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Apr 28, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Hit List’

Hit List: 3 places you must try this April

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

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1. Vicia: 4260 Forest Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.553.9239, viciarestaurant.com

After more than a year of anticipation, pop-ups and special events, doors have finally opened at Vicia in the Cortex Innovation Community. Veterans of New York’s acclaimed Blue Hill at Stone Barns, owners Michael and Tara Gallina focus on vegetable-forward, seasonally driven cuisine. To that end, the menu is flexible, letting farm-fresh ingredients dictate the day’s dishes. Take a leisurely lunch break at Vicia’s sun-drenched dining room to mix-and-match from a short list of meticulous dishes. Our tartine featured a thick slice of house-made porridge bread topped with butternut squash sofrito, marinated kale and oyster mushrooms, while the grain salad tucked a mix of wheat berries, rye and farro under shaved carrots, daikon and a rainbow of radishes with dollops of goat cheese sauce and pesto made from radish and turnip tops. Indulge with a quiche – ours included earthy shiitake mushrooms, spinach and leeks nestled in a fluffy, rich filling – but don’t forget to save room for dessert. A buttery turnover shattered at first bite, revealing sweet kumquat and ricotta. At press time, only lunch service was available, but based on that experience, we’ll eagerly make our dinner reservations.

 

2. Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade: 2236 First Capitol Drive, St. Charles, 636.224.8626, twoplumbers.com

Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade is as simple as a place named for Mario and Luigi should be: just 10 taps and more than 30 arcade games. The 21-and-older brewery currently offers a couple of its beers (keep an eye out for Ermac Irish red IPA and Braunenmantel American brown ale) and is brewing more to add alongside taps pouring the likes of Schlafly, Founders and Crown Valley. Bring in food (or order a Dan O’s frozen pizza from the bar), grab a pour and drop some quarters to play old-school favorites like Dungeons & Dragons, Time Crisis II and, of course, Super Mario Bros.

 

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3. Snax Gastrobar: 3500 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314.353.9463, snaxstl.com

And now for something completely different from the minds behind Robust Wine Bar. Instead of extensive wine lists and small plates, fill up with comfort food at Snax Gastrobar. Try the messy, delectable burger (two smash patties piled with cheese, bacon, a mayo-based Snax Sauce and the usual accoutrements), or pick up the Reuben, featuring a balance of house-cured smoked pastrami and sauerkraut. Prefer a knife and fork? Order the simple roasted chicken; a boned breast is seared for crisp skin and juicy, tender meat, all piled atop braised beans with rich shiitake mushrooms and bright lemon-garlic jus.

 

Photos by Michelle Volansky

Related Content

 • Sneak Peek: Vicia in Midtown

• Sneak Peek: Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade in St. Charles

Sneak Peek: Snax Gastrobar in Lindenwood Park

Hit List: 4 places you must try this March

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

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1. Boardwalk Waffles & Ice Cream: 7326B Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.449.1209, boardwalkwaffles.com

A hug can turn your day around, especially when it’s a Belgian waffle wrapping itself around Serendipity ice cream. Head to Boardwalk Waffles & Ice Cream in Maplewood for the embrace you need. The sweet waffles are made to order, and their crisp edges and fluffy interior pair perfectly with classic Salty Caramel Swirl. Go big with a full order (two whole waffles sandwiching four scoops) and share the love. Naked waffles and solo scoops are also available for those with waffle-ice cream relationship issues.

2. Balkan Treat Box: balkantreatbox.comTwitter: @BalkanTreatBox

It’s worth the effort to find Balkan Treat Box as it slowly rolls into the St. Louis food scene. A wood-fired oven roars inside the bright red and aqua truck, which turns out classic dishes from the Balkan Peninsula. Try the rich, chargrilled beef sausage cevapi served in a fluffy pita pocket-like somun with kaymak (a rich dairy condiment similar to labneh) and ajvar (a slightly spicy roasted red pepper-eggplant sauce). And order more pide than you think you need. The Turkish wood-fired flatbreads are addictive, topped with thick, bubbly layer of cheese and optional sliced smoked beef sausage.

 

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3. The Blue Duck: 2661 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, 314.769.9940, blueduckstl.com

After making a splash in Washington, The Blue Duck has added a second location in Maplewood. The menu ranges from soups, salads and hearty sandwiches like the DLT, made with smoked duck instead of the usual bacon on house-made sourdough bread, to classic supper plates like mac and cheese swimming with cheddar-fontina sauce livened up by a swirl of braised short rib marmalade and a crunchy herbed bread crumb topping. Order the savory seared scallops, which come doused in bloody mary sauce with braised bacon over a creamy celery root puree.

4. STL French Quarter: stlfrenchquarter.com, Twitter: @STLGumboGuy

STL French Quarter food truck has hit the road just in time for Mardi Gras, offering a rotation of Cajun and Creole classics and New Orleans-inspired dishes. Start with a bowl of dark gumbo thick with shredded pork and chicken. Or try the lighter, tomato-based jambalaya studded with red beans and andouille. Whichever you choose, you’ll need a wedge of a savory jalapeno-cheddar cornbread waffle for dipping. And save room for The French Quarter Po’Boy. Thin slices of tender roast pork and salty Tasso ham are smothered in rich Cajun gravy accented with piquant Creole mustard aioli, held in a split hoagie to sop up the juices.

Photos by Michelle Volansky

Hit List: 7 places you must try this February

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

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1. Hi-Pointe Drive In: 1033 McCausland Ave., St. Louis, 314.349.2720, hipointedrivein.com

Hi-Pointe Drive In is the new counter-service burger and sandwich spot from the team behind Sugarfire Smoke House. Nothing beats the classic cheeseburger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles: the thin smashed patties have a crispy edge but manage to stay a little pink inside. Order it with fries and a milkshake – we’re partial to the butterscotch with a dash of whiskey. For something healthier, try the Salmon Banh Mi with a seared salmon fillet, pickled vegetables, cilantro and a sweet and spicy chile-mango aioli on a Companion baguette. Or go for the refreshing Greens & Grains salad, packed with quinoa, wheat berries, avocado, veggies and mixed greens with lime vinaigrette. Expect long lines during peak times – it’s been packed since day one.

 

2. Shawarma King: 571 Melville Ave., University City, 314.261.4833, Facebook: Shawarma King University City

Shawarma King isn’t a misnomer. Order the beef shawarma plate with rice, which comes with tahini sauce and a small Arabic salad of cucumber and diced tomatoes tossed with lemon juice and olive oil. The sauce is good, but those tender, moist slivers of meat don’t really need it. Other classic dishes are no afterthought, either. The falafel has a thick, dark crust and soft, herbaceous interior. Try the savory mahshi version, which comes stuffed with onion and sumac and topped with sesame seeds. And don’t miss the baba ghanoush, which has a nice charred flavor from grilled eggplant, brightened with lemon and a zip of garlic.

 

3. Crave Street Food: 2605 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.8480, wecravestl.com

The menu at Crave made us a little nervous – pancakes, sushi, quesadillas and fried chicken rarely go together for a reason – but one bite of a salty, savory Cubano Phatada dispelled our doubts. Basically a chimichanga filled with pulled pork, ham, cheese, Spanish rice, black beans, pickles and mojo mustard, this fried burrito hits all the right notes. Those who want something a little lighter should look for the Four Alarm Tuna. The only poke cup with raw tuna on the menu, it has cubes of spicy yellowfin sashimi in a smoky guajillo paste with furikake, cucumber, cilantro and avocado served over warm sushi rice in a paper coffee cup.

 

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4. Side Project Brewing: 7458 Manchester Ave., Maplewood, sideprojectbrewing.com

Doors have finally opened at Side Project Brewing’s long-awaited brewery and tasting room, and we’re posting up at the bar for a pour of its internationally acclaimed beer. A large chalkboard displays bottles available to-go or for onsite consumption, as well as the day’s offerings pulled from 11 taps. Look for the oak-aged options Side Project is known for, or try something from the brewery’s new label, Shared. These beers aren’t required to be barrel-aged – though it’s hard to believe Shared Vibes, a smooth, rich Russian Imperial stout never spent time in oak. Grab a glass of it or its caffeinated counterpart, Shared Coffee Shop Vibes, then watch brewers Cory King, Brian Ivers and Tommy Manning at work in the 20-barrel brewhouse.

 

5. Mak’s Pub & Grub: 6109 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314.354.8148, makspub.com

Tucked into an industrial stretch of Gravois Avenue in Princeton Heights, Mak’s Pub & Grub is funky and eclectic. The menu is a step above traditional pub food with a concise bill of fare including specialty mac and cheeses like the Fried Chicken Mak, a massive bowl of cheesy goodness topped with chunks of breaded chicken, applewood-smoked blue cheese and some spicy, sweet Mak Sauce. The Kale & Artichoke Mak is (marginally) healthier with arugula, scarlet kale and tangy goat cheese. For those looking for a non-mac option, check out the Southside Gravy Fries, Mak’s spicy answer to poutine.

 

6. Pieces: 1535 S. Eighth St., St. Louis, 314.797.8200, stlpieces.com

St. Louis’ new board game bar and cafe is open and catering to game nerds in Soulard. For a small fee, you can play more than 500 board games while munching on snacks like hummus and nachos, or more substantial rice bowls and chilis. Come in for weekend brunch and order the spicy chorizo-pepperjack omelet, topped with sliced avocado, Sriracha and a cooling drizzle of sour cream. Opt for a beer off the short drinks list while you play classics like Battleship and Clue or more complex games like Terra Mystica and Game of Thrones.

 

7. I Love Juice Bar: 9849 Manchester Road, Rock Hill, ilovejuicebar.com

Start your day with a green juice made fresh at I Love Juice Bar , like the lightly sweet-tart Ginger Greens made with ginger, apple, kale, spinach, cucumber, parsley and lemon juices. Smoothie fans can try one of the blends on the menu, or create their own with a mix of bases, fruits and add-ins like turmeric and chia seeds. Continue your clean eating spree with vegan meals like the pad thai noodles: sweet potato noodles joined by shredded carrots, cucumber, spinach and cashews in a spicy-sweet peanut sauce. Rock Hill just got a little healthier.

 

Photos by Michelle Volansky

Related Content
Sauce Magazine: February 2017

Sauce Magazine’s Best New Restaurants of 2016

Hit List: 7 places you must try this January

Hit List: 7 places you must try this January

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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 {Lemon Gem owner Beth Styles}

1. Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods
4180 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2744, lemongem.com

The Grove’s new kitchen shop has the hardware you need to whip up a fabulous meal and the Instagram-able tableware you want to present it on. Located in the former home of Rise Coffee, owner Beth Styles stocks basics like Cuisinart pots and Victorinox knives, as well as collectible jadeite cake stands and Missouri oak rolling pins from woodworker Collin Garrity. Head upstairs to peruse Lemon Gem’s cookbook nook for inspiration, then head home to make your kitchen as Pinterest-worthy as the shop you bought it in.

 

2. Cate Zone Chinese Cafe
8148 Olive Blvd., University City, 314.738.9923

Cate Zone offers the warm, comforting dishes we’re craving right now. English translations of the Chinese menu are enigmatic, but offer rich payoff despite a lack of description of the Dongbei regional cuisine. Slice Beef Onion with Special Sauce appears with thin curls of sliced beef and onions in a dark, intensely savory sauce that is definitely special. Served over sticky rice, the dish comes with the unexpected bonus of a sunny egg. Those looking for something more familiar will be delighted by the sweet and sour pork, which is tender under a crunchy crust in a pool of gloriously sticky sauce. Or try the head-on, in-shell Sichuan spicy shrimp, which practically float with the lightness and addictive crunch of a chip.

 

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{ From left, 2nd Shiftcrew includes Mikey Manning, Jake Senn, co-owners Libby Crider and brewer Steve Crider, Becca Senn and Mike Sweeney.} 

 

3. 2nd Shift Brewing Co.
1601 Sublette Ave., St. Louis, 314.669.9013, 2ndshiftbrewing.com

There’s not much to 2nd Shift Brewing’s new tasting room on The Hill: It’s basically a warehouse with some tables and cute orange chairs, separated from the brewing equipment by a rack of barrels. But it’s all you need to enjoy some of the best beer in the city. Right now, there are only a handful of 2nd Shift beers available on draft, alongside guest taps from like-minded locals like Side Project Brewing and Perennial Artisan Ales, and some classic pours like Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA. Look for a fruited variant of 2nd Shift Katy for a sweet twist on the tart and effervescent original Brett beer, or peruse the longer list of bottles available. Until kitchen construction is complete, food is only offered on weekends, catered by Mission Taco’s Tilford Restaurant Group.

 

4. Himalayan Yeti
3515 S. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314.354.8338, himalayanyetistlouis.com

The new Southampton restaurant offers a wide array of Indian and Nepalese specialties from skewered meats cooked in tandoor ovens to biryani rice dishes. Start with an order of fried Himalayan Chicken Momo, sturdy dumplings filled with spiced ground chicken and served with a delectable tomato-sesame dipping sauce. Chunks of tender lamb swim in a rich curry sauce in the lamb rogan josh, or opt for the saag paneer, with chunks of the house-made Indian cheese in a thick spinach cream sauce. Whatever you choose, be sure to order plenty of thick, soft naan to sop up every drop.

 

 

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5. Intoxicology
4321 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.3088, Facebook: Intoxicology STL

You’re going to need a bigger bar cart after a visit to Intoxicology. The cocktail supply store aims to be a one-stop shop for the home bartender, offering artisan sprits, liqueurs, shrubs, barware, recipe books and more. We were particularly impressed by Intoxicology’s bitters selection: 60 varieties from classic Angostura and Peychaud’s to peppercorn-bacon, cherry-cedar and chile-chicory. Step up to the bar to sample the shop’s latest acquisitions, then stock up with everything you need to tend bar at home – right down to the Boston shaker and delicate vintage coupes.

 

6. The U.R.B
4501 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.222.0143, urbanchestnut.com

Thanks to Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.’s new consumer research bar and pilot brewery, anyone 21 or older can be a beer critic. Open daily, The Urban Research Brewery (or U.R.B.) offers tastings Wednesday through Saturday evenings, and $1 gets you a flight with up to four 2-ounce pours of experimental beers as long as you provide feedback online. Order a slice or two of New York-style pizza while you judge. Try the sunchoke pizza with jalapenos and Frank’s Hot Sauce for an extra kick, or go traditional with the house-made sausage and mushroom pie. The crust’s sourdough-like tang cuts through the rich cheese to add a boost you didn’t know you wanted.

 

7. Gezellig Tap House & Bottleshop
4191 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.5532, gezelligstl.com

The Grove’s newest beer destination is named for the Dutch word gezellig, meaning a cozy, convivial environment or a sense of togetherness among loved ones. It’s a spirit owner Brandon Cavanagh hopes patrons feel as they settle in at the bar with friends and enjoy a beer from the 28-tap list displayed on two large TVs. Look for seasonal and special releases like 4 Hands Brewing Co. Bonafide or Stone Brewing Xocoveza Mocha Stout, available in full or 5-ounce pours. Or head to the wall of refrigerated bottles and cans and choose from hundreds of options from here to Belgium. Non-beer fans can enjoy bottled classic cocktails like Negronis or gin martinis, as well as straight spirit pours served neat or on the rocks. Rather gezellig at home? Grab bottled brews to go for 20 percent off the list price.

 

Photos by Michelle Volansky 

 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: January 2017

Sneak Peek: 2nd Shift Brewing on The Hill

First Look: Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods in The Grove

First Look: Intoxicology in The Grove

 

Hit List: 3 new restaurants you must try this November

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

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1. Egg: 2200 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314.202.8224, breakfastcamefirst.com

Egg has expanded from its weekend brunch popup beginnings, taking over Spare No Rib’s original space on Gravois Avenue for good. (Have no fear; Spare No Rib moved to a new home at 3701 S. Jefferson Ave.) Try the cornbread Benedict with a choice of smoked pork belly or spinach and avocado stacked on sweet, crumbly cornbread, topped with two gently poached eggs and a deluge of hollandaise or the generous asada wrap, packed with succulent steak, fries and just the right amount of cheese sauce. The chakchouka, a stewed vegetable dish with baked eggs, is a hearty yet healthy choice, or go south of the border with robust breakfast tacos filled with veggies, carne asada, chorizo or carnitas with house-made salsas. Sip a brunch cocktail like the sweet and floral Sidi Bou Spritz made with hop vodka, jasmine and elderflower liqueurs and fresh orange juice.

 

2. Vietnam Style: 6100 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.405.8438, Facebook: Vietnam Style

Vietnam Style on the east end of The Loop may confuse at first glance, but you’ll only be disappointed if you intend to shop for clothes. Start with the Vietnamese spring rolls, packed with veggies, rice noodles, pork and shrimp or grilled beef – and don’t be shy with the bright, savory peanut dipping sauce. The Bò Né Original Vietnamese Sizzling Steak is a great introduction to Vietnamese flavors, with a sweet and garlicky seasoning that complements rather than overpowers the filet mignon, along with a sunny side up egg. If you only get one thing, make it a noodle soup – the Pho Filet Mignon Bo Vien features thin, curling slices of tender beef, meatballs and rice noodles in a rich, mile-deep beef broth. The classic pho ga comes with generous amounts of shredded chicken and rice noodles in a lighter-tasting broth good enough to pour into a thermos and drink all day long.

 

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3. Wicked Greenz: 16 N. Central Ave., Clayton, 314.727.2772, wickedgreenz.com

Wicked Greenz is serving up healthy, quick meals for the lunch and dinner crowds in Clayton. The veggie-focused menu offers 13 greens-based dishes that can be served “bowled” as a salad or “rolled” as a wrap. Try the Mexicali, a mix of salad greens, black beans, red onion, corn, cilantro and pico de gallo with charred tomato vinaigrette. The classic Caesar features Asiago cheese, basil and a sharp Parmesan-peppercorn Caesar dressing. But the stars of the menu are the soups: The smoked chicken gumbo is spicy and complex with chunks of chicken, andouille and kielbasa in a dark, rich broth served atop a mound of white rice. Get the garlicky, slightly sweet tomato soup, which is topped with cheese and crunchy croutons reminiscent of a deconstructed grilled cheese.

 

-photos by Michelle Volansky 

 

 

 

Hit List: 3 new places you must try this October

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

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1. Narwhal’s Crafted Urban Ice: 3906 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.8388, narwhalscrafted.com

With its long menu of boozy slushies and committed nautical theme, the one thing Narwhal’s Crafted Urban Ice might be missing is a pool. From the boardwalk-y planks of weathered wood on the walls to its narwhal mascot with an ornery expression, the bar feels like a vacation spot. Calories don’t count on vacation, so settle into the patio lounge chairs and sip on an ice cream-based treat like the minty Flying Grasshopper or the root beer float. If you’re feeling classic, go for the frozen Negroni or bourbon slush. They may be pulled from a slushie machine, but Narwhal’s cocktails aren’t sugar bombs soaked in vodka. The mixes are made in-house with real fruit and juices, and each tastes delightfully distinct.

 

 2. Snow Factory: 6602 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.669.9300, snowfactorystl.com

You may have seen YouTube videos of Thai ice cream rolls being made halfway across the world, but now you can watch it live in The Loop. Snow Factory ice cream is made to order: Fillings and a liquid base are mixed up on a minus 10-degree cold plate, then smoothed into a thin layer. The ice cream is then scraped off into rolled tubes and placed in serving cups like an edible bouquet. Try the light, fresh Matcha Cavalier, which features matcha ice cream mixed with bright strawberries. Or, classic Oreo, brownie and chocolate team up in the Black Humor. Prefer scoops to Thai-style rolls? Order a bubble wrap-like egg waffle cone­ – which is more of a tender waffle wrapped around ice cream than a crispy cone. Grab a booth inside the bright little space and enjoy your treat to the tune of upbeat dance music.

 

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 3. The Garden on Grand: 2245 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.898.3788, thegardenongrand.com

 The Garden on Grand aims to bring Eden indoors with its expansive wood bar, tables cut from the same tree trunk, exposed brick and more live plants than you can shake a stick at. Order a glass of wine from trendy regions like Portugal or Washington state, then start with the rich pan-seared duck dumplings, plump with tender duck confit, celery, onion and carrot, served with a simple ginger soy sauce. Or try the crispy shrimp rolls: big, meaty shrimp folded into spring roll wrappers and deep-fried, served with a thick, sweet chile-garlic sauce. Don’t miss the pistachio-crusted roast salmon, served on a bed of decadent lemon-truffle risotto and a bright green brushstroke of asparagus puree. Meat lovers should opt for the remarkably tender lamb chops; four or eight chops are stacked atop an island of creamy celery root puree alongside a mound of al dente broccolini with almond brown butter and crispy fingerling potatoes.

-photo by Michelle Volansky

Hit List: 3 new places you must try this September

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

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1. Nathaniel Reid Bakery: 11243 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, 314.858.1019, Facebook: Nathaniel Reid Bakery

Pastry chef Nathaniel Reid has won international accolades for his sweet treats, but it wasn’t until August that he opened his own shop serving sweet and savory breakfast pastries, sandwiches, colorful tarts and cakes. Start your day off right with a sweet almond croissant, or grab a sandwich for lunch, like the roasted turkey with havarti cheese on a flaky plain croissant. For dessert, treat yourself to The Jarmo, pistachio cake topped with dollops of house-made pistachio cream and fresh berries, or The Amber, a dome of buttery mousse draped in caramel and ringed with pecans.

2. Twisted Tree Steakhouse10701 Watson Road, Sunset Hills, 314.394.3366, twistedtreesteakhouse.com

Starters are standouts at Twisted Tree. Try the onion rings, which have a crackling crust that clings to the onions with each bite. Crab rangoon seems out of place on a steakhouse menu, but was piping hot, oozing with cream cheese filling and served with two dipping sauces: apricot sweet-and-sour and zingy mustard. Salads are served family-style with sides of crumbled feta, freshly fried croutons and a trio of dressings (the onion-y, slightly sweet house vinaigrette was the winner). Don’t miss the luscious, tender prime rib; get it with a side of mac and cheese, where al dente noodles are swathed in a sharp white cheddar sauce and topped with crispy breadcrumbs. Don’t skip the house-made desserts. A giant slice of almond-y white wedding cake slathered with white buttercream came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Get the cheesecake (which has a sugar cookie crust) with the fresh, bright strawberry sauce.

3. Coma Coffee Roasters: 1034 S. Brentwood Blvd., Richmond Heights, 314.250.1042, comacoffee.com

Coma Coffee Roasters is waking up Richmond Heights. Espresso-based classics are available, but its lightly roasted drip option will please palates with no sugar or milk required. Iced coffee fans will dig the 18-hour cold brew, a deep, rich sipper perfect for tackling the 3 p.m. slump. Enjoy the last days of summer with the Coma affogato – espresso poured over Serendipity bourbon ice cream – or go tart with Lyfe, where a shot of bitter espresso mingles with pomegranate juice over ice in this earthy, balanced treat.

-photo by Michelle Volansky 

Hit List: 4 restaurants you must try this August

Monday, August 1st, 2016

House-made pizzas from the kitchen at Start Bar: veggie, with roasted grape tomato, basil and mozzarella (left), and a rotating specialty pizza, shown here with chicken, artichoke, spinach and white sauce.

 

1. Start Bar: 1000 Spruce St., St. Louis, 314.376.4453, startbarstl.com

Reward your inner child with a trip to Start Bar for skee-ball and boozy snow cones. The surprisingly chic video game-themed space offers 19 arcade games with a variety of fighting, shooting, old-school and multiplayer options that will rotate based on popularity. (And yes, they’re getting Killer Queen, that 10-person game with a cult following.) Once you’ve OD’ed on treats like the Bacon Pancake Shake made with bacon-infused bourbon, pancake batter, maple syrup and vanilla ice cream, order a house-made Neopolitan-style pizza. The weekly specialty offering will please even those without an inner child; a recent version featured a house white sauce, roast chicken, artichokes and spinach with mozzarella cheese. There’s also a long canned craft beer list and a full bar for those committed to acting their age, but we’ll see you at the candy counter before we kick ass at Mario Kart in one of the four game lounges upstairs.

 

The cold ramen salad is made with Midwest Pasta Co. alkaline noodles; raw, pickled and fermented seasonal vegetables; marinated Mofu tofu; a slow-cooked egg and a ginger-scallion sauce.
 

2. Kounter Kulture: 3825 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314.781.4344, Facebook: Kounter Kulture

After popping up at Tower Grove Farmers Market, Local Harvest Cafe, Sump Coffee and others, Kitchen Kulture co-owners Christine Meyer and chef Mike Miller finally put down roots at Kounter Kulture. They revamped the former home of Pint Size Bakery, creating a primarily carryout spot with a small, frequently rotating roster of Asian-inspired dishes. Start with a large house-made steamed bun stuffed with breaded pork loin or crisp Mofu tofu. Grab larger entrees like the tender smoked trout on a bed of al dente wax beans; the cold ramen bowl packed with pickled veggies, tender marinated tofu and a perfectly soft-cooked egg; or spicy-savory khao soi with rich red curry, Buttonwood Farms chicken, egg noodles and pickled greens. Sharing with a friend? Load a pizza-sized okonomiyaki (an eggy Japanese pancake) with shrimp, bacon and kimchi.

3. Louie’s Wine Dive: 16 S. Bemiston Ave., Clayton, 314.875.9373, louieswinedive.com

Louie’s Wine Dive & Clayton Kitchen has won over Claytonites with its quirky decor, indulgent small plates and lively atmosphere. Start with the cheese curds: bits of breaded, fried cheese equally at home in the accompanying serrano dill aioli and classic marinara. Or go bigger with the bluefin-crab poutine, a pile of crab, mushrooms, cheese curds and seafood broth over a bed of crispy shoestring fries. The pork gnocchi is light and fluffy with chunks of tender braised pork swimming in a velvety red wine cream sauce. The wine list is expansive with interesting, unusual options available by the glass, but cocktail fans won’t be disappointed either. Try the refreshing Grandma’s Garden, where cucumber, mint and lime are muddled and mixed with gin and sauvignon blanc for a sweet summer sipper.

 

A variety of kababs are offered in different styles and proteins. Shown here: chicken.
 

4. Absolute BBQ Indian Wish Grill: 17409 Chesterfield Airport Road, Suite C, Chesterfield, 314.200.1111, abarbq.com

The name may confound, but those curious enough to stop at Absolute BBQ Indian Wish Grill in Chesterfield won’t be disappointed. Start with an order of plump vegetarian samosas or the bite-sized pieces of spicy ABQ chicken. Lamb, chicken, seafood and vegetable kebabs are offered with five different spice preparations. We fell hard for the succulent chicken kebab with hariyali tangdi, a blend of Indian spices including red chile and masala, served with a fiery mint dipping sauce. For less heat, opt for the goat haleem, a thick stew heady with savory and baking spices. Shredded goat meat and lentils are cooked down to a paste-like texture, perfect for scooping up with a side of naan.

 

-photos by Michelle Volansky

Hit List: 4 new restaurants you must try this July

Friday, July 1st, 2016

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1. Vista Ramen: 2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.797.8250, vistaramen.com

Style meets good tastes at Cherokee Street’s ultra-cool Vista Ramen. The relaxed, stylish interior sets the stage for approachable Asian-inspired food with a hint of fine-dining finesse. The menu of mostly small plates and ramen bowls comes courtesy of chef Chris Bork (formerly of Blood & Sand). Dishes rotate frequently; an artfully plated, unexpected starter featuring bites of beet and black sesame chiffon cake drizzled with charred lemon sauce and popcorn has already disappeared from the menu. However other dishes, like the small plate of Korean fried chicken sliders, are still available. Crisp chicken is tossed in a spicy gochujang-based sauce and topped with fish sauce pickles sandwiched between a sweet house-made Hawaiian roll. Among the ramen, we slurped up the veggie version with firm noodles swimming in a delicate broth alongside seasonal vegetables and the perfect egg with a yolk as thick as cold custard. Likewise, the well-rounded pozole hit all the right notes: spicy, savory, silky broth soaked pulled chicken with a fresh green hit of cilantro on top.

 

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2. Scarlett’s Wine Bar: 4253 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.797.8223, Facebook: Scarlett’s Wine Bar

Fans of Sasha’s on Shaw should flock to sister restaurant, Scarlett’s Wine Bar. The Central West End counterpart is busy and cheerful, stylishly designed with a tinned ceiling and marble-topped bar. Glance over the iPad menu boasting dozens of wines, or take our sage advice and request a glass of Benton-Lane pinot noir, an easy red with dark berry notes. Enjoy a light meal with the fresh crab salad. Tender greens, lump crab, grilled asparagus and avocado are dressed in light white balsamic vinaigrette for an indulgent meal that won’t weigh you down. Though, you should probably round out your order with the sausage and pepper pizza. This memorable pie boasts wood-fired crust that bread aficionados will love, baked in an oven Italians would kill for.

 

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3. Scapegoat Tavern & Courtyard: 52 Maryland Plaza, St. Louis, scapegoatstl.com

Scape’s sister space has switched to the night shift. The former home of Crepes, Etc. is now Scapegoat Tavern & Courtyard. The newly renovated space features a long L-shaped bar lined with sleek white subway tile and bottle after boozy bottle. Grab a seat inside (or on the secluded back patio it shares with Scape) and start with a classic cocktail like a summery mojito. For a snack as you sip, turn your attention to small plates like the G.O.A.T. Sliders: macadamia nut-crusted fried chicken topped with pepper jack cheese and a honey-mustardy sauce on a Hawaiian bun. You can also split a crisp flatbread slathered in arugula pesto, tart balsamic glaze, roasted peach slivers and melted burrata. Hungier patrons can opt for the entree-sized house-smoked pastrami melt stuffed with kraut, gooey Gruyere and Russian dressing. Scape’s little sister is all grown up.

 

4. Club Taco: 200 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.858.1488, Facebook: Club Taco

Kirkwood has recently been granted a membership to Club Taco. Start with a West County Housewife, which weaves adobo-grilled beef tenderloin with portobello mushrooms, candied bacon and Gorgonzola on a house-made corn tortilla. The vegetarian Fun-Guy features those same portobellos and stout-braised black beans covered with roasted green chiles and topped with a slice of fried avocado. Break all the rules with the Deep South: fried chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes with corn relish and a spicy pepper sauce. Snag a side of Club Tots, too: crisp tater tots smothered in white cheddar, green chiles, chipotle crema and a sunny-side up egg.

 

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

From major changes at one of St. Louis’ top restaurants to big moves for an area coffee roaster, here’s what went down it the St. Louis dining scene last week, in case you missed it…

 

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1. Gerard Craft is closing his flagship restaurant, Niche. The Niche Food Group owner announced on June 2, that after 11 years, he will close Niche on June 11 and launch a new concept, Sardella, in another four to six weeks.

2. The newest member of the Sasha’s Wine Bar family will open to the public on June 2, when Scarlett’s Wine Bar opens its doors for service at 4253 Laclede Ave., in the Central West End.

 

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3. South City coffee roaster Sump Coffee will open a second location in Nashville, Tennessee this fall. Sump’s space in the OneC1TY development in the West Nashville/Midtown neighborhood will be next door to Pastaria.

4. Lilly’s Music & Social House, located at 2321 Arsenal St., at the corner of Jefferson Avenue, closed its doors on Sunday, May 29. The restaurant and entertainment venue was open almost one year.

 

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5. Sauce Hit List has three new must-try restaurants this month, including Big Baby Q and Smokehouse, Five Aces Bar-B-Que and Stubborn German Brewing Co.

6. Eureka is getting a sweet new addition this summer as Sarah’s Cake Shop plans to open a cafe, Sarah’s on Central, into the old Central Hall banquet center at 127 S. Central Ave.

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