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Apr 27, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘The Libertine’

The Scoop: Farmtruk’s Samantha Mitchell named executive chef at The Libertine

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

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{ Samantha Mitchell, Farmtruk chef-owner and new Libertine executive chef }

 

Big changes are afoot in The Libertine’s kitchen. Farmtruk chef-owner Samantha Mitchell has been tapped as the Clayton restaurant’s new executive chef.

The Libertine co-owner Nick Luedde said the change has been in the works for a while. “Matt (Bessler, former executive chef), has a project he’s been working on that he’s not quite ready to announce yet, so I’ve been looking around town to see who’s available,” he said. “I’ve had my eye on Samantha for a long time. She’s so smart and so together. She has a lot of great ideas. I’m super excited.”

Mitchell said she’s excited to return to the restaurant world. “I’m stoked,” she said. “I miss it; it’s who I am. It’s what I’ve done since I was a teenager. It’ll be nice to have a home base and get back to my roots.”

 

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{ The Libertine chef de cuisine Wil Pelly } 

 

Mitchell’s arrival isn’t the only change in The Libertine kitchen. Sous chef Wil Pelly, formerly of Sanctuaria Wild Tapas and Sugarfire Smoke House, officially steps up as chef de cuisine. To round out the roster, Derek Northway, former executive chef at The Scottish Arms, joins the team as executive sous chef. Luedde said Mitchell and Norwood step up to the stoves full-time this week.

The Libertine recently debuted a new spring menu, so Mitchell will gradually add menu items over the next few weeks. Luedde said she will continue the restaurant’s focus on local, sustainable ingredients, but definitely put her own stamp on things.

But don’t despair, Farmtruk fans. Mitchell intends to continue as chef-owner of the truck and will still be onboard working the window three days a week. “I’ll just be working a lot of doubles,” she said.

Mitchell recently partnered with fellow food truck proprietor Paul Listenberger. The chef-owner of Steak Louie announced the opening of a food truck food court in South City in the former Annie Moons Bakery, which serves as a commissary kitchen for his truck, Farmtruk and Go! Gyro Go!

Mitchell said more changes were in store at The Libertine with a plan to introduce a “whole new format” – though she remained mum on the details.

Mitchell photo by Jonathan Gayman; Pelly photo by Jennifer Silverberg

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

Related Content
Best New Food Trucks: Farmtruk

The Scoop: Food truck food court to open in South City

The Scoop: The Libertine’s Josh Galliano to join Companion Bakery, Schlafly chef Matt Bessler to replace Galliano

 

Trendwatch: Guide to Drinking Edition (Part 2)

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

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{Vista Ramen’s Matcha Gonna Do For Me? cocktail} 

1. Go Green
Teatime and happy hour combine in green tea cocktails. Matcha is found in Retreat Gastropub’s Brainfreeze Culprit, which combines the vibrant green tea powder with rum, sherry, pineapple juice, cacao and coconut. We also spied it at Hiro Asian Kitchen, in a matcha mint julep. Green tea-infused vodka gets fresh at Rooster with apple, lime, pineapple and cucumber in the Green With Envy, while Water Street uses it in its Sweet Pea along with snap peas, dandelion liqueur, mint and lemon. Meanwhile, the drink team at Vista Ramen doubles down, using matcha and cold-brewed green tea stems in the gin-based Matcha Gonna Do For Me?

2. East-Coast Vibes
If intensely hopped IPAs blow your palate, head east. The East Coast IPA is a gentler, juicier IPA best identified by its murky, unfiltered appearance. Eastern breweries like Alchemist, Trillium and Tree House are known for these less bitter, slightly resinous beers, and up-and-coming hometown brewers are taking notice. Narrow Gauge Brewing, which recently opened inside Cugino’s in Florissant, is making waves with its cloudy, dry-hopped IPAs like Fallen Flag, and forthcoming Rockwell Beer Co. shared a taste of what’s to come at Heritage Festival with Major Key, an 8.5-percent East Coast-West Coast hybrid double IPA.

3. Concept Menus
Themed drink menus may seem like a marketing gimmick, but one sip of these exclusive cocktails will sell you. Pouring Ribbons in New York has been traveling with a themed menu series, hitting Route 66 and the Silk Road. Closer to home, Olive & Oak’s Gilligan’s Island-themed menu is a boozy voyage that includes a Three-Hour Tour, while sophisticated takes on college drinks were the star on Planter’s House’s spring break menu earlier this year. Recent menus at Blood & Sand have been based off everything from ninth-century Viking trade routes to popular music, and dedicated tiki menus have been found on bar menus from The Libertine to Taste to Retreat Gastropub.

4. Taste the Rainbow
Brewers are getting experimental, fermenting some of their classic base beers with fresh fruit. Side Project Brewing Co. has released raspberry, peach, blueberry and, most recently, apricot versions of its flagship Saison du Fermier. Over at Perennial Artisan Ales, Funky Wit has seen raspberry-rhubarb, raspberry, apricot and melon varieties, while fans of 2nd Shift Brewing’s Katy can try a veritable fruit salad of blackberry, peach, cherry and raspberry varieties. Looking for an insider taste? Rumor has it that 4 Hands Brewing Co. has quietly released infrequently available strawberry- and blueberry-inflected kegs of City Wide at its tasting room.

5. Basque Wine
Txakoli, a super dry, acidic white from Spain’s Basque region, has popped up on menus and in shops all summer. Union Loafers Café and Bread Bakery offered the crisp 2014 Xarmant Txakolina with barely-there bubbles on its summer wine list, while Reeds American Table still has two Txakolis to try. 33 Wine Bar has three of these Basque beauties on its September wine list, including Gorrondona Txakolina.

Miss Part 1? Click here to find out what else in trending in the STL beverage scene. 

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

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

Readers’ Choice 2016: Favorite Restaurateurs

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

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{Clockwise from bottom, Gerard Craft, Dave Bailey, Kevin Nashan, Nick Luedde}

The menus have been printed, revised, reprinted, revised … and reprinted again. The staff has been trained forward and backward. The silverware has been polished until it’s too shiny to behold. Friends and family have flown in for the soft opening with compliments fit for the pope/Shakespeare/Beyoncé of restaurant owners. But when the restaurant finally opens to the public, what’s going through a restaurateur’s mind?

 

Winner: Gerard Craft
Owner, Niche Food Group (Brasserie by Niche, Pastaria, Porano Pasta, Sardella, Taste)

“I think my opening of Niche was way different from any opening you will see today. In 2005, social media wasn’t really a thing. People finding out about new things were not overnight happenings. Now you open a restaurant and a million people line up out your door — definitely not with Niche. No one knew who we were. It was me, one other cook and my pastry chef who I basically kidnapped. We opened to 12 customers, and I think six of those were from the bar across the street, who I think I convinced to come over if I would feed them for free. …

“I was 25. My wife was pregnant. I was doing something a little bit different, which certainly didn’t make it easier. I would work from 8 a.m. until 2:30 a.m. every day. It was intense – a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress. … It was this dream, but also so much reality. And I physically remember when we finally got reviewed — (former St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic) Joe Bonwich just gave us this love letter. After, I looked up and … there were so many people, we didn’t know what to do. I almost threw up. I was like, ‘Oh shit, I have to cook for all these people!’”

 

2nd: Nick Luedde
Co-owner, The Libertine

“We had been in the press and had such a highly anticipated opening. … Ten minutes prior to opening — the staff looks great, and we had 200 people on the books — but I’m looking at my wife (Audra Luedde), afraid no one was going to show up. We had so much money invested. This was everything. … It all comes down to whom you’ve hired. If those people are people you actually want to have a drink with, the rest takes care of itself.”

 

3rd: Kevin Nashan
Chef-owner, Peacemaker Lobster & Crab and Sidney Street Cafe

“Obviously you want to throw up in your mouth. It’s such a big rollercoaster. You just hope people come and are so grateful when they do. It takes a village — everyone contributes to your success. … There are so many variables on opening day. The system you have sometimes completely changes during service, after service.”

 

Honorable mention: Dave Bailey
Owner, Baileys’ Restaurants (Baileys’ Chocolate Bar; Baileys’ Range; Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar; Rooster; Shift, Test Kitchen & Takeout; Small Batch; The Fifth Wheel)

“My seven stages of opening a restaurant for the first time:

Electric shock: Woke up early that sunny morning with no alarm clock with a surge through my body and the immediate thought, ‘I am opening a restaurant today! You’ve been working on this day and night, sleeping two hours at a time on top of the bar. It’s actually real now. Go go go!’

A burning sensation in the back of the head and neck: Is there enough time to get everything done? … What did I forget? Will anyone come? Will too many people come? Why am I doing this on a Friday? Why didn’t I do a soft opening?

Accelerated breathing and hypersensitivity to sound and touch: Almost there; we’re looking pretty good; it’s all about to happen; this is going to be amazing!

Calmness and solidarity of purpose: Ready. Everything looks right; everything feels right; everyone is in position.

Panic and self doubt: Why wasn’t there a line at the door? Is anyone going to come? Was this a terrible idea in the first place? I can’t afford for this not to work.

Total absorption in work and an extremely narrowed focus: Wow, it’s really busy. Everyone seems happy. We are almost keeping up; we need to go faster; we need to go much faster. Touch more tables … make them happy no matter what.

Complete relief and a feeling of having learned and grown more in hours than in the past several years: It worked. We built it, and they came. We are going to do an even better job tomorrow.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

Readers’ Choice 2016: Favorite Bartender – Tim Wiggins

Friday, July 1st, 2016

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{From left, Tim Wiggins, Ben Bauer, Seth Wahlman and Ted Kilgore at Retreat Gastropub}

Your favorite bartenders of 2016 tell us: What’s the worst confession they’ve heard while tending bar?

Winner: Tim Wiggins, Retreat Gastropub
“I was talking to a boss of a company at the bar. I’m trying to remember the exact quote. It was basically, ‘I’m excited for our new hires because I’ve already slept with everyone in the office.’”

2nd: Ted Kilgore, Planter’s House
“All of the worst things people have confessed are unfit for print. I have worked at mostly classy places and have served Nebraska farmers, exotic dancers and movie stars. The one connection is people sometimes get really weird after a few drinks. … It’s like improv sometimes.”

3rd: Ben Bauer, The Libertine
“It’s mainly the things you see more than confessions. Most recently I had a couple sitting at the bar, and they seemed really happy when they came, but at some point during the meal they got super quiet. Then she just left, and he started slamming cocktails and talking to everyone about how she had just broken up with him.”

Honorable Mention: Seth Wahlman, Eclipse
“A robotics engineer once told me he felt bad about wiping out factory jobs and that his wife was a replacement for his first love. Other than that it’s mostly affairs.”

 

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

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

 

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

From neon tiki drinks to new ownership in Maplewood, here’s what went down last week in the St. Louis restaurant scene.

 

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1. Pie Oh My! founder and owner Jane Callahan is passing the rolling pin to employee Melennie Lorence in a sale set to be finalized on March 31.

2. Restaurateur Dave Bailey continues to expand his strip of Locust Street downtown, announcing multiple projects, including another event space, Slate, at 1015 Locust St., this summer.

 

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3. Boozy, juicy and the ultimate exercise in escapism, tiki cocktails are appearing (and staying) on menus across town. Giving winter a defiant one-finger salute, Ben Bauer launched the Tiki Attack menu at The Libertine.

4. You can hit up just about any restaurant in St. Louis and have a beer with your food, but there are certain restaurants that bring craft beer to life. Here are seven places that take pints to the next level.

 

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5. Butter-free, healthy-ish chocolate chip cookies mean we’ll eat twice as many as we should.

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Tiki time at The Libertine

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Boozy, juicy and the ultimate exercise in escapism, tiki cocktails are appearing (and staying) on menus across town. Giving winter a defiant one-finger salute, Ben Bauer at The Libertine launched the Tiki Attack menu in February.

Rum, mezcal and house-made infusions run through the menu in drinks ranging in flavor from sweet and juicy to dry and heady. With a dozen diverse choices, here are three tropical tipples to get you started.

 

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1. Angostura Phosphate: This slightly fizzy cocktail comes with a side that puts the pine in pineapple. A slice of the tropical fruit compressed with rosemary complements the spicy nose, sweet, juicy and lightly herbaceous drink that ends with a pleasantly dry, tropical finish.

 

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2. A Study of Madness in Blue: For this happy libation, Bauer swaps out gin for rum then adds house made blue curacao and fresh pineapple juice, then floats a dash of merlot on top, resulting in an herbaceous, sweet and tart sip that is pleasantly acidic yet not astringent.

3. Kerouac’s Idea of Moderation: Featuring soursop (a viscous, melon-strawberry flavored fruit juice), this juicy tiki starts with sweetness but finishes clean, with a depth of flavor courtesy of wormwood bitters.

 

 

Trendwatch: What’s on our plates and in our glasses right now – Part 2

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

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{South Side Poutine at Byrd & Barrel}

4. Don’t Call Them Cheese Fries When Americans slather french fries in cheese, meat and gravy, it’s called drunk food. When Canadians do it, it’s called poutine, which has taken St. Louis by storm. Byrd & Barrel covers house-made tater tots in smoked chicken, cheese curds and either smoked mushroom or fried chicken gravy in the South Side Poutine. Winslow’s Home likewise uses tots in its poutine with oxtail gravy. Retreat Gastropub keeps it veg-friendly with mushroom gravy and fried fingerling potatoes, while Small Batch swaps cheese curds for gooey fontina on its house-cut fries. The Libertine ups the ante with sweet peas and foie gras gravy, and the newly opened Copper Pig offers three versions: traditional with beef gravy, a duck confit or a saag paneer option. Urban Chestnut in The Grove has a poutine of the moment that previously featured white gravy with chicken and bacon. Or cash it all in for the foie gras poutine at Sidney Street Cafe featuring a crispy potato cake, french fry-encrusted foie and pickled apples.

5. The Spirit of Norway There are only two things to do during a long Norwegian winter – drink and, well, you can figure it out. Aquavit, a neutral distilled spirit flavored with herbs and botanicals, is the Norwegian sauce of choice. Lucky for us, the clear, full-bodied liquor isn’t just for Scandinavians. Chat up Matt Osmoe at Blood & Sand and sample the flavor variations ranging from dill to caraway to anise. Have it mixed by Randolfi’s Jeffrey Moll in the lemonade-like Madam I’m Adam. Emphasizing Aquavit’s food-friendly qualities, Planter’s House can whip up a bloody mary-esque Bloody Well Right.

6. Grape Crush Chefs around the country are taking grapes to the next level with vinegar, smoke, dehydration and high heat. New York’s Blue Hill restaurant pairs smoked grapes with Brussels sprouts and uses dehydrated grapes in a chicken dish. Blackbird in Chicago pairs pickled grapes with scallops. Get in on the trend closer to home with the newly opened Standard Brewing’s Coraline salad, where sweet-sour pickled grapes are tossed with radishes, goat cheese and spinach. Sound weird? Give them a try at Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar in a starter, or see how they do when roasted with mushrooms in both the seared scallops and the strip steak at Eclipse. At Randolfi’s, try the lamb hearts and sausage starter with roasted grapes.

Check out Part 1 of Trendwatch here

 

-photo by Michelle Volansky 

Trendwatch: What’s on our plate and in our glass right now – Part 1

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

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{Steak tartare at Randolfi’s}

 

1. Put An Egg On It: The Sequel Whites may be the healthy darling of the egg, but yolks are packed with flavor and are perfect for curing with salt and a bit of sugar. Catch them runny on top of steak tartare at Randolfi’s and Truffles, or dried and shaved over a plate of pasta carbonara at Wild Flower. Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine features them frequently on dishes like its avocado gazpacho with crispy pork jowl.

2. Slick Trick Bartenders around town are dropping and shaking oils into cocktails for huge flavor, body and intensity. At Central Table, the What is That, Velvet? daiquiri is shaken with extra-virgin olive oil for a soft, consistent texture. Terry Oliver amps up the orange flavor in Frazer’s Julius Benedict with orange culinary oil, and The Libertine’s Ben Bauer infused olive oil with coriander for his Good Like Goldblum.

3. Baller The great meatball debate rages on: What blend of beef, pork or lamb truly makes the best meatball? We say, throw ’em all out and expand your repertoire. Chef Rob Beasley at Chaumette Winery and Vineyard did just that, adding elk meatballs to his fall menu, served atop romesco sauce with polenta cakes and greens. The kitchen crew at Retreat Gastropub crowns a nest of spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs and yellow tomato jam. In September, Kitchen Kulture’s Michael Miller rolled up a chicken-fennel version along with a veg-friendly chickpea-pimento option at his Thursday Sump lunch. And this summer, Death in the Afternoon dedicated an entire dinner menu to meatballs, serving up three options: traditional spicy pork, a ground turkey and vegan version using quinoa.

-photo by Greg Rannells

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