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Dec 13, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Heather Hughes’

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

 

First Look: Mothership at Earthbound Beer

Friday, December 1st, 2017

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Mothership has landed inside Earthbound Beer at 2724 Cherokee St. The new food program, run by Vista Ramen’s Josh Adams, starts serving Asian-inspired barbecue tonight, Friday, Dec. 1, inside the recently expanded brewery.

“We didn’t want to take Vista and just move it down here,” said chef-owner Chris Bork. He and Adams worked to develop smoke-heavy dishes better suited to a brewery than a ramen shop. Dishes include a smoked kielbasa and a pulled pork barbecue plate that comes with two of three classic side options: potato salad, slaw or baked beans.

“It’s beer food,” Adams said. “We’re doing barbecue, but we’re still Vista.” That means the potato salad is made with Kewpie mayo and funky, salty Hondashi broth, and the bricks of slightly sweet cornbread on the menu come with gochujang butter.

Other surprises include the house-smoked turkey dish that leans Mediterranean, served sliced on a pita topped with yogurt, crisp house pickles and a sprinkle of sumac. Customers place their counter-service order at the bar while scoping out their next beers.

Mothership will be open inside Earthbound Beer Tuesday to Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. Here’s a first look at the menu:

 

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Photos by Meera Nagarajan 

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content

• Vista Ramen chef-owner shares plans for Mothership at Earthbound

• Vista Ramen will helm kitchen at new Earthbound location

• First Look: Earthbound Beer on Cherokee Street

Best New Restaurants: No. 11 – St. Louis Soup Dumplings

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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The name tells you everything you need to know. No salads, no entrees, no bar – St. Louis Soup Dumplings doesn’t try to do much, but what it does, it does exceptionally well. Its xiao long bao, which are also served at sister restaurant Private Kitchen, are some of the best you’ll find in St. Louis.

Warm pockets of fragrant broth surround a variety of pork-, beef-, chicken- and crab-based meatballs, all embraced by thin, delicately folded wrappings. Go for the pork and crab, which features a funky, salty richness perfectly paired with the slurpable, aromatic broth.

The minimalist decor echoes the short but flawless menu, with bamboo light fixtures reminiscent of steam baskets hanging above bare-bones furnishings, and a charming soup dumplings mural warming up one wall. Quick counter service is supplemented by a surprise bowl of chicken broth before your order arrives and (at least when co-owner Emily Yang is working) friendly tableside visits to make sure you know how to properly eat your dumplings.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• First Look: St. Louis Soup Dumplings in University City

• Best New Restaurant 2016: No. 8 – Private Kitchen

• Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

Best New Restaurants: No. 10 – Hi-Pointe Drive-In

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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First off, try not to get distracted. There’s the Taco Burger, and sometimes silly, indulgent specials (grilled cheese buns, doughnuts, who knows), but this is your day. Burger day.

Hi-Pointe staff will probably treat you like a regular, which means they won’t sufficiently explain what’s happening, but don’t let the lack of direction put you off. Check the massive menu and make some choices. How many flavorful, tender, crispy-edged patties will it be?

There’s no full list of toppings, so scope out the case and make a plan of action before your turn to order – cheese (duh), maybe an egg and bacon, and the regulars: mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion. They’ll write the list on your tray, then you can watch your burger get all dressed up to meet you at the cash register.

The burgers are good enough to land Hi-Pointe a spot on the list, but the rest of the menu is what makes this place a standout. A burger joint that offers a legit salmon banh mi and whose salads are interesting and satisfying – Greens & Grains, with its quinoa, wild rice and wheatberry base would be happy at any healthy cafe – is something special.

Photo by Carmen Trosser

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine.

Related Content
• Review: Hi-Pointe Drive-In

• Mr. Johnson’s Opus

• Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

Best New Restaurants: No. 8 – The U.R.B.

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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Somewhere between New York and Neapolitan, the pizza at The U.R.B. (Urban Research Brewery) stuck with us like Instagram’s stupid heart arrow filter.

Walking in, you might think pizza isn’t the point here. The place exists for Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. to test new brews on customers who agree to give feedback. Food happens three rooms into the space, past an expansive U-shaped research bar that promises almost-free beer (a handful of constantly rotating 2-ounce pours for $1 cash when you take a survey). Who’s walking past that?

After you try those beers and take the survey (totally worth showing up for regardless), keep on walking to the pizza counter and pick out a slice or five along with an Urban Chestnut canned beer. True to UCBC’s Reverence & Revolution sensibilities, toppings range from classic cheese and pepperoni to international specials that don’t just sound good, but seriously follow through – like the complex and balanced Thai pie made with peanut sauce, serrano chile, chicken, pickled carrot and daikon, and cilantro.

The quality of the food and ingredients live up to all expectations set by executive chef Andy Fair, who helms all UCBC’s food programs as director of restaurants. Do not miss the perfectly spiced house-made Italian sausage. But really, anything on that naturally leavened crust – light, crisp and chewy without being tooth-wrenching, and flavorful enough to eat alone – is worth your time. Now, is it prost or cincin?

Photo by Jonathan Gayman

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• UCBC to open Urban Research Brewery in The Grove

• Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

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

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

• Gamlin Restaurant Group to open third establishment

Eat This: Vegetable Samosa at Everest Café & Bar

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

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If you haven’t tried the Vegetables Samosa at Everest Café & Bar, it’s time to check your priorities. Deep golden-brown pyramids of house-made pastry are filled with velvety smashed potatoes studded with peas and onion and fragrant with coriander. The crunchy, tender pockets are perfectly seasoned and delightful on their own, but the accompanying red tamarind sauce adds a sweet, tangy highlight.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: October 2017

• Eat This: Root Vegetable Tagine at Olio

• Eat This: The Classic Breakfast Sandwich

Eat This: Vegetables Samosa at Everest Café & Bar

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

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If you haven’t tried the Vegetables Samosa at Everest Café & Bar, it’s time to check your priorities. Deep golden-brown pyramids of house-made pastry are filled with velvety smashed potatoes studded with peas and onion and fragrant with coriander. The crunchy, tender pockets are perfectly seasoned and delightful on their own, but the accompanying red tamarind sauce adds a sweet, tangy highlight.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: October 2017

Eat This: Root Vegetable Tagine at Olio

Eat This: The Classic Breakfast Sandwich at Kitchen Kulture

Mike Randolph will open Privado in former Randolfi’s space

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

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Mike Randolph is finally getting his experimental fine-dining restaurant. As The Scoop reported in late August, Randolph closed his Italian Randolfi’s at 6665 Delmar Blvd. earlier this month. He plans to open Privado in the same space in October.

“It is exciting,” Randolph said. “It took a little bit of time to just get over the hurt of Randolfi’s, but once we figured out what was possible and what we wanted to do, we kept coming back to this.”

Privado will be a fine-dining tasting menu restaurant open on Friday and Saturday evenings for one service of about 15 courses for just 16 patrons. Tickets for each dinner will be available online for $100 each. The first service is planned for Oct. 20.

“I’ve thrown a ton of things at the wall, but I’ve never given [fine-dining] a fair chance,” Randolph said. “We want to be in there two, three, four days a week experimenting, tweaking techniques, processing ingredients.”

He plans to design the space and experience – the plating, lighting, music, even the smell in the room – in ways that were impossible at his previous fine-dining projects (Little Country Gentleman and the Diversion Dinners series), since they took place in other, permanent establishments. “This is no longer a divergence from work – this is work,” Randolph said. “This is a singular focus.”

The bar will be open around weekend dinners, so customers can have a cocktail before or after their meal. A handful of snacks and desserts will be available for those who just want to pop in for a drink as they wait for a table at Público or wander in from The Loop – though reservations are encouraged for bar seats as well.

During the week, Privado will serve as a private event space, available for everything from baby showers to cooking demonstrations, and a kind of commissary kitchen that Randolph’s other restaurants can use when they need extra space. “This will give us a really flexible space,” he said. “We can do anything we need to do within the restaurant group out of that space.”

“We’re excited – that’s the long and the short of it,” Randolph said. “It’s switched from sorrow to excitement.”

 

Photo by Greg Rannells for Mike Randolph

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
Meals That Changed My Life: Mike Randolph

Randolfi’s will close in The Loop Sept. 9

Best New Restaurants: No. 4 – Randolfi’s Italian Kitchen

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