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Jan 22, 2018
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Polite Society’

Best New Restaurants: No. 7 – Polite Society

Friday, December 1st, 2017

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here are St. Louis’ 12 best new restaurants of 2017.

 

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A meal at Polite Society makes you feel like you’re hanging out in some sitcom Brooklynites’ open-concept living room, not snagging a seat at a slick new restaurant. Owners Jonathan Schoen and Brian Schmitz spent more than a year renovating the former home of Ricardo’s in Lafayette Square into their dream business – a concept they’d been working on for much longer than that.

Polite Society’s three rooms are reminiscent of a shotgun-style brownstone with exposed brick, refinished hardwood and enough open, salvaged shelving to inspire a run on Restoration Hardware. Dishes are familiar, yet presented with unexpected touches – an herbaceous olive oil dip with aggressively caramelized Brussels sprouts or a lacquered halibut so delicate it melted into the accompanying miso-spiked jasmine congee.

Wine from the extensive cellar flows; the congenial staff offers friendly, professional assistance and is quick with a recommendation. The space can be loud as friends linger over drinks, chatting with neighboring tables. As with any good dinner party, there’s no sense of urgency to depart. Order another bottle and pass it around as you enjoy good company and Polite Society.

Photo by Jonathan Gayman

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Review: Polite Society

• Best New Restaurants: Top 3 Dishes of 2017

• Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

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

Trendwatch: What’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

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1. Proof in the Pudding
We’ve come a long way since Snack Packs – like the butterscotch pot de crème at Olive & Oak, a rich caramel pudding capped with salted caramel and whipped cream. At Pint Size Bakery, occasionally available Yum Cups are filled with rotating pudding flavors. But we all know chocolate reigns supreme, like the blend of milk and dark chocolate pudding with a black cocoa brownie, Thai basil ice cream and fresh blackberries currently on the menu at Taste. Retreat Gastropub recently offered an orange- and lemon-scented chocolate pudding served with toasted marshmallows and almond biscotti, while ClevelandHeath serves its version with Chantilly whipped cream and chocolate-dipped puffed rice.

 

2. Activate
Charcoal has made the move from face masks to the table. Gaining popularity as a detox ingredient at California juice shops like Pressed Juicery and Juice Served Here in recent years, activated charcoal has been making an appearance in cocktails like the inky mezcal-based Moonwalk at New York’s Mission Chinese Food. Closer to home, the black-hearted ingredient showed up for brunch in a chocolate-charcoal waffle at Hiro Asian Kitchen. Try a taste of the darkness at Clementine’s Creamery, where the black cherry ice cream is made with activated charcoal.

 

3. Bring in the Funk
Savory caramels are currently lending a sweet, funky accent to all manner of cuisine in St. Louis. The Copper Pig and Juniper have both combined fish sauce and caramel to great effect – the former on chicken wings and the latter on chicken and waffles. At Vista Ramen, crab caramel brings subtle sweetness and an unctuous umami pop to a tender pork rib dish. A little funk works just as well in cocktails, like The Sound of One Hand Clapping recently at Planter’s House, which combined tequila and mezcal with a miso-caramel syrup. On a more vegetal note, a beet caramel adds earthy sweetness to roasted beets, charred carrots and whipped herbed goat cheese at Boundary, while Vicia recently offered hazelnut financiers with an onion caramel sauce.

 

4. Get Crackin’
Pistachios have been lending their mild, nutty flavor to a variety of cocktail menus around town. The Lights Down, Music Up at ClevelandHeath uses Dumante Verdenoce, an Italian pistachio liqueur, to complement apricot and lemon in the rum-based drink. At The Preston, The Lady of Kildare, a unique tiki cocktail with Irish whiskey instead of the usual rum, includes a house-made pistachio syrup that plays well with tropical flavors like coconut and pineapple. And the Garden of Forking Paths at Taste utilizes the nut itself – ground and rimming a Collins glass.

 

5. The Big Cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches have been subbing in for buns lately. Take The Big Lou special at The Corner Butcher in Fenton, where two of the sandwiches held two patties topped with nacho cheese. The Libertine appended GC to a classic BLT for a brunch special, and the ever-fluctuating menu at Shift: Test Kitchen recently experimented with The Sasquatch, pulled pork and cole slaw between two gooey sammies. Head to Festus for a Fatty Melt at Main & Mill Brewing Co., a classic patty melt with two grilled cheese sandwiches. And of course, Sugarfire Smoke House and Hi-Pointe Drive-In get in on the action with the Sweet Baby Cheesus special.

 

6. The Spice Route
Area bartenders are reaching into the spice cabinet for a taste of India on their cocktail menus. Retreat Gastropub mixes gin with coconut milk, turmeric and ginger in the curry leaf-topped Golden State, and combines rum, mango, vermouth and chai in its Cash Me Outside cocktail. Reeds American Table opts for yellow curry and coriander mixed with coconut milk in the Philosophical Zombie, while Planter’s House recently featured a chai five-spice syrup with bourbon, tequila and amaro in the Exit Stage Left. Polite Society’s arsenal of house-made tinctures and infusions includes a blood orange and cardamom gastrique featured in the Sanguine cocktail, made with vodka and coconut water. Frazer’s makes use of Desipop, a masala-cumin soda, in its rum-based Kama Sutra. Over at Eclipse, they’re shaking cardamom bitters into the Effervescent Love Machine, while just down the street, the team at Randolfi’s also added cardamom bitters to Advice from a Fortune Cookie and curry bitters to A Rule of Plumb.

 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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Hit List: 4 places you must try this May

Monday, May 1st, 2017

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1. Polite Society 1923 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.325.2553, politesocietystl.com

Class up your nights at Polite Society, an elegant new eatery in Lafayette Square. Relax in one of two cozy, brick-walled dining rooms or pull up a seat at the bar under the massive shelving unit suspended from the ceiling by black metal pipes. Start your meal with thick slices of meaty portobello mushrooms, tempura-battered, fried and served with a poblano pepper coulis. For a richer starter, try the blackened Gulf shrimp served atop cheese grits with a lime crema. Save room for entrees like the Chicken Duet, featuring a roasted chicken breast and confit leg served atop a sweet-savory johnnycake, or indulge with five fat diver scallops, seared and served with lemon-pepper butter and seasonal veggies.

 

2. Spice of India 10633 Page Ave., St. Louis County, 314.473.1803, spicestl.com

Spice of India, tucked away in a small strip mall on Page Avenue, is busy for a reason. Start with the street food (chaat) section of the menu and try the bhel puri, a crunchy mix of puffed rice, peanuts, chopped tomatoes, sweet tamarind chutney, a zippy mint chutney, onion and a sprinkle of cilantro to prepare your taste buds for an Indian meal. Next, order the butter chicken, where tender pieces of meat swim in a creamy tomato-based sauce flavored with chile powder, coriander and cumin. Order naan for dunking or try the puri, a puffy, South Indian fry bread made with wheat flour. The menu is huge, but for $9 you can try eight dishes in the daily lunch buffet.

 

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3. Patois Eatery & Social Lounge 2617 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2606, patoisstl.com

Goat is out and chicken is in at Patois Eatery & Social Lounge, the new restaurant and nightlife venue in the former Rustic Goat space. Start your meal with sweet, sticky corncakes slathered in rich honey butter, but resist the urge to order another round. You’ll need room for the jerk chicken, a tried-and-true recipe from Chicago-based Uncle Joe’s Jerk. Half a chicken is grilled until the skin is crisp and charred, then chopped into four pieces and served with a pungent jerk sauce packing allspice and a touch of sweet heat. Dig into the side of rice and peas, close your eyes and dream of Caribbean waters.

 

4. Sophie’s Artist Lounge & Cocktail Club 3224 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.533.0367, sophiesstl.com

Walking into Sophie’s chandelier-drenched bar, you feel in on an elite secret. Hidden away on the second floor of the .ZACK building, this lavender and gold retreat is exactly what Grand Center needs: more cute, quiet places to grab a drink and a snack before a show. Try the bright, Aperol-heavy Ingenue from the short list of house cocktails or peruse the bar’s extensive collection of spirits. There’s also a short list of draft beers, and the wine list, managed by The Dark Room, is good down to the happy hour malbec.

 

Photos by Michelle Volansky

Heather Hughes is managing editor, print; Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital; and Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine.

Related Content
First Look: Polite Society in Lafayette Square

First Look: Patois in downtown St. Louis

Sauce Magazine: May 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Look: Polite Society in Lafayette Square

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

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Polite Society quietly opened in the in Lafayette Square at 1923 Park Ave. on March 23. As The Scoop reported in October 2016, co-owners Jonathan Schoen and Brian Schmitz have spent nearly a year renovating the former home of Ricardo’s, which closed in 2015 after 26 years in business.

Schoen and Schmitz met in the late ’90s as servers at Bar Italia. Since then Schoen opened Savor in the Central West End, as well as restaurants at The Cheshire, while Schmitz opened The Grind coffee house and Sol Lounge. When the 3,000-square-foot space on Park Avenue became available, they leapt at the chance to open a restaurant together.

The co-owners collaborated with executive chef Thomas Futrell, most recently of Scape, to create a menu of appetizers, snacks, salads and entrees that can easily accommodate palates and dietary preferences from all-consuming omnivores to gluten-intolerant vegans. Entrees include a duck breast, a mushroom raviolo and a crispy tofu and riced cauliflower stir-fry.

Another Scape alum, Travis Hebrank, helms the beverage program. With a year to experiment, he created an extensive portfolio of syrups, tinctures and infusions that feature in 10 house cocktails. Around 20 wines are available by the glass, and an extensive cellar is available by the bottle. There is also a curated bottled beer selection.

Brunch and lunch plans are the works, but for now, Polite Society is open daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., with dinner service ending at 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 p.m. Sunday. Here’s a first look at what to expect at Lafayette Square’s newest eatery:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Photos by Michelle Volansky 

Related Content
The Scoop: Details emerge as Polite Society plans on late 2016 opening

The Scoop: Ricardo’s closes in Lafayette Square

The Scoop: Details emerge as Polite Society plans on late 2016 opening

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

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After nearly seven months of construction, co-owners Brian Schmitz and Jonathan Schoen are finishing up work on Polite Society at 1923 Park Ave. The duo hope to open in late November or early December.

“Polite Society grew out of a conversation about the type of restaurant that should exist but hadn’t,” Schmitz said, adding that the name itself comes from a dedication to their customers and, as employers, to go the extra mile for their staff. This includes things like giving employees a stake in the company or access to employment benefits.

A focus on their staff’s well-being is not surprising; both Schmitz and Schoen got their starts in the restaurant industry as servers at Bar Italia. Individually, they’ve consulted on several area projects, including Lucha, Egg and Spare No Rib.

As reported by the Post-Dispatch in March, the concept of Polite Society had been in the works for years, but it wasn’t until Ricardo’s closed in late 2015 that things started to click. The 3,000-square-foot space will feature a 12-seat bar and cozy interior with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, an extensive wine rack and seating for 60 to 70. “When Ricardo’s auction came up, I saw the space in a new light when it was more emptied out,” Schmitz said.

Executive chef Thomas Futrell, who spent two-and-a-half years as Scape’s executive sous chef, will bring a seasonally focused menu to the table. Schmitz described the cuisine as “vegetable forward and seasonally driven with a fair amount of change” that may include dishes like a pork Wellington or a rotating root vegetable salad.

Beverage director Travis Hebrank, another Scape alum, will helm the bar with an equal focus on classic and house cocktails, a curated wine selection and around 30 bottled beers.

Schmitz said Polite Society will be open daily for dinner service with weekday lunch and weekend brunch.

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