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Jan 22, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Niche Restaurant’

The Scoop: Niche reopens in Clayton on Nov. 1

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Yesterday Gerard Craft announced via Twitter that he will be closing Niche’s Benton Park location on Oct. 18 and reopening the restaurant at its new home in Centene Plaza, located on the southwest corner of Forsyth Boulevard and Hanley Road in Clayton, on Nov. 1. The orange banquette that lines the east wall at the old Niche will be brought over to the new spot, next-door to Pastaria. Much of the rest of the new décor has been locally sourced: The flooring is made from reclaimed Missouri wood, and the bar is enveloped with Missouri limestone (pictured below).

The kitchen at the new Niche is a European style set-up where the chefs work closely in stations and can easily communicate without shouting. In front of the kitchen, there is a counter with four seats where patrons can enjoy an extended tasting menu. On the west wall of the new space (pictured below) are the beginnings of a mural, which will eventually be a scene of Bethlehem Valley, a farm in Missouri. The mural is being painted by Peat Wollaeger, a local graffiti artist.

Can’t wait until Nov. 1? Visit Niche now; Craft has alluded to “fun dinners” coming up at the 1831 Sidney St. location.

St. Louis Classic Cocktail Party to celebrate local distilleries

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

The St. Louis craft distilling scene is booming, and we can’t think of any better way to celebrate than with a toast. Area distillers Square One Brewery and Distillery, Pinckney Bend Distillery, Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling Co., The Big O, Mastermind Vodka and St. Louis Distillery will be showcasing their artisanal spirits at the St. Louis Classic Cocktail Party at Lafayette Square Park on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. Held in conjunction with the park’s free Summer Concert Series, entrance to the event is free, while a $2 drink ticket will allow you to sample a spirit or cocktail made with one of the local elixirs. Proceeds benefit The Arts Council of Lafayette Square.

If you want to get a jump-start on your gin, vodka, whiskey and ginger liqueur samplings before the St. Louis Classic Cocktail Party, you’re in luck, as many area restaurants will be showcasing these local products during the week of September 3. On Tuesday, Sept. 4, for instance, Sub Zero will host a vodka tasting. On Thursday, Sept. 6, Square One is throwing a whiskey dinner that pairs various Square One whiskeys – including experimental batches – with each course. And throughout the week, TasteSalt, Niche and Demun Oyster Bar will feature cocktails made using local spirits, while Sanctuaria will shake St. Louis spirits in cocktails paired with food.

Check out the St. Louis Classic Cocktail Party Facebook page for more information on events.

Sauce: The Photographs at Niche in September

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

090210_nicheDid you miss Sauce: The Photographs this past weekend at the Philip Slein Gallery? Wish you could see which images were featured – and even pick the one that’s perfect for your own kitchen?

We’re excited to announced that many of the photographs from last week’s show are now on display at Niche Restaurant on Sidney Street, and next door at Taste by Niche. These images, taken by Sauce’s group of incredibly talented photographers, will stay up for your perusal throughout September. All of the images lining the Niche walls are framed, matted and available for purchase. Between the great food and the gorgeous photography, we hope you’ll stop by for a delicious meal and plenty of eye candy!

Kakao brings brittle bliss

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

052510_kakaoBecause few joys in life can match that of well-made brittle, fans of that confection should squeal with delight at a new offering from Kakao Chocolate, aptly called The Big Squeal.

Brian Pelletier, Kakao’s owner and chief chocolatier, gave us the lowdown on the seductively buttery bacon-pecan brittle. “We just started making it last week,” he said. “It’s just a super combination of sweet and savory and salty. It was inspired by something similar that we had at Niche – and we thought, this really has a lot of potential, is something that we could really do a lot with.”

The South City chocolatier fashions The Big Squeal with Missouri pecans and bacon from Hinkebein Hills Farm in Cape Girardeau, Mo. “Everyone that’s tried it has loved it,” Pelletier noted. “We can’t make enough of it.”

The Big Squeal costs $5 per 2-ounce package. “We’re selling it at the store,” said Pelletier, “and then we’re selling it at the farmers’ markets that we’re at – we’re at Maplewood on Wednesday, and we’re at Tower Grove and Clayton on Saturday mornings. And then starting on June 3, we’ll be at the downtown St. Louis one by the Old Post Office on most afternoons.”

Breaking: Beard award eludes Craft

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

050210_gerardcraftLocal restaurant boosters should sigh with collective disappointment: St. Louis’ Gerard Craft didn’t win the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest.

Instead, Alexander Roberts of Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis landed that honor, the foundation just announced from New York’s Lincoln Center.

Craft, of course, helms Niche Restaurant and Taste by Niche in Benton Park and Brasserie by Niche in the Central West End. This marks his second consecutive year as a finalist for a James Beard Foundation Award, the culinary world’s pre-eminent honor.

The Midwest category includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Vying with Craft and Roberts for the best-chef title in that category were Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery in Minneapolis; Colby Garrelts of Bluestem in Kansas City, Mo.; and Lenny Russo of Heartland in St. Paul, Minn.

Breaking: Craft nabs Beard nomination

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

031810_jamesbeardFor the second year in a row, St. Louis’ Gerard Craft has been named as a finalist in the James Beard Foundation Awards, the food world’s highest honors. Finalists were announced this morning at the Palace Café in New Orleans.

Craft – the man behind Niche Restaurant and Taste by Niche in Benton Park and Brasserie by Niche in the Central West End – is competing for the title of Best Chef Midwest. The foundation will announce award winners at a gala ceremony May 3 in New York’s Lincoln Center.

Also included among the semifinalists for Best Chef Midwest was Joshua Galliano of Monarch Restaurant and Wine Bar in Maplewood.

Changes hit Niche this weekend

Friday, March 12th, 2010

031210_NicheLook for changes to occur at Benton Park’s Niche Restaurant starting this Sunday.

“I walked into the dining room last week,” chef-owner Gerard Craft just told us, “and I was like, ‘God, really kinda getting fancy in here.’ I mean seriously, I don’t know if you’ve seen me, but I’m not the fanciest guy in the world.

“I think we were getting to a place doing seven-course tastings with gold leaf … and kinda white tablecloth-only, and I think I was just at a place that I just didn’t really enjoy it,” Craft continued. “When we opened Niche, it was all about serving good food that was approachable, like a guy like me with tattoos can come in and sit down and feel comfortable and still get a taste of something that you usually pay a lot of money for. So I think we’re just trying to bring it back to that vision.”

Inspiring the changes was Craft’s recent tour of hot, new bistros in France. Devotees of Niche’s cuisine can breathe easy, though – Craft reassured us his menu will remain progressive. Moreover, starting Sunday, the restaurant will offer guests a three-course meal for $35, as well as probably instituting a five-course tasting menu.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “None of this is about cutting back on my food and not trying to keep people interested, ’cause that’s what I love to do. But it’s about making people feel comfortable while they’re experiencing it. … You might see us work a little bit harder to use off cuts of ingredients. You might see more in the way of a flat-iron steak than a ribeye or a filet or something of that nature.”

With a chuckle, he added, “We’re still keeping the bread service – that’s the only thing that I’m giving in on. … [But we’re] going back to, for now, brown paper on the tables – you may see wood tables pretty soon.”

Craft’s conclusion regarding the upcoming changes? “I feel a little more comfortable.”

Unite tonight with top ’tenders

Monday, November 9th, 2009

If (like us) you feel an informal union with the lovely, lovely people who’ve made dispensing adult beverages their profession, tonight you can support a more formal union by visiting 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar.

More specifically, the small but stalwart Lafayette Square establishment will host a fundraiser for the nascent St. Louis chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild from 6 to 9 p.m., according to 33 owner Jeff Stettner.

Members of the guild – including local mixology masters Ted Kilgore of Taste by Niche, T.J. Vytlacil, Monarch’s Nate Selsor and others featured in our November cover story, “Cocktail Hour” – will mix cocktails at the event, which will also feature a raffle, a wine tasting and a beer tasting. All cocktails will cost $8, with wine and beer a bit cheaper – but all proceeds, again, will benefit the guild.

The Scoop: Mathew Rice leaves Niche

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Mathew Rice has left his post as executive pastry chef at Niche Restaurant and Taste by Niche. “It was a hard decision to leave the best restaurant in town. I’m so proud of what I was able to accomplish there, but I’ve got other exciting things up my sleeve,” he said, declining to provide specifics but noting his recent consulting work with Pi. Rice (pictured), who was voted favorite pastry chef in this year’s Sauce Readers’ Choice poll, moved from Salt Lake City in 2005 to work at Niche with chef and owner Gerard Craft. Fortunately for fans of Rice and his red velvet cake, he said he is staying in St. Louis. We’ve got calls in to Craft to find out his plans to replace Rice. Stay tuned.

Photo by Brian Fagnani

The Scoop: Bienvenue, Brasserie

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Niche Restaurant‘s Gerard Craft is expanding his brand into the Central West End with Brasserie by Niche, a casual restaurant that will serve traditional French bistro fare. The Brasserie is set to open its doors at 4580 Laclede Ave., home to Chez Léon, as early as mid-October. Craft (pictured) has hired friend Perry Hendrix, who most recently worked at Gabrielle’s at the Richmond Hill Inn in Asheville, N.C., as executive chef. Hendrix also has done stints at Gramercy Tavern and Prune in New York and The French Laundry in Napa.

“I felt that if there was anybody who understood what the true Parisian brasserie is and shared my love for it, it was Perry,” Craft said.

Craft started scouting locations for a second restaurant in the spring of 2008. For the last several months, his attention has been focused on 4580 Laclede Ave. “I love the storefront facade that opens up in spring and summer,” he said. As the place where Craft proposed to his wife, Suzie, and held his rehearsal dinner, the restaurant has some layers of personal history.

Expect tweaks to the menu and décor, not an overhaul. “At first we’re just going to go in as-is, and then we’re going to work from there,” Craft said. Look for classic French desserts by Niche executive pastry chef Mathew Rice and a thoughtful beer list.

Leon Bierbaum, owner of Chez Léon, has his eye on a new restaurant space in Clayton. Watch this space for updates.

Photo by Brian Fagnani

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