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Mar 23, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Publico’

The Scoop: James Beard Foundation names Kevin Nashan, Kevin Willmann Best Chef: Midwest finalists

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

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{ from left, Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan, Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann } 

 

The St. Louis restaurant scene experienced a bit of déjà vu when the finalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards were announced today, March 15. Two St. Louis chefs moved on as finalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category: Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan and Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann. Both chefs were finalists in this category last year.

“I’m so grateful,” Nashan said. “You never know if you’re going to on the list again – it’s torturous! I’m just so grateful and really excited for the team. I just found out and I’m really blown away.”

Willmann found out about the news when Sauce called for comment. “Oh, no shit? Hell yeah!” he said. “I’m really proud of my team this year, we have an awesome groove going, and the sky’s the limit. “

As The Scoop reported in February, the James Beard Foundation named four St. Louis-area chefs as semifinalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category. Olive & Oak executive chef Jessie Mendica and Público chef-owner Mike Randolph did not make it to the final round. Pastaria executive chef Ashley Shelton, a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year, also didn’t advance to the final round.

Winners of the chef and restaurant awards will be announced at a ceremony in Chicago on May 1. Local eatery Gioia’s Deli will also be honored at the gala; the Beard Foundation honored The Hill sandwich shop with an America’s Classic award in January.

 

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• The Scoop: 5 St. Louis chefs earn James Beard Foundation semifinalist honors

The Scoop: James Beard Foundation declares Gioia’s Deli an American Classic

The Scoop: James Beard award eludes Willmann and Nashan

The Scoop: 5 St. Louis chefs earn James Beard Foundation semifinalist honors

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

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{ Pastaria executive chef Ashley Shelton } 

 

The James Beard Foundation announced its 2017 restaurant and chef award semifinalists today, Feb. 15. St. Louis’s recent run of recognition from the foundation continues, as five St. Louis chefs earned nominations for the esteemed culinary awards.

Pastaria executive chef Ashley Shelton was named a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year. This award recognizes “a chef age 30 or younger who displays impressive talent and is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.”

“It’s pretty much every chef’s dream come true to be recognized in that way,” Shelton said.

The JBFA nod is the latest in a growing list of recognition for Shelton. She is a member of the Sauce Ones to Watch Class of 2016, and Eater named her a Young Gun of 2016. Shelton said the honors validate her leadership style in the kitchen. “For me, it keeps pushing me and telling that the path I’m on is the right path,” she said. “We’re trying to do something different in our restaurants – not screaming and yelling.”

Pastaria owner Gerard Craft, who won Best Chef: Midwest in 2015, said Shelton’s culinary future is bright, and not just because she’s a talented cook.

“Being a chef is being a chief. It’s being a leader. It’s one of the hardest parts of the job,” Craft said. “For somebody her age to lead a team the size that she leads and operation the size that she leads, I can’t imagine anybody doing it better. What she’s going to do in the future is sure to be amazing.”

 

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{ from left, Olive & Oak executive chef Jesse Mendica, Perennial Artisan Ales’ Phil Wymore and Olive & Oak owner Mark Hinkle }

 

JBF also named four area chefs as semifinalists in the Best Chef: Midwest region: Olive & Oak executive chef Jesse Mendica, Público chef-owner Mike Randolph, Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan and Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann. This category acknowledges “chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions.”

This is the first Beard Foundation honor for Mendica. Neither she nor Olive & Oak owner Mark Hinkle could immediately be reached for comment.

 

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{ Público chef-owner Mike Randolph }

 

This is the second semifinalist nod for Randolph, whose restaurant Público was named a finalist for Best New Restaurant 2016.

“Going into last year I had put so much emphasis on the restaurant getting the Best New nomination because I felt like that was kind of a loftier goal, to be honest,” Randolph said, crediting his team with the restaurant’s success. “But that being said, I look at this list – these are people that I admire and that I respect. Any time you get a chance to see your name thrown in that hat, it’s humbling. It makes me want to work harder – and go in and hug everyone at Público.”

 

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 { Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann }

Nashan and Willmann are no strangers to this prestigious honor. Willmann earned his first finalist nod last year. “It’s always an honor and always exciting, especially for the crew,” he said. “They go so hard to keep our standards up.”

 

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 { Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan }

 

Nashan has twice made it to the finalist round of this category. “It’s awesome and amazing,” he said. “I literally just found out. It’s an honor any time you’re mentioned — it’s just great to be on the bus.”

Finalists will be announced March 15, and the winners will be named May 1 in Chicago. A full list of the winners is available online.

 

Editor’s note: This post was updated Wednesday, Feb. 15 at noon to add comments from Kevin Willmann. 

Heather Hughes, Catherine Klene and Matt Sorrell contributed to this report.

Ashley Shelton and Kevin Willmann photos by Carmen Troesser; Kevin Nashan photo by Greg Rannells; Mike Randolph photo courtesy of Público by Greg Rannells; Jesse Mendica photo courtesy of Olive & Oak Facebook

 

Related Content
• The Scoop: James Beard Foundation declares Gioia’s Deli an American Classic

The Scoop: James Beard award eludes Willmann and Nashan

The Scoop: Chefs Kevin Nashan, Kevin Willmann earn finalist nods for JBFA Best Chef: Midwest

The Scoop: 5 STL-area chefs, The Side Project Cellar, Stone Soup Cottage all earn JBFA nods

The Scoop: Gerard Craft wins James Beard award

Trendwatch: Guide to Drinking Edition (Part 1)

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

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{Ben Bauer sips on the She’s Standing Right Behind You cocktail at The Libertine.} 

 

1. Taste of The Alps
Think of this French Alpine liqueur as Green Chartreuse’s little brother. With more floral notes, a lower ABV and a lower price tag, St. Louis bartenders are falling in love with Génépy. Drink it on its own as an aperitif or look for cocktails where it plays well with others: Try it paired with the gin-like Bols Genever, Yellow Chartreuse and lime in the Vivre Sa Vie from Olio’s summer menu, or sip an intense lineup of hibiscus, pomegranate and baking spices in the Heatsource cocktail at Retreat Gastropub. The bar at Público lends a Latin vibe with mezcal and lime, along with Licor 43 and Averna in Wee Willy’s Whiskers. Or visit The Whiskey Ring when winter hits for its take on a hot toddy: The Green Lantern made with Génépy, Green Chartreuse and lemon simple syrup.

2. Lager Love
Once the watery antithesis of the craft beer movement, a new wave of crisp, full-flavored lagers are making a comeback. Brewers are turning to the old-school Eastern European Czech Pilsner to create these low-ABV brews with a characteristic Saaz hop. Look for 2nd Shift’s Technical Ecstasy, Stubborn German Brewing Co.’s recently added Hip Czech Pilsner and seasonally available versions from Square One, Schlafly and The Civil Life.

3. Red Wine Float Trip
Bartenders are layering on the flavor with red wine floats atop new cocktails. Try it at The Libertine, where a mineral red tops a mixture of rye, lemon juice and lemon verbena-sweet tea in She’s Standing Right Behind You. Order the Full Sneak at The Fortune Teller Bar and watch as ruby port is floated over a blend of whiskey, ginger liqueur, lemon and ginger ale. Red also wine crowns The Juice at Scapegoat Tavern & Courtyard, which shakes up Orangecello (a house-made lemoncello that swaps the citrus), pomegranate vodka, muddled oranges and ginger beer.

4. As American as Applejack
Look for this potent fruit-based hooch cropping up by the bushel-full. Eclipse combines applejack with tequila, gin, rum and Benedictine in the 3 Mile Long Island, while The Royale keeps it simple in its Apple Buck, a mix of applejack, lemon juice and ginger beer. Scapegoat Tavern & Courtyard puts a twist on the whiskey sour, adding applejack to brandy and sour mix in The Monica.

 

Still thirsty? Click here for more of what’s trending in the STL beverage scene. 

-photo by David Kovaluk

Trendwatch: What’s on our plate, in our glasses and at the top of our wish lists now (Part 1)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

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1. Sweet Heat: Golden honey infused with chile peppers makes for a fiery topping around town. Hot spiced honey is drizzled over a mountain of rich butternut squash on toast at Cleveland-Heath, while the crew at Pastaria adds the spicy nectar to balance its ’nduja pie. Likewise, chef Cary McDowell was spotted drizzling this sticky treat atop Pi’s Burning Man pizza. Top your DIY creation with Mike’s Hot Honey at Porano Pasta or pick up a bottle at Larder & Cupboard in Maplewood.

 

2. Carbonara Change Up: Chefs are putting their stamps on this classic Roman dish. Carbonara traveled south of the Mason-Dixon line at Juniper, where country ham stepped in for bacon. Farmhaus has gilded the creamy lily with lobster and a butter-poached farm egg, while Eleven Eleven Mississippi opts for roasted red pepper fettuccine and grilled chicken. The Libertine combines two Italian favorites (cacio e pepe and carbonara) and adds crispy pork belly; Small Batch goes the vegetarian route with bacon-esque smoked mushrooms, roasted cauliflower and snap peas; and Element chef Josh Charles breaks the carbonara mold completely with celery root-black pepper tortellini, sous vide egg yolk and pancetta.

 

3. Hooked on Whole Fish: Forget fillets; St. Louis is looking whole fish square in the eye. Público and Olive & Oak encourage sharing with a rotating whole fish special. Boundary offers whole fried snapper with Vietnamese salad, or you can fuse those Vietnamese flavors with Peruvian notes at Copper Pig when you order the fried red snapper with sofrito rice, maduros and a chile-tamarind sauce. Dig into herb-stuffed and grilled pompano at Lona’s Lil Eats, then dive in at Chaparritos with Mexican mojarra, whole fried tilapia served with rice, beans and tomatoes.

-photo by Greg Rannells

 

The Scoop: 5 STL-area chefs, The Side Project Cellar, Stone Soup Cottage all earn JBFA nods

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

 

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{Mike Randolph}

 

The James Beard Foundation announced its 2016 restaurant and chef award semifinalists today, Feb. 17. Once again, St. Louis is well represented among this year’s picks for the esteemed culinary awards.

Among the national categories, chef-owner Mike Randolph’s Público was named a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant. This category recognizes a restaurant that “already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.”

“It means the world,” Randolph said. “I’ve had the concept in my head for years. From the day we opened we knew exactly what we were and haven’t deviated from it. Our vision has been well received and people are excited about it. To be judged by people you really care about is pretty cool.”

Along with three other St. Louis-area chefs, Randolph was also named a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Midwest category. This is the first time Randolph was recognized by the James Beard Foundation.

“It’s humbling for sure, but I’m on the shoulders of the people I’ve had a chance to work with,” Randolph said. “It’s a testament to the crew.”

Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. chef-owner Kevin Nashan, Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann, and Elaia and Olio chef-owner Ben Poremba were also named semifinalists for Best Chef: Midwest. All three have previously made this prestigious shortlist.

Nashan said he feels honored that he and his team have been acknowledged once again. “I’m always grateful to be on the bus. We work hard. Not necessarily for this, but it feels great and it’s great for the team and great for this town. Hooray for St. Louis.”

“It’s a very big honor,” Poremba said. “It’s reaffirmation that my team and I are doing something right and on the right path.”

Poremba went on to comment on other area nominees. “It’s nice to see new inclusions to the list. There are people who are a big force in this town and contribute a lot to the scene, new semi-finalists and veterans. I’m stoked for Stone Soup Cottage and for Público. (Best New Restaurant) is a hard one to get.”

Willmann likewise said the JBFA nod was an honor and validation for his Farmhaus team.  “It’s always special to have our little mom-and pop restaurant recognized,” Willmann said. “We talk about being perfect and even though we can’t be perfect, we don’t take anything for granted. If something’s not right, we don’t sell it. It’s about doing our best every day.”

Across the river, chef and co-owner Ed Heath was named a semifinalist for Best Chef: Great Lakes for the second time in two years. “It’s super unreal,” he said. “I was 100-percent certain that it wasn’t gonna happen again. This morning, I didn’t even look.”

 

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{The Side Project Cellar team. From left, Katie Herrera, Shae Smith, Chris Hoertel and co-owner Karen King}

 

Also in the national categories, The Side Project Cellar in Maplewood was named a semifinalist in the Outstanding Bar Program category, which honors restaurants or bars that demonstrate excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service. Side Project co-owner Karen King learned of the nomination when Sauce called for comment.

“Every year those come out and it’s always the best chefs in the freaking in world,” King said. “So we’re excited, I know that!”

Co-owner Cory King said he was thrilled to hear that Karen King’s hard work at The Cellar has been recognized. “It’s really mostly her,” he said. “She’s the one who operates this thing day-to-day.”

 

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{Carl and Nancy McConnell}

 

St. Louis-area service was also recognized at Cottleville’s Stone Soup Cottage, named a semifinalist for Outstanding Service as a restaurant open “five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.”

Co-owner Nancy McConnell said she and co-owner and chef Carl McConnell were shocked at the news. “We are on Cloud 9,” she said, stressing the importance of having their entire team recognized for their service efforts. “We are so humbled and just numb.”

This is the first James Beard Foundation Award nods for The Side Project Cellar and Stone Soup Cottage.

Finalists will be announced March 15; the James Beard Foundation Awards take place May 2 in Chicago.  A full list of semifinalists is available here.

Catherine Klene and Kristin Schultz contributed to this report. 

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 12:15 p.m. Feb. 17 to include comment from Kevin Willmann. 

-Mike Randolph photo by Greg Rannells, all other photos by Carmen Troesser

 

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

 

Best New Restaurants: No. 1 – Público

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Opening a restaurant isn’t easy. Each year, hundreds give it a shot – and not everyone succeeds. Some, however, aren’t just surviving; they’re killing it. In the last year, we ate our way through newly opened restaurants from Alton to Ballwin, compiling a list of places that serve the food and drinks we can’t get out of our heads. They bring something different and exciting to the scene – and they do it damn well. While technical excellence was a must, the service and ambiance also had to win us over. Office debates nearly came to fisticuffs, but at last we agreed on St. Louis’ 11 best new restaurants of 2015. Clear your schedule and book your reservations; you’ve got a lot of eating to do.

 

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The world stops when you enter Público, stepping away from the controlled chaos of the Delmar Loop. Here, chef-owner Mike Randolph invites you to luxuriate in the finer things through an innovative Mexican- and South American-inspired menu unlike anything St. Louis has seen before.

The kitchen and bar teams refer to Randolph as “Coach,” a title that goes far beyond his pre-service pep talks. “You’re only as good as your team,” he said with an Eric Taylor gleam in his eye. This is not a platitude – the kitchen is structured to support and challenge its cooks as much as its diners. A cook who works hard at Público will go far in Randolph’s world. “I’m a firm believer in the fact that you can’t teach attitude,” he said. “If somebody has a good attitude, and they’re not turned into a rock star, then that’s my fault.”

When enthusiasm to learn can outweigh culinary school credentials, Randolph has to be prepared to invest long-term in cooks. That’s no easy task in an industry where turnover can be swift and frequent. What’s made it possible at Público isn’t a curriculum or corporate training system, Randolph said. It’s his even-keeled chef de cuisine, Brad Bardon.

“Brad’s just as cool as the other side of the pillow. I’ve never seen him get angry, certainly never seen him yell,” Randolph said. “He gets along with people. The servers love him; the cooks love him. He’s a dream come true.”

The yin and yang of their creative partnership shapes Público’s entire menu. “Brad was extremely conservative, and I was about as far on the opposite end of that spectrum as you can possibly be,” Randolph said. “So he was here,” – Randolph stretched out his right arm – “and I was here.” He extended his left arm, then brought both hands together. “And Público is here, in the middle. … It’s no longer Brad’s food or my food. It’s Público food.”

And just what is Público food? Imaginative, yet tight and reliable, the distinctive menu offers reassuring familiar dishes, like tacos and guacamole arepas. But these serve as an approachable entry into Randolph and Bardon’s world rather than an alternative to adventurous dining. “We have no interest in being a strip-mall Mexican restaurant or just a taco place,” Randolph said. “Tacos are a part of what we do, but they don’t by any stretch of the imagination define us.”

Público is defined by technique rather than a signature dish. The roaring wood-fire oven visible in the open kitchen touches almost everything on the menu. Cooking with something as temperamental as fire is notoriously difficult, and Público’s consistency showcases Randolph’s masterful execution.

Though a few small plates are available, think of all the offerings as a build-your-own tasting menu. Try as many dishes as possible and encourage your dining companions to share. Be brave and order the baby octopus – even texture-phobes can get behind these tender little bites of intense umami flavor. Dishes that sound tame will surprise you. A simple order of leeks arrived as a work of art, decorated with bright roe and surrounded by crema that demanded to be licked from the plate. A more substantial whole fish (a market option meant to be shared between two or more guests) is fire-roasted, simple perfection.

The esteemed bar program headed by bar manager Nick Digiovani will encourage you to share as well, since it’s almost impossible to choose just one inventive cocktail. Classics like El Diablo (Espolón Blanco tequila, lime, cassis and ginger beer) are offered alongside a menu of peculiar house creations. Try the Windy City Mezcalero for a strange, smoky herbal drink made with Del Maguey mezcal, Besk (a Swedish wormwood liqueur) and sugar.

Drinks and dishes rotate aggressively. If you haven’t dined at Público since doors opened in March, you won’t recognize most items currently available. Some favorites are gone in a flash, like the delicate cobia ceviche, served in a slurpable tomato water. Público’s heavy rotation is due both to seasonality constraints and Randolph’s commitment to keep his cooks on their toes. “Monotonous things lend themselves potentially to complacency in the kitchen, so we try to change things up,” he said.

Servers hate it, joking that the moment a dish becomes popular, Randolph pulls it from the menu. “And it is kind of the truth,” Randolph admitted. “I like to keep my cooks fresh, keep them trying new stuff.” If Randolph and Bardon are behind it, we’ll happily keep trying the new stuff, too.

-photo by Greg Rannells

 

Sneak Peak: Randolfi’s on The Loop

Friday, August 21st, 2015

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Chef Mike Randolph is on the move again. As The Scoop reported in May, chef-owner of Público and Half & Half closed his popular Neapolitan pizzeria, The Good Pie, in June. He opens his new Italian concept Randolfi’s in its place at 6665 Delmar Blvd., Tuesday, Aug. 25.

While the roaring wood-fired pizza oven and imposing marble bar from Good Pie days remain staples of the space, they are now joined by red-checked tablecloths and Randolph family photos hanging on the walls for a more relaxed dining experienced. Taking a lesson from Público, Randolph has created a focused menu of southern Italian dishes that call back to his family’s roots. Look for six antipasti, six pasta dishes, four pizza offerings and four meat or fish dishes that utilize the wood oven still on view in the open kitchen. Portions are smaller; customers are meant to order multiple dishes and share with dining companions.

House-made pasta features prominently on the menu, from slurpable bucatini to hand-rolled gnocchi. Good Pie fans will welcome the return of three classic pizzas (marinara, Margherita and blanca) and a fourth option that will rotate more frequently.

Randolph’s chief barman Jeffery Moll has created a cocktail program focused on classic Italian cocktails like the Negroni and Americano, a collection of his greatest hits (including the Moll’s Cup No. 3) and new creations. Moll also developed three non-alcohol cocktails using house-made shrubs, syrups, herbs and more.

Randolfi’s will be open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. Here’s a look at what to expect when the door opens next week:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

Hit List: 6 new restaurants to try this month

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

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1. Público: 6679 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.833.5780, Facebook: Público

The kitchen is on fire at Latin American gastropub Público where the wood-fired grill is responsible for everything from apps to sweet endings. Get in the Mexican mood with guacamole arepas, corn pancakes topped with fresh guacamole and served with queso and house-made salsa. Move on to oysters (pictured) served with piquant red and green salsas, then go for the colorful plate of beets with crisp quinoa swathed in white chocolate mole. Keep the party going with an order of tacos al pastor – three house-made corn tortillas each filled with slices of spit-roasted pork shoulder, pineapple, guajillo chile pepper, crema and charred onion salsa. Tequila, rum and mezcal take center stage among the spirits at Público’s modish, wood-meets-metal 18-seat bar. Try Night on Fire (rum, cava, Creole shrub and both Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters) or a boozy slushy from the frozen drink dispenser. No quieres alcohol? No hay problema. The house-made horchata has you covered – and doubles as dessert.

 

2. The Gramophone: 4243 Manchester Road, St. Louis, 314.531.5700, gramophonestl.com 

This longtime concert venue in The Grove recently underwent a makeover, transitioning from music nightspot to eatery with a menu of monster sandwiches not for the faint of heart or appetite. Order a whole or half of meaty offerings like the Mississippi Nights Club, a fresh Fazio’s baguette piled high with turkey, roast beef, bacon, pepper jack cheese, spicy roasted red pepper cream cheese spread and the salty crunch of smashed Billy Goat chips. Go a tad lighter with The Frenchy, a classic chicken-bacon-Swiss combo dressed up with mushrooms and a sweet, tangy red wine aioli. If you’re really hungry, dig into The Danimal, a carnivore’s dream of ham, turkey, roast beef, salami and bacon piled on sourdough slathered with pepper mayo and avocado spread. Antacids not included.

 

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3. Lascelles Granite City: 1324 Niedringhaus Ave., Granite City, Illinois, 618.709.7375, lascellesgc.com 

In a town of steel mills and mom-and-pop diners, chef Eric Brenner aims to bring American comfort food with a twist to Granite City, Illinois. We’re happily making a meal of snacks, like dense yet flaky biscuits glazed with salted honey butter, a gooey dish of four-cheese mac-n-cheese and deviled eggs (pictured) dotted with maple-glazed bacon chunks. Heartier appetites should dig into the Farmhouse Burger, two diner-style patties with crisp edges and juicy centers stacked with bacon, smoked Gouda and a sunny fried egg on a toasted English muffin.

 

4. Monty’s American Grill: 15850 Manchester Road, Ellisville, 636.220.3333, magstl.com

From the minds behind Monty’s Sandwich Co. downtown comes Monty’s American Grill. Co-owners Joel Williams and Steve May have shipped their signature sandwiches to Ellisville and added plenty of starters, entrees, sides and desserts. If the decor and dish presentation are modest, the flavor is anything but. Case in point: the Kuban, pretzel bread stacked with house-made pulled pork, ham, Swiss, pickles and spicy brown mustard. Even if you decide on a more health-conscious black bean salad or shrimp po’boy wrap, go the full monty and pair it with one of 13 mostly local beers on tap, a similar number of bottled brews or 14 wines by the glass.

 

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5. Lucky Buddha: 3701 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.4568, luckybuddhastl.com

The menu of Asian-inspired comfort food at Lucky Buddha draws from Japanese, Thai, Korean and Chinese cuisines, to name a few, married together in harmony. Entrees are divided between banh mi sandwiches, steamed buns and noodle bowls. All are customizable; don’t miss the sake-braised mushrooms tucked inside billowy steamed buns or the quadruple power of the Porkapocalypse, which features pork liver pate, gochujang-braised pork, char sui pork and braised pork belly. Save room for dessert, such as sorbet (pictured) in tropical flavors like lychee, passion fruit and chile mango. If you’re making an afternoon of it on the back patio, kick back with a Buddha Collins, a refreshing sipper made with Pinckney Bend gin, lemon juice, lemon grass syrup and Creole bitters.

 

6. Vincent Van Doughnut: 40 N. Central Ave., Clayton, 314.899.9500, vincentvandoughnut.com

Doughnut shop-on-wheels Vincent Van Doughnut has opened doors at its Clayton storefront. The shop carries a dozen rotating options made from scratch daily, including popular doughnut flavors like chocolate-salted caramel and French toast (our favorite), and spring seasonal flavors like lemon-lavender and peaches and cream. Keep an eye out for new pastries, such as a maple-bacon cinnamon roll, plus specials like Doughzels‚ doughnut-pretzel hybrids finished with sea salt and served with a rotating dipping sauce.

 

-photos by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: Público

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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Nearly one year ago, restaurateur Mike Randolph announced his plans to open South American gastropub Público at 6679 Delmar Blvd., just doors from his Neopolitan pizzeria The Good Pie in The Loop. The wait for the wood-fired cantina is nearly over; Público opens doors for dinner March 3.

The menu is divided into crudo (raw), botanas (snacks), tacos, arepas (corn pancakes), parrilla (grill items) and desserts. In the raw section, look for appetizers like oysters and tiradito, a Peruvian dish of raw fish similar to sashimi served with a spicy aji pepper sauce. Botanas range from El Tri, a trio of house-made dips and salsas served with corn flatbread, to jalapeno soup with smoked trout. Diners can expect tacos with fillings such as seared shrimp, smoked chorizo, carnitas and carne asada on stone-ground corn tortillas made in-house. A custom-built open-wood hearth that also has smoking capabilities will turn out everything from Argentinian-style steak to whole grilled snapper. Although menu items cap at $15, expect an elevated presentation reminiscent of Randolph’s former restaurants-within-a-restaurant, Little Country Gentleman and Medianoche.

On the beverage side, bar manager Nick Diogiovanni will put rum, tequila and mezcal center stage. A frozen drink machine will also churn out a rotation of boosy slushes like Fernet and Coke. The wine list will focus on South American and Spanish wines, along with cellar wines (that include an extensive riesling selection from Little Country Gentleman days).

SPACE Architects + Design renovated the former hair salon, which now offers seating for 60 guests at a bar, a wall of booths, a 10-seat community table and a few stools along the counter next to the open kitchen.

Here’s what to expect when Público unlocks doors March 3:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

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