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Mar 25, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Fiala’

The Scoop: Brad Watts takes the chef’s toque (again) at The Crossing

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014



Brad Watts has worn the white toque in several places during his 12 years in Jim Fiala’s constellation of restaurants, including Clayton’s The Crossing and the now-defunct Liluma in the Central West End. On May 31, Watts resumed his erstwhile role of executive chef at The Crossing, located at 7823 Forsyth Road, replacing Mike Craig.

“(Watts is) very creative, he’s a good manager, (and) he takes great care of my staff … he’s just a superstar,” said Fiala, who also owns Maplewood’s Acero. “He’s been a loyal team player, and I’m delighted to have him running our busy kitchen at The Crossing.”

Beginning in 2003, Watts was executive chef by turns at The Crossing, Acero and Liluma, rotating frequently to the position where he was needed most. When Liluma closed in late 2012, Fiala, seeking to keep the chef with the company, made Watts The Crossing’s front-of-house manager, where he kept tabs on the beverage program and oversaw service. When Craig departed last week, Watts resumed his post in the kitchen.

“I want to make sure I keep people excited,” Watts said. “I want to stay within the realm of (Fiala’s) philosophy: seasonality, making sure we have as many local spring vegetables on the menu as we can.”

Other than a few subtle tweaks to a dish here and there, Watts said he has no plans to change the menu. His goal, he said, is to continue the sturdy reputation already enjoyed by The Crossing’s kitchen, known for its deft fusion of French, Italian and other Continental cooking styles.

“I’m a very technique-driven chef,” he said. “I just want a piece of fish cooked perfectly and a sauce that really complements all that and is done just right.”

The Crossing asks diners to Instagram for charity

Monday, September 9th, 2013



The Crossing is encouraging diners to whip out their smartphones and snap away now through October. The restaurant, located at 7823 Forsyth Blvd., in Clayton, is participating in the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Local Dish Challenge, which highlights local producers and promotes culinary education.

The Crossing will donate $1 from each Rain Crow Ranch Berkshire Bone-In Pork Chop (pictured) sold to the JBF Taste America Drive. And diners who post a picture of their chop to Instagram with the hashtags #Clayton and #JBFTasteAmerica could help a local nonprofit win big bucks, too. JBF will donate $10,000 to the city with the most tagged uploads; The Crossing selected Operation Food Search’s Nutrition and Culinary Education Program as its designated charity.

“This is a great opportunity for us to call attention to all of our local food providers and to make more people aware of the James Beard Foundation,” said chef-owner Jim Fiala in a press release.



The Scoop: Old Liluma to become Gamlin Whiskey House, opening in June

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Whatever happened to Derek and Lucas Gamlins’ plans to open a steakhouse in the old Liluma space in the Central West End? We were asking the same question, considering that the brothers, who also own Sub Zero Vodka Bar, had announced the venture back in November and pegged this month to open their contemporary American steakhouse.

Today, Derek Gamlin provided an update regarding action at the space at 236 N. Euclid Ave. The restaurant, whose name had been heretofore undisclosed, will be called Gamlin Whiskey House. While it will still be a steakhouse as previously planned, Gamlin emphasized that it would not be an “old-school” steakhouse. Rather, it will have a casual feel and be “bar forward.” As the name implies, Gamlin Whiskey House will carry an extensive selection of whiskey, with an emphasis on bourbon. The Gamlins, along with bar manager Dustin Parres (who currently oversees bar operations at Sub Zero) will be hand-selecting barrels of bourbon and making the spirit available on tap. “Eventually, we want to have six barrels on tap,” Gamlin said.

Gamlin declined to provide details of the food menu; however, he confirmed, that Ian Craig, executive chef at Sub Zero, is still slated for the top kitchen spot at the steakhouse. Jim Fiala, chef-owner of The Crossing, Acero and the shuttered Liluma, continues to be involved in the project, per Gamlin.

When asked what had delayed the project, Gamlin explained, “There was a snag in the lease.” The Gamlins expect to sign a renegotiated lease next week, and he noted that the restaurant has already been given its liquor license. Construction is expected to commence in two weeks; June 1 is the target opening date.

The Scoop: Good night, and good luck

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

We hate goodbyes, but it’s time to bid farewell to a few people and eating establishments that have kept our bellies well fed. The Feed Me banh mi food truck, which has only been in operation for the 2012 season, won’t be tootling around town selling Vietnamese sandwiches in 2013. Earlier this month, the food truck announced via Twitter that it was signing off the mobile eatery circuit, as reported by The Riverfront Times’ Ian Froeb.

We’re also waving a teary-eyed goodbye to Liluma. This Saturday will be the final day for service at chef-owner Jim Fiala’s restaurant in the Central West End. The space at 236 N. Euclid will see new life, however, as it is set to become a steakhouse that will be operated by Sub Zero owners Derek and Lucas Gamlin in partnership with Fiala who will be a consultant. The anticipated opening for this yet-to-be-named restaurant is March.

Finally, Clara Moore is leaving her post as executive chef, overseeing all of Local Harvest Cafe and Catering kitchens. As reported yesterday by Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch, Moore will leave Local Harvest next month and is planning to move to Seattle, Wash.

The Scoop: Liluma to Close, Steakhouse to Open In Its Place

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Liluma, Jim Fiala’s upscale bistro at 236 N. Euclid Ave., in the Central West End, will close this year and be converted into a steakhouse that’s set to open in 2013. Liluma’s Side Door, the small plates concept that Fiala launched in Liluma’s back room in August, is also closing.

While considering making changes to Liluma earlier this year, Fiala was approached by Derek Gamlin, who owns Sub Zero Vodka Bar with his brother, Lucas, about converting the Liluma space into a steakhouse. Fiala quickly accepted the offer to be a partner, excited that the concept would make the neighborhood residents happy. “Liluma has been there for 10 years and has run its course,” Fiala said.

The steakhouse will be a contemporary American steakhouse with an affordable price point. Ian Craig, currently the executive chef at Sub Zero, will take the top spot in the kitchen at the steakhouse, and the Gamlin brothers will promote from within to appoint a new chef at Sub Zero. Dustin Parres will oversee bar operations at the steakhouse while also continuing his role as bar manager at Sub Zero. The name of the steakhouse is set to be revealed in the next few weeks.

Fiala will stay on as a consultant and be “a touch more than a silent partner because of my skill set. I can offer knowledge on food and wine and service,” he explained. “I didn’t want to leave the Central West End. This keeps me in the West End, even though it might be more limited.” The change will also give Fiala more time at his other restuarants, The Crossing in Clayton and Acero in Maplewood.

The space will be given a total gut rehab to “put the Sub Zero and Gamlin twist on it,” said Derek Gamlin. “This is not a Fiala Food restaurant,” he continued. “It’s totally different; it’s from our corporate side.” Though no exact date has been given, Fiala said that Liluma will close sometime in December, possibly as late as December 31. Construction will begin on January 1, and the steakhouse is tentatively slated to open on March 1. More as we learn it.

The Scoop: Wine Bar at The Crossing latest among small-space revamps by Jim Fiala

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Last summer, chef-owner Jim Fiala re-conceptualized the back dining room at Liluma, transforming the space into its own little eatery called Liluma’s Side Door. Today, news comes that Fiala has reworked the upper level at his Clayton restaurant The Crossing into a casual yet intimate wine bar.

According to a press release, The Crossing Wine Bar will feature wines – with a focus on Mediterranean reds and Italian whites – as well as cocktails and small “bites” that include cheeses, meats and pastas. After-work patrons can take advantage of The Crossing Wine Bar happy hour from 5 to 6 p.m. on weekdays for discounts on select wines by the glass, cocktails and beer as well as food. For a look at the complete menu, click here.

The Crossing spokesperson David Craig told The Scoop that the redesigned space sports new tables and chairs and more contemporary barstools. The hardwood floor has been redone, and table linens have been stripped to lend a more casual vibe.



The Scoop: Pasta House owners to open Joe’s Chili Bowl at The Terrace View

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Kim Tucci (right) and Joe Fresta (left), co-owners of The Pasta House Co. and Tucci & Fresta’s Trattoria and Bar, which opened last September in Clayton, are opening a chili parlor. Tucci informed The Scoop that Joe’s Chili Bowl at The Terrace View will be located at 808 Chestnut St., in the space recently vacated by Jim Fiala’s The Terrace View.

The eatery will specialize in chili dishes – from chili dogs to chili mac – while also offering hotdogs, sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and some Italian dishes. According to Tucci, the concept merges those of two of his favorite eateries: Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C. and famed Chicago hotdog stand, Weiner Circle. Joe’s Chili Bowl at The Terrace View will be open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. A final agreement has yet to be signed, noted Tucci, but if all goes well, he hopes to open the chili parlor by April 13, the date of the St. Louis Cardinals’ home opener.

The Scoop: The Terrace View to close due to lack of downtown dinner-goers

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

010710_terraceviewJim Fiala is calling it quits for The Terrace View, his downtown restaurant at 808 Chestnut St., that sits adjacent to Citygarden sculpture park. As first reported by Matt Sorrell of Feast, Fiala cited a lack of dinner patrons as the reason for closing the restaurant a little more than two years after it debuted.

While Fiala noted that lunchtime business has been consistent, dinner service has not seen the same success. “No one goes to the park at nighttime,” he said, noting that “last year about this time” was when he first harbored thoughts of closing the restaurant. “Once the newness of the park wore off – then you go through a winter of 10 degrees with blasting cold wind; no one will go to the park to see the garden.” Likewise, Fiala has seen excessive heat affect dinner service in the summer. “I had 45 people on the books on a Saturday night in July. But it was 105 degrees outside. By noon, every single reservation had called and canceled.” In Fiala’s view, the general public deems the restaurant and Citygarden as “a package deal.” While he would like to offer this amenity, “it’s not worth the hassle,” he summed.

As you’ll remember, The Terrace View has seen quite a bit of activity this year in the kitchen as well. In April, Jonathan Olson, formerly the executive chef at Erato Wine Bar in Edwardsville, took the top spot at The Terrace View. It wasn’t but a couple months later that Fiala confirmed that Olson had left The Terrace View and been replaced by Mason Denton, who formerly cooked at Pomme Café and Wine Bar in Clayton.

Beginning October 1, the restaurant will switch to its winter hours, serving only weekday lunch. Doors will close for good after service on December 31, which is when Fiala’s lease ends. Employees at the Terrace View, said Fiala, will be offered positions at his other three restaurants, Liluma, Acero and The Crossing.

The Scoop: Jim Fiala to open Liluma’s Side Door on Euclid

Monday, August 8th, 2011

080811_jimafialaJim Fiala is adding to his family of restaurants – well, sorta. The latest, Liluma’s Side Door, will be located at 230 N. Euclid Ave., adjacent to the chef-owner’s existing Liluma in the space that previously served as the restaurant’s back dining room. The interior of the 24-seat dining area has been newly redesigned and an entrance door on Euclid has been created.

“Liluma has been successful for nine years now and we are always trying to give our restaurants a fresh face or new twist,” wrote Fiala in an email announcement. In a conversation today with The Scoop, he called Side Door “not a new business” but “a new aspect of Liluma.”

Liluma’s Side Door will be a “super casual little place,” that won’t take reservations, Fiala explained. He envisions Side Door as a “truly American restaurant,” featuring small plates prepared by chef Brad Watts. The menu is divided into “bites,” “pillows” (raviolis and other stuffed pastas), hearty “snacks” such as rice and beans or fish and chips and sweeter “afterthoughts.” Click here to see the entire menu. The wine list at Side Door will mirror that available at Liluma.

Side Door is slated to open on August 18. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to close.

The Scoop: Chef changes at The Terrace View

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

062111_olsonJonathan Olson is no longer running the kitchen at Jim Fiala’s The Terrace View. As reported by Riverfront Times’ Ian Froeb, Olson and Fiala parted ways last week.

Olson, profiled as one of our Ones To Watch back in 2009, had worked at The Terrace View for the last few months. Prior to that, he served as executive chef at Erato on Main in Edwardsville, Ill., from January until August of last year.

As for future plans, Olson told The Scoop that he is unsure of his next step but that he’s actively looking for a new kitchen stint. “I took seven months off last time,” he said, referring to the period between leaving Erato on Main and assuming the top job at The Terrace View. “I won’t do that this time.”

Taking the reins at The Terrace View is Mason Denton, who formerly cooked at Pomme Café and Wine Bar in Clayton. “He’s very fired up,” said Fiala. “Everybody supports him in the kitchen and wants to work for him and really is excited about his attitude and his vision for where we want to go. And he has a good rapport with the front of the house,” added Fiala, noting that he is excited for happenings at both the back and front of his downtown restaurant. Not only is this Denton’s first job as an exec chef, it’s also the first opportunity for Jeff Handlan, who recently became manager of The Terrace View, to run a restaurant.

— Photo by Brian Fagnani

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