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Dec 12, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Readers’ Choice 2015’

Readers’ Choice 2015: Favorite Frozen Desserts – Ted Drewes

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

A trip to Ted Drewes is a St. Louis tradition. Your favorite place for frozen desserts has been inverting bright yellow cups filled with thick, rich custard before handing them over to your greedy little fingers for decades. Single-topping concretes – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, anyone? – are tried-and-true, and when you want to pile on the calories, Ted’s custard crew comes through with specialties like Hawaiian (pineapple, banana, coconut and macadamia nuts) and Cardinal Sin (cherries and hot fudge). With dozens of toppings and add-ons, the mixing and matching possibilities are endless. Here, six of our favorite concrete creations from this town’s beloved custard stand.

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Clockwise from top left: Coconut, chocolate chips and almonds – Michelle Volansky, production designer | Oreos and cookie dough – Meera Nagarajan, art director | Hot fudge and raspberries – Rebecca Biundo, intern | Banana, marshmallow and hot fudge – Angie Rosenberg, account executive | Heath Bar, banana and hot fudge – Allyson Mace, publisher | Pretzels and chocolate chips – Catherine Klene, managing editor, digital

-photos by Jonathan Gayman 

Readers’ Choice 2015: Best Patio – John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub and Garden

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

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John D. McGurk’s in Soulard has an outdoor patio with room enough for multiple Irish family reunions (yep, it’s a big ’un). Featuring a mix of canopied bar seating and more intimate tables surrounded by a lush romantic garden, the Old World-inspired courtyard can get raucous in the summer, yet there are plenty of nooks and crannies to steal a quiet moment. We suggest parking yourself out back around the tinkling fountain under the dappled shade of trees as you start Leopold Bloom-ing your way through the selection of Irish and craft beer and pub-style nibbles that will take you straight to the Emerald Isle.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Readers’ Choice 2015: Bartender of the Year – Ted Kilgore

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

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{From left, Kyle Mathis, Seth Wahlman and Bess Kretsinger with Bartender of the Year Ted Kilgore}

Whether it’s serving up seasonal cocktails, perfecting the classics or putting new twists on old favorites, this year’s top bartenders won you over with their creativity and craftsmanship. Here’s what they want to mix most when you see them behind the stick this summer.

Bartender of the Year: Ted Kilgore at Planter’s House
The Drink: Gin Soaked Boy
What’s in it: Citadelle gin, Ransom Old Tom gin, Nolet’s gin, sloe gin, fino sherry, cinnamon syrup and lemon juice
Why it’s great: “It’s super refreshing, beautiful and quite boozy. Our bartender Mandi Kowalski actually came up with it, and I love the whole package. The name is also the name of a Tom Waits song, and I love Tom Waits. It also includes my favorite gins and looks phenomenal when you’re drinking it. It’s aromatic, beautiful and nostalgic.”

Second Place: Kyle Mathis at Taste
The Drink: Walla Walla Bing Bang
What’s in it: El Dorado spiced rum, North Shore Mighty gin, Smith & Cross Jamaica rum, passion fruit, cinnamon syrup, grapefruit and lime juices
Why it’s great: “It’s sweet and fruit-forward from passion fruit and house-made cinnamon syrup. I loved the challenge of putting gin and rum together – the botanical nature of gin and sweetness of rum are polar opposites.”

Third Place: Bess Kretsinger at Olio 
The Drink: Ramos Gin Fizz
What’s in it: Boodles gin, fresh squeezed lemon and lime juices, orange blossom water, egg whites, cream and sugar
Why it’s great: “This drink is in honor of Tennessee Williams. He was fond of the (Ramos) Gin Fizz. It’s not a super esoteric drink, but it’s based on his roots. It’s a simple but obscure cocktail.”

Honorable Mention: Seth Wahlman at Eclipse Restaurant
The Drink: Year Old Manhattan
What’s in it: Rittenhouse rye, Cocchi vermouth di Torino, Pierre Ferrand Dry curaçao and Angostura bitters
Why it’s great: “I started this project about four years ago. I batch a full glass bottle of Manhattans and rest them in our storage cellar for at least a year. The cocktail begins to take on sherry- and Madeira-like qualities. … I’m always surprised by flavors I hadn’t picked up in previous tastings.”

-photo by Emily Suzanne

Sauce Readers’ Choice: Favorite Beer List – International Tap House

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

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A bar that serves more than 500 beers can be overwhelming, but that doesn’t stop St. Louis beer lovers. You voted International Tap House’s beer list tops in town. Still deciding on your next glass of suds? Here, the 10 best brews at iTap right now.

1. New Belgium La Folie
After one to three years aging in wood foeders (large, oak barrels), this highly sought after sour brown ale at iTap’s Soulard location provides mouth-puckering notes of green apple and a thirst-quenching, satisfying experience.

2. Boulevard The Calling IPA
One of Boulevard’s newest IPAs, The Calling is heavily hopped, bursting with tropical flavors and punches heavy at 8.5 percent.

3. Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA
If you’re looking for a beer with the hoppiness of a traditional IPA and the drinkability of a light lager, this is it. Jam-packed with flavor but weighing in at only 4.9 percent, you can enjoy this beer all day long.

4. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale 
Centennial hops are the superstar of this well-balanced, easily accessible IPA.

5. Petrus Oud Bruin
Red as wine, sour-sweet and earthy on the nose, this Oud Bruin is a winning specimen of the complex, dark brown Flemish style.

6. Urban Chestnut Ku’damm
At only 4.2 percent, the flavors of citrus shine brightly in this refreshing, locally brewed Berliner Weisse.

7. 2nd Shift Katy
One of the most satisfying American Brett saisons on the market, Katy is light enough to be consumed glass after glass.

8. Leaky Roof High Dry & Dusty
A great alternative to beer, this sessionable mead is light, crisp and palate-cleansing.

9. Chimay Red Cap (Première)
Flavors of apricot abound in this delightfully refreshing, monk-made Belgian dubbel, the recipe for which dates to 1862.

10. Root Sellers’ Row Hard Root Beer
Bring on the vanilla ice cream with this perfectly brewed hard root beer. At 6.7 percent, this would make a dangerously delicious float.

Readers’ Choice 2015: Favorite Restaurant – Cleveland-Heath

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

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Jenny Cleveland and Ed Heath culled the inspiration for their 4-year-old Edwardsville restaurant from family recipes, restaurant road trips and tenures in other people’s kitchens. The result: an arsenal of cooking techniques, unexpected dish compositions and core dining philosophies that are the hallmarks of your favorite restaurant of the year, Cleveland-Heath.

The Pork Chop
Heath: The pork chop was the one I’d done at Henry’s Fork Lodge, a little seasonal fishing place in Island Park, Idaho. I knew in Idaho they were meat-and-potato people, and I thought I could branch out with some bread pudding. It went over really well. I think I did asparagus or green beans and the pork chop. The egg came later.

Cleveland: The egg is us because the only meal we ever cooked at home was breakfast. It was always leftovers and an egg on top. Everyone says the egg on top of things is done, but I don’t see how it will ever be done because it tastes so good.

The Chicken Wings
Heath: We ate at Redd in Napa a lot. Their chicken wings were the best we ever had … It was a Michelin-starred restaurant, and we would always sit at the bar and eat the stupid chicken wings. It was like a dark soy-caramel glaze. We tried to figure out the sauce. We worked on it at our place for six months before we came up with our chicken wings.

The BLT
Heath: We used to eat BLTs four days a week in Napa. There was a little grocery store a block and a half from our house.

Cleveland: We’d walk down and get two cups of coffee, two BLTs with pickles on them and bring them back.

Heath: Tom (Grant) at Martine (Cafe, Salt Lake City) used to take cherry tomatoes and cover them in garlic and olive oil. At the end of the night, he’d throw them in the oven and leave them for 12 hours until he got back the next day. It was like tomato sauce in a bite. At our place, we were going to do it that way, but our volume got too high. We go through 10 cases of Roma tomatoes a week just to keep the BLT on the menu. Ours are roasted; we can’t really call them oven-cured.

The Pulled Pork Sandwich
Heath: At Farmstead (St. Helena, California), we did ours on the smoker, which was our original intention (for Cleveland-Heath). But once again, volume hit, and we had to start braising. We have the pretzel bun because Companion came by to do our bread. We wanted our pickles to be different, so we did cider vinegar and coriander seed. And when you get all that together – the bite of the coriander seed with the blue cheese dressing – I will eat that sandwich every day.

Cleveland: I think the pickles are because that’s how my mom did them. That’s how I grew up eating pulled pork.

Heath: The blue cheese coleslaw – that was (Farmstead’s) Seamus Feeley. Seamus did the blue cheese coleslaw, so we borrowed it. I don’t think we could have opened without me having worked for him for a year at Farmstead.

The Shaved Raw Beef and Celery Kung Pao
Cleveland: This January, we ate at Mission Chinese in New York. They had this celery dish on the menu that was just the simplest.

Heath: Celery, hazelnuts, soy sauce.

Cleveland: It looked like sauteed celery with hazelnuts, and it was so good. … When we got back, for two days we did nothing but: “No, this is how it was,” “No, this is how it was.” … It was like this celery competition. We were trying to hit the flavor with that dish.

Heath: It’s strange, though. It’s not carpaccio because it’s not super thin. But if you cut it against the grain, it gets that nice chewy element … It was seriously like eating at a regular Chinese restaurant where you get big chunks of celery in a dish. But his was so beautiful and tall and gorgeous, and we’re like, this is the best celery stick I’ve ever eaten. … And what’s everyone saying right now? Celery’s the new thing. I can see that.

The Vibe
Cleveland: Prune (New York City) was awesome.

Heath: It’s tiny and it’s not dirty, it’s –

Cleveland: It’s worn. It’s like your favorite teddy bear. The food had a lot of heart.

The Wait Time
Heath: What’s that ramen place we went?

Cleveland: Ippudo (New York City). The food was amazing. We waited an hour and something for that table. I walked away thinking that’s not a big deal. I would’ve waited longer to eat there. The wait is a sensitive thing for us. I feel so bad – on the weekends, our wait gets so long. So I really appreciated waiting. And I didn’t mind.

The Plating
Cleveland: Ad Hoc (Yountville, California) was family style. The plating was designed to look sort of unplanned, but it was incredibly precise. The thing that you walk away with from there is that casual and comfortable is not an accident. It takes just as much work as fine dining.

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

Readers’ Choice 2015: Chef of the Year – Gerard Craft

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

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You know a meal is special when you can recall it in vivid detail years, even decades, later. Epicures have traveled from far and near to visit Gerard Craft’s flagship restaurant, Niche, and have departed with memories of exquisitely plated, creative dishes. Craft’s own dining experiences likewise have left an indelible mark on his culinary mind. Here, this year’s Readers’ Choice Chef of the Year – and winner of the 2015 James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Midwest – shares the top meals of his life.  

1. The French Laundry, Yountville, California, 2002
“That meal was mind-blowing on every level, especially because I had experienced a lot at that point but nothing unique. I’d been sleeping with The French Laundry Cookbook pretty much at that point. It was a big deal to see it all. The wine service was Bobby Stuckey (now co-owner of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado) as a youngster. My dad still talks about the wine service to this day and how amazingly inspired it was. (We started) with five different soups, each one the essence of whatever that ingredient was. (I had) dishes that are now iconic, like the salmon cornet – the ice cream cone, the oysters and pearls … just mind-blowing and fun. Grant Achatz was a sous chef. It was kind of like a dream team in that restaurant.”

2. Le Bamboche, Paris, France, 2000
“It was during the mad cow crisis. Lots of vegetables because nobody was cooking meat at that point. La Bamboche was a tiny little spot, maybe 20 seats. The chef was Claude Colliot. It was him in the kitchen with one other guy and his wife ran the front of the house. It was the first time I saw traditional rules broken. There was a dish of glazed Loire Valley vegetables with fromage blanc ice cream, a savory ice cream. I was blown away. Now, everyone sees ice cream on dishes. Back then, no one had ice cream on dishes. On the dessert side, he had a Napoleon with pastry cream on one layer, a kind of candied confit tomato on another layer and then basil simple syrup. Again, this notion of the rules had been broken: savory food being used in dessert. That meal alone shaped my career and the way I would look at food from then on.”

3. L’Arpège, Paris, France, 2000
“This place was – and still is – a three-star Michelin restaurant. My parents took me there and said, ‘Pay attention. This is your Harvard education.’ It was a spectacular meal, tons of vegetables. I don’t know if I was necessarily blown out of the water. It was just vegetables and light flavors and very good. What I did notice later on as I was cooking was: This green bean is not cooked right; this turnip’s texture could be much better. Every vegetable in that place was so perfectly cooked. When it comes to vegetables, that completely changed my life. I am so picky with our cooks about how they cook vegetables. That stems from this restaurant.”

4. Trattoria del Conte, Orvieto, Italy, 2006
“Our very good friends, Margaret and Carlo Pfeiffer, took me to this place. It was their favorite local restaurant to eat dinner. It’s pretty much a father and his daughters who run this place. They make really casual pastas, all fresh, hand-made. One of my favorite dishes that I still love to make is a ricotta tortelloni with artichokes, lemon and olive oil – an incredibly simple dish, but perfect. The whole thing, the ragus they do, everything made me fall in love with Italian food. That wasn’t my first trip to Italy, but it was a transformative trip for me.”

-illustrations by Vidhya Nagarajan

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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