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Jan 22, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘southern’

The Scoop: Rick Lewis to open new restaurant in The Grove

Thursday, June 1st, 2017



A local favorite will soon put down roots in a classic St. Louis neighborhood.

Rick Lewis is stepping down from his role as executive chef at Southern to open up his own place with his wife, Elisa Lewis. The new venture will be located at 4270 Manchester Ave., the former home of Sweetie Pie’s in The Grove.

Lewis and Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse opened Southern in June 2015 after he left his executive chef post at Quincy Street Bistro.

Lewis, who will no longer have an ownership stake in Southern, said he’ll stay on for as long as necessary to make the transition. He said they are still deciding who will take over the kitchen.

“This is our first endeavor as husband and wife,” Lewis said. “It’s exciting. Elisa and I have grown a lot over the last two years, and there have been lots of opportunities that have come our way. When we came across this building, it just felt right to us.”

Lewis is excited to open in a neighborhood like The Grove.

“One of the cool things we saw at Southern was how all walks of life would come together, and it was really a community-building thing. Everyone would be sharing plates together and sitting next to each other,” he said. “We want to convey that sense of fellowship and community at this place. We want it to be comfortable and inviting and give people a sense of coming into our home for a meal.”

Lewis said the idea is to stay true to the history of the building – and of course, there will be fried chicken. “It’s going to be our take on Southern meat and three,” he said.

Lewis said he expects the space will seat approximately 100, and very little work will be necessary before the doors open. “We’re hoping to open in late summer or early fall,” Lewis said.

And what will he call his new establishment? “The name is top secret as of now,” he said.

Photo by Greg Rannells

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
Readers Choice 2016 Favorite New Restaurant: Southern

Best New Restaurants 2016: Southern

The Scoop: Rick Lewis to leave Quincy Street Bistro, open chicken shack with Pappy’s Mike Emerson

Readers’ Choice 2016: Favorite New Restaurant – Southern

Friday, July 1st, 2016




Since it opened in 2015, St. Louisans have flocked to Southern for fried chicken. “People who were in here two days ago can’t believe they’re back,” said chef-owner Rick Lewis. “People literally get hooked.” And hooked you are. Offering more than a tasty bird, Southern took home this year’s Readers’ Choice Favorite New Restaurant award. Here, Lewis dished on his favorite dishes.

1. Bone-In Fried Chicken
“It’s the star of the show. I like it with medium heat. I prefer dark meat, but the bone-in breasts are delicious. The way we handle the chicken, it just stays so moist and flavorful.”

2. Collard Greens
“It’s the quality of the things we use that makes them really good. We steal (neighbor) Pappy’s smoked chicken drippings and pour some in.”

3. Fried Bologna Sandwich
“It’s an in-house favorite. We smoke the bologna over apple wood and cherry and put pimento cheese on it. Some of our guys put it on a biscuit.”

3. Biscuits
“It’s a real buttery biscuit that has a golden brown crunch outside and is light and fluffy inside. We whip butter with good honey and make jams – so simple but so good.”

5. Fried Pickles
“I took them off the menu but had to start doing them again because people kept asking for them. … We use dill seed that gives them a tasty, dilly flavor. I have to say, in the world of fried pickles, they’re up there.”


-photo by Greg Rannells

Ones to Watch 2016: Ari Ellis

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016



Title: Executive sous chef, Southern
Age: 27
Why Watch Her: She’s the powerhouse that makes Southern run.

Scroll through Ari Ellis’ Instagram feed, and along with selfies and snaps of her French bulldog, you’ll see countless shots of long nights in the kitchen, in-process charcuterie and even a few brightly painted pig skulls. There are timelapse videos of her breaking down pounds of produce and sorting through hundreds of chicken pieces, all with the bulldoggish tenacity that’s made her second in command at Southern.

“She’s a beast,” said Southern chef-owner Rick Lewis. “There’s a lot of things you can teach people as far as cooking, but (you can’t teach) coming in every day and having a good work ethic and good attitude and trying to bring people up around you.”

Just three years ago, an inexperienced Ellis stepped up to the fry station at Quincy Street Bistro, then a failing South City bar and grill. When Lewis took the helm, Ellis got a crash course in whole-animal cooking and house charcuterie. After becoming sous chef, she was immersed in kitchen management 101 with Lewis and chef Chris Tirone. “Everyone is different, so your approach to everyone has to be different,” Ellis said.

Those management skills were put to the test when Ellis made the jump to Southern. She serves as executive sous chef and Lewis’ right hand, prepping 95 percent of the food that hits the line and managing a crew of fast-moving cooks. “It was instantaneous respect, and you could see them thinking after a couple of weeks, ‘OK, this is why she’s here,’” Lewis said. That respect has manifested into a loyal team; there has been almost no turnover on the line since Southern opened to wide acclaim and massive crowds last year.

Ellis’ culinary education also draws from national players. She staged at Toro in New York City and roadtripped to Cochon in New Orleans to work with butcher Leighann Smith – now a friend and butchery-loving kindred spirit. Ellis spent much of her time at Quincy Street Bistro tasked with breaking down half hogs. “I was like ‘That’s great because I’m obsessed with this,’” Ellis said. “My big thing is breaking down animals. If I could do that most days of the week, I’d be happy.”

She’d be equally happy with an early morning plate of biscuits and gravy, her go-to meal at home and something she’d consider putting on her own diner-style menu one day. “I would like a place as small as Southern, something real small,” Ellis said. “I love breakfast, and I love waking up super early.”

Tearing into a fluffy biscuit smothered with house-made sausage gravy while Ellis breaks down a hog for future bacon? Add a cup of coffee (and maybe a painted pig skull on the wall) and she might just make us morning people, too.

– photo 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.




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.




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.




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.




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. 3 – Southern

Monday, December 14th, 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.




Rick Lewis ate a lot of hot chicken for you. The chef-owner of Southern, which opened its doors this June next to Pappy’s Smokehouse in Midtown, racked up the miles on his F-250 cruising to Nashville to research hot chicken royalty like Prince’s and Hattie B’s. Southern features their influence, along with a few barbecue techniques from the pros at Ubons in Mississippi, plus Lewis’ own tricks. Here, the path to Southern’s hot chicken:

Back off, buttermilk. Southern chicken marinates barbecue-style in a tub of beer, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar and cayenne pepper. The barbecue method continues with a dry rub of Lewis’ house-made riff on Old Bay, habanero powder, garlic, salt and sugar, building in layers of heat. 

Dredge, baby, dredge. Chicken is tossed in a mixture of two different starches and flour (This, Lewis insisted, is the key to breading that doesn’t slide off the entire piece after the first bite), plus more seasoning.

Fried and true. Chicken swims in corn oil until cooked through, then is sprinkled with a seasoning salt that Lewis called “magic dust.” Finally, the hot version of the fried bird takes another plunge in a vat of hot corn oil – this one glistening with cayenne and habanero peppers.

Not a one-trick bird. What makes Southern a force to be reckoned with is Lewis’ care for the whole meal. Greens rich with drippings from Pappy’s smoked chicken, flaky biscuits and creamy mac-n-cheese offer respite before you venture back to the merciless goodness of that crispy chicken.

Despite his meticulous research, the chicken’s punishing-yet-addictive heat and perfect crunch, Lewis is still at a loss to explain Southern’s overwhelming popularity. “I have no idea,” he said, grinning. “You want to know what everybody says? They just go, ‘There’s just not any chicken that’s this good around here.’ That’s what they tell me.” We couldn’t put it better ourselves.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Chris Ladley takes the reins at Quincy Street Bistro

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015



{Chris Tirone}

Chef de cuisine Chris Tirone has left the kitchen at Quincy Street Bistro, handing the reins to chef Chris Ladley. Tirone (a member of the Sauce Ones to Watch 2011 class) left in late November after two years at Quincy Street, where he helmed the kitchen after chef Rick Lewis left the South City bistro in March to open Southern. Ladley has worked at Quincy Street since September 2014.

“I’ll be running the kitchen, and we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said Ladley. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We’ll keep cooking locally sourced, locally inspired food and give great service.”

After spending 15 years in kitchens, Tirone is training with U.S. Foods where he’ll stay involved in the industry, but from a sales perspective. “I wanted to try something new,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about the food industry, and after two weeks in training, it’s been eye-opening.”

Tirone said he’s learning the business side of the industry, including pricing and technology. “When I was a working chef, a lot of what I did was operations, working with my guys, getting things prepped,” he said. “Now I’m learning about technology that can help with inventory and order entry that can help restaurants.”

Hit List: 5 new places you must try this month

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015



1. Southern: 3108 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.531.4668, stlsouthern.com

Fried chicken has come home to roost in St. Louis, and chef Rick Lewis is adding to the flock with Southern. The former Quincy Street Bistro chef partnered with Pappy’s owner Mike Emerson to open a lunchtime eatery next door to the venerable barbecue joint in Midtown. Southern serves up Nashville-style hot chicken – fried chicken that takes a dip in spicy oil before hitting your tongue with a one-two punch of sweet heat. Order a plate of two, three or four pieces and choose your spice level (mild, Cluckin’ Hot or General Tso’s), then pair it with two sides, such as toothsome mac-n-cheese and Southern greens cooked with salt pork, along with the requisite slice of bread and pickles. Not feeling fried? Order one of nine monster sandwiches, like the Cubano made with Pappy’s pulled pork, house ham, brown ale mustard, bread-and-butter pickles and Gruyere cheese grilled to melty goodness on the flattop. Grab a fountain soda or (soon) a bottle of beer and kick back with a tray of down-home goodness.




2. Tazé Mediterranean Street Food: 626 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.254.7953, tazestreetfood.com

Get your fill of eastern Mediterranean fare at fast-casual Tazé in the Mercantile Exchange building downtown. The 115-seat counter-style restaurant focuses on a build-your-own meal concept. Start with a house-made pita or a bowl of saffron rice or mixed greens. Next, choose a filling: Options range from gyro-style meat sliced from the spit; tandoori-cooked chicken, beef or pork; or vegetarian picks of portobello mushrooms or falafel. Top it off with fresh fixings and a house-made sauce such as harissa or tahini. Besides a variety of hummus flavors served with pita chips, Tazé offers a dozen side dishes from baba ghanoush to stuffed grape leaves to an Israeli couscous salad. If you come after 4 p.m., make a meal out of happy hour bites like meatballs with tzatziki and skewered shrimp paired with a pint of local craft beer or a glass of wine. Finish with a Moroccan cookie, a chewy sugar cookie that holds a hint of the North African spice blend ras al-hanout.




3. O’Fallon Brewery: 45 Progress Parkway, Maryland Heights, 636.474.2337, ofallonbrewery.com 

O’Fallon Brewery, among the area’s first craft breweries, has always lacked one crucial element: a tasting room for fans to gather, sample and enjoy. Now in its 15th year, O’Fallon has finally taken the next step – and it’s a big one. The new 40,000-square-foot brewery is full of glass walls and sleek, modern lines befitting its new home in a sea of industrial office complexes near Westport Plaza. In the tasting room, called the O’Bar Grill and Tap Room, 20 taps offer favorites like Zeke’s Pale Ale and Kite Tail. Order a pint or sample a few in a flight of four 5-ounce pours. Food portions are perfect for a lunch or happy-hour crowd; the sauceless baby back ribs are served four bones to an order, each dry-rubbed then grilled and basted with O’Fallon’s Golden Ale for a crispy, flavorful bite. Lighter fare is available, too, like the harvest salad with fresh berries, candied almonds and a Wheach vinaigrette or the grilled beer lime shrimp whose zing comes from marinating in 5-Day IPA, soy sauce and lime juice.




4. Cellar House: 6039 Telegraph Road, Oakville, 314.846.5100, Facebook: Cellar House

South County residents, take note: Date night just got a whole lot closer to home. Cellar House, the companion restaurant connected to Oakville bottle shop Bottle Cellars, boasts an expansive bar program with 240 bottles of wine (and another 20 by-the-glass options), nearly 30 craft brews and a full spirits selection with 45 whiskey options, plus a cocktail menu. Many mixed drinks feature house-infused syrups and liqueurs, like the My Sherry Baby, which combines bourbon, sherry, vermouth and house-made orange-fig syrup before seeing a float of Cointreau. Sharable dishes dominate the menu. We savored the spicy heat of the nduja flatbread, which covers the hot sausage paste with a layer of thinly sliced pears, crunchy pistachios, crumbled blue cheese and a drizzle of honey. Cellar House also offers a trio of juicy free-range bison sliders topped with Marcoot Tipsy Cheddar and a generous smear of house-made tomato-bacon jam.




5. Saint Louis Hop Shop: 2606 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.261.4011, saintlouishopshop.com

A craft beer bottle shop has opened on ever-growing, ever-diverse Cherokee Street. While Saint Louis Hop Shop’s selection of national craft labels is increasing daily, local suds currently dominate the shelves. Among the more than 70 different beers and ciders, you’ll find all the usual suspects from The Lou – 4 Hands, Crown Valley, Perennial, Schlafly, Urban Chestnut and more. Bottled and canned beer is available off-the-shelf or cold from the coolers, and the shop allows – even encourages – the adventurous thirsty to mix and match, creating their own six-packs. While you ponder which suds to bring home, sip beer from one of the four taps behind a bar fashioned by local woodworking boutique Mwanzi. The tasting bar features a rotating selection that includes brews from Civil Life and Modern Brewery.

-Saint Louis Hop Shop photo by Meera Nagarajan, all others by Michelle Volansky 

Sneak Peek: Southern in Midtown

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015



Fried chicken has come home to roost in St. Louis, and chef Rick Lewis is adding to the flock with Southern. As The Scoop reported in March, Lewis left his chef post at Quincy Street Bistro and joined forces with Pappy’s owner Mike Emerson to open a hot chicken spot next door to Emerson’s famed St. Louis barbecue joint. After months of recipe testing, renovations and prep work, Lewis hopes to open doors at 3108 Olive St., in Midtown the week of June 22.

Southern will serve fried chicken in the same vein as Nashville institutions like Hattie B’s and Prince’s. Golden brown pieces of fried chicken fly from the fryer and take a dip in one of three spicy oils (mild, Cluckin’ Hot or General Tso’s) before landing on an aluminum tray. Lewis will offer an assortment of hot chicken plates, serving the fried bird with a slice of white bread to soak up the spicy juices, two sides and house-made pickles. The curious (or chicken-hearted) can also order pieces a la carte.

While Southern’s hot chicken may be the hot topic of the moment, it’s not the only thing Lewis will dish up at this 45-seat, counter-service eatery. Nine hefty sandwiches feature house-made salami, ham, pepperoni, roast beef and even bacon, smoked low and slow in one of Pappy’s four famous smokers next door. Sandwiches are stacked high with cheese, dressings and house pickles between Companion bread. Some sammies, like the Cubano, are griddled to melted goodness on the large flattop.

An array of snacks is available, too, including deviled eggs filled with house pimento cheese, a spread of house-made pickled vegetables, and a butcher board of house-cured meats. Rotating daily dessert specials will include fried hand pies, banana pudding and ice cream sandwiches from Dogtown bakery Sugaree.

When doors open, the lunch-time eatery will fire up the fryers from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect when Southern opens doors.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.


-photos by Michelle Volansky 

The Scoop: Rick Lewis to leave Quincy Street Bistro, open chicken shack with Pappy’s Mike Emerson

Saturday, March 14th, 2015



Fried chicken is flocking to St. Louis, and two big restaurant names have just thrown their knives into the ring. Chef Rick Lewis announced today that he is leaving Quincy Street Bistro to open a chicken shack called Southern with Pappy’s Smokehouse owner Mike Emerson, as reported by St. Louis Magazine.

Emerson and Lewis hope to open Southern, which will be located at 3108 Olive St., next door to Pappy’s in Midtown, in mid-April. Lewis described the fast-casual concept as a mixture of popular Nashville hot chicken spot Hattie B’s and Southern/Cajun-focused Cochon in New Orleans. Southern will serve hot chicken as well as sandwiches made with house charcuterie and other classic Southern fare.

The two men have been friends since Lewis took the helm at Quincy Street in 2012. Lewis’ elevated comfort food at Quincy Street received local and national acclaim; in 2014 he was a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation Award in the Rising Star category. The friendship grew to a business partnership recently when Lewis, looking to start another project, sat down with Emerson, who sought to add another restaurant to his fold. Emerson also co-owns popular barbecue spots Bogart’s and newer Adam’s Smokehouse, which Sauce reviewed in July 2014.

“We started our business based on comfort food, and this guy takes comfort food to another level,” remarked Emerson about Lewis’ talent as a chef. “In the barbecue business, you start with the best product, and when I get to start with one of the best chefs in town, that doesn’t hurt either. It’s like signing Derek Jeter.”

Emerson said he wasn’t worried about the growing roster of fried chicken restaurants opening in St. Louis, and that he looked forward to Lewis’ unique contribution to the genre. “It’s always been one of my favorites,” said Emerson of fried chicken. “We’re in love with anything along the comfort food line. I’m not going to stop just because places keep popping up.”

At Quincy Street, Lewis said chef Chris Tirone (a member of the Sauce Ones to Watch class of 2011) will take the helm as executive chef, a role he has unofficially filled since hip surgery limited Lewis’ role in the kitchen for several months last year. “I’m not trying to tear something I built apart,” Lewis said.

Despite his new project, expect to see Lewis frequently Quincy Street often – his in-laws own the joint. “I’m always going to be up in that place,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that.”



By the Book: Elizabeth Sims and Brian Sonoskus’ Gumbo Bell Peppers with Corn, Peas, Spinach and Okra

Saturday, June 14th, 2014



The story goes like this: a Jersey chef with a Johnson and Wales pedigree decides to relocate South and winds up running the kitchen at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina – that melting pot of melting pots where folk revivalists, coffee pundits, mountain romantics and outdoorsy types rule the roost. Chef Brian Sonoskus teamed up with “Garden & Gun” writer Elizabeth Sims to stitch together an eponymous collection of his recipes, and while they don’t always hold together, there’s plenty in this book to try, and cheerful bits of commentary and nostalgia to tide you over while you read.




I went with Sonoskus’ bell peppers stuffed with summery vegetables swimming in a curious tomato curry broth. But first, I had to hunt down the quintessentially Southern ingredients. Once, while traveling in eastern Kentucky, I remarked on how the only vegetable available in the groceries was iceberg lettuce. This was before noticing that most families, at least the ones with means, grow their own in well-appointed gardens in the backyard. That’s tough to replicate in the middle of the city, so frozen okra and black-eyed peas will do in a pinch.




Note: No-salt Creole seasoning is tough to find in the store, so the low-sodium kind will do (look in the seafood section). Still, plan to season more than the recipe lets on. Most of this dish’s components wanted for salt by the end.




Be sure to stir the Arborio rice mixture constantly to ensure the correct texture. Owing either to my extra-hot stove element, or the recipe overshooting the time, my rice took closer to 12 minutes than 25.




The tomato curry broth is the dark horse of this recipe. Aromatic and slightly spicy, mix up an extra-large batch of this to use in other cooking projects. It’s worth it.

What was troublesome about the finished product was a dissonance of flavor. The red bell peppers were too powerful for their otherwise tasty innards. (Green or yellow would have worked better.) And for all its individual gifts, the tomato curry broth just doesn’t jive with this catalog of vegetables. The “whiff of Punjab” advertised by the authors accentuated the pepper and eclipsed what should have been the showpiece (and only Appalachian representative) of this dish: the filling.




Gumbo bell peppers with corn, peas, spinach and okra
6 servings

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced onion
¾ cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced fresh or frozen okra
¾ cup fresh or frozen corn
½ cup fresh or frozen black-eyed, crowder or field peas
1½ tsp. gumbo file
¾ tsp. no-salt Creole seasoning
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup Arborio rice
1½ cups water
1 cup vegetable broth
½ cup V8 juice
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
6 large red bell peppers
½ cup tomato curry broth (Recipe follows.)

• To a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, then the onion and celery and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the okra, corn, peas, file powder, Creole seasoning, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the rice and add the water, broth and V8 juice. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice is al dente and the mixture is creamy, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Stir in the spinach, remove from the heat and let cool.
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the stem ends off the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Fill the peppers with the risotto mixture. Stand the peppers up in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Spoon the Curry Tomato Broth around the peppers. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until the peppers are tender. Place each pepper in a shallow bowl and spoon the juices and broth over the pepper. Serve immediately.

Tomato curry broth
Makes 1¾ cups

1 cup V8 juice
½ cup vegetable broth
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ tsp. no-salt Creole seasoning
¾ to 1 tsp. curry powder

• Combine the V8 juice, vegetable broth, coconut milk, Creole seasoning and curry powder. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

What’s the most unusual yet successful fusion of cuisines that you’ve made? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of “Tupelo Honey Cafe.” We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, congratulations to Joe, whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won a copy of “Coi.” Joe, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

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