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Sep 23, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Peacemaker’

Readers’ Choice 2016: Favorite Restaurateurs

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

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{Clockwise from bottom, Gerard Craft, Dave Bailey, Kevin Nashan, Nick Luedde}

The menus have been printed, revised, reprinted, revised … and reprinted again. The staff has been trained forward and backward. The silverware has been polished until it’s too shiny to behold. Friends and family have flown in for the soft opening with compliments fit for the pope/Shakespeare/Beyoncé of restaurant owners. But when the restaurant finally opens to the public, what’s going through a restaurateur’s mind?

 

Winner: Gerard Craft
Owner, Niche Food Group (Brasserie by Niche, Pastaria, Porano Pasta, Sardella, Taste)

“I think my opening of Niche was way different from any opening you will see today. In 2005, social media wasn’t really a thing. People finding out about new things were not overnight happenings. Now you open a restaurant and a million people line up out your door — definitely not with Niche. No one knew who we were. It was me, one other cook and my pastry chef who I basically kidnapped. We opened to 12 customers, and I think six of those were from the bar across the street, who I think I convinced to come over if I would feed them for free. …

“I was 25. My wife was pregnant. I was doing something a little bit different, which certainly didn’t make it easier. I would work from 8 a.m. until 2:30 a.m. every day. It was intense – a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress. … It was this dream, but also so much reality. And I physically remember when we finally got reviewed — (former St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic) Joe Bonwich just gave us this love letter. After, I looked up and … there were so many people, we didn’t know what to do. I almost threw up. I was like, ‘Oh shit, I have to cook for all these people!’”

 

2nd: Nick Luedde
Co-owner, The Libertine

“We had been in the press and had such a highly anticipated opening. … Ten minutes prior to opening — the staff looks great, and we had 200 people on the books — but I’m looking at my wife (Audra Luedde), afraid no one was going to show up. We had so much money invested. This was everything. … It all comes down to whom you’ve hired. If those people are people you actually want to have a drink with, the rest takes care of itself.”

 

3rd: Kevin Nashan
Chef-owner, Peacemaker Lobster & Crab and Sidney Street Cafe

“Obviously you want to throw up in your mouth. It’s such a big rollercoaster. You just hope people come and are so grateful when they do. It takes a village — everyone contributes to your success. … There are so many variables on opening day. The system you have sometimes completely changes during service, after service.”

 

Honorable mention: Dave Bailey
Owner, Baileys’ Restaurants (Baileys’ Chocolate Bar; Baileys’ Range; Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar; Rooster; Shift, Test Kitchen & Takeout; Small Batch; The Fifth Wheel)

“My seven stages of opening a restaurant for the first time:

Electric shock: Woke up early that sunny morning with no alarm clock with a surge through my body and the immediate thought, ‘I am opening a restaurant today! You’ve been working on this day and night, sleeping two hours at a time on top of the bar. It’s actually real now. Go go go!’

A burning sensation in the back of the head and neck: Is there enough time to get everything done? … What did I forget? Will anyone come? Will too many people come? Why am I doing this on a Friday? Why didn’t I do a soft opening?

Accelerated breathing and hypersensitivity to sound and touch: Almost there; we’re looking pretty good; it’s all about to happen; this is going to be amazing!

Calmness and solidarity of purpose: Ready. Everything looks right; everything feels right; everyone is in position.

Panic and self doubt: Why wasn’t there a line at the door? Is anyone going to come? Was this a terrible idea in the first place? I can’t afford for this not to work.

Total absorption in work and an extremely narrowed focus: Wow, it’s really busy. Everyone seems happy. We are almost keeping up; we need to go faster; we need to go much faster. Touch more tables … make them happy no matter what.

Complete relief and a feeling of having learned and grown more in hours than in the past several years: It worked. We built it, and they came. We are going to do an even better job tomorrow.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

Trendwatch: A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list (Part 1)

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

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1. The Wonder Years: Children of the ’70s can’t complain: Their parents let them run amuck outside, eat cheese from a spray can and buy candy cigarettes at the corner drugstore. Relive those glory days at Sidney Street Cafe, where house-made Wonder Bread is turned into panna cotta on a deconstructed tuna fish sandwich, or head to The Libertine for the aged white cheddar “Cheez Whiz” atop the burger. Finally, go to Social Gastropub in Edwardsville and get the lobster and shrimp pie topped with smashed Ritz crackers and reminisce about all the crushed crackers (or corn flakes) your mom sprinkled over every genius casserole.

2. Move over, Sriracha: Harissa, a red-hot North African condiment, has immigrated to the Midwest. Find the garlicky chile pepper paste accenting carrots at Basso, veggies and rice at Eclipse and the tomato salad at Cleveland-Heath. Harissa meted meatier fare at Element, where chicken wings were dunked in harissa hot sauce, and it added oomph to roasted cauliflower at Taste, too. It even served as inspiration for a dry-spice blend dusting the farro salad at Juniper.

 

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3. Steamed buns head West: Everyone is putting a spin on Asia’s answer to the burger lately. East meets West in Peacemaker’s steamed bun roll stuffed with lobster and sour cabbage and in Kitchen Kulture’s everything-bagel steamed bun filled with house-made pastrami. In September, Blood & Sand will begin stuffing its house-made everything-bagel steamed bun with chopped chicken liver, but in the meantime its Peking bun holds Maryland-style crab cake.

 Click here to see Part 2 of Trendwatch. 

-Photo by Carmen Troesser

Readers’ Choice 2015: Best New Restaurant – Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

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“What did I enjoy as a kid? What makes me happy now?” Kevin Nashan, chef-owner of Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. asked himself as he contemplated the restaurant, his second after running Sidney Street Cafe down the street to wild acclaim. “I always gravitated toward po’boys and a good lobster roll.” Your votes make it official: Peacemaker is St. Louis’ favorite new restaurant. Here, Nashan dishes his thoughts on the most popular, quintessentially coastal dishes at Peacemaker.

1. Clam Roll: “It’s got the sweetness of a scallop, the brininess of an oyster – absolutely delicious.”

2. Buffalo Crawfish Po’boy: “Inspired by chef de cuisine John Messbarger’s dad and his love of hot wings.”

3. Lyonnaise Salad: “Crispy oysters, pickled mustard seeds, beautiful poached egg – it’s a delicious bite.”

4. Smoked Brisket Po’boy: “How do you put something on the menu for the non-fish lovers that is going to absolutely make everyone want it? This brisket does it.”

5. Blueberry Pie: “It’s just ridiculous, it’s so good. It’s like a Pappy’s rib: It makes me want to hug someone.”

-photo by Jonathan Gayman 

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