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Oct 21, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘downtown’

What I Do: Bernie Lee of Hiro Asian Kitchen

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

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Leaving everyone and everything you know to come to the United States and pursue a dream is the quintessential immigrant experience. Hiro Asian Kitchen owner Bernie Lee’s story is no different. After leaving Malaysia to study, learn the culture and improve his English in St. Louis, Lee seized the opportunity to open his own restaurant (609 Restaurant & U Lounge).

Now Lee serves some of the city’s best Asian fusion at Hiro, where he has slowly added Malaysian dishes he grew up eating. At first, he wanted to have a business that welcomed all people. Now, it’s become a place where he can share his culture.

 

“You just have to learn how to survive. When I was in [college], one of my classmates told me I spoke the worst English he ever heard in his life. It was so embarrassing. I didn’t know how to express myself. In my class, I was always the last pick [in a group presentation] because they thought I didn’t speak well. I spoke six other languages they didn’t even understand. But it forced me to be better.”

“I’m Malaysian-Chinese. My parents are first-generation Malaysian-Chinese. My grandparents in the 1940s were refugees. They escaped from China, from the revolution, very young – 15, 16, 17. They were very poor, and as refugees, what do they know? They worked. They had tons of babies – work, have a baby, work, have a baby. Refugees, they all have to go through the same things. It’s never easy.”

“The motivation behind 609 was I was not treated nicely at a bar one day. I was bullied in public. I told myself someday I need to create a place where everybody is welcome. Two years later, I had an opportunity to open my own place. To be honest, I was 27, I was young. I said, ‘Screw it, let’s do it! If I fail, I fail.’”

“Americans only eat fish fillet. No bone! No skin! No head! No tail! Nothing! So that’s what I had been taught. Only fillet. So, this is what I know. I had opened 609 and one day I thought, ‘Why don’t we do whole fish?’ People said, ‘No, no, no. Nobody will touch that!’ All right. One day I went to [a local restaurant], and it’s all white folks, and they tell me, ‘Our most famous dish is a red snapper.’ I said, ‘OK, let’s order that.’ It came out whole fried red snapper! Everyone was ordering it, loving it, no problem. You go to this restaurant, pay $30 for a whole crispy fish – it’s just salt, pepper that’s it – you think it’s a great dish. The whole fish in an Asian restaurant, people say, ‘Oh, hell no.’ And I bet they would not even pay $15 for it. It drives me nuts. That’s why for Malaysian Week we [had] whole fish. Head, tail, bone, everything. This is how we eat it back home and that’s how it should be.”

“Just cook it the way you want it. I tell the kitchen, don’t worry how people will like it or not like it. If they don’t like it? Fine! Sorry! Pick another one. I’m very proud of them.”

“Even though the plate is nice, it still has the flavor that reminds them of home. The chicken clay pot [at Hiro], the origin is from Taiwan; we cook it Taiwanese style. This is a dish like meatball pasta – everybody makes good meatball pasta, but when you eat it you go, ‘Oh, my mom’s is better.’ One woman ordered it, and I saw she was crying. I asked if she was OK, I thought she maybe burned herself. She said, ‘No, this dish reminds me of my mom.’ Her mom had passed away. She said, ‘We ate this when we were kids, this is exactly what my mom would cook.’”

“You have to trust yourself. You have to believe in your culture. If you believe, you can deliver. If you don’t believe, there’s no point.”

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine. 

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The Scoop: Patois to open in former Rustic Goat space downtown

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

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Downtown’s The Rustic Goat will soon be replaced with a new, multifaceted concept. As reported by the Riverfront Times, the restaurant at 2617 Washington Ave., will close and reopen as Patois Eatery & Social Lounge on Saturday, April 15.

“We’re rebranding and going in a different direction,” said Johnnie Franklin, marketing director for the restaurant’s new management team. “We’re going to change the whole concept to more of a Caribbean-Creole-American fusion eatery and social lounge.” Franklin said ownership hasn’t changed, but the restaurant is under new management.

The Patois menu will boast a wide variety of items from jerk chicken and oxtail to seafood and pasta. Weekday lunch and Sunday brunch service will also be available.

The new direction will also include a hookah lounge and live entertainment. On Fridays, Patois will host After Work Office Lounge, or AWOL, which will spotlight live Caribbean music and a DJ playing between sets. On Sunday evenings, the restaurant will play host to live comedy acts. Franklin said only minor cosmetic changes will be made to the space.

Franklin said in the interim before the official reopening, The Rustic Goat will remain open for previously scheduled private events, but regular service has ceased.

Photo courtesy of Patois

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Sneak Peek: The Sliced Pint in downtown St. Louis

 

Extra Sauce: Top 10 Sneak Peeks of 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

From new arcade bars downtown to long-awaited breweries in Maplewood, here are the 10 places you couldn’t wait to check out before they opened in 2016.

Don’t miss out! Follow Sauce Magazine on Facebook and Twitter to get Sneak Peeks and First Looks of the latest St. Louis-area restaurant, bar and shop openings.

 

 

1. First Look: Start Bar downtown

2. Sneak Peek: Farm to You Market in Washington

 

 

3. Sneak Peek: Sardella in Clayton

4. Sneak Peek: The Sliced Pint in downtown St. Louis

5. Sneak Peek: Wicked Greenz in Clayton

 

 

6. Sneak Peek: Side Project Brewing in Maplewood

7. Sneak Peek: Yolklore in Crestwood

8. First Look: Catrinas in Edwardsville

 

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9. First Look: Nathaniel Reid Bakery in Kirkwood

10. Sneak Peek: Nixta in Botanical Heights

Photos by Michelle Volansky 

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10 Best New Restaurants of 2016

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Extra Sauce: Top 10 Scoops of 2016

 

 

The Scoop: Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman to step down

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

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This New Year’s Eve, raise a pint to Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman, who will step down from his position as board co-chairman of The Saint Louis Brewery and Schlafly Beer on Dec. 31. Kopman and Tom Schlafly founded the brewery in 1991 and have since turned it into an institution.

Kopman and Schlafly sold a majority share to Sage Capital in 2012. At the time of the sale, Kopman agreed to stay on for five years. Now, as the agreement reaches its sunset, he announced that he will leave the venerable brewery to pursue other interests. He declined to give specifics on his future plans.

With sales totaling $20 million, Kopman has much to be proud of, but said his greatest joy has been working with a talented group of people and having a positive effect on downtown and Maplewood.

“I’m most proud of the people that have worked for us and continue to work with us,” Kopman said. “We’re lucky to have changed the beer culture and improve the neighborhoods around the Bottleworks and Tap Room.

While he said it was impossible to choose his favorite Schlafly brew, Kopman did single out and praise Schlafly’s current leadership. “There’s a good team in place there,” he said. “Tom is the chairman of the board, and James Pendegraft is doing a great job as CEO, and of course Stephen Hale is a great ambassador.”

Kopman also expressed gratitude to the customers and patrons who have enjoyed Schlafly’s hospitality over the years. All in all, he said, “It was a blast.”

 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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Best New Restaurants: No. 6 – Porano Pasta

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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Porano Pasta is the fast-casual restaurant we have been waiting for. It took Gerard Craft, the chef mind behind Niche Food Group, to combine affordability and speed with such quality ingredients and consistently well-executed food.

Walk in and notice the restaurant’s towering ceilings and wall-sized illustrations of Italian and St. Louis landmarks. Sunshine pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows and upbeat pop music fills the air (Ace of Base, anyone?).

Queue up to build your bowl from a variety of starches, sauces, proteins and toppings. The possibilities are endless, but we’re loyal to a combination we call the Suzie Bowl (That’s Suzie Craft, marketing director of Niche Food Group.): a half-kale, half-farro base, anchovy dressing, spicy tofu, green olives, crispy garlic, herbs and a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey. Spicy and sweet with briny bites, fresh crunch and pops of intense garlic and herbs – it’s been hard to order anything else since she suggested it on opening day.

While such healthy options are available, comfort combinations should also be indulged in, like a strozzapreti pasta bowl with Alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, herbs and toasted almonds. It’s a version of fettuccine Alfredo also known as our Achilles’ heel. Or go for executive chef Michael Petres’ new Detroit-style pizza: square focaccia-like dough with edge-to-edge cheese that bubbles at the brink into a salty, crackling border. Pair that with a Negroni slushie, and you’re in for a good night.

Niche Food Group took a national, fast-casual business model and made it work. Will it ever be a franchise? The possibilities, like their bowls, seem endless.

 

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Lunch Rush: Porano Pasta

• Hit List: 4 new must-try restaurants in February

• Sneak Peek: Porano Pasta on Washington Avenue

The Scoop: Gerard Craft to open fifth restaurant downtown 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: New owner discusses vision for Blood & Sand

Friday, October 21st, 2016

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In December 2015, Blood & Sand co-owners TJ Vytlacil and Adam Frager announced they were putting the downtown restaurant up for sale in order to focus their attention on their software company, Brigade Society. On Thursday, Oct. 20, the duo announced that Tim Murphy, an early member, had purchased the business.

“Tim was the best fit and the best person,” said Frager. “We probably could have closed sooner and for more money if we wanted to just cash out, but we were willing to put our eggs in his basket because of the strength of Tim as a buyer and for his character. We’re excited to be able to leave it in such great hands.”

Murphy, who has a business background and managed restaurants in the 1990s, became a member at Blood & Sand only months after it opened in September 2011. While he first joined for the drink and cocktail program, he soon became enamored with its food menu, service and ambience as well.

“It’s one of St. Louis’ great jewels,” said Murphy. “I remember it went up for sale on Dec. 26, and that’s the day I started wanting to buy it. I thought, ‘It’s the only restaurant I’d consider buying. I have to make a run at this.’”

Enthusiastic and committed to Blood & Sand’s staff and concept, Murphy intends to keep the ethos of the fine-dining eatery, as well as its staff. Executive chef Chris Krzysik will helm the kitchen, where he has worked for last four years. Sean Coltrain will head the beverage program, and certified sommelier (and one of the youngest in the country at a mere 21) Zac Adcox will run front of house.

“The staff is amazingly good,” said Murphy. “It’s one of the best we’ve ever had. It’s a great place to come in and celebrate. Or if you come in to process having a bad day, the staff is kind enough to understand and let you do that as well.”

In addition to the atmosphere and people, Murphy intends to keep membership prices and volume consistent. “I want to be as full as we can be and still put out exceptional food and drinks,” he said. “I don’t need to be 100-percent packed. I’m not Applebee’s and don’t want to be.”

Members and guests can expect to see the same menu items with the addition of more adventurous dishes, potentially including wild game entrees and a pawpaw cheesecake. Diners can also expect to see a bit more playfulness and tweaks in plating.

For their part, the former owners report success in their restaurant point-of-sale business, and while they are sad to not be at Blood & Sand on a daily basis, they are pleased with the establishment’s direction.

“Our dream was the person who took over would build on the success and serve the community we created,” said Frager. “Tim’s going to be able to build upon that legacy. It’s exciting. He’s been with us from the beginning, and this couldn’t have worked out better.”

The Scoop: Gluten-free A2 Cafe closes downtown

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

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After less than a year in business, A2 Cafe has closed its doors downtown. Its last day of business was Monday, Oct. 10, as reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Owner Audrey Faulstich posted notice of the closure online on Monday, Oct. 9. Faulstich said while she had a solid customer base, the cost of doing business downtown was too high. “We would have done well had I been in a suburb like Webster Groves where rent was a lot lower, and we didn’t do such a big build out,” she said.

Faulstich and Audra Angelique opened A2 Cafe in April with the goal of providing healthy alternatives to those with gluten and dairy intolerances. Faulstich took over operations after Angelique left the business in June.

Faulstich said she intends to pursue her doctorate in nursing practice. She hopes to work in health policy using what she has learned from her time in the restaurant industry. “I had no business background or really any restaurant experience. I learned how to be a leader. I gained business skills, marketing skills, cooking skills,” she said. “I feel a lot brighter.”

 

 

-photo by Michelle Volansky  

Sneak Peek: The Sliced Pint in downtown St. Louis

Friday, September 30th, 2016

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The Sliced Pint opens doors for pizza and beer lovers today, Sept. 30. As The Scoop reported in June, the 4,300-square-foot restaurant is located next-door to City Museum at 1511 Washington Ave., downtown. Owners Amy and Amrit Gill are developers who also own Restoration St. Louis, as well as O’Shays Pub in The Grove, Holiday Inn Route 66 and several others in Iowa.

Create your own pie with four kinds of crust (including a signature T-Rav stuffed crust option), or choose from 13 specialty and signature pizzas like the Philly cheesesteak-inspired The Wonder Years or the St. Louis-centric pork steak pizza called The Urge.

The beer list has a local focus with 80 options from breweries like Old Bakery, Urban Chestnut and 4 Hands, 36 of which are available on tap. Indulgent fried appetizers, sandwiches and a handful of salads are also available at the pizza-and-beer themed restaurant.

The Sliced Pint will open this weekend (Fri., Sept. 30 to Sun., Oct. 2) from 5 p.m. to midnight before taking on regular hours: Sunday to Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to midnight and Thursday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight. Here’s a sneak peek of your next slice and pint downtown:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

The Scoop: Chris’ Pancakes to open downtown location, Chris’ @ The Docket

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

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This fall, Chris’ Pancakes & Dining will take its breakfast game downtown to a new location, Chris’ @ The Docket, at 100 N. Tucker Blvd. As reported by the Riverfront Times, Chris’ will move into the space formerly occupied by The Docket.

“We feel the breakfast market is underserved in the downtown area. We’ve been looking for places for while down there,” said co-owner Chris Saracino. “I think we can serve the area well.”

Rathern than duplicate Chris’ Pancakes, Saracino said they will tailor Chris’ @ The Docket’s menu and hours to the space and local clientele. Since the space included a wood-fire pizza oven, Saracino plans to serve pizzas, including a few breakfast pizza options he is currently testing. To better serve patrons including Saint Louis University law students, court workers and city workers, the downtown location will focus on breakfast and lunch items and feature a grab-and-go section where patrons can quickly pick up sandwiches, salads, pizza slices and breakfast items.

The 105-seat restaurant will be open for full breakfast and lunch service from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the grab-and-go area will remain open until 6 p.m. After those hours, Saracino will make the 4,200-square-foot space available for private events. Chris’ @ The Docket is slated to open by late September or early October.

 

First Look: Start Bar downtown

Friday, July 15th, 2016

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Start Bar, downtown St. Louis’ new arcade bar opened Wednesday, July 13 at 1000 Spruce St. As The Scoop reported in April, the colorful, game-themed space was designed with an eye for detail, from the old school Nintendo console wall art to the narrow tables hidden between game cabinets for drink storage while you play.

“You make enough venues and you start to learn a few things,” co-owner Stephen Savage said. “And [the branding and design firm] Atomicdust did a phenomenal job. We couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.”

Game manager Mike Ahearn said Start Bar’s 19 cabinets offer a variety of fighting and combat games, shooters, and other classic old school and multi-player games that will rotate based on popularity. Enthusiasts will be happy to know the arcade bar is awaiting the arrival of Killer Queen, a multi-player game with a cult following. “It should be in within six weeks,” Savage said. “It’s our number one requested game.”

Gamers can take a break at one of the 55 seats inside or one of the 50 picnic table seats on the patio. Parties of six to 10 looking to relive childhood glory can take over four reservation-only game lounges stocked with Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart and GoldenEye 007 games.

The menu reflects Start Bar’s playful atmosphere, with boozy shakes, floats, snow cones, slushies and popsicles for your inner child and a short list of snacks and candy. The kitchen turns out house-made Neapolitan-style pizzas for those who need something a little more substantial.

Start Bar is open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Saturday from noon to 1:30 a.m. and Sunday from noon to midnight. A short brunch menu with breakfast pizzas and drinks is available from noon to 3 p.m. on weekends. Here’s a peek inside downtown’s new arcade bar:

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-Photos by Michelle Volansky

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