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Nov 20, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Kristin Schultz’

Ones to Watch 2017: Alex Pille of Annie Gunn’s

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

OTW_Alex_Blog_Jan17

 

Title: Sous chef, Annie Gunn’s
Age: 28
Why watch him: His gardening exploits are likely to land on your plate.

Annie Gunn’s sous chef Alex Pille grows the usual slate of Midwestern fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, but that’s where the similarities to your grandmother’s garden end.

“I love to try new things,” Pille said. “Amaranth is an ancient grain crop. It has a giant flowering head that can be dried and is kind of like quinoa.” He’s also grown sorghum, rice, saffron and zucca – one of the world’s largest gourds that can weigh up to 100 pounds.

He grows produce his boss, executive chef Lou Rook III, never knew existed and some stuff he has a hard time finding. “I’ve been working with farmers since 1989 and had never heard of these [lemon drop] chiles,” Rook said. “I was so excited about them and Alex goes, ‘Oh yeah, I grew those last year. They’re great.’”

“I research online, but with the more obscure things, it only goes so far,” said Pille. “That’s where the chef part comes in. I found out a lot of people use zucca as a filler in jams. I decided to make applesauce with it. It worked out great.”

The current beneficiaries of Pille’s harvest are his family, friends and sometimes diners at Annie Gunn’s. But that may change.

“Last year I had a variety of around 60 plants growing,” Pille said. “I kept expanding my garden and before I knew it, it was a quarter of an acre.” This spring he plans to plant at least one of the five acres he recently bought in De Soto. “Hopefully by the end of the year, I can have a greenhouse out there, too.”

For Pille, farm-to-table is not a marketing gimmick; being a better farmer makes him a better chef. “He’s farming the food to bring to the table,” Rook said. “He understands food, how to prepare different things, because of his farming background.”

Eventually, he’d like to have his own produce business, selling to area restaurants. “I could be in both realms. I can grow unique things and also offer methods and applications for these obscure ingredients.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

 

Ones to Watch 2017: Elijah Barnes of Cleveland-Heath

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

OTW_Elijah_Blog_Jan17

 

Title: Bar manager and head bartender, Cleveland-Heath
Age: 29
Why watch him: He created a bar program that keeps pace with one of the area’s best kitchens.

Eight years ago, Elijah Barnes was learning how to mix a Lobsterita. Now he’s in charge of one of the most thoughtful bar programs in the Metro East. Here’s how he got from there to here and a look at where the nomad is headed next.

Red Lobster, Fairview Heights, 2007
“I took an interest in bartending when I was 19 and a server at Red Lobster. As soon as I turned 21, I started training at the bar. Before long, I was tending more than serving, and then I was doing inventory and more of the systems work.”

Cleveland-Heath, Edwardsville, 2011
“Opening the bar at Cleveland-Heath was scary. We had next to no budget to stock the bar, and I had no experience writing a cocktail menu. I experimented at home and read books. We ended up with seven cocktails that all used local soda. Seven soda cocktails. It’s horrifying. … I had a huge hurdle to get the bar program where we wanted it to be.”

Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans, 2013
“They advertise correctly: the end-all, be-all for bartender education. The first year I booked every single time slot I could. I was in class more than six hours a day. I was there to learn. … When I went this year, I focused on management rather than, ‘Let’s taste a bunch of scotch and yell about it.’”

Buck and Breck, Berlin, Germany, 2016
“I travel for my own personal pleasure and sanity, but always with a focus on what’s happening in bars and the experience in different markets. In Berlin, there are all these over-the-top speakeasies. You go to this unmarked door and knock. Someone slides the window open and sometimes lets you in.”

Cleveland-Heath, Edwardsville, 2017
“We never expected to have a really high-end cocktail bar,” said co-owner Ed Heath. “He came in and took it to another level. He works like me, like a chef – he comes in and has to do his mise en place, his inventory, his ordering. His creativity is through the roof. He is as important as an executive chef.”

Destination Unknown, 2021
“Bartending is a young man’s game, and I’m starting to feel the physical wear and tear. I plan on teaching spirits classes. I’ve also been consulting with a restaurant in Salt Lake City and thought about being a brand ambassador. Those may be directions I’d like to head.”

 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Mission Taco Joint to open at the Streets of St. Charles, Tortillaria to close in CWE

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

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The fiesta is headed across the river as the Tilford Restaurant Group prepares to open its fourth area Mission Taco Joint at The Streets of St. Charles. The Streets of St. Charles is a walkable mixed-used development currently home to a movie theater, apartments and retail stores, as well as local and national chain restaurants. Mission Taco will be the first Mexican bar and eatery in this development when it opens in April or May of 2017.

“It took a lot of thought and was a good opportunity for us,” said co-owner Adam Tilford. “We had this chance to build everything from the ground up, like Soulard, which we renovated from a shell.”

Even though the building is new, both the menu and the vibe will be familiar to diners who have visited the Soulard, Central West End and Delmar locations. The new space will feature a 40-seat patio and 135-seat dining room, making the St. Charles restaurant the largest Mission Taco yet. Like in Soulard, a large garage door is planned as part of the facade.

The same menu of unique street tacos, burritos, tortas, starters and sides will be available along with house cocktails and beer. Mission Taco will be open for lunch and dinner, and it will offer its late-night happy hour for local revelers or movie-goers.

“We hope to bring another different option for Mexican cuisine,” said Tilford. “We’re not like other Mexican restaurants – we feel more like a bar that serves tacos and burritos. We want this to be a place where people can go for lunch or come in the evening, hang out and make a night out of it.”

The Tilfords are also working on construction on the group’s first Mission Taco in Kansas City, which is also slated to open in the spring 2017.

The arrival of this latest project heralds the end of their first. After 12 years, the brothers are closing Tortillaria Mexican Kitchen at 8½ S. Euclid Ave., in the Central West End. Its last day will be Jan. 15, 2017.

Tilford said the lease was up at the space, and careful thought, it was time to move forward. “It is the hardest decision that we’ve made. Jason and I laid the tile on the floor at Tortillaria 12 years ago,” he said. “We likened it to having a grandparent passing away in their 90s. It’s sad at first, but 12-plus years for a restaurant is a great run.”

Tilford said their other concept, Milagro Modern Mexican in Webster Groves, won’t see any changes. The brothers are focused on bolstering the Mission Taco Joint brand. “The concept has proven to be very popular, (and) we’re humbled by that,” he said. “We’re trying to gear for more growth.”

 

Related Content
• The Scoop: Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade to open in St. Charles
• Readers’ Choice 2016: St. Louis’ Best Boulevard
The Scoop: Gringo to close, Mission Taco Joint to open in same space

 

Editor’s Note: This Scoop was updated Dec. 20 at 12:45 p.m. to include information about Tortillaria’s closing. 

Catherine Klene contributed to this report. 

 

The Scoop: The Dark Room to move to Grandel Theater

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

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A new space for nightlife is developing at 3601 Grandel Square as The Dark Room Wine Bar & Photo Gallery prepares to move from its current location at 615 N. Grand Blvd., to the Grandel Theater. The Kranzberg Arts Foundation is renovating the Grandel, and in February 2017, the lobby and commons area will be home to an new Dark Room.

“This is a great opportunity to expand our programing and capacity and to double down on our commitment to supporting the arts,” said Chris Hansen, Kranzberg Arts Foundation executive director.

Hansen said those expansions include extended hours, 30 percent more seating inside and another 50 seats on the patio. The Dark Room will also serve as the food and beverage provider for the theater. A newly designed and installed kitchen will be under the direction of chef Samantha Pretto, who came on board in December 2015.

Patrons can expect an expanded cocktail menu designed for theater-goers who need to get to the show on time, as well as a new late-night food menu following productions. Private dining rooms will also be available.

Customers who enjoyed the live jazz and visual arts exhibits at The Dark Room can expect the same vibe with rotating installations.“The Dark Room meets (Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s) mission to invest in infrastructure and systems that support the arts,” said Hansen. “Its programs can be the backbone of the Grandel Theater.”

He plans to announce new menu details closer to opening.

 

Related Content
Nightlife: The Dark Room

The Scoop: Chef Samantha Pretto joins The Dark Room

Sneak Peek: The Dark Room

The Scoop: The Dark Room wine bar and photo gallery to open in Grand Center

The Scoop: Death in the Afternoon closes

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

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Citygarden is minus a lunch spot (at least for now) as Death in the Afternoon served its last bowl of ramen on Wednesday, Nov. 23. As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, owners TJ Vytlacil and Adam Frager decided not to renew Death in the Afternoon’s lease in order to continue to grow their point of sale software company, Brigade Society, which publicly launched last year.

“We’re choosing to put all our energy into Brigade Society, and we’re doing well,” said Frager. “Knowing we’ll be traveling a lot in the immediate future, it would have been unfair to the staff, guests and Citygarden if we weren’t here to support the restaurant. We never wanted to be absentee owners.”

Unlike Blood & Sand, which Vytlacil and Frager sold earlier this fall, Death in the Afternoon’s building was leased, and the timeline was shorter. It took nearly nine months to close the sale of Blood & Sand.

“Selling a restaurant is a time-consuming process,” said Frager. “Citygarden has been fantastic and a pleasure to work with. When we started there was some skepticism about the location, but that’s never been an issue. We’ve always been profitable, so I hope we’ve proved that the location is not a hindrance but a benefit. We just didn’t have the luxury of time to put it up for sale.”

The restaurant had been open just more than two-and-a-half years, and Frager said will miss the diners and relationships.

“That was the hardest part of the decision,” he said. “Knowing how many friends have supported us in this. But it is out of respect for them that we closed. If there isn’t a strong leadership or ownership presence, then it’s hard to maintain the experience people had come to enjoy.”

 

Related Content
• The Scoop: New owner discusses vision for Blood & Sand

• The Scoop: Blood & Sand owners put downtown bar up for sale

The Scoop: Nick Martinkovic parts ways with Death in the Afternoon, Blood & Sand

The Scoop: Death in the Afternoon to extend hours for evening service

• Power Lunch: Death in the Afternoon

 

Photo by Jonathan Gayman

Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your boozehound

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

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These can’t-miss presents will wow even the most cosmopolitan drinker. From classes that inform and entertain to home bar must-haves sure to impress, here are gifts for the boozehounds on your list.

1. Skull Barspoon
More than just a pretty face, this tiki-inspired stainless spoon is well-balanced in the hand and comfortable to work with – making it one of Público bar manager Nick Digiovanni’s favorite tools. The conversation starter is also available in gold and copper-plated finishes. $25. cocktailkingdom.com

2. Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters & Amari
Bitter is in. Along with instructions for DIY bitters and cocktail recipes, these pages are packed with tasting notes and essential information to make the most of ubiquitous and obscure bitter bottles. $25. Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.367.6731, left-bank.com

3. Cocktails Are Go! Class
Check a dozen or so off your list with a group gift. Matt and Beth Sorrell teach classes with themes like Cocktails 101, Pre-Prohibition or Farm to Table. You buy the booze, and the Sorrells bring the glassware, mixers and know-how to up your friends’ bartending game. $25 per person. 314.406.2777, cocktails-are-go.com

4. Blood & Sand Membership
No secret handshake required, just a monthly membership fee to give the wine, beer and cocktail quaffer access to one of the best bars in town. With its extensive and carefully curated wine list and cocktails ranging from whimsical to brooding, there is no shortage of ways to unwind. $15 per month. Blood & Sand, 1500 St. Charles St., St. Louis, 314.241.7263, bloodandsandstl.com

 5. World of Wine Gift Basket
Take your favorite wine snob around the world in six bottles. Specialists hand-pick a motley crew of red and white wines from near and far. Order this no-brainer basket online or at any location, then have it delivered locally for a festive holiday surprise. $100. The Wine & Cheese Place, all locations, wineandcheeseplace.com 

More Holiday Gift Guides
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your food snob
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for the person you have to shop for
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts to stock a starter kitchen
• Holiday Gifts 2015: Gifts for the Boozehound

The Scoop: Parlor to open in The Grove

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

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A new arcade bar is coming to The Grove as five co-owners prepare to open Parlor in next spring or summer at 4170 Manchester Road. As reported by Feast, the hangout will feature pool tables a rotating selection of classic and modern pinball and cabinet games, as well as a drink menu of local craft beer and classic, straightforward cocktails.

“We want to be the neighborhood bar,” said co-owner Sean Baltzell. “There are a lot of party bars in The Grove to dance in until 3 in the morning, but there’s a lack of places with that neighborhood bar feel.”

Baltzell also owns Tower Classic Tattoo in The Grove and Knife & Flag aprons, and has ownership stakes in Union Barber Shop, City Tattoo and Alton Tattoo. Fellow Grove business owner Mike Cracchiolo of The Ready Room, veteran barman Casey Colgan, Casey Watson and Josh Martin round out the ownership team.

While Parlor will not have a kitchen, the bar will team up with Byrd & Barrel by way of a food truck, which will be parked adjacent to the 50-seat patio on Kentucky Avenue. Byrd & Barrel owner Bob Brazell is currently looking for a school bus to convert into the Nug Bus. In addition to serving the South City restaurant’s chicken nuggets (aka Nugz), Brazell plans to offer some of the same sides his brick-and-mortar does, including the tots and mac and cheese, as well as some funkier offerings.

“We’re still working on it,” Brazell said. “But I can see people eating fresh pork rinds with hot sauce and playing video games.”

While the design has not been finalized, Brazell plans to have a service window facing Kentucky Avenue so that Parlor patrons – and others walking by – can get a bite.

Parlor hopes to join booking forces with The Ready Room and offer music and live DJs to an after-show crowd. Look for Parlor to be open from 3 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily.

 

Guide to the Holidays 2016: Season’s Drinkings

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

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Ready the corkscrew, polish the stemware and bring out the wine. Whether you’re looking to drop some coin or want a bottle that only tastes expensive, we’ve got you covered.

 

Impress for less
2014 Naveran Brut Cava
Cavas like this dry, fresh sparkler may be Spain’s best kept bubbly secret.
$15. The Vino Gallery, thevinogallery.com

2014 Talbott Logan Chardonnay
Bold, rich and tropical, this California chardonnay makes a statement without draining your pocketbook.
$25. Balaban’s, balabanswine.com

2013 Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos
Balancing acidity and fruity notes, this Spanish red is a full-bodied and refined addition to the table.
$25. Parker’s Table, parkerstable.com

 

Spare no expense
Jacquesson Cuvée Extra Brut 738
This dry Champagne is the perfect start to a decadent dinner.
$65. The Wine Merchant, winemerchantltd.com

2013 Bindi Quartz Chardonnay
Minerality comes through in this oak-aged vintage from Down Under.
$125. Reeds American Table, reedsamericantable.com

2012 Silverado Solo Cabernet Sauvignon
From Napa Valley heritage vines comes an intense, stone fruit sip with a long, rich, earthy finish.
$119. Balaban’s, balabanswine.com

The Scoop: New owner discusses vision for Blood & Sand

Friday, October 21st, 2016

102016_bloodandsand

 

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: The Sweet Divine catches fire, owners intend to rebuild

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

101816_SweetDivine

 

Cupcake bakery The Sweet Divine caught fire in Soulard at 11 a.m. on yesterday, Oct. 17. Despite fire damage to the decorating room and smoke damage throughout the building, co-owners Jason and Jenna Siebert are determined to get back to work as soon as possible. An official cause for the fire has not been named yet.

“We’re meeting with the insurance adjuster and looking at a couple of commissary spaces today,” Jason Siebert said. “The community has been very supportive, and our biggest priority is getting back to work and maintaining a client base.”

The Sieberts purchased the building in 2013, and The Sweet Divine has been open at 1801 S. Ninth St. for the last three-and-a-half years. Since the shop is usually closed on Mondays, the Sieberts found out about the blaze from afar, and one of the bakery’s neighbors called in the fire. By the time the Sieberts arrived on the scene, Jason reported that the fire was out. “Thank God for the fire department,” he said.

The Sieberts aim to fulfill their contractual obligations, retain walk-up business (perhaps by way of their food truck) and reopen in the same location as soon as possible.

“We have every intention of rebuilding the bakery and keeping it in that location,” he said. “The Soulard neighborhood has been a great support.”

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