 11 in the Central West End

Danny Meyer to open Shake Shack in St. Louis

 

Best New Restaurants: No. 1 – Vicia

Friday, December 1st, 2017

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here are St. Louis’ 12 best new restaurants of 2017.

 

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When something is as expected as naming Vicia the best new restaurant of 2017, you almost want to fight it. You want to know something big publications like Eater, Bon Appétit and Esquire don’t. (All have listed Vicia on national best new restaurant lists.) But you know what? Some things are expected for a reason.

It’s hard to compare a food truck (Balkan Treat Box, No. 4) to a weekends-only tasting menu experience (Privado, No. 2) to a bare-bones fast-casual spot serving one thing (St. Louis Soup Dumplings, No. 11). You have to assess each place on its own terms, and not just the qualifications of your personal preference. Vicia, objectively, attempts to do more than any other restaurant that opened in St. Louis this year. And from concept to menu, design, service and even a counter-service lunch option, it brings something fresh, stylish and clever to the local dining landscape.

Vicia is both familiarly hip and extreme in its farm-to-table, vegetable-forward sensibilities. Owners Michael and Tara Gallina captured our attention when they moved from the culinary Ivy League of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York to open their own place, intending to work closely with farmers to support methods so sustainable they improve soil health (vicia is the name of a cover crop planted for that purpose) and to waste almost nothing – not even vegetable tops – in the kitchen.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished with all of that,” said Michael, executive chef to Tara’s general manager. Vicia tries to support individual farmers by asking for the produce they need to sell, not just making regular orders. “We get a farm delivery every single day, and we try to make the menu a celebration of what comes in. It drives [Tara] nuts, because we print the menu three to four times a week sometimes.”

That kind of improvisation isn’t some hipster buzzword claptrap. Think about how hard it is to dial in one dish at home – a constantly shifting menu means a moving target. Vicia has three: lunch, a la carte snack plates and family-style dinner mains, and a tasting menu with wine pairings.

“We try not to waste anything,” Michael said. “The dynamic of lunch, a la carte and tasting menu really has to be very cohesive and synced with each other. If we’re running a pear salad on the a la carte menu, then the scrap has to be going into a puree for the tasting menu, or some of the other pieces that we’re cutting are going into Summer [Wright, Vicia’s executive pastry chef’s], apple butter.”

 

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Logistics nerds are already sold. But to be the best, Vicia’s food had to be as good as the mission statement, and eye-rollers at the concept would still be enchanted by its dishes that are at once familiar and unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

A quick pick-two soup/salad/sandwich lunch, for example, turns into something else when your cauliflower soup comes topped with popcorn powder. The fact that the lunch menu is not just fancy entrees priced down for midday makes it that much more impressive.

The tasting menu starts with a flurry of small bites arriving at once. Simple, familiar luxuries like raw oysters – flown in from Maine for a late-summer menu – are suddenly surprising when topped with a watermelon granita. The same course featured two pieces of compressed watermelon rind that somehow tasted just like a puckering bite of pith and yet refreshingly clean, crisp and mild at the same time. How do they do that?

Other composed bites – like a rectangle of yellow watermelon topped with translucent slices of pickled green tomato, herbs and blooms beside a creamy dollop of whipped goat cheese – displayed perfect pitch in both texture and flavor combinations. All the plates worked together in a larger symphony of individual movements. And that was just the first course.

Even with so many plates and pairings, service doesn’t falter. It’s no surprise the staff can answer any question you have about a dish – they go on field trips to farms and other producers about once a month. What is surprising is how relaxed such knowledgeable and orchestrated service feels.

“I’m trying to bring the touches of fine dining but in a setting that makes people feel like they can be themselves and not have to be nervous at the table that they’re putting their wine glass in the wrong place, you know?” Tara said. “None of that.”

It’s typically impossible to hold a conversation during a tasting-menu dinner – the constant ceremony of plate transmission and wine pouring dominates the night. But the friendly, rationed visits from Vicia servers don’t feel like an interruption.

“I don’t want people to think of it as, ‘Oh, that’s the tasting-menu spot – that’s the special-occasion spot,’” Michael said. “It’s the place where you can have any kind of experience you want.”

Vicia’s space is designed with that in mind. Light-drenched during the day and fashionably dim and energetic at night, the restaurant’s natural wood elements and massive white-paned windows make it feel both casually cool and sophisticated at the same time. It’s not easy to look so relaxed.

So while Vicia has its share of surprises, its No. 1 spot on this list isn’t one of them.

Photos by Greg Rannells

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Review: Vicia

• Sneak Peek: Vicia in Central West End

Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

Shake Shack will open Dec. 11 in the Central West End

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

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The wait is almost over. Almost two years after The Scoop first reported Shake Shack was coming to St. Louis, the popular burger chain will debut at 32 N. Euclid Ave,. in the Central West End on Monday, Dec. 11.

St. Louis native Danny Meyer founded Shake Shack in New York City and has opened locations all over the world, but this will be the first in his hometown. The CWE location will include plenty of nods to St. Louis, along with standbys like smash burgers and crinkle fries. The Mound City Double cheeseburger features Provel cheese, Niman Ranch bacon and “STL Sauce.”

“I learned the meaning and feeling of genuine hospitality while growing up in St. Louis, a lesson that has shaped my life and guided my career,” Meyer said in a statement. “When I jotted down the first Shake Shack menu, it was my favorite childhood food memories that most inspired me, and I’m thrilled that Shake Shack has at last found a home in my hometown.”

There are also three local frozen custard concoctions: the Central West End Blend, made with vanilla custard, salted caramel sauce and Park Avenue Coffee gooey butter cake; the Chocolate Chip Cookie with chocolate custard, a chocolate chip cookie from Winslow’s Home, chunks of Askinosie dark chocolate and salted caramel sauce; and the Pie Oh My, vanilla custard with a slice of Pie Oh My! seasonal pie. Local beers from Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., 4 Hands Brewing Co. and Schlafly will also be available.

Photo courtesy of Shake Shack

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content

• Danny Meyer to open Shake Shack in St. Louis

• 1764 Public House in the Central West End

• Juniper to move to new location in Central West End, launch new concept

Executive chef Michael Friedman has left Retreat Gastropub

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

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{ from left, beverage director Tim Wiggins, owner Travis Howard and executive chef Michael Friedman just before Retreat opened in 2015 } 

Chef Michael Friedman has left his post as executive chef at Retreat Gastropub in the Central West End. His last day of service was Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Friedman, who helped open Retreat in 2015, said he doesn’t have any definite plans yet, but he’s weighing his options.

“I want to challenge myself and do a little bit of personal growth,” Friedman said. “I had definitely hit the ceiling at Retreat and wanted to expand my range and fly a little bit. I think the long-term goal is to definitely open something up on my own. I’ve been talking with a couple of investment partners about that. But until that pans out, I’m doing some consulting work and I’d like to get into another restaurant.”

Retreat owner Travis Howard said in a statement that he is not naming a replacement for Friedman yet.

“Currently, we will be operating with the team that we’ve built over the past two years. We are confident in their ability to deliver all of the favorite dishes from our Retreat menu to the quality that our guests expect,” Howard said in the statement.

“We wish chef Friedman the best of luck in his future endeavors. We’re appreciative of the time that he spent with us at Retreat, and we’ll continue to feature the dishes that our guests have come to know and love, from our burger to the bread pudding.”

Photo by Michelle Volansky 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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• Best New Restaurants 2015: Retreat Gastropub

• Ones to Watch 2016: Tim Wiggins at Retreat Gastropub

3 tea-infused cocktails to try at Retreat Gastropub

First Look: 1764 Public House in the Central West End

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

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The Gamlin Restaurant Group’s newest venture, 1764 Public House, opens today, Oct. 25, at 39 N. Euclid Ave., in the Central West End. Brothers Derek and Lucas Gamlin, who also own Sub Zero Vodka Bar and Gamlin Whiskey House in the CWE, announced the concept more than a year ago.

Named for the year St. Louis was founded, 1764 features a New Orleans-influenced menu with jambalaya, gumbo and a veggie étouffée alongside St. Louis-style pizzas and local favorites like house-made toasted ravioli. What’s with New Orleans? “That’s our sister city,” said Derek Gamlin. St. Louis founders came up from New Orleans in the mid-16th century. “Plus, the food’s delicious.”

Lucas Gamlin designed the space with some art deco-inspired elements, like the gold-accented, towering mezzanine alongside midcentury-style furniture. “I wanted it to have that old/modern mixture,” he said.

The main dining room and massive 40-seat bar have a full view of the open kitchen, while another 36-seat back dining room can be closed off with huge curtain and rented for private parties. There is also outdoor seating on a patio with its own bar, and a 32-seat indoor-outdoor dining area the Gamlins call the Convertible Room, featuring a wall-length folding window that opens to the patio.

The classics-focused cocktail menu also sports a New Orleans influence with house cocktails like a 1764 Hurricane and blueberry daiquiri and flashy large-format Moscow Mules offered in enormous copper mugs. The Mule madness tops out with the 168-ounce Mondo Mule, which requires four or more guests to order, is made with a full bottle of Belvedere Vodka and costs $90.

The restaurant opens with dinner service tonight at 5 p.m. and will launch full breakfast and lunch hours tomorrow, Oct. 26. 1764 will be open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight. The Gamlins plan to add a weekend brunch service sometime around Thanksgiving.

Here’s a first look at what to expect at the newest restaurant from the Gamlin brothers:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

Heather Hughes is managing editor, print at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Chef Carl Hazel takes over Gamlin Whiskey House kitchen

• Gamlin brothers unveil concept for new project

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Build-your-own poke bowl spot Poke Doke will open in the CWE

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

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Central West End will soon see its first build-your-own poke bowl restaurant, Poke Doke. As reported by St. Louis Magazine, siblings Andrew, Annie, Leon and Steve Shih will open Poke Doke at 8 S. Euclid Ave., in October.

While riffs on the Hawaiian raw fish salad have popped up on St. Louis menus for years, this will be the city’s first dedicated poke restaurant. Andrew Shih called the dish “the Chipotle of sushi bowls.”

After 10 years running Hot Wok Cafe in Chesterfield with his father, Shih said he and his siblings decided to start the restaurant after eating poke bowls nearly every time they traveled outside St. Louis. They also have family and friends who operate poke restaurants in Los Angeles.

Shih said frequent fresh fish deliveries will ensure quality at Poke Doke. “We fly [the fish] in that same day, the second it gets fished out of the water,” he said “Within 48 hours, it’s at our table. Our No. 1 job is to keep everything fresh.”

Customers will build their own bowls, starting with a base of white or brown rice, noodles or salad greens, then pick a protein such as tofu, octopus, raw tuna or salmon. Next, they’ll choose a spice level for the sauce, and finally choose from toppings like cucumbers, pineapple, fried shallots, Sriracha and eel sauce. Other dishes such as pot stickers, miso soup and crab Rangoon will be available.

Shih said Poke Doke will seat about 30 inside with additional patio seating available. He hopes to be open daily for lunch and dinner service.

Photo: iStock

Rachel Wilson is an editorial intern at Sauce Magazine. 

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Driftwood Eatery owner to open Pig & Pickle in St. Louis

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

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{ Pig & Pickle chef-owner Ryan Lewis } 

 

Chef-owner Ryan Lewis is moving his popular Springfield, Illinois, restaurant Driftwood Eatery & Cocktail to St. Louis.

The restaurant – to be renamed and rebranded Pig & Pickle Eatery – is set to open this fall at 5511 Pershing Ave., and includes the space that formerly housed Atlas Restaurant. Driftwood closed its doors this Saturday, July 22.

Lewis said Pig & Pickle would have the same concept as Driftwood, yet with a bit more refinement. “The idea is locally focused small plates with a southern feel,” he said.

Most of Lewis’ management team will join him in the move to St. Louis, and the restaurant will keep several of its original suppliers like Garden Gate Farm in Fairbury, Illinois, which supplies his grits.

Lewis, who is originally from Bethalto, Illinois, said it was time to move on from Springfield, and he hoped St. Louis, with its vibrant culinary scene, would welcome his creativity.

“The food scene in St. Louis is blowing up,” Lewis said. “I’ve been (in Springfield) for eight years, and I’ve done all I can. It’s time to make the move to a new area and use what I’ve learned.”

Pig & Pickle will serve a variety of small plate options including braised pork cheek, roasted bone marrow and blackened shrimp. A few popular dishes from the old restaurant will remain, including the pretzel-crusted cheese curds and the fried chicken and biscuit.

Lewis said the new restaurant would retain the cocktail focus of Driftwood, but the hefty 70-cocktail list would be pared down significantly.

The restaurant will offer dinner Tuesday through Saturday and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, with possible plans to serve lunch in the future.

Photo by Kari Bedford for Pig & Pickle 

Rachel Wilson is an editorial intern at Sauce Magazine.

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The Scoop: Atlas Restaurant to close

The Scoop: Juniper to move to new location in Central West End, launch new concept

The Scoop: Rick Lewis dubs new restaurant Grace Meat & Three

 

 

The Scoop: Juniper to move to new location in Central West End, launch new concept

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

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{ Juniper chef-owner John Perkins }

 

Southern comfort food spot Juniper will move to a new location in April 2018.

Chef-owner John Perkins said the eatery’s new digs would be located on the first floor of the new mixed-use building currently under construction at 4101 Laclede Ave., in the Central West End.

“I would imagine in a year from now we’ll be open in that spot,” Perkins said. “We expect to get the space by the beginning of November, and then take it from there and do the build out.”

The new space will be larger than the original location at 360 Boyle St., which opened in October 2013, but not overwhelmingly so.

“I wanted to get bigger, but I didn’t want to get too big,” Perkins said. “There will be about 3,200 square feet, which is about 1,400 square feet more than we have now,” Perkins said. “There’ll be a bigger kitchen and a wood-burning grill that I’m excited about.”

The current Juniper location has 64 seats, including the bar. Perkins said the new incarnation would boast 120 seats. The new dining room will have the same 56 seats the original space has, with most of the new seats picked up in the expanded bar area. Two separate patio spaces round out the floor plan. As befits the larger bar area, Perkins said to expect an expanded bar program.

Perkins said he’s aware of the perils of relocating from an established spot, but he’s confident in the move.

“I think I have a pretty good idea of what the space is going to look like, and I think it’s going to feel like a continued evolution of what Juniper is. It won’t feel disconnected,” he said.

Fans of the original Juniper location shouldn’t despair. Perkins said he plans on keeping the space for private events, and he’ll develop a new concept there called Little Bird in the near future (details to follow). Juniper will stay open in its current location until March 2018.

Perkins is also still in the running for the Fantasy Food Fare competition, sponsored by Equifax, Rise and the St. Louis Small Business Development Center. The winner will receive two years rent free in a fully set-up restaurant space in Old North, among other prizes. If he takes the top spot, Perkins said he’ll open a meat-and-three concept in the space.

Photo by Greg Rannells

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

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Eat This: The Breadbasket at Juniper

The Scoop: Cassy Vires departs Juniper, John Perkins to step in with new menu

• Review: Juniper

First Look: Handcrafted by Bissinger’s in the Central West End

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

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Long known for its sweet treats, Bissinger’s is branching out into the restaurant scene with Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, a new cafe concept located at the company’s longtime space at 32 Maryland Plaza in the Central West End. Handcrafted opened softly last week, offering a new food menu in addition to Bissinger’s famous confections and desserts.

As The Scoop reported in March, the chocolate company announced it would rebrand its CWE retail storefront. “We’ve upped the game,” said Nick Miller, executive chef of Bissinger’s sister company 23 City Blocks.

Salads, sandwiches and soups are available all day, and in the evening, house charcuterie, fondue and shareable plates are available as well. Fans of Bissinger’s desserts shouldn’t despair of the new direction: the popular chocolate overdose cookie and classic Cococcino – flourless chocolate cake with vanilla creme anglaise – remain on the menu.

The revamped space boasts hightops and couches, perfect for hanging out and sharing some small plates, and the wine wall that features the Wine Emotion wine dispensing system. Guests buy a card at the counter, then insert it in the wall and pour themselves 2-, 6- or 8-ounce pours from 24 rotating bottles of vino. A full bar with house cocktails is also available.

Handcrafted is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Take a First Look at what to expect when you arrive at Bissinger’s new concept:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

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The Scoop: Bissinger’s to re-concept

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The Scoop: Bissinger’s to re-concept

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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Bissinger’s at Maryland Plaza in the Central West End is undergoing a transformation this spring. The location, at 32 Maryland Plaza, will be rebranded as Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, and feature an expanded menu and a self-serve wine wall, along with Bissinger’s gourmet chocolates.

The current menu will be expanded to include breakfast, lunch and dinner options, courtesy of sister company 23 City Blocks Catering executive chef Nicholas Miller. Breakfast will feature a selection of quiches, lunch offerings will include soups, salads and sandwiches, and dinner will be “light bites,” as opposed to large plates. Orders will be placed at the counter, where guests can also purchase cards to use at the wine wall. The wall will feature 24 rotating bottles to choose from, available in 2-, 5- or 8-ounce pours.

Kennedy Calton, marketing coordinator for 23 City Blocks, said renovations are expected to begin sometime in May. The restaurant should only be closed for three to five days, and reopen by June.

“We don’t have much to do in there,” she said. “We’re just looking to make it a bit more warm and comfortable.” Changes will include the addition of some soft seating and a bar along the front window.

Once the doors reopen, hours will be extended to Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

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