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Apr 02, 2015
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Posts Tagged ‘Demun Oyster Bar’

This week, Ligaya Figueras is obsessed with…

Thursday, October 31st, 2013



{The pasta du jour at Demun Oyster Bar is bistro comfort in a bowl. The last time I ordered it, hot pasta noodles and fresh vegetables shared space with hunks of meaty, fresh-off-the-boat seafood. And when nothing remained but an aromatic, fishy broth, hunks of crusty bread made quick work of things.}




{Yes, dry-roasted black edamame looks weird, but when coated with just the right amount of sea salt, you lose all restraint. Your hand returns to the bag every few minutes only to find there’s nothing left to lick but your salty fingers. Jump onto the permissible indulgence bandwagon and get this new protein-packed wonder snack at Whole Foods.}




{Bubbles. Vintage cocktails. Deer antlers on the wall. There are tres belle reasons I return to Bar Les Freres. Most recently, it’s because the mushroom and leek tart is back on the menu. Oh là là, that flaky pastry! Oh là là, that generous ladle of earthy sauce aux champignons! They now take reservations at this French-y Clayton nightspot; it’s time to make yours.}

Drink This Weekend Edition: Classic Couples Cocktail Competition should be a ginger good time

Friday, April 12th, 2013

The Big O ginger liqueur has found a happy home on bar shelves in St. Louis and around the country since hitting the marketplace less than two years ago. This weekend, The Big O will be poured big time as bartenders battle it out with Boston shakers at the Classic Couples Cocktail Competition.

St. Louisans Bill Foster and Kathy Kuper, makers of the ginger liqueur and sponsors of the competition, have challenged bartenders to create a drink worthy of becoming a signature cocktail for their sweet-yet-sprightly, rhizome-laden liqueur. To add playfulness to what is shaping up as an entertaining afternoon, the drink must be named after a classic couple, real or fictional.

The event takes place at Salt, located at 4356 Lindell Blvd., on Sunday at 3 p.m., and will showcase the talents of 10 finalists who hail not only from St. Louis, but also Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, and Grand Rapids, Mich. Local names (and their affiliations) include: Nicholas Crow (Mission Taco Joint and Milagro Modern Mexican), Nathan Doyle (Hendricks BBQ), Joe Duepner (Sanctuaria), Mandi Kowalski (Sanctuaria) Todd Levy (Demun Oyster Bar), Hilary Lewis (member, USBG-St. Louis chapter) and Layla Linehan (Brasserie). Driving the distance to compete are: Kenny Cohrs (Cafe Trio, Kansas City, Mo.), Carol Donovan (The Hearty Boys New Old Bar, Chicago) and Torrence O’Haire (SpeakEZ Lounge and The Starving Artist, Grand Rapids, Mich.). A panel of judges will determine the winning cocktail based on creativity, ability to replicate, drinkability, sustainability and marketability.

What’s in it for you? Besides a front-row seat at the shake and stir show, you get to sample all 10 of the ginger-centric cocktails and cast a vote for the people’s choice winner. You’re going to get hungry, and Salt’s exec chef (and member of the Sauce Ones to Watch class of 2013) Bradley Hoffmann has you covered with hors d’oeuvres, which are included in the ticket price. And then there’s the do-gooder element: A portion of the proceeds will benefit local food bank Operation Food Search. Bring along a canned food item and you’ll not only give OFS a boost, but your name will be entered into a raffle for prizes that will get any boozehound excited. (How about a bottle of The Big O and a 1-liter cask to age it in?) More information is available on The Big O’s website.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $15, here. Tickets will also be sold at the door for $20. Or even better, enter to win two tickets, here. Our ticket giveaway will end at 3:30 p.m., and then this afternoon, we will email you to let you know that your name has been put on the events guest list.

***This giveaway has ended. Allie Ammons, you are our winner! Thanks for playing! Look for an email from the Sauce crew!***

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

Drink This Weekend Edition: Raise the Bar competition should be cocktailian destination this Sunday

Friday, October 19th, 2012

When we cocktailians hear that St. Louis’ top bartenders are assembling in one place, there’s no question as to where we’re headed. This Sunday, check out the Raise the Bar cocktail competition, a cocktailian’s dream, happening in the Roberts Galerie downtown. Need convincing? Here are five reasons to get to 1224 Washington Ave., on Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m.

The drinks, of course. The audience wants to taste the concoctions, not just watch them get shaken and stirred while the judging panel gets to indulge. At Raise the Bar, eight area bars – Taste, Sanctuaria, Salt, BC’s Kitchen, Blood & Sand, DeMun Oyster Bar, Eclipse and Boogaloo – will be competing, with representatives from each bar preparing three cocktails. That’s a total of 24 drinks, all of which attendees can sample. Add to those samples an open bar serving beer and wine, plus cocktails made with sponsor spirits Four Roses bourbon, Square One vodka, Broker’s gin, Plantation rum, Pierre Ferrand cognac and Isle of Skye Scotch whisky. You shouldn’t have a problem finding a drink (or 11) to suit your palate.

Watch up-and-coming bartenders. Raise the Bar is a unique competition because it pits bar teams – as opposed to individual bartenders – against one another. The teams are judged on their cocktails, as well as showmanship, presentation, personality and knowledge of the craft. With multiple bartenders on each team, the competition will provide a glimpse of some of the area’s rising shakers, rather than just the familiar faces we all know and respect.

Support a good cause. Tickets are $50, with $5 from each ticket benefiting area food bank Operation Food Search. If you purchase a ticket at the door and bring a canned food item with you, you’ll receive a $5 discount off the ticket price.

Enjoy food from the food truck Guerrilla Street Food.  Drinking on an empty stomach? Bad idea. Your ticket includes hors d’oeuvres from this Filipino fusion food truck, guaranteed to satisfy your hunger pangs.

Check out a new venue. The competition is taking place at a new event space, The Galerie, located in the Roberts Galerie building at 1224 Washington Ave. With local art on display, a DJ in the house and non-stop bartender action, you’ll have more than enough eye and ear candy to keep you contented.

For more information or to purchase your ticket online (and pick it up at will call on Sunday), go here. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

St. Louis Classic Cocktail Party to celebrate local distilleries

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

The St. Louis craft distilling scene is booming, and we can’t think of any better way to celebrate than with a toast. Area distillers Square One Brewery and Distillery, Pinckney Bend Distillery, Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling Co., The Big O, Mastermind Vodka and St. Louis Distillery will be showcasing their artisanal spirits at the St. Louis Classic Cocktail Party at Lafayette Square Park on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. Held in conjunction with the park’s free Summer Concert Series, entrance to the event is free, while a $2 drink ticket will allow you to sample a spirit or cocktail made with one of the local elixirs. Proceeds benefit The Arts Council of Lafayette Square.

If you want to get a jump-start on your gin, vodka, whiskey and ginger liqueur samplings before the St. Louis Classic Cocktail Party, you’re in luck, as many area restaurants will be showcasing these local products during the week of September 3. On Tuesday, Sept. 4, for instance, Sub Zero will host a vodka tasting. On Thursday, Sept. 6, Square One is throwing a whiskey dinner that pairs various Square One whiskeys – including experimental batches – with each course. And throughout the week, TasteSalt, Niche and Demun Oyster Bar will feature cocktails made using local spirits, while Sanctuaria will shake St. Louis spirits in cocktails paired with food.

Check out the St. Louis Classic Cocktail Party Facebook page for more information on events.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Selsor swaps bourbon for bubbles

Friday, May 11th, 2012

When a chef switcharoo occurs, culinary onlookers wonder how the new face in the back of the house will impact the food that lands on diners’ plates. A similar question arises when a bartender changes digs. Nate Selsor worked behind the stick for a number of years at the now-defunct Monarch, serving up boozy, New Orleans-style classics at the Maplewood restaurant. Now, he’s managing the bar at DeMun Oyster Bar where bubbly is the typical match to slippery sea fare. The restaurant’s new drink menu launches today and Sauce, intrigued by Selsor’s shift from the world of bourbon and rye, asked the seasoned barman to show us some of his new creations.

Selsor’s cocktails are spring weather palate pleasers. They also fall squarely within the oyster bar’s atmosphere: refined elegance balanced with a free-spirited, you’re-invited-too mood. Yet Selsor has managed to work his own personality into the joie de vivre equation, particularly via his penchant for tweaking age-old drinks using less mainstream spirits and mixers. For example, Selsor’s twist on a French 75, called 75 Roses, showcases small-batch gin by Arkansas micro-distillery Brandon’s. Swedish punsch liqueur, Campari and lemon juice all add depth of flavor and body; a topper of sparkling rosé is the finishing touch that keeps this peach-colored drink apropos for a place like DeMun Oyster Bar.

With Pisco Flora, Selsor uses Fruitlab jasmine liqueur to lend a floral bouquet and flavor to a standard Pisco Sour. The newer-to-the-market organic liqueur also serves to sweeten the drink slightly, noted Selsor, so less simple sugar is needed to achieve balance among the grape brandy, tart lemon juice and a couple dashes of bitters.

Devil’s Fire is Selsor’s take on El Diablo, a vintage cocktail that pairs tequila and lime with sweet black-currant liqueur crème de cassis and ginger ale (or ginger beer for the majority of today’s recipes). Selsor keeps the tequila, lime juice and Cassis, but grabs local product The Big O ginger liqueur for the ginger kick, along with bittersweet Aperol. A topper of sparkling wine gives this deep berry-colored, stylish drink the DeMun Oyster Bar seal of approval.

Devil’s Fire is among the booziest drinks on the new menu – clocking in at 2 ounces of liquor, plus a splash of bubbles, yet the drink doesn’t feel weighty. That ¾ ounce of lime juice leaves its mark, and ginger follows on the back end; the drink remains on the mildly sweet side. “Crisp, light and refreshing,” summed Selsor of the new cocktails he’s fashioned. But, he added, “We can always do deep, dark if they want it.” Clearly, his former dark spirits days are not long behind him, but now that DeMun Oyster Bar is open daily for lunch, dinner and all hours in between, Selsor will be seeing a lot more light.

The Scoop: Area bartender leaving Gateway City to shake things up in Denver

Monday, February 20th, 2012

One of the area’s talented bartenders is packing it up and moving to Denver. Chad George, bar manager at Demun Oyster Bar, is leaving that position to work as the “cocktail muse” at Linger, a restaurant that opened last summer in the Mile-High City.

While George is a certified sommelier, he has been a visible figure in the cocktail scene over the last few years. In addition to playing an active role as an officer of the St. Louis chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, he founded Proof Academy, which offers spirits, wine and mixology education, as well as private events and consulting. In addition, George teamed up with fellow bartenders Salt’s Matt Obermark and Sanctuaria’s Matt Seiter to create Drink Lab: themed cocktail nights that rotated among various local bars. George is also a former Sauce contributor; he penned the Elixir column and Drink This selections.

— Photo by Ashley Gieseking


The Scoop: Shake-up at Salt puts a seasoned local chef in the kitchen

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

113011_rolandJosh Roland joined Salt in the Central West End two weeks ago. Chef-owner Wes Johnson told The Scoop that he had been hoping to share the line with Roland, whom he befriended several years ago, for quite some time. “I always wanted to work with him but it never seemed to work out where we were at [in our careers], until now.” Roland, who developed the menu while chef at Jim Edmonds’ 15 Steakhouse downtown and served as executive chef at The Wild Flower in the Central West End, has recently been working as a restaurant consultant around the country. He has also worked in the kitchens at Orrery and Mezzo in London, as well as Jean-Georges in New York City. Roland’s official title at Salt has yet to be determined, though Johnson surmises that it will be chef de cuisine. Roland is assuming many of the duties formerly assumed by Salt’s former chef de cuisine, Brendan Hickham. As reported yesterday by Matt Sorrell for Feast, Hickham left Salt to take the top kitchen spot at Demun Oyster Bar.

See our 2010 Chef Talk interview with Roland back when he came on board at The Wild Flower here.

— Photo by Brian Fagnani

In high temperatures, St. Louis Craft Beer Week offers much-needed cold beer

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

072211_craftbeerweekIn this type of blistering heat it may sound counterproductive to gorge on alcohol, but you have to admit that a smooth lager and beads of icy condensation running down a frosty pint glass sounds pretty great right about now. If so, you’re in luck. Next Saturday marks the gunshot start of the 2011 St. Louis Craft Beer Week. Actually, there’s no gunshot, but there is a lot of beer.

From July 30 to August 7, a handful of St. Louis-based brewers, restaurants, saloons, retailers and distributors will join forces to promote the best craft beer in the area. So, what’s on tap? Each night saloons such as Square One Brewery, Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar, 33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar, The Royale, and many more will host a series of contests, half-off deals, beer dinners, drink release parties, beer schools and brewer meet-and-greet events.

For example: On Saturday July 30, the crew at Six Row Brewing Co. will kick off Craft Beer Week at noon with a free event – a re-release party of Six Row’s Cream Ale, a classic brew that was so popular last year it demanded an encore. In the mood for something a little more crazy? Head over to DeMun Oyster Bar, where all week long the resident mixologists are infusing beers with a variety of fresh ingredients. Try beer cocktails like the Stone to the Head – a blend of Stone IPA, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Green Chartreuse and Velvet Falernum. Hungry? Hop the elevator to the rooftop bar at The Moonrise Hotel on Wednesday, August 3, and join in the Brewers’ Pig Roasts featuring five of St. Louis’ hottest new breweries where a $30 cover buys you a pint of cask ale and all-you-can-eat hog, fresh off the spit.

With so many local venues participating, there’s a good chance of stumbling upon one of these great Craft Beer Week specials by accident. But if planning is your thing, check out the comprehensive list of week-long and daily events on the official website.

STL bartenders head to Windy City’s premier cocktail lounge

Monday, July 18th, 2011

071811_tjLooking to take a quick road trip? If you’re a cocktailian, we suggest you head north on Interstate 55 to Chicago this weekend where bartenders TJ Vytlacil, Adam Frager and Chad George will be shaking it up, St. Louis style, at The Drawing Room. Vytlacil and Frager, who are opening Blood & Sand – a new members-only restaurant and cocktail bar – in early September, along with George, will be serving up a menu of six cocktails from their own repertoire (the majority of which will appear on Blood & Sand’s opening menu) and four that originated in the subterranean walls of The Drawing Room. George currently serves as bar manager at Demun Oyster Bar where Vytlacil bartends, while Frager can be found behind the bar at Pi in the Central West End.

So, how did the opportunity arise for this talented trio to shake and stir at Chicago’s premiere cocktail lounge? As George explained, “Charles Joly, bar manager at The Drawing Room and possibly the most decorated bartender in the country, called TJ and asked if he could assemble a team to run The Drawing Room bar while he and his bar team are in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail.” Tales of the Cocktail, a national cocktail festival held in New Orleans, kicks off this Wednesday and will run through the weekend.

Congrats to these local guys behind the stick!

— Photo by Brian Fagnani

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