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Dec 13, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Renner’

Best New Restaurants: Top 3 Dishes of 2017

Friday, December 1st, 2017

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1. Berkshire Pig at Vicia
The best restaurant of the year also served the best pork dish. Cooked to butter-softness and finished on the grill for a hint of smoke, the small serving rivaled any chop. On my visit before Vicia switched to family-style mains, the pork was served with a rich assortment of shelling beans and wild blooms – don’t forget to order those separately.

2. Seared Lacquered Halibut at Polite Society
Glazed with miso butter and highlighted with ginger, this was the best piece of fish I ate in 2017. Serving it on a bed of aromatic jasmine rice congee with vegetables made it the best fish entree.

3. Grilled Octopus at Nixta
Like a fool, I didn’t have the pulpo until months after I reviewed Ben Poremba’s upscale Mexican restaurant. With crispy tentacles and tender meat brightened by almond mole and garnished with charred lettuce, it’s no wonder this is Nixta’s most popular dish.

Photo by Jonathan Gayman 

Michael Renner is Sauce Magazine’s longtime restaurant critic who pens New & Notable

Related Content
• Best New Restaurants 2017: Vicia

• Best New Restaurants 2017: Polite Society

• Best New Restaurants 2017: Nixta

Sauce Gift Guide: $25 to $50

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

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Foodies are the best people to buy for. With so many great products out there, it’s easy to find something they don’t already have in their kitchens. These five gifts scream thoughtfulness without scary price tags.

1. Boska Girolle Cheese Curler
For 800 years – from the time Swiss monks invented Tête de Moine to the 1980s when the country that brought us engineering invented the girolle – people used whatever they had to scrape the delicious, semi-hard cheese into paper-thin slices. Boska’s girolle makes easy work of shaving Tête de Moine into delightful curlicues, releasing its nutty aroma and complex flavor.
$50. Larder & Cupboard, larderandcupboard.com

2. Olive Oil Straight from Sparta
The Chronis family of St. Louis owns an olive grove in Greece. They control everything from cultivating and cold-pressing the Kalamata olives to bottling and selling the resulting extra-virgin olive oil – now at a retail boutique in St. Louis. Pick up a bottle of the Olea Gold oil and a packet of Greek wild herbs for a dipping sauce of the gods.
Olive oil: $20. Herbs: $5. Olea Estates, oleaestates.com

3. Olive Wood Salt Box
Olive wood is as exotic and beautiful as it is hard and strong. It’s just what designer salt wants. With extraordinary, unique grain patterns, no two salt boxes are the same, making them the definition of a one-of-a-kind gift. And over time, the olive wood will take on a richer, darker, even more beautiful hue.
$50. Kitchen Conservatory, kitchenconservatory.com

4. Bubbly Liqueur Sets
Each set pairs a bottle of Italian sparkling wine with a liqueur for festive, bubbly cocktails perfect for holiday parties galore. Choose from four sets, including the classic Kir Royale made with crème de cassis and prosecco. Who doesn’t love bubbles?
$28 to $29. Vom Fass, vomfassusa.com

5. Bottle Snaps
When blacksmith Andrew Andrasko isn’t fabricating and forging large sculptures for parks, galleries and businesses, he can be found in his studio hammering out useful metal kitchen tools like ladles, spatulas, meat forks … and these cool bottle openers in three colors.
$28. NHB KnifeWorks, nhbknifeworks.com

Michael Renner is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine who regularly pens New & Notable reviews

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: 2017 Guide to the Holidays

Sauce Gift Guide: $25 or less

Sauce Gift Guide: $50 to $100

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Sauce restaurant critic Michael Renner has tasted his fair share of St. Louis cuisine. All year, he shared his thoughts on New and Notable restaurants. Here, he shares his top five dishes of 2016:

 

5. Hakka Stir Fry at Tai Ke
In a single mouthful, this Taiwanese dish, consisting of matchstick slivers of pork, squid and dried tofu tossed with celery and garlic, managed to defy simplicity with a brilliant concatenation of complex flavors and textures.

 

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4. Brodetto at Parigi
This tomato-based fish stew was a picture-perfect bowl of snow-white fish, clams, mussels and head-on shrimp in a broth redolent with red wine vinegar and lemon zest. I did not come up for air until each shell was picked clean and every drop of intoxicating broth was sopped up with yeasty, crusty bread.

3. Potpie at Olive & Oak
Puncturing the buttery, flakey robe of crust revealed a treasure of mushrooms, kale, butternut squash and cauliflower through puffs of fragrant steam. The earthy roasted leek gravy proved that not every potpie requires chicken or beef.

 

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2. Vegetable Ramen at Vista Ramen
My veggie ramen at Vista was chock-full of cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms and carrots, though yours may vary. What won’t change is the broth’s deep, funky umami, so rich it seems like a liqueur.

 

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And the No. 1 Dish of the Year…
Catfish Po’ Boy Steamed Bun at Kounter Kulture
A dark-hued, crackling fried coating framed the natural succulence and fresh taste of catfish, all topped with an unforgettable sprinkle of spicy togarashi and douse of creamy shishito pepper-cherry tomato remoulade.

Parigi and Vista Ramen photos by Jonathan Gayman

Related Content
10 Best New Restaurants of 2016

New & Notable: Kounter Kulture

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2015

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your food snob

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

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According to David Kamp and Marion Rosenfeld in their snarky Food Snob’s Dictionary, a food snob is someone “who has taken the amateur epicure’s admirable zeal for eating and cooking well to hollandaise-curdling extremes.” Here are a few holiday gift ideas to distinguish your food snob, experienced or aspiring, from the amateurs.

 

1. Acorns & Cattails
Most chefs know how to forage without poisoning themselves. For the rest of us, St. Louis native Rob Connoley’s smartly written, beautifully photographed cookbook provides inspiration and instruction for gathering and preparing food. We hope Connoley serves some of these recipes in the restaurant he plans to open in St. Louis next year. $35. Kitchen Conservatory, 8021 Clayton Road, Clayton, 314.862.2665, kitchenconservatory.com

2. VAIN Vanilla Sampler
Regular vanilla extract is so, uh, vanilla. VAIN Foods of Kansas City, Missouri switches out the standard neutral grain alcohol in favor of more interesting spirits to make its vanilla. Try Mexican vanilla in Kentucky bourbon, Indonesian vanilla in ginger spirits, Ugandan in orange spirits and Madagascar vanilla in both cane rum and vodka in this five-pack sampler. $40. Larder & Cupboard, 7310 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.300.8995, larderandcupboard.com

3. Wine Wands
Sometimes even the most conscientious don’t have time to chill their wine to the proper temperature. In such dire straights, the hoi polloi use ice cubes, a practice eschewed by any self-respecting food snob. Keep this set of two stainless-steel wine chillers in the freezer to cool down a glass of wine in a hurry, preempting such an embarrassing situation. $40. Williams-Sonoma, Plaza Frontenac, 1701 S. Lindbergh Blvd., Frontenac, 314.567.9211, williams-sonoma.com

4. Anova Precision Cooker Sous Vide WiFi
While rash enthusiasts bought aquarium-sized sous vide immersion circulators, food snobs knew something better had to be in the works. Like cell phones, sous vide technology has produced a manageably sized device. It’s lightweight, attaches to any pot and connects to a smartphone so you can cook remotely and receive temperature notifications. $199. Crate & Barrel, 1 The Boulevard, Richmond Heights, 314.725.6380, crateandbarrel.com

5. Halcyon Knives
Halcyon Forge is a one-man show in which Joseph Schrum makes beautiful, high-carbon steel knives in his backyard work shed in Sedalia. Schrum uses reclaimed materials like old saw blades and wood scavenged from riverbanks. Buy his designs or order custom knives made with, say, a resin laminate handle incorporating a memento. But prepare to wait six months for the custom gift to arrive. He’s that good. $140 to $425. Bertarelli Cutlery, 1927 Marconi Ave., St. Louis, 314.664.4005; halcyonforge.com

 

More Holiday Gift Guides
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for the person you have to shop for
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts to stock a starter kitchen
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your boozehound
• Holiday Gifts 2015: Gifts for the Food Snob

 

Ones to Watch 2016: J.T. Gelineau

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

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Title: Owner, Mushrooms Naturally
Age: 31
Why Watch Him: His mycological enterprise is mushrooming.

Mysterious, fascinating, beautiful and delicious. That’s how J.T. Gelineau described the all-consuming object of his obsession: the mushroom. A former chef who grew up digging in dirt and gardening, Gelineau’s fascination with mushrooms comes, well, naturally. Now his business Mushrooms Naturally, which started part time in his small basement, has grown into a 3,000-square-foot warehouse in O’Fallon, Missouri. “My wife is a very tolerant woman, but she told me to move it someplace else,” Gelineau said.

Self-taught in mycology, the biology of mushrooms, Gelineau starts everything from scratch, in petri dishes. Unusual varieties like royal trumpet, hen-of-the-woods, white beech and black poplar line rack after rack of industrial shelving, popping out of bags of mineral-enhanced sawdust “soil” like some sci-fi farm from The Day of the Triffids. “I really like growing vegetables, but this is just so much more challenging,” he said. “It appealed to me from the chef’s point of view of the food and organization.”

As a former chef, he also knows what a high-end kitchen wants, according to one of Gelineau’s clients, Anthony Devoti, chef-owner of Five Bistro. “The stuff that he’s growing is beautiful,” Devoti said. “And with us trying to stay local and hyper-local, he’s growing those here in St. Louis.” They’re also exceptionally fresh, since Gelineau delivers mushrooms picked and sorted within three days of harvest.

Mushrooms Naturally has grown to be one of the largest local suppliers of gourmet mushrooms to St. Louis restaurants in just three years. And if mushrooms weren’t enough, Gelineau recently started making flavored sea salts – from roasted shitake to truffle. Yet another reason to keep your eye on the mushroom man.

– photo by Carmen Troesser

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

From our new issue to new ramen shops, here’s everything that went down in the St. Louis food scene last week, in case you missed it…

 

1. We rang in the new year with our January issue featuring our annual Ones to Watch, six food and drink pros with promise.

2. South American food truck Que Sazon has a new team of chefs behind the window. Aaron Gray and Deana Saunders purchased the business from Fabian and Julie Ocampo Dec. 22.

 

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3. After their much heralded relocation to St. Louis, Michael and Tara Gallina have announced a series of pop-up dinners in January and February 2016.

4. Blood & Sand co-owners TJ Vytlacil and Adam Frager are putting their members-only bar on the market.

 

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5. Clayton, get ready to slurp. Nami Ramen will open doors Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 46 N. Central Ave., in the former home of House of Wong.

6. Resolved to drink better, cheaper or less in 2016? We’ve got you covered.

 

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7. Sauce restaurant critic Michael Renner has tasted his fair share of St. Louis cuisine. All year, he shared his thoughts on New and Notable restaurants, and last week, he shared his top five dishes of 2015.

8. Likewise, Matt Berkley works some odd hours as Sauce’s Nightlife critic, spending many a late night sipping craft cocktails around St. Louis on a hunt for the very best. Here, his top five cocktails of 2015.

 

 

 

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2015

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Sauce restaurant critic Michael Renner has tasted his fair share of St. Louis cuisine. All year, he shared his thoughts on New and Notable restaurants. Here, he shares his top five dishes of 2015:

 

5. Dumplings at Private Kitchen
 
Nibble around the edges of the steamed pork dumplings, sip the rich stock and plot how to get more.

 

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4. Cluckin’ Hot Fried Chicken at Southern
Four-alarm, “cluckin’ hot” Nashville-style chicken triggers all the pain and pleasure centers with fire and a hint of sweetness. All other fried chicken is milquetoast in comparison.

 

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3. Lamb Sugo at Reeds American Table
Thick and meaty lamb sugo, amped up with orange zest and mint, sticks to ruffled creste rigate noodles and to your ribs on a cold night.

 

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2. Whole fish at Público
Whole, head-on yellowtail snapper was stuffed with scallion, bay leaf, jalapeno, lemon and lime and roasted in the wood-fueled oven. It comes with house-made tortillas so you can share with the table. Don’t.

 

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And the No. 1 dish of the year…

Cast-iron seared scallops at J. McArthur’s
Cast-iron skillet-seared diver scallops are good enough. Float them in smoked corn bisque with Brussels sprouts, pea shoots and bacon, and you have the best dish of the year.

 

-photos by Jonathan Gayman

 

The Scoop: Sauce writers earn top honors in national competition

Friday, September 18th, 2015

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Sauce Magazine is raising a glass to Sauce contributor and former managing editor Julie Cohen. The Association of Food Journalists awarded Cohen first place in the Best Writing on Beer, Wine and/or Spirits category at its prestigious food writing and editing competition. Cohen was recognized for her piece, “Super Somms: St. Louis’ Top Wine Students Prepare to Hold Court” from the 2014 Guide to Drinking.

Congratulations are also in order for New and Notable reviewer Michael Renner, who tied for second place in the Best Restaurant Criticism category with Tim Carman of The Washington Post.

Winners were recognized yesterday, Sept. 17, at an awards banquet held in conjunction with the AFJ annual conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. The organization recognized excellence in 20 categories of food writing and editing. A complete list of the results is posted here.

Sauce was also recently named as a finalist for two categories in the 2015 FOLIO: Eddie and Ozzie Awards. The March 2014 issue is nominated for an Eddie for best Full Issue – Epicurean, and the August 2014 feature, “Pie, Perfected” is nominated for an Ozzie in the Feature Design category (under 100,000 circulation). FOLIO winners will be announced Oct. 19 at an awards luncheon in New York City.

FOLIO also recently named Sauce founder and publisher Allyson Mace one of the 2015 FOLIO: 100 Honorees in the Up-and-Coming Trailblazers category. Mace will be honored at a networking reception on Oct. 19 in New York City.

 

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Sauce restaurant critic Michael Renner has tasted his fair share of St. Louis cuisine. All year, he shared his thoughts on New and Notable restaurants, from pizza to Southern fare to pasta. Here, he shares his top five dishes of 2014:

 

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No. 5: Bread Basket at Juniper
Despite all the great food — the deviled eggs, that tangy pimento grilled cheese, fine fried chicken — I’m going with Juniper’s bread basket because even at $9, it’s a worthy indulgence when there’s buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, hush puppies, popovers and fluffy angel biscuits made with lard.

 

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No. 4: Short Rib Pappardelle at Cucino Pazzo
Perfectly al dente house-made pappardelle noodles, carrots, celery and tender, beefy short ribs braised for 16 hours in red wine all in a sauce of cipollini onions and roasted mushrooms? No wonder it’s their most popular dish.

 

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No. 3: Venison Chop at Element
Just like baseball season, it’s gone but it sure was memorable. That farm-raised venison was something. Tasting richer than beef, the big, bone-in seared, savory chop lacked the gaminess of its wild cousin. Roasted root vegetables and a smoked Concord grape sauce balanced winter earthiness with subtle sweetness.

 

 

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No. 2: Hamburger at Three Flags Tavern
Of course Three Flags’ beef brisket was ground in-house, but it was the house-baked potato bun that didn’t disintegrate and the house sauce (mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and pickle juice) that made this burger such a savory package. A close runner-up: the pan-fried chicken and the accompanying biscuit baked while the bird fries.

And my No. 1 dish of 2014 is…

 

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Lobster Roll at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.

Regardless of the style — Maine (served cold with mayo) or Connecticut (tossed with drawn butter and served warm) — what made these rolls even more notable than the chunks of fresh, tender, sweet lobster was the bun: a split-top brioche bun griddled to a buttery, toasted perfection, soft enough for fingers to gently crunch, yet substantial enough cradle all that meat.

 

And an honorable mention goes to the duck confit at Jax Café Chef-owner Brian Hale showed style and whimsy with a savory chipotle-cherry pancake topped with arugula, creamed corn and a confit of duck leg. A lot of competition for a limited number of taste buds produced surprisingly complementary flavors.

-photos by Jonathan Gayman

The List: Canh Ga Chien at Mi Linh

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Welcome to The List, our annual homage to the people, places, dishes and drinks we love in St. Louis. Don’t miss a single pick; click here to read the whole List and share your thoughts on Twitter with #thesaucelist.

 

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Last year, I loved Mi Linh’s Canh Ga Chien so much that it made my Top 5 Dishes of 2013 list. Lightly breaded with rice flour and cornstarch, deep-fried and then sauteed with butter, red pepper flakes, garlic and diced onions, these chicken wings made me wish I could eat them every day. Then there was a shake-up in the family-run restaurant, and head chef Nelson Tran – brother of owner Dee Dee Tran – was out. How are the wings now? During a return visit, the dish was overloaded with scallions and garlic, but the light and crispy coating still cracked with the first bite, the meat was still juicy, the gentle heat still warmed my lips, and the wings still glistened – as did my fingers – with butter and oil. My verdict? I’m still eating them.

9737 Manchester Road, Rock Hill, 314.918.8868, milinh.net

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

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