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Oct 23, 2014
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Posts Tagged ‘Clayton’

The Scoop: Bryan Carr to close Pomme Restaurant and Pomme Café & Wine Bar, open Avenue in Roxane space

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014


Editor’s Note: This Scoop has been updated to include comments from Roxane co-owner Natasha Creel.

Chef-owner Bryan Carr is closing his two Clayton restaurants, Pomme Restaurant and Pomme Café & Wine Bar, with plans to merge the best elements of each in a new restaurant called Avenue. The new concept will be located just one block west of the Pomme eateries, at 12 N. Meramec Ave., in the space currently occupied by Roxane. That Clayton establishment recently announced it is closing its doors for good this Saturday, Sept. 6, on its Facebook page.

“We were looking for a way to combine the two restaurants,” Carr said. “We hoped to stay on N. Central, maybe expand, but we couldn’t find a practical way to do that. We wanted to stay in the same neighborhood, (wanted) a friendly space and one that is easy to use. We love the outdoor dining in our new location. The layout gives us a chance to separate one room when needed so we can accommodate private events.”

Regular guests at Pomme restaurants will notice numerous similarities between those eateries and Avenue – from décor to dishes to precise execution in preparation and service. While the old Roxane space won’t undergo structural changes, Carr said it will see cosmetic ones. “Diane (Carr) will put her style on it,” he said. “If you like the rooms at Pomme, you’ll like the room at Avenue.”

As for familiar dishes, look for Pomme Café’s trout and some pasta dishes on Avenue’s menu, as well as Pomme Restaurant’s short ribs and its notable Apples For Olivia dessert, honey-roasted apples in puff pastry with pine nut cream and apple sorbet. Pomme Restaurant will close in late September, with the cafe following soon afterward, according to Carr. Avenue will open in early October.

Roxane co-owner Natasha Creel said after more than seven years, she and co-owner Emily Matthes decided they were ready for a new project. “It was time to take a step back … focus a bit more on ourselves and do a smaller venture,” Creel said.

Creel and Matthes are starting This and That Catering and have plans to roll out a food truck. Creel said that like Roxane’s, the menus for both the catering company and the food truck will be an eclectic selection of anything from smoked meats to Mexican fare. Look for more information about their upcoming mobile eatery closer to its launch date in mid-October.

Catherine Klene contributed to this report.

-photo by Richard Nichols

The Scoop: Breakfast and lunch cafe Whitebox Eatery to open in Clayton

Friday, May 30th, 2014


The space at 176 Carondelet Plaza in Clayton is getting a new tenant. Whitebox Eatery, a breakfast and lunch concept, is slated to open in the spot formerly occupied by Stratton’s Café in late July or early August.

Whitebox Eatery is a venture headed by Brendan Marsden, co-owner of Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant and online wine, spirits and beer boutique Clink. The restaurant will be open daily, offering quick service, with counter ordering and food delivered to the table (on china, not plastic) by servers. To accommodate patrons pressed for time, Marsden plans to incorporate a rapid pick-up system that allows customers who place an order online or via phone to pick up their food packaged in white box carryout containers.

Breakfast offerings will include house-made pastries, breakfast sandwiches and a few hearty plates, plus doughnuts by Vincent Van Doughnut, an area food truck co-owned by Marsden’s brother, Brian Marsden. Lunch will consist primarily of sandwiches, salads and house-made soups. Marsden compared the fare to a chef-driven elevated Panera Bread, featuring as much organic and local ingredients as possible. An area chef has been tapped to helm the kitchen, but the individual’s name will be announced at a later date.

A limited selection of beer and wine will be available, including the sale of bottles for off-premise consumption, which may appeal to building employees and guests of nearby hotels.

Besides the 110-seat cafe, Whitebox will operate a kiosk in the plaza lobby for building employees. Danishes, bagels, grab-and-go items and coffee will be available at the kiosk. Whitebox will also offer delivery throughout Clayton, as well as catering.

Marsden said the restaurant’s name references the construction and real estate term for a “white box,” a space with a concrete slab floor, a finished ceiling, walls prepped for painting, lighting, and heating and cooling systems. He anticipates opening doors – after giving the space a makeover that will leave it contemporary” and sleek, yet casual.



Sneak Peek: Craft Beer Cellar

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Craft Beer Cellar opens May 17 at 8113 Maryland Ave., in Clayton. A venture by franchisees and brothers Brandon and Ryan Nickelson, the shop marks the first Missouri location for the Massachusetts-based craft beer retailer. A location in Columbia, Missouri is also in the works.

The store, which will be open daily, looks to be a craft beer haven with more than 1,000 different products available. Craft Beer Cellar also has a tasting bar and tasting tables. At the former, customers can enjoy free samples or purchase a five-beer flight. (Beer-infused baked goods by Pint Size Bakery and locally made Billy Goat chips will also be available here.) At the tasting tables, built with reclaimed wood by local furniture company Rustic Grain, brewery representatives and distributors will be on hand to offer tastings of featured brews.

Craft Beer Cellar also carries some wine and soda. With a full liquor license, Ryan Nickelson said the store may carry spirits in the future. Look also for beer-related products including books, home-brewing kits and gifts.

Here’s what you’ll find when Craft Beer Cellar opens its doors.


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

First Look: 801 Chophouse

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

801 Chophouse opened doors Dec. 20 at 137 Carondelet Plaza in Clayton. The new restaurant is the fifth location of Midwest-based steakhouse for owner Jimmy Lynch. Other 801 Chophouses are located in Kansas City, Mo.; Omaha, Neb.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Leawood, Kan.

The 10,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Araka was transformed to reflect the concept’s signature 1920s style. The vast space features high ceilings, dark wood and sumptuous leather booths. In addition to the expansive dining room that seats 275, the restaurant has five private dining rooms. 801 Chophouse’s menu offers USDA Prime beef, seafood and an extensive wine list.


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-photos by Sara Graham

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.



Clayton student launches company to sell DIY lemonade stands

Friday, August 30th, 2013



Every year, young entrepreneurs across the country learn the value of a hard day’s work and earn their own money selling lemonade, a quintessential summer beverage. That idea, along with a desire for a cold glass of lemonade, inspired Clayton High School student Joel Zeid to come up with a new, do-it-yourself product, Lemonade Stand in a Box.

Made of recyclable paper, the stand was developed with the help of engineers at St. Louis’ Loy-Lange Box Co.  The lemonade stand weighs in at less than 11 ½ pounds and is assembled with waterproof adhesive, so it can handle most abuse a young lemonade stand operator could put it through. Its white linerboard serves as a blank canvas, letting children create their own designs to market their lemonade.

In the spirit of entrepreneurship, Zeid launched a company to sell his product, Do It Yourself Toys. Lemonade Stand In a Box is currently available at Happy Up Toys in St. Louis and Edwardsville, Ill., and Imagination Toys in St. Louis.





Hit List: Five new restaurants to try this month

Monday, May 6th, 2013

PICCIONE PASTRY: 6197 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.932.1355, piccionepastry.com

Next time you’re in The Loop, stop by this new corner bakery for a sugar rush that will make you feel as though you’ve been strolling the cobblestone streets of Italy. Dunk bombolini into a trio of dipping sauces (rich chocolate or fruit-forward raspberry and lemon curds), nibble one of nine varieties of cream-filled cannoli or eat the Italian flag with a slice of chocolate-dipped marzipan Italian Tricolor cake (pictured).

BOMBAY FOOD JUNKIES: 573.578.6583, twitter.com/bombayfoodtruck, facebook.com/bombayfoodjunkies

A new truck rolls into town this month that pays homage to the vegetarian street fare of Bombay. Start with the vada pav, a potato burger served with a bright green cilantro-jalapeno chutney, and the pav bhaji, a fiery mixture of vegetables cooked in a slew of spices, sopped up with a buttery Indian bun. Finish things off with a cup of kulfi ice cream, which tastes of sweet cardamom.

ALUMNI SAINT LOUIS: 200 N. 13th St., St. Louis, 314.241.5888, facebook.com/alumnistl 

Chef Eric Brenner (formerly of Moxy) helms the kitchen at this new spot, where STL classics are infused with from-scratch preparations and locally sourced ingredients. T-ravs are rolled out in the kitchen and filled with a blend of salsiccia, veal, beef and cheese. The slinger is topped with farm-fresh eggs. And the gooey butter cake looks more like a blueberry cheesecake. But one bite reveals Alumni’s mission: “To celebrate the people, places and food that make Saint Louis great.”

CENTRAL TABLE FOOD HALL: 23 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.932.5595, centraltablestl.com

Part cafeteria, part wine bar, part fine-dining restaurant (pictured above), it’s hard to define this much-anticipated behemoth of a space, but it’s easy to find a reason to stop in. Those who work nearby will find burgers, pizzas, sushi and grab-and-go sandwiches ready in time for a quick lunch break, while dinner patrons will be seated for plated service starting at 5 p.m. That’s when chef Nick Martinkovic’s creative, locally sourced menu shines with wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, globally influenced small plates, an oyster-and-clam raw bar, and freshly rolled sushi from Chop Shop’s own Eliott Harris. With wines by the bottle or the glass, a handful of local brews on draft, and a sake list to boot, there’s something to whet any appetite.

THE WHEELHOUSE: 15 N. Central Ave., Clayton, 314.726.7955, wheelhousestl.com

Nearly three-dozen TVs and loads of Red Bull will make college grads flock to this Clayton sports bar, but the from-scratch menu, helmed by Nick Del Gaiso (former sous chef at Scape), will crush any bar food clichés. Almost everything is made in-house, from the smoked jalapenos in the sweet-and-smoky chutney topping the Wheelhouse Burger (ground in the back) to the preserved lemons and freshly whipped mayo comprising the aioli, which accompanies the smelt chips.

— photo by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: The Wheelhouse

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

{Grilled Steak Salad}

Friends and business partners Stephen Savage, Lou Groff and Jared Ater are opening their upscale sports bar The Wheelhouse as early as tomorrow, Thursday, April 18. The bar and restaurant, most recently occupied by The Pasta House Co., is located at 15 N. Central Ave., in Clayton.

Savage noted that one of the hardest parts about opening their new spot was deciding on a name. As to the name The Wheelhouse, Savage cited his employee handbook, which defined it as: “A popular term referring to an area of expertise or a particular skill.” For Savage, Groff and Ater, operating a bar is their wheelhouse, Savage noted, as witnessed when the three used to manage Harpo’s together, in Columbia, Mo.

In addition to 34 TVs for sports watching and a menu filled with cocktails, beer and wine, the food menu is what the owners of The Wheelhouse hope will set their bar and restaurant apart from other sports bars. The menu will be prepared by executive chef Nick Del Gaiso, who is the former sous chef at Scape. Del Gaiso attested that almost every product on The Wheelhouse’s menu, from the salad dressings to the smoked jalapeños, is made in-house. The menu features soups, salads, appetizers, wraps, burgers, sandwiches and entrees.

When doors are unlocked on April 18, The Wheelhouse will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., while the kitchen will close at 10 p.m. A Sunday brunch is also in the works.

For a sneak peek at what’s in store, head to our Facebook page.

— photo by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Extra Virgin, an Olive Ovation relocating to Colonial Marketplace on Ladue Road

Monday, April 8th, 2013

{Extra Virgin, an Olive Ovation owner Marianne Prey}

Extra Virgin, an Olive Ovation is getting ready for a change of address. The specialty shop announced that it will be moving this summer to 8829 Ladue Road in a portion of the space formerly occupied by Wild Oats in the Colonial Marketplace shopping plaza.

News from Extra Virgin came on Friday in an email sent to its supporters. The announcement noted that the relocation will mean a 30-percent increase in space as well as curbside parking. The email mentioned: “We’ll have a big party table, space for classes during store hours and room for many more of your favorite products.” Extra Virgin is one of a handful of businesses taking space in Colonial Marketplace. The Original Pancake House and fast-casual Italian eatery Cini are also both adding a location in the shopping plaza.

The specialty olive oil shop currently remains open for business at its location at 143 Carondelet Plaza in Clayton.

Five Questions with Ben Edison: The extended interview

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

{Executive chef Ben Edison with his daughter Delaney}

As warm air moves in, the patio at DeMun Oyster Bar is sure to fill up fast. But if it’s been a while since you stopped by this Parisian-style bar, you’ll be surprised to find more than bivalves and bubbles. Here, new executive chef Ben Edison told us what to expect at Clayton’s hippest watering hole.

When did you take over the kitchen and what have been some of the big menu changes since then? Overall, we went from a small, very limited menu to a full seafood-restaurant menu, and we also have some meat dishes. It’s not just oysters, at all. Now we have eight entrees and it’s pretty extensive.

What are some of the items on the restaurant’s new late-winter/spring menu? We do a Dungeness crab ravioli on the new menu. We have a really nice lamb porterhouse. We have a salmon in Pernod tomato sauce. We have a Pear Wellington, which is a new dessert. Everything in it we make in-house, except the phyllo dough – you’d have to be a masochist to make that. It’s star-anise-braised pears wrapped in puff pastry and then topped with Gjetöst cheese, a Danish cheese that tastes like caramel. Then we add a scoop of triple-vanilla gelato on a pool of Calvados gastrique. I act as pastry chef, too, with my daughter (pictured). She’s 17. She does the chocolate torte. We collaborate. She’s been baking since she was 8. We started a brunch on the weekends, too, and we’re still open late. You can come in and get a full entree until 11 p.m., or midnight in the summer.

Do you find that many people are still afraid to try oysters around these parts? I would rather take my chances with a raw oyster than a Chinese buffet. With all the testing they do of the water and the oysters and the tracking and the info-gathering, getting sick from an oyster is incredibly rare. At DeMun, we’re getting oysters that were in the water in the morning in Seattle, and I’ve got them in the restaurant by 6 p.m. that night.

I love oysters, but I gather some diners’ objections may have to do with an “oozy” texture. Then I say just suck ‘em down real fast – don’t chew ‘em – and you’ll get the flavor of the ocean.

How often do you eat oysters? Everyday. I’ll usually eat at least a dozen a day. I prefer them raw with nothing on them. We fly our oysters in daily; we’re the only restaurant in St. Louis that does. I have a list of 40 different oysters, and sometimes I kind of forget exactly what one tastes like, or the flavor changes because of the water supply. I have to be able to point people in the right direction.

Is there really a great variation in the taste of different oysters? I hate to make it sound like something from the movie, Sideways. When it comes to oysters, with the hint of this and that and all the silly adjectives, people can get carried away. But the different oysters range from a strong bite or salinity in the front end to a mineral-y, clean finish. Some West Coast oysters have a crisp, cucumber-y finish, but then something like the Kumamoto oyster has a creamier finish. I usually tell people to get a couple or three or four different kinds to try.

How many oysters could you eat in one sitting? I think the most I’ve ever eaten was four or five-dozen, and those were Gulf oysters at a little oyster bar in the Gulf. My uncle and I sat down and finished off about 12 dozen between the two of us. I grew up on the coast, fishing with my father off the coast of Connecticut and spending time in Maryland. That shows in our crab cakes, which are barely held together.

Is it true what they say about oysters being an aphrodisiac? I guess you’d have to ask my girlfriend. (laughs) I like to think that it’s healthy for me. I don’t think there are any ill effects.

What do you like to drink at the end of a busy night? With Nate Selsor, who came from Monarch, as our bar manager, a lot of the time I can just give him a flavor profile and let him play. We have a drink called When All Else Fails that’s really nice. It has rum, Campari, yellow Chartreuse and lemon juice. He just started a brand new drink menu that I’m working my way through now.

What are some of the preparations for oysters you do at the restaurant? In addition to raw, we do ours grilled and fried and occasionally beer-batter fried. We also do a Virgin Bluepoint [oyster] topped with a pancetta béchamel, and then we take kale blanched in pepper water and fried in duck fat and put that on top, followed by cave-aged Gruyere, and then we broil it. That’s our most popular menu item. We call it our house-stuffed oyster.

What’s your favorite drink to enjoy with oysters? Champagne. We have some exotic Champagnes, called grower Champagnes, made by one guy who may have just two acres of grapes and does it all himself. The flavor profiles are just fantastic.

Have you by any chance studied with a sushi chef? I have done a stage with a classically trained Japanese chef. He was the corporate chef at P.F. Chang’s. He was Vietnamese-born and Japanese-trained. Working with him was where I learned almost all of my Asian preparations.

Have you ever eaten the dangerous puffer fish, fugu? I have not, but I certainly would.

Anthony Bourdain once wrote that diners shouldn’t order seafood on Sunday, because the last seafood delivery was Friday – your thoughts? I think that’s completely untrue. I get seafood in on Saturdays. My fish that comes in for Sundays is perfectly stored in coolers and checked. Maybe in the ‘80s that might have been true, but with the abundance of seafood purveyors in St. Louis, they’ll deliver at 5 p.m. on Saturday. People shouldn’t have qualms about eating seafood on Sunday. As far as seafood in the Midwest goes, when you develop a long relationship with seafood purveyors, you get very nice stuff. We get seafood from nine different sources.

Have you shopped at the huge Asian market in U. City, Seafood City? I own a house not far from there. I shop there once a week. The seafood section is fascinating to me. If I’m in the mood for some mussels and feel like cooking them up, I might pick some up from there. I just enjoy walking the aisles and looking at stuff and having no idea what something is and buying it and playing with it.

What do you like to cook at home? If I’ve got two days off in a row, I’ll cook on the second day, but for the most part, I don’t really cook at home a lot. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is look at a pot and pan. I sometimes just go with a frozen pizza and a beer. Other chefs are the same way. We actually eat instant ramen noodles.

Where did you cook before DeMun Oyster Bar? I was a corporate chef for a few years, and before that, I was the fine dining chef at Ameristar Casino. I ran 47 Port Street and Pearl’s Oyster Bar.

Cooking at a casino is a whole different ball game, with the emphasis on extreme customer service. It was a great, great experience. At 47 Port Street, we had people that were big VIPs, so we had deep pockets to create exotic things and do tasting menus. While it was one of the most demanding jobs I ever had, it was fantastic to be able to play with all the stuff we got to bring in. On a Saturday night, you might have a table of four high rollers and you need to throw out an eight-course wine-pairing dinner on the fly for them. When the owner of the entire corporation came into town, there would be like a 22-hour stretch where you made absolutely sure that all his meals came out perfectly.

How does it feel when the kitchen is humming and everything is coming out perfectly? It’s absolutely fantastic. I have a great staff here. My sous chef, Nick Puccio, is really, really strong. We have great cooks that have worked in good restaurants. When things are really rolling, it’s probably the best feeling in the world. It’s exactly why I do this job.

Do you allow music in the kitchen? Only during prep time in the day.

What cooking or food book, TV show or movie do you love? I really don’t watch any of the food shows. I think they’re so unrealistic and fake. My favorite movie about wine is Bottle Shock.

What was your favorite food growing up that your parents made? Stuffed peppers. My parents were big gardeners and we had a huge garden. When the end of the summer would come, my stepmom would spend the entire day making tomato sauce and stuffing them, and they were amazing. Then she would freeze some and we would eat them all winter long, too. When I go home, that’s one of the things she always makes. My mother used to make spaghetti on Sundays and that was great, too.

What food did you hate as a kid that you love now? Clams. Ironic, isn’t it? We would have the freshest clams when I was a kid; we grew up about 12 miles from the ocean. They would make them in a white-wine Alfredo, and I would just eat the noodles. I never realized how much I took seafood for granted.

740 DeMun Ave., Clayton, 314.725.0322, demunoysterbar.com

— photo by Ashley Gieseking

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