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Jan 21, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘The Dark Room’

First Look: The Dark Room at Grandel Square 

Monday, March 6th, 2017



The Dark Room Wine Bar & Photo Gallery has reopened in its new location at 3610 Grandel Square in the Grand Center Arts District. As The Scoop reported in November, the bar is now housed in the Grandel Theatre building. The bar is now designated as a nonprofit under the umbrella of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, with about 40 cents from each dollar going to support local arts.

The space, menu, hours and stage have all expanded with the new location. The Dark Room now seats more than 70 with better acoustics for live music, ample standing room and increased gallery space, so patrons can enjoy rotating photography exhibits without standing over seated diners.

“Most brands don’t get this kind of opportunity to evolve and get a second start,” said director of hospitality Denise Mueller. She hopes the bar will become a neighborhood staple and nightlife destination with its new lunch and brunch menus and late-night happy hour deals. The bar also plans to open an extensive patio with an outdoor bar this May.

The Dark Room is now open Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Happy hour deals from 3 to 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday brunch is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Get a First Look at The Dark Room’s new home:


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Editor’s note: This post was updated at 4:50 p.m. to adjust hours of operation.  

Photos by Michelle Volansky

Related Content
The Scoop: The Dark Room to move to Grandel Theater 

The Scoop: Chef Samantha Pretto joins The Dark Room

Review: The Dark Room


The Scoop: The Dark Room to move to Grandel Theater

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016



A new space for nightlife is developing at 3601 Grandel Square as The Dark Room Wine Bar & Photo Gallery prepares to move from its current location at 615 N. Grand Blvd., to the Grandel Theater. The Kranzberg Arts Foundation is renovating the Grandel, and in February 2017, the lobby and commons area will be home to an new Dark Room.

“This is a great opportunity to expand our programing and capacity and to double down on our commitment to supporting the arts,” said Chris Hansen, Kranzberg Arts Foundation executive director.

Hansen said those expansions include extended hours, 30 percent more seating inside and another 50 seats on the patio. The Dark Room will also serve as the food and beverage provider for the theater. A newly designed and installed kitchen will be under the direction of chef Samantha Pretto, who came on board in December 2015.

Patrons can expect an expanded cocktail menu designed for theater-goers who need to get to the show on time, as well as a new late-night food menu following productions. Private dining rooms will also be available.

Customers who enjoyed the live jazz and visual arts exhibits at The Dark Room can expect the same vibe with rotating installations.“The Dark Room meets (Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s) mission to invest in infrastructure and systems that support the arts,” said Hansen. “Its programs can be the backbone of the Grandel Theater.”

He plans to announce new menu details closer to opening.


Related Content
Nightlife: The Dark Room

The Scoop: Chef Samantha Pretto joins The Dark Room

Sneak Peek: The Dark Room

The Scoop: The Dark Room wine bar and photo gallery to open in Grand Center

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

From a fried chicken frenzy in Maplewood to the final pitstop for a 4-year-old food truck, here’s everything that went down in the St. Louis food scene last week, in case you missed it…





1. Fried chicken fervor has yet to cool after the first St. Louis-area Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken opened to the public in Maplewood.

2.  The Dark Room has tapped chef Samantha Pretto to take the reins in Midtown after a menu revamp in November.




3. St. Louisans can grabbed their last big fat sushi roll during Chop Shop STL’s final service on Dec. 10, but the truck will not side idle for long.

4. Chef-owner Anthony Ellerson Jr. has brought a taste of New Orleans to Washington Avenue. The Kitchen Sink’s second location opened at 626 N. Sixth St., around the corner from the Mercantile Exchange.




5. Joe Valenza, the son of Blues City Deli owner Vince Valenza, is stoking the wood-fired pizza ovens of Melo’s Pizzeria.  Valenza plans to begin serving pizzas from the garage-turned-pizza shop Dec. 18.

6. From cocktails to sandwiches to egg rolls, we’ve got 10 delicious deals and sweet treats available now on Budget Crunch.

The Scoop: Chef Samantha Pretto joins The Dark Room

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015



After two months of consulting with chef Wil Pelly, The Dark Room in Midtown revamped its menu in November and tapped The Scottish Arms‘ Samantha Pretto to take the reins. Pretto started at the wine bar and photo gallery Dec. 1.

She brings “a passion for charcuterie, terrine and pairing cheese with wine,” said Chris Hansen, The Dark Room managing partner. “That passion for food, presentation and delivery fits very well with what we do.”

The Pelly-directed menu offers starters, sharable cheese and charcuterie boards as well as flatbreads, some vegetarian friendly, as well as desserts like affogatos and bread pudding. The menu released in November will run until the new year, when Pretto hopes to inject some of her own dishes reflective of her affinity for rustic Italian cuisine and her 15 years of kitchen experience at Scottish Arms, Market Pub House and more. “I’m looking forward to being able to show who I am through a plate,” Pretto said.

Editor’s Note: This post originally incorrectly reported that Samantha Pretto was sous chef at The Scottish Arms. It has been updated to correct the error. 




Happy Hour Like a Boss – Part 3

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

When the whistle blows at 5 p.m., there’s nothing like a strong drink to wash away the pains of the workday. You can find happy hours at any neighborhood bar and at watering holes near office buildings and factories. All of them will settle your fix for a cheap drink just fine, but a few get high marks – whether for the top-shelf drink selection, awesome food options or the duration of the deal. Our July issue features 22 places to unwind after work, whatever your reason for grabbing a seat at the bar.


{The Potted Pig at the Block} 


For the entire office: The Block
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri. – 5 to 7 p.m.

Schmooze your way to the top at The Block’s happy hour at its Central West End location. Though the workingman’s nirvana is available in the bar, invite your coworkers for drinks on the picturesque back patio, a fenced urban oasis decorated with string lights and fresh herbs from The Block’s garden. House cocktails ($5) are boozy enough to take the edge off a long day without turning you into the topic of office gossip tomorrow. Try the Mint-Basil Lemontini, an herbaceous combination of basil vodka, fresh mint, fresh lemon juice and prosecco that sings of summer. A happy hour menu of starters ($5) provides generous sustenance for sharing, like the Potted Pig, a jar of house-made pork confit served with ample slices of grilled country bread, plenty of sour house-made pickles and sweet apple-raisin chutney. Don’t want to share with Double-Dipping Steve from accounting? Order the ham and cheese panini ($5), perfectly griddled with bacon jam and spicy mustard, and enjoy an early dinner. – C.K.


For the wine enthusiast: The Dark Room
Happy hour: Tue. – 4 to 11 p.m., Wed. to Fri. – 4 to 6 p.m.

At this wine bar and photo gallery in Grand Center, you could shell out $195 for a bottle of a benchmark Napa cab, like 2010 Chateau Montelena. Better yet, go to The Dark Room during happy hour, when you can sip contentedly on a glass of select sommelier wines ($5). You might be in store for a 6-ounce pour of a white Bordeaux like the 2013 Chateau Buisson Redon or a Spanish rosé, such as Garnacha de Fuego Rosado. The wine menu, like the engaging exhibits on the wall, changes every two months, but we guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with the options on this list. Pair that vino with one of the discounted flatbreads ($6) or toasted pita with a dip ($3) of house-made hummus, olive tapenade or Romesco. If conversation lags, walk the room and let the photos speak to you. Currently on display is Chronicle Ferguson by photographer Santiago Bianco. – L.F.




{Fried calamari with chile-lime mayo and a mojito at BC’s Kitchen} 


For Sunday funday: BC’s Kitchen
Happy hour: Sun. – 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon. and Tue. – 3 to 9 p.m., Wed. and Thu. – 3 to 6 p.m.

Happy hour occurs almost daily at BC’s Kitchen, but the best day to hit up restaurateur Bill Cardwell’s casual outpost in Lake Saint Louis is Sunday, when the deal lasts from open to close. Take a seat in the bar area or on the patio and have a glass of Vista Point chardonnay or merlot ($3.50). If wine isn’t your wish, order your go-to highball from BC’s talented bar team. Well drinks ($4.50) are not a bad deal, considering that Broker’s gin, Old Forester bourbon, El Dorado 3-year rum and Lismore Speyside single malt – solid products at value prices – are among the rail spirits available. BC’s has a lengthy list of happy hour-only noshes from snacks like house-made Saratoga chips ($5.50) to filling bites such as a trio of mini cheeseburgers served with fries ($6.75) or the standout: fried calamari with chile-lime mayo and cocktail sauce ($6.75). If you haven’t discovered BC’s yet, it’s time to make the trek; there are no excuses – you’ve got all day to get acquainted. – L.F.



 {The open kitchen at Basso}


For a first date: Basso
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri. – 4 to 7 p.m.

First dates are rife with pressure. Give yourself and your wallet a break and meet face to face, like in ye olde days, at Basso for happy hour. Craft beers ($4), selected wines ($5), cocktails ($6) and small bites ($7 or less) are reason enough, but the forgiving lighting and hip atmosphere boosts everyone’s kissing potential. We can’t get enough of the truffle fries ($4) and crispy meatballs ($7), both also easy to eat in front of a perfect stranger. We found it difficult to resist the Peter Rabbit, a take on a Mexican mule that mixes Espolón reposado tequila, blood orange liqueur, carrot and lime juices, ginger beer and muddled basil. If all’s going well, you and your date could easily commit to a full, chef Rex Hale-designed meal that doesn’t break the bank. – M.P.

-Basso photo by Jonathan Gayman, The Block and BC’s Kitchen photos by Carmen Troesser

In This Issue: Trendwatch – Part 1

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014


1. Fernet, round two: As we enjoy a pint of Odell Brewing Co.’s new Fernet-Aged Porter, we’re scrolling through Twitter to find fernet aflutter. The herbacious liqueur, popular among the restaurant-industry crowd, is trending in everything from Fernet-spiked hot chocolate to a minty sipper (and Italian-American marriage) of equal parts Fernet-Branca and Colorado-made Leopold Fernet to fernet vinaigrette. We simply must #fernetaboutit.

2. Cheesy Bar Snacks: Gougeres, aka French cheese puffs, have been on Brasserie’s menu since day one. Now you can find these airy, cheesy poppers at wine bar and photo gallery The Dark Room, newly opened in Grand Center. For a meat-flavored, Southern spin, munch on spicy cheddar cracklins at Juniper.



3. New waves of grain: Quinoa is so 2013. This is farro’s year. At Elaia, the ancient grain lived in modern comfort for a time with sausage, charred eggplant and kefir. It’s still making waves at Taste, where it offers nutty flavor and satisfying chew in risotto. They went far(ro) out with ragout at Sidney Street Café, and Planter’s House served it up in a hearty vegetarian farro pilaf during this long winter.

4. Cauliflower gets the leading role: Move over kale. Cauliflower is the veggie of the hour, so much so that those white florets are pushing proteins aside to star in main plates. In NYC, it was in a veg version of chicken and waffles at Dirt Candy, and it’s taco filling at Salvation Taco. In STL, it was the principal character in the cauliflower “lasagna” at Niche. Although that show is now over, you can still catch it at The Precinct in a grilled cheese ‘wich, at Athlete Eats as the rice base in a protein-packed bibimbap bowl and at Central Table Food Hall, where a thick-cut cauliflower steak rests on a bed of warm hummus, sauteed chickpeas and kale. And you thought cauliflower was just for ranch dressing.

Check back tomorrow for Trendwatch – Part 2 for more trends on STL plates, in glasses and atop our wish list right now.





Hit List: 5 new places to try this month

Saturday, April 5th, 2014


1. Seedz Café: 6344 S. Rosebury Ave., Clayton, 314.725.7333, seedzcafe.com

It’s vegan and organic all the time at this new cafe in the DeMun neighborhood of Clayton. Grab a seat in the tiny yet airy space, and fill up on healthy, feel-good food. On Seedz’s small but growing menu, you’ll find a soup, some salads, a handful of nibbles like veggies and hummus, as well as a global smorgasbord of dishes fit for raw, paleo and gluten-free diets. Recent offerings included raw pad Thai, mock tuna salad and a “rawvioli” of thinly sliced beets sandwiching walnut-pesto. Order a smoothie or a juice (We liked the Omshanti Elixir of freshly juiced greens, apple, pineapple, cilantro and ginger.), but when you want to indulge, get a glass of biodynamic wine or Seedz’s house-brewed organic beer.

2. 21st Amendment: 2017 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.6969, 21stbrew.com

Sample suds from local and regional breweries at Lafayette Square’s newest beer bar. Owned by Paul and Wendy Hamilton, the bar is located in the basement of the historic building that houses some of their other venues, such as Vin de Set and Moulin event space. Take a seat at the long, L-shaped bar crafted from timber sourced from the Hamilton’s property in South County, and choose from among 50 taps and more than 80 bottled brews.



3. The Purple Martin: 2800 Shenandoah Ave., St. Louis, 314.898.0011, Facebook: The Purple Martin

Mediterranean-inspired bar and restaurant The Purple Martin is sure to become a fast favorite for South City’s Fox Park neighborhood. The colorful, urban space with rustic, handmade details offers local bottled beer, wine and craft cocktails, like the rye-based, deliciously summery Mint Spray. The small menu currently features appetizers, salads, flatbreads and entrees inspired by flavors from Italy, Greece and North Africa.

4. The Dark Room: 615 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.531.3416, thedarkroomstl.com

Art and wine make a perfect pair at the newest venue in Grand Center. Savor an evening at this small wine bar and photo gallery – intimate despite its industrial look – as you sip fine wine and local beer, share casual snacks and peruse works by local photographers in exhibits curated by the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. Food offerings on the minimalist menu – primarily shared plates and bar bites – are prepared in-house or sourced locally. Choose from a selection of wines by small producers, including a few high-end labels available by the glass, then sit back and let the cultured conversation flow.



5. Urban Chestnut Grove Brewery and Bierhall: 4465 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.222.0143, urbanchestnut.com

Start your night at Urban Chestnut’s new brewery and bierhall with one of 12 UCBC beers on tap, then take a self-guided tour of the massive facility. Once you’ve worked up an appetite (and finished your beer), order another round and pair it with a take on brandade, Zwickel-battered balls of puréed salt cod and potatoes, or the drunkenly delicious Raclette, a cheese-smothered pile of potatoes, onions, cauliflower, cornichons and pork glacé. Finish with a vanilla-laced Liege waffle covered in sticky caramelized Belgian sugar served with a side of house-made chocolate sauce. Prost!

-photos by Michelle Volansky


Sneak Peek: The Dark Room

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Wine bar and photo gallery The Dark Room opens today in Grand Center. The adults-only venue at 615 N. Grand Blvd., looks to be a destination in its own right among other Midtown cultural spots as photography, fine wine and casual noshes come together under one roof, as The Scoop first reported in January.

“The energy of the space is more than a typical wine bar,” said managing partner Chris Hansen. The 1,800-square-foot space offers ample space for patrons to walk around the gallery and enjoy the inaugural exhibit, “New on the Scene,” which features the works of eight recent graduates of Webster University’s photography program.

Beverages at The Dark Room include wines curated by Bill Kniep of Pinnacle Imports. Six whites and six reds are available by the glass; 10 whites and 10 reds are on the bottle list. All 15 beers on the menu are local brews.

The food menu, developed by Hansen and with recipes from Cafe Osage’s chef David Kirkland, includes bar snacks, small plates, cheese and meat boards, flatbreads and desserts. Although not a large menu, every item is either prepared in-house or sourced locally. “We’re not trying to be a full-service restaurant, but we wanted to have options,” Hansen said.

Initially, The Dark Room will be open Tuesday through Saturday with limited hours. In a few weeks, it will expand to regular operating hours: open daily (except Monday) from 4 p.m. until midnight, and until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Here’s what’s in store at The Dark Room:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: The Dark Room wine bar and photo gallery to open in Grand Center

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014



Fine art and fine wine will be under the same roof when The Dark Room opens in Grand Center. A combination wine bar and photo gallery, The Dark Room will be located in the heart of Grand Center at 615 N. Grand Blvd., formerly occupied by William Shearburn Gallery, and is expected to open in mid-March.

A partnership between Grand Center Inc., Ken Kranzberg and the International Photography Hall of Fame, The Dark Room is designed to be an adult-only venue that enhances community engagement, encourages conversation and inspires ideas.

The wine bar will offer seating for 40 patrons, spread between a bar, high-top tables and two community tables, explained Chris Hansen, managing partner at The Dark Room and director of theaters and events for the Kranzberg Arts Center. (Hansen is also a partner at The Demo concert venue at Atomic Cowboy and a former owner of Lola.) The Dark Room will offer a rotating wine list curated by Bill Kniep of Pinnacle Imports, as well as craft beers. Food options will include charcuterie, fine cheeses, small plates and desserts.

While the wine bar will please the palate, photography from artists around the country will please the eye. The International Photography Hall of Fame will curate the rotating monthly photography exhibited in the 1,800-square-foot gallery, selecting works that appeal to collectors and enthusiasts alike.



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