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Nov 24, 2014
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Posts Tagged ‘The Scoop’

The Scoop: Taco Circus to offer quick-serve tacos in Bevo Mill

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014



The tacos will fly when quick-service restaurant Taco Circus opens in early December. As reported by Ian Froeb of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Taco Circus is a project by Mikey Carrasco and Christian Ethridge, both transplants from Austin, Texas. The long-time friends settled on 4258 Schiller Place in Bevo Mill as the space where they will give St. Louisans a taste of what they ate as kids: tacos.

“When we were growing up, if we had $5 we would go to taco places,” said Ethridge, who left his job as commissary manager for Baileys’ restaurant group this summer to get Taco Circus up and running. Ethridge said he wants Taco Circus to be a legitimate alternative to current fast food choices. The duo chose the restaurant’s name because it suggested “controlled chaos, family-inclusive and light-hearted – and just wanting to convey the message that it’s a fast-food place and not a restaurant with servers.” In fact, it will be just Ethridge and Carrasco cooking, ringing up orders and wiping down the few tables in the 700-square-foot space.

The menu will be limited; look for just a handful of tacos (including a breakfast taco featuring eggs, potatoes, house-made chorizo, breakfast sausage and local bacon), a couple fajitas, side dishes like beans and rice, a salsa bar and perhaps a dessert. With only 15 or 20 seats, Ethridge and Carrasco expect Taco Circus to do more carryout that dine-in business.

Ethridge anticipates opening Taco Circus in early December after brightening the space with a lively paint job, a neon sign and vintage circus posters. “No clowns,” he added. “We’re not to the point of kitsch.”


The Scoop: St. Louis breweries take top honors at recent beer festivals

Friday, November 21st, 2014




Raise ‘em high and toast to our area breweries, many of which seem to be scooping up medals right and left at prestigious beer festivals. Recently, Perennial Artisan Ales picked up gold and silver medal wins at the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild’s 12th annual Festival of Barrel Aged Beers. Perennial’s barrel-aged Abraxas brought home the highest honor in the festival’s experimental category and was runner-up for best of show.

This is the third consecutive year Abraxas has brought home the bling, first with a silver in 2012 and then with a gold in 2013 and 2014. “It’s humbling to see people like it so much,” said Perennial brewmaster Cory King. “People are always after the next new thing, so for (Abraxas) to be around for so long is awesome.”

Abraxas is aged is an imperial stout which is aged for a year in Rittenhoue Rye barrels with cacao nibs, vanilla beans, ancho chiles and cinnamon sticks which started as a home brew in King’s kitchen. More than 90 breweries could submit up to three entries each, for a total of more than 300 beers in 11 categories. Perennial co-owner Phil Wymore estimates that Abraxas won out over 30 beers in the experimental category. “This is one of our favorite festivals,” he said. “It’s so niche that to be honored as having the best barrel-aged beer is special.”

4 Hands Brewing Co. also took home FOBAB hardware last weekend. The brewery announced via Twitter that its barrel-aged Bonafide with cinnamon brought home bronze, while Volume 2 walked away with the silver medal. Owner Kevin Lemp could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile on the East Coast, Urban Chestnut earned accolades at the Great International Beer & Cider Competition in Rhode Island. UCBC earned three gold medals for its Schnickelfritz, Zwickel and Bushelhead cider and a bronze for its Aramis, as reported by Alive Magazine.

Co-owner David Wolfe said he was pleased to see the honors bestowed upon UCBC’s top-selling beers and cider. “It’s neat that the two of them combined make up a considerable amount for our total portfolio volume,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said competitions like this one help UCBC realize where it stands on a national level. “You like to see where your beers stack up against other beers, specifically in those categories,” he said. “It’s a great barometer in that sense.”

Catherine Klene contributed to this report.

The Scoop: Concert venue The Gramophone to become a full-time bar, expand food service

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014



A new chapter approaches for The Gramophone co-owners Andrew “Roo” Yawitz and Scott Swanston, as they transition popular Grove nightspot from a concert venue to a bar that also serves sandwiches, soups and salads. After their New Year’s Eve party, doors will temporarily close for renovation, and the reopening is scheduled for early February 2015.

The idea “has always been in our back pocket,” Yawitz said. “One factor was the increase in foot traffic in the neighborhood. As The Grove became more popular, more people are walking up and looking for a place to drink without a cover charge. We want people to be able to stop in anytime.”

The Gramophone, which began offering sandwiches in November 2013, will expand its food and drink menu with the addition of soups and sides, as well as a bloody mary menu and house-infused whiskeys. Permanent seating will soon allow for about 100 guests. However, Yawitz said The Gramophone won’t lose its touch with its music roots. “Music will still be a big part of our brand,” he said. “We’ll still have live music on the weekends mostly, and feature smaller, local bands, anything from solo acts to four-piece bands to DJs.”

After its remodel, The Gramophone will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.



The Scoop: Chef Corey Ellsworth takes the helm at Bixby’s

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014



Bixby’s, the lunch and brunch restaurant located inside the Missouri History Museum, has welcomed new executive chef Corey Ellsworth to its culinary lineup. Ellsworth, who was previously executive chef at Chandler Hills Vineyard, said he was drawn to the historical element that often influence Bixby’s menu.

The current Louisiana Purchase-inspired fare allows Ellsworth to delve into Missouri’s past and pull culinary inspiration from Spanish and French roots. The menu features meats such as bison, duck and turkey, along with seasonal ingredients such as persimmon, apples and cranberries.

“I’m really excited to come into a place that has a really wonderful reputation already and just try and excel and make it grow and push it to do even better than where it is now,” he said. “That’s my goal, and I’m pretty tenacious when it comes to meeting my goals.”

Local catering company Butler’s Pantry operates Bixby’s, and its president Richard Nix Jr. said Ellsworth’s international culinary experience (he has cooked everywhere from Yosemite National Park to Nicaragua) will be an asset in Bixby’s kitchens. “We didn’t want the place run by caterers. We’re learning from him, and he’s learning from us,” Nix said.



The Scoop: Bob Brazell to open fast-casual fried chicken spot near Cherokee

Monday, November 17th, 2014



Bob Brazell, former executive chef at Athlete Eats, is bringing a new riff on chicken to the old Popeye’s at 3422 S. Jefferson Ave., with a fast-casual concept, Byrd & Barrel. As first reported by St. Louis Magazine, Byrd & Barrel, which is slated to open in January, will allow on-the-go guests to zip through the drive-thru, while others can enjoy the sit-down dining space and bar.

“This is an idea I’ve had for a while,” explained Brazell, who left his post at Athlete Eats in August to launch his catering business Snack STL, which he will continue to operate. “We found this location at Jefferson and Cherokee, and being that it was an old Popeye’s, we decided it would be a chicken-focused restaurant … We want to give people the opportunity to get good, locally sourced food from a drive-thru.”

One of Brazell’s partners is Ben Strake, who also co-owns Tamm Avenue Grill and The Corner Cup, where Brazell recently consulted on the menu. Another partner is Mike Rostek, who has worked for the past eight years at Entertainment Consultants International, most recently as the operations executive at Ballpark Village and a managing partner of PBR St. Louis. Brazell said Strake will handle the marketing and business end of Byrd & Barrel, while Rostek will focus on front-of-house matters.

Brazell plans to feature chicken from different local purveyors in weekly specials. “You’re going to see a lot of different cultural influences on the food,” he said, citing everything from Asian- to Mexican-inspired menu items that push past the expected fried chicken. Some dishes will have their own local flair, such as the Provel-laced mac-n-cheese topped with a mixture of breadcrumbs and Red Hot Riplets (one of Brazell’s favorite guilty pleasures).

Since Brazell plans to cook everything to order, the drive-thru menu will be streamlined with a smaller selection of fried chicken with sides, soups, salads and sandwiches. “It’s not fast food,” explained Brazell. “It’s food that you want to eat.” There will be more options for those who dine in, including starters and a wider selection of main entrees.

With about 50 varieties, canned beer will certainly dominate the beverage list, but Brazell mentioned bottle-only breweries will not be excluded. Wine and a modest list of specialty cocktails will also be available.

Renovations to the dining room and kitchen are currently underway, and Brazell estimates that there will be around 30 seats, inside while the patio will add an additional 45 during warmer weather. Byrd & Barrel will offer lunch and dinner and will likely cater to the late-night Cherokee crowd. “It’s going to be a good atmosphere where people want to go and hang out,” Brazell said.

-photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Chef Brian Hardesty and Element part ways, Brian Coltrain steps up to executive chef

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014



Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 12 with comments from Element co-owner Carol Hastie.

Executive chef Brian Hardesty has left the kitchens of Element, as of today, Nov. 12. Hardesty said the choice came down to a “difference in vision” and that the decision was a mutual one. “I wish them the best,” he said. “I hope to watch Element evolve and succeed, and they have a great crew over there.”

Element co-owner Carol Hastie said chef Brian Coltrain will step into the role of executive chef. “He has lots of really cool ideas, and he’s a great chef,” Hastie said. “He’s good at teaching, and he’s a good leader.”

Hastie said Element will soon see a new lunch menu and changes to the dinner offerings under Coltrain’s leadership. “We’re not going to change what we do as far as the local, seasonal items on the menu,” she said. “But we want to put a little more approachable items on the menu, as well.”

As for Hardesty, he will continue to focus on the growth of Guerrilla Street Food. He is co-owner of the popular food truck, which serves Filipino fare.

Element, which opened in September 2013, is known for innovative new American cuisine created under a team of several chefs. Sauce reviewed the downtown establishment in January.


-photo by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: McArthur’s bakery transitions to new ownership

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014



After 35 years operating McArthur’s Bakery, owner Randy McArthur has passed his apron on to new hands.

Live to Venture Holdings, owned by Scott and Sheila Rinaberger, purchased McArthur’s in early November, following the bakery’s year-long search for new ownership. McArthur was intent on finding someone with the talent, energy and capital to invest in his family’s legacy and move it into the future.

“Scott recognizes the solid reputation for high-quality products that McArthur’s is so well known for,” McArthur said. “I sensed his excitement and enthusiasm about moving the bakery into the future right from the start.”

Scott Rinaberger will work alongside Ben Abel, the bakery’s new director of operations, with a focus on updating McArthur’s image and renovating the facilities. The pair hopes to expand weekly cake production and is looking into online retail options. New updates to the menu, including more salad options and a children’s menu, are in the works for early 2015. The Rinabergers also own two franchised restaurants and a preschool in Chesterfield.

McArthur said he has taken steps to see that existing bakery employees, some of whom have been with company more than 20 years, will “remain in place with us after the sale.” He added that while he is happy to let go of the day-to-day demands of running a bakery, he will miss his longstanding customer relationships and the employees that contribute to the family atmosphere at McArthur’s. “I’m just excited for Scott and his team and all of my ex-employees,” he said. “They have the opportunity to take this family business and push it forward into the next generation.”

Rinaberger and his team welcome the opportunity. “It’s an incredibly humbling responsibility that we know we’re taking on,” Rinaberger said. “We understand and respect the legacy of McArthur’s, and we certainly won’t mess with that. We’ll just enhance it.”

The Scoop: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to open a St. Louis shop

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014



Having already received a warm reception from the James Beard Foundation, Conde Nast and Food & Wine, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is hoping to receive an equal amount of love when it opens its 20th location at 389-391 N. Euclid Ave., in the CWE. As reported in Columbus Business First, the St. Louis location aims to start scooping its frozen treats in spring 2015.

“St. Louis is one of my favorite cities in the world,” said owner Jeni Britton Bauer via email. “For one thing, without St. Louis I wouldn’t have my husband Charly, who grew up there. We’ve gone there a lot over the years, and I loved the city’s distinct neighborhoods. The Central West End, where our scoop shop will be, is such a beautiful and vibrant place.”

The ice cream juggernaut made its mark in the industry with flavors derived from source ingredients, not laboratory creations, and milk from pasture-raised Ohio cows. Britton Bauer said St. Louisans can expect to find Jeni’s signature ice creams and frozen yogurts at the CWE shop, as well as sorbets, ice cream sandwiches, sundaes and sauces.She also hopes to create flavors unique to St. Louis, potentially collaborating with area distillers, brewers and farmers.

She is particularly excited to introduce the Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate, which features the work Missouri bean-to-bar chocolate guru Shawn Askinose. “A scoop of that paired with a scoop of The Buckeye State (salted peanut butter with dark chocolate flecks)? That is an unbeatable Midwest tandem,” Britton Bauer said.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream made an appearance and hosted an ice cream social at Heritage BBQ by Cochon in September, and her ice creams return to St. Louis Nov. 19 when they square off against One World Ice Cream‘s creations at a friendly taste-off at Local Harvest Café.





The Scoop: Vincent Van Doughnut to open shop in Clayton

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014



For Brian Marsden, owner of Vincent Van Doughnut food truck and soon-to-be Clayton storefront at 40 N. Central Ave., the love of doughnuts runs deep.

“As a kid, I would go through sleeves of those processed, powdered sugar doughnuts,” said Marsden, a more than 20-year veteran of the restaurant industry. Love for the fried treat followed Marsden into adulthood, and in November 2013, a 1960 Ford Grumman Olson step van known affectionately as “Clyde” began rolling St. Louis streets, serving up a wide variety of classic and specialty doughnut creations.

“Things just took off,” said Marsden, who received a call to compete on the premiere of Cooking Channel’s “Donut Showdown” soon after launching the food truck. Vincent Van Doughnut clinched first place, bringing home bragging rights and $10,000.

As first reported by Feast Magazine, Vincent Van Doughnut is now expanding its business with a brick and mortar slated to open late December. “We have been looking for a storefront for over a year,” explained Marsden. “In Clayton, we found what we wanted.”

The new Vincent Van Doughnut will land next door to Barcelona Tapas in the space that was previously home to Pomme, at 12 N. Meramec Ave. Marsden says fans of the food truck needn’t worry; they can continue to catch Vincent Van Doughnut curbside throughout St. Louis, too.

Marsden envisions the storefront like a European cafe, offering breakfast and coffee options to complement its lineup of classic and artisanal doughnuts. Other offerings will likely include scones and croissants, and Marsden is also considering items like Alumni’s decadent Vincent Van Doughnut-pudding made with his cake doughnuts.

Inside, the storefront has exposed brick, hardwood floors and enough space for just under 20 seats. Marsden expects to be open early, around 6 a.m., to cater to the Clayton work crowd, but he said he might have late-night hours on the weekends to accommodate bar goers.

The new location will also place Marsden near his brother, Brendan Marsden, who heads Whitebox Eatery at 176 Carondelet Plaza. “We’re stoked,” Brian Marsden said. “The response to Vincent Van Doughnut has been overwhelming, and we’re excited to keep growing.”


The Scoop: 801 Fish to join sister restaurant in Clayton

Monday, November 10th, 2014



Midwest-based 801 Restaurant Group has announced plans to open 801 Fish in summer 2015. As reported by George Mahe of St. Louis Magazine, the seafood restaurant will open at 172 Carondelet Plaza, which formerly housed Brazikat. 801 Fish will be located close to its sister restaurant 801 Chophouse at 137 Carondelet Plaza, which opened in December 2013. This is the second location for the 801 Fish concept.

801 Chophouse general manager Ian Rockwell said Clayton was a good fit for the two restaurants to showcase their complementary concepts. “801 Fish has all the hallmarks of the Chophouse, but it’s the inverse. In contrast to dark colors and rich hues, 801 Fish provides a fresh, clean and crisp feel,” he said.

Rockwell said Clayton diners can expect to find a menu similar to the Leawood, Kansas location with a few minor changes. 801 Fish will receive daily deliveries of fresh seafood from several vendors, including those who currently provide for 801 Chophouse’s daily fresh fish offerings. 801 Fish customers will dine on constantly changing market selections, as well as caviar, shellfish platters and a raw bar. A tailored list of wines and cocktails will also featured at the new space.


-photo courtesy of 801 Fish

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