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Jan 19, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘New and Notable’

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.




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.




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.




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.




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


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:




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.




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.




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.





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…





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

In This Issue: New and Notable – Mi Linh

Thursday, November 7th, 2013


How does one judge a new Vietnamese restaurant in a city touting more than 30 restaurants featuring the same cuisine? What makes a new place better than the rest when they all offer pretty much the same dishes? Is it fair to judge a restaurant by just one dish?

Maybe Dee Dee Tran and her brother Nelson Tran pondered these questions when they opened Mi Linh, their 5-month-old Vietnamese restaurant in Rock Hill (She’s the general manager; he runs the kitchen.). However, with Nelson’s 20-year tenure in the restaurant industry (working in kitchens from New York to Seattle) and Dee Dee’s experience in running other businesses, the Trans certainly don’t have to prove themselves.

But oh, how they do! And for good measure – again and again.

To read more about what Michael Renner thought of Mi Lihn, click here.

-photo by Johnathan Gayman


In This Issue: New and Notable – Prasino

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

At Prasino, the new mini-chain restaurant in St. Charles, the employees say PRÄH-suh-no. The translation app on my phone says PRÄH-see-no. Tomato or tomahto, prasino is Greek for “green,” as in “environmentally sound.” The St. Charles spot is one of four locations for the 4-year-old family of restaurants self-billed as eco-friendly. It’s also the chain’s first foray outside of Chicagoland.

Prasino’s business plan is driven by eco-friendly kitchen practices, energy and water-saving appliances, and as many locally sourced raw ingredients as possible. Your server will spend a good two minutes explaining just how environmentally conscious Prasino is, to the point that you’ll look around for the Greenpeace seal of approval.

To read what reviewer Michael Renner thought of this new St. Charles restaurants, click here.

-Photo by Jonathan Gayman



In This Issue: New and Notable – The Libertine

Thursday, September 12th, 2013



Deadline be damned, I wanted fried chicken. Specifically, I wanted Josh Galliano’s fried chicken: the deep-fried, crunchy, spicy bird that I – and seemingly half of St. Louis – devoured last year at his one-night pop-up event. This was well after Monarch (where most of us first fell under the spell of Galliano’s chicken) had closed, so there was much pent-up demand and curiosity about what he was going to pull out of the skillet this time. Since then, the New Orleans transplant put on another pop-up (gumbo-themed) and designed and executed the meat MX Movies downtown.

Earlier this year, Nick and Audra Luedde tapped Galliano to head the kitchen at The Libertine, their new restaurant in downtown Clayton; and you thought all that buzz you heard was the cicada invasion. Nick is a practiced mixologist, sommelier and restaurateur, while Audra is a master chef and sommelier. A year ago the husband and wife team moved to St. Louis (Nick’s hometown) from Chicago to open The Libertine.

To read more about our reviewer’s thoughts on The Libertine, click here.

-Photo by Jonathan Gayman



In This Issue: New and Notable – Pan D’Olive

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

{Lobster ravioli}

While Pan D’Olive, the pan-Mediterranean restaurant housed in the former Mihalis Chophouse on McCausland Avenue, is not new (It opened in November 2012.), it is notable for a few reasons. First, there’s the affordability: Most entrees are in the mid-teens and no meze is over 10 bucks. And happy hour revelers can truly revel over the $3 select cocktails and house wines, $2 draft beers, $1 select small plates and half-price flatbreads. Then there is the space: sleek and stylish, with acres of dark wood, lots of subdued lighting and a spacious, multilevel layout, including the bar area with its illuminated bar top and striking mezzanine lounge.

Click here to read more of what Michael Renner thought about Pan D’Olive.

–Photo by Elizabeth Jochum

New and Notable: Sugarfire Smoke House

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

{Baby-back pork ribs with a side of mac-n-cheese} 


Housed in a modern strip mall on Olive Boulevard, just west of I-170, Sugarfire shoots for the rustic roadhouse look: dark-stained walls with inlaid squares of pressed tin, heavy plank tables and chairs, multicolored retro metal lawn chairs, and galvanized steel pendants.

But first, you have to get inside. Read the rest of Michael Renner’s review of Sugarfire Smoke House here.

-Photo by Jonathan Gayman

New and Notable: Niche

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

{Braised Carrot: barigoule, quinoa, dill, chive, yeast}

Did Gerard Craft break your heart when he moved Niche from the city’s quaint yet quirky Benton Park to the county’s corporate yet classy Clayton? Did you sigh with resignation when you learned the new Niche dropped a la carte entrees in favor of its four-course prix fixe and nine-course tasting menus? Craft offers no apologies. As the owner of four top St. Louis restaurants, he doesn’t have to.

Read the rest of Michael Renner’s review of Niche, here.

— photo by Carmen Troesser

Tune in Today to Hear Michael Renner’s Favorite Dishes of 2012

Friday, December 14th, 2012

It’s not just the month of countless holiday parties and endless gift wrapping, it’s also the time when we take a look back at the year we’re leaving behind. Here at Sauce, we believe there’s only one way to measure a good year: in food, of course! And there’s no better person to do all the tasty legwork than New and Notable reviewer Michael Renner. So take a break from all that cookie baking and latke frying and tune in to St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 KWMU’s Cityscape today at 11 a.m. or 10 p.m. to listen as Michael runs down his favorite dishes of 2012 in this month’s Sound Bites segment. Then, come right back here to find his full list of 2012’s swoon-worthy eats.

(When Michael Renner reviewed Kelly English Steakhouse back in February, he loved this bone-in rib-eye with bourbon au poivre sauce. Will it make the list of his favorite dishes of 2012? Tune in tomorrow to find out.)

— Photo by Jonathan Gayman

Thank You, Joe Pollack

Monday, March 12th, 2012

In August 2001, Joe Pollack wrote his first restaurant review for Sauce. Over the next nearly four years, Joe was a staple of this publication, writing reviews under the moniker Gourmet Guru, the name he created for his column.

By now, many St. Louisans know that Joe died unexpectedly early Friday morning at his home in Clayton at the age of 81. True to his disciplined nature, he had just completed the last of several film reviews he was writing that morning for the blog he and his wife, Ann Lemons Pollack, publish, St. Louis Eats and Drinks with Joe and Ann Pollack.

The columns and stories he wrote for Sauce are just a drop in the proverbial bucket for a man who seemingly knew everything about everything. He kept the same distinctive voice for nearly 50 years of professional writing in St. Louis, whether he was covering sports, politics, food, wine, theater or film. When I took over the Gourmet Guru column (now called New and Notable) at Sauce a few years ago, I was hesitant to use the name because, well, it was Joe’s.

Joe always reminded me of one of those curmudgeonly, tough talking, hard-boiled, old school journalists pounding out copy on a portable Smith Corona with a cigarette dangling from his lips. He had the quicksilver mind and mouth to match, and I always enjoyed discussing restaurants with him, however briefly, whenever we ran into each other at events. In addition to the culinary reviews he wrote for Sauce, Joe was a sports reporter for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and spent 23 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reviewing restaurants, theater and film. Along with Ann, he reviewed restaurants for St Louis Magazine, published three books on St. Louis dining and was the local editor for the Zagat Guide. His heavy Brooklyn accent was familiar to listeners of KWMU (90.7 FM), where he also reviewed films.

He may have been born in New York, but he was a St. Louisan through and through. Thank you, Joe Pollack.

Read Joe Pollack’s obituary here.


“Joe was instrumental in the early years of Sauce. He saw the potential in Sauce magazine and our vision for St. Louis and that is why he wanted to be part of it.”

— Allyson Mace, publisher and founder, Sauce Magazine

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