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Sep 24, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Bork’

Vista Ramen will helm kitchen at new Earthbound location

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

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{ Vista Ramen chef-owner Chris Bork (center) } 

Earthbound Beer will partner with fellow Cherokee Street denizen Vista Ramen to run the kitchen for its new tasting room at 2724 Cherokee St. Instead of Vista’s namesake noodles, Vista Ramen chef-owner Chris Bork said bill of fare will feature smoked meats, sausages and sandwiches.

As The Scoop reported in September 2015, the folks at Earthbound Beer have slowly but surely been working to get their new location up and running. After several delays, Earthbound co-owner Stuart Keating said things look good for a September opening.

Now that the end is in sight, Keating and his partners’ thoughts turned toward food service for the new place. Rather than helm the kitchen themselves, they followed in the footsteps of other area tasting rooms like 4 Hands Brewing Co. and 2nd Shift Brewing, which have enlisted local favorites Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. and Guerrilla Street Food, respectively, to handle their food programs.

 

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{ the interior of the new Earthbound Beer location in May 2016 } 

 

“We obviously can’t do our food down there,” Bork said. “It’s too close — it’s less than a city block away. But the opportunity to work on a new project, and the opportunity to work with Earthbound, was attractive. Earthbound is a brewery that’s really trying to do some different things, which I definitely appreciate. And that’s what we’ll be trying to do with the food.”

Bork said Vista would serve as a commissary of sorts for the project initially, though some items will be prepared at Earthbound.

“I’m not trying to get into the barbecue business, but we will have a smoker (at Earthbound) and a lot of the food will see time in the smoker or be based out of it,” Bork said. He plans on doing a rotating selection of smoked meats, along with sausages and a selection of sandwiches.

“We’re thinking of trying out a mostly beef kielbasa and probably a straightforward bratwurst,” Bork said. “Also probably one rotating barbecue plate, depending on what’s available, a couple of small plates, one of which might be a smoked fish dip.”

Orders will be placed at the bar, and patrons will be given a buzzer that will notify them when the order is ready. To avoid confusion, Bork said the Earthbound project may get a new name to differentiate it from Vista Ramen. He said food service would start sometime after the brewery’s grand opening.

Bork photo by Carmen Troesser; Earthbound photo by Catherine Klene

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

Related Content
Extra Sauce: Underground at Earthbound

Earthbound Beer to expand to new brewery on Cherokee

Guerrilla Street Food will take over 2nd Shift kitchen

Best New Restaurants: No. 2 – Vista Ramen

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here, the places that dazzled us from the moment they opened: St. Louis’ 10 Best New Restaurants of 2016.

 

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{ from left, general manager Aaron Stovall, chef Chris Bork and sous chef Zach Siecinski }

 

A glimpse through the large windows at Vista Ramen reveals a slim restaurant filled with smartly dressed young people sipping sake and slurping ramen, bathed in the green glow of that iconic neon sign. This is where the cool kids eat.

The centerpiece is the open kitchen where co-owner and chef Chris Bork transmutes Vista’s chic style from the space to the plates. Bork interprets classic Asian dishes or finds inspiration entirely elsewhere, letting ingredients take the lead. While it’s easy to love something like sticky pork ribs glazed with crab caramel, it’s the attention paid to humble vegetables that sets Vista apart.

Bork is a standard bearer for seasonality, allowing vegetables to express themselves fully on the plate. Take, for example, his raw vegetable salad: Julienned Japanese turnips, carrots, radishes and kohlrabi are tossed with maple vinaigrette, lychee and house-made Chinese bacon and topped with popped sorghum.

Despite the complex, dynamic flavors, Bork’s methods don’t require expensive equipment or extravagant technique. “The treatment is very simple: Don’t fucking cook them to mush,” he said. “Being able to cook a specific vegetable to its right al dente is something that takes time and a lot of finesse. Blanching vegetables properly is an art that I wish more cooks took seriously.”

Vista’s veggie ramen best exemplifies this perfected technique. Vegetables of the moment (turnips, shiitakes, kohlrabi and so on) are individually blanched, then roasted on the flattop to order. Each vegetable retains its identity while swimming with tender alkaline noodles in a rich broth that coats every piece in meat-free umami glory.

After the last summer tomato disappears, it’s easy to give into seasonal despair in an endless parade of roasted root vegetables. Not at Vista. House-made agnolotti are filled with rich miso-pumpkin puree. Butternut squash finds its way into dessert as a delicate panna cotta sprinkled with buttery granola and topped with spheres of poached pear. For this kind of invention, we’ll gladly weather bitter temps and crowds of hipsters to indulge at Vista Ramen.

 

More about Vista Ramen

New and Notable: Vista Ramen

• Hit List: 4 new restaurants you must try this July

• Sneak Peek: Vista Ramen on Cherokee

• The Scoop: Chris Bork, Mud House owners to open Vista Ramen on Cherokee

 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Editor’s note: In the print issue, we misspelled Vista Ramen’s name. We have updated this post and the online issue to correct the error. 

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

From new pizza joints in The Grove to 2nd Shift’s new home on The Hill, here’s what went down in the St. Louis food scene last week, in case you missed it.

 

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1. The Hill is about to get sudsier as 2nd Shift Brewing announced that after a three-year search, the brewery has leased a building at 1601 Sublette Ave., which will house both production facilities and a tasting room. The new facility will be open for a preview day on Thursday, June 9, and the brewery hopes to fully open in late June or early July.

 

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2. Doors open for dinner service at Cherokee Street’s newest restaurant on Monday, May 30. Executive chef Chris Bork and The Mudhouse owners Jeremy and Casey Miller have transformed 2609 Cherokee St., into Vista Ramen.

 

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3. With the goal of putting pizza and beer on the same footing, Atomic Cowboy owner Chip Schloss has teamed up with chef Wil Pelly and barman Tony Saputo to open Firecracker Pizza and Beer at 4130 Manchester Road in late summer.

 

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4. Look sharp, Maplewood. Artisan knife maker Nate Bonner and co-owner and CEO Melody Noel plan to open a production and retail space for nationally recognized NHB KnifeWorks on July 8 at 7328 Manchester Road.

 

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5. Staff is adding the finishing touches to Stone Summit Steak and Seafood in Wentzville. Developed by the same ownership group as Hotshots, Stone Summit will be located at 17 Cliff View Drive. Former J. Buck’s executive chef Patrick Viehmann will don the top toque when the restaurant opens in June.

Sneak Peek: Vista Ramen on Cherokee

Friday, May 27th, 2016

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Unlike many of us, the crew at Vista Ramen will be hard at work on Memorial Day. Doors open for dinner service at Cherokee Street’s newest restaurant on Monday, May 30. As The Scoop reported in August, executive chef Chris Bork (formerly of Blood & Sand) and The Mudhouse owners Jeremy and Casey Miller announced plans to turn the space at 2609 Cherokee St., into a 36-seat restaurant featuring ramen and Asian-inspired dishes.

The narrow space features a long open kitchen lined with a bar and a row of seats, while small tables line the front windows. The space’s design was heavily influenced by the 1930s, as was its name. The owners named the restaurant Vista after purchasing the large 1930s neon sign that glows at the entrance. Several local artisans had a hand in the restaurant’s design, including gold-leaf lettering by Phil Jarvis, handmade ramen bowls by Karabel and the kitchen bar hewn by woodworker Pete Voss.

Bork created a small menu featuring three ramen bowls: the pork-based Vista, the spicy shrimp and a vegetarian option with miso-roasted carrot and daikon and “coconut schmaltz.” Cherokee neighbor Midwest Pasta Co. makes the springy, thick ramen noodles. His small plates menu features dishes like a house-made Thai sausage, Korean fried chicken and a kimchi pancake.

General manager and beverage director Aaron Stovall helms the bar tucked into the corner of the restaurant. A small, curated selection of alcoholic beverage is meant to complement the food, including seven beers in bottles or cans, a handful of wines and a selection of spirits. Group service for sake and Japanese shochu will be offered. Stoval, who spent four years at The Mudhouse, has also curated a house tea program with help from Retrailer Tea.

Vista Ramen will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect when you step inside Cherokee Street’s newest restaurant.

 

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Chris Bork, Mud House owners to open Vista Ramen on Cherokee

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

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Seeing an opportunity to add an Asian restaurant to the eclectic food scene on Cherokee Street, Chris Bork, formerly executive chef at Blood & Sand, plans to open Vista Ramen with Jeremy and Casey Miller, owners of The Mud House.

Located at 2609 Cherokee St., the restaurant will offer ramen and other Asian-inspired dishes, although Bork is keeping the menu a secret for now.

The chef said he hoped to open “the restaurant of my dreams” after leaving Blood & Sand in December 2013, but the concept he had in mind proved to be too expensive. But having previously worked at the Mud House and missing the “tight-knit community” of Cherokee Street, he jumped at the chance to open a “super casual” restaurant with the Millers.

While he can’t discuss menu details, Bork said the food will feature Asian flavors and he plans to keep prices less than $15. He and the Millers plan to preview the Vista menu at pop-ups The Mud House and Maryland House in Central West End.

In additional to ramen, Bork said Vista will offer sake, Korean and Japanese soju, Japanese whiskey, and Asian and local beers.

Aaron Stovall, manager of the Mud House, will be general manager at the new restaurant, which will only serve dinner at first. Bork said he doesn’t yet have a projected timeline for when Vista will open.

The Scoop: Chris Bork talks post-Blood & Sand plans

Monday, December 16th, 2013

121613_bloodandsand{Pigs in the Blanket, a dish at Blood & Sand created by Chris Bork}

 

Where is Chris Bork headed? That was The Scoop’s next question upon learning that Bork was leaving his post as executive chef at Blood & Sand. Today, Bork offered a bit more information about his departure from the members-only lounge and restaurant. “I’m leaving Blood & Sand on good terms. It’s because I want to eventually open my own place. I can’t do that working the hours I work at Blood & Sand,” he said.

Bork did not divulge the concept of his restaurant and said he does not have a location for it. He noted that he has much more work to do to turn his vision into reality. “In an ideal world, it would hopefully be within a year,” he said. In the meantime, Bork plans to take a cooking position at an area restaurant (He expects to know where within a week.) while he works full-time to move ahead with his own project.

-Photo by Carmen Troesser

 

The Scoop: Central Table’s Nick Martinkovic headed to Blood & Sand

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

163539_505103386194005_902311188_n{Nick Martinkovic}

 

Blood & Sand will soon see a change in its kitchen brigade. Chris Bork is leaving his post as executive chef at the membership bar and restaurant downtown. Replacing Bork will be Nick Martinkovic, currently exec chef at Central Table. Accompanying Martinkovic from the expansive food hall in the Central West End is his sous chef David Rosenfeld. Martinkovic and Rosenfeld will remain at Central Table through Dec. 31 and officially assume responsibilities at Blood & Sand Jan. 5. Bork has not announced his future plans.

Martinkovic explained that his conversations with Blood & Sand co-owners T.J. Vytlacil and Adam Frager about the position began only two weeks ago. “It all happened fairly quickly once the ball got rolling,” he said.

Martinkovic left the kitchen at Roberta’s in Brooklyn, NY, nearly a year ago to move to St. Louis and open Central Table. “I didn’t think I would dig St. Louis as much as I do,” he said, calling the culinary community nice and tight-knit, and noting his amazement at how area chefs treat one another. “People want to help you,” he said, recalling one example of someone who offered assistance sourcing ingredients. “It’s something I’ve really never experienced.” Martinkovic also said the active St. Louis dining scene had a “cool vibe.”

Martinkovic called his tenure at Central Table an amazing experience, as he learned to manage “so many moving parts and components” of an operation that included multiple service models, kitchen stations and 10,000 square feet of dining space. According to Martinkovic, the company has not yet started interviews for his replacement.

Martinkovic said he looks forward to taking the helm at Blood & Sand, but noted that he will be “sensitive” when making changes to the menu. “I’m not going to walk in and change everything,” he said, adding that he will meet with Bork to discuss menu items patrons have come to enjoy and expect.

-Photo by Michelle Volansky

 

 

A sneak peek of the menu at Blood & Sand

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

091511_tjWill a members-only restaurant and bar concept work in St. Louis? All eyes will be on Blood & Sand this Saturday when doors are unlocked for the grand opening. While some might brush off the idea of paying to get into the downtown venue, those who do shell out the $15 monthly membership fee for TJ Vytlacil (pictured) and Adam Frager’s new spot will be happy to know that what awaits inside is pretty darn affordable.

For the bar menu, executive chef Chris Bork has created a thoughtful selection of nine nibbles (How ‘bout some truffled tater tots?) that run between $2 (for curried nuts) and $6 (for scallop ceviche or country ham). Prices on the dinner menu start at $4 for soup, with most small plates ranging between $8 and $10. Of those, English muffin and lox with house-made mascarpone cheese is on our must-try list, as is the broccoli and goat cheese agnolotti (crescent-shaped ravioli) in a pecan broth. While entrées max at $30 for prime rib, you can also fill up on a $12 burger made with grass-fed beef, onion jam, pea shoots and Missouri cheese, served with a side of fries. For dessert, Prosecco jelly with peaches and mint caught our eye, as did French toast with bananas and Nutella.

On the drink side, Vytlacil revealed that most of the 150 wines available are priced under $50 per bottle while cocktails range from $7 to $12. Blood & Sand has three cocktail menus: A Blood & Sand menu featuring variations of this cocktail classically made using Scotch, orange juice, sweet vermouth and cherry brandy; a beer cocktail menu (Blood & Sand will only be using canned and bottled beer; nothing on draft.); and a specialty cocktail list featuring a dozen or so original creations by Vytlacil. The doors open at Blood & Sand this Saturday at 1500 St. Charles Ave., at 5 p.m.

The Scoop: Blood & Sand bolsters bar staff

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

090711_lucasBlood & Sand owners TJ Vytlacil and Adam Frager continue to bolster their staff in preparation for next week’s launch of their members-only bar and restaurant downtown. In July, the duo hired chef Chris Bork, who was at The Mud House at the time, to man the kitchen. Today comes news of the latest hire: bartender Lucas Ramsey, who has been behind the bar for the last few years at Eclipse at the Moonrise Hotel in The Loop. Sauce readers named Ramsey their favorite bartender in this year’s Readers’ Choice poll.

Vytlacil expressed his enthusiasm for bringing Ramsey aboard, noting that he and Ramsey had worked together at The Flamingo Bowl downtown. At that time, Vytlacil was bartending and Ramsey was a door man. Both Vytlacil and Ramsey recalled the evening when Vytlacil prepared a Blood & Sand for Ramsey. “It was my first introduction to actual cocktails,” said Ramsey, who has since gone on to become a prominent player in the area’s craft cocktail scene and worked his way up the ranks at Eclipse to his current position as bar manager. Replacing Ramsey at Eclipse will be the restaurant’s lead bartender, Seth Wahlman. For more on the unique concept behind Blood & Sand, click here.

— Photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Blood & Sand project taking shape with chef Chris Bork, Caravelli to replace Bork at Mud House

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

052011_tjBlood & Sand, the members-only bar and restaurant venture by area bartenders TJ Vytlacil (pictured) and Adam Frager, is beginning to take shape. The target opening date for the downtown venue, according to Frager, is the first week of September. “They are doing demo right now. That should be finished by Thursday and our general contractor, Mark Robinson, who did Taste and Brasserie, will start renovation on Friday,” said Frager, noting a design feature in the space at 1500 St. Charles St., that he and Vytlacil are excited about. “There will be four columns of vertical green wall behind the bar. The concept allows us to change plants when we want to, to change for seasonality.” (Read more on the unique concept behind Blood & Sand here.)

As first reported by Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch, Chris Bork was recently hired as Blood & Sand’s executive chef. Bork has worked at Wild Flower and Revival, and he opened The Terrace View prior to heading up the kitchen at The Mud House coffee shop on Cherokee Street.

Frager stated that Bork will likely come aboard some time in early August, which is also when Frager and Vytlacil expect to leave their places of employment, Pi in the Central West End and Demun Oyster Bar, respectively. George Mahe reported last night that chef Steven Caravelli will be Bork’s replacement at The Mud House. That’s in addition to Caravelli’s new role at Entre Events, which we told you about yesterday.

— Photo by Brian Fagnani

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