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May 25, 2015
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Posts Tagged ‘The Loop’

Sneak Peek: Público

Thursday, February 26th, 2015



Nearly one year ago, restaurateur Mike Randolph announced his plans to open South American gastropub Público at 6679 Delmar Blvd., just doors from his Neopolitan pizzeria The Good Pie in The Loop. The wait for the wood-fired cantina is nearly over; Público opens doors for dinner March 3.

The menu is divided into crudo (raw), botanas (snacks), tacos, arepas (corn pancakes), parrilla (grill items) and desserts. In the raw section, look for appetizers like oysters and tiradito, a Peruvian dish of raw fish similar to sashimi served with a spicy aji pepper sauce. Botanas range from El Tri, a trio of house-made dips and salsas served with corn flatbread, to jalapeno soup with smoked trout. Diners can expect tacos with fillings such as seared shrimp, smoked chorizo, carnitas and carne asada on stone-ground corn tortillas made in-house. A custom-built open-wood hearth that also has smoking capabilities will turn out everything from Argentinian-style steak to whole grilled snapper. Although menu items cap at $15, expect an elevated presentation reminiscent of Randolph’s former restaurants-within-a-restaurant, Little Country Gentleman and Medianoche.

On the beverage side, bar manager Nick Diogiovanni will put rum, tequila and mezcal center stage. A frozen drink machine will also churn out a rotation of boosy slushes like Fernet and Coke. The wine list will focus on South American and Spanish wines, along with cellar wines (that include an extensive riesling selection from Little Country Gentleman days).

SPACE Architects + Design renovated the former hair salon, which now offers seating for 60 guests at a bar, a wall of booths, a 10-seat community table and a few stools along the counter next to the open kitchen.

Here’s what to expect when Público unlocks doors March 3:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Cheese-ology in The Loop to close March 7

Monday, February 16th, 2015



Cheese-ology, the mac-n-cheese mecca in The Loop, is closing doors for good next month, as reported by St. Louis Magazine. Owner Bill Courtney said due to rising costs, the fast-casual eatery’s last day of service will be March 7.

“We had a wonderful five years,” Courtney said. “Business is strong, but following the drought of two summers ago that hit the dairy producing regions … the dairy prices have slowly increased.” Courtney noted that prices for recipe essentials like whole milk, butter and cheese have nearly doubled since Cheese-ology opened doors at 6602 Delmar Blvd., in 2010. “I just paid the highest price I’ve ever paid for blue cheese today,” he said.

After factoring in increases in labor and rent, Courtney said he opted to close rather than lower the quality of his ingredients or raise his prices. “It is the right business decision. It’s really great to say this restaurant has been a success,” he said. “On paper, we’re great. Our food is wonderful. We’re not being forced out of business … We’re at a good stopping point.”

Courtney, a chemist by trade, said he plans to shelve his cast-iron skillet and return to the lab. But don’t count him out of the restaurant industry for good. “I’ll never say never,” he said.

-photo by Jonathan S. Pollack

Sneak Peek: Seoul Taco and Seoul Q

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

“This city has never seen anything like this.” Seoul Taco co-owner David Choi was talking about the barbecue grills fitting inside tables at his upcoming Korean barbecue and hotpot restaurant, Seoul Q, but the statement holds true for everything Choi has done at 6665 Delmar Blvd., in University City. The space is the new home for Choi’s relocated Seoul Taco, and its sister restaurant, Seoul Q. While they share a space, Seoul Taco will open later this week, and Seoul Q is slated to open at the end of December.

Upon entering, diners encounter a host stand in front of a partition made from colorfully painted boomboxes. Step right for Korean-Mexican fusion; step left for Korean barbecue and hotpots. The decor is as much a cultural mashup as Seoul Taco’s fusion fare is. A sculpture made from a 1942 Ford Metro van is mounted on the wall next to murals of Korean martial arts fighters wearing Mexican luchador masks.

Seoul Taco is still counter service, but there’s plenty more elbowroom at 76-seat space compared to its former 18-person confines down the street at 571 Mehlville Ave. The menu at Seoul Taco remains the same, but patrons can expect daily specials like Korean barbecue tortas and nachos. And now that it has a liquor license, patrons can wash down their tacos and burritos with 4 Hands brews on tap.

On the other side of the boomboxes, full-service Seoul Q is just as boisterous, but with a more industrial feel. Eight cylindrical exhaust hoods extend over those DIY barbecue grills in the center of poured concrete tables, and a dark wood scape runs the length of one wall, a signature touch of Smartmouth Designs, the Chicago-based interior design company that worked on the space.

The Seoul Q menu is divided into appetizers, soups and hotpots and barbecue. Patrons ordering the latter choose between various cuts of beef and pork to grill at the table. The meat comes with rice, six sides, vegetables and a choice of soup. A barbecue order generally serves two to three people. Meanwhile, meat and seafood hotpots are kept warm at induction stovetops set into some tables. Beverages include bottled craft beer and cocktails featuring soju, a Korean spirit.

Here’s a look at what to expect at Seoul Taco and Seoul Q when both restaurants open:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky


The Scoop: Breakfast is focus at soon-to-open Cabana on The Loop

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014


{From left, Cabana in The Loop owners Latoshia “Hope” Morrow, Wendell Bryant and head chef and general manager Nicole Griffin}


Cabana on The Loop is about to unlock doors as soon as this Saturday, Oct. 4, at 6100 Delmar Blvd., in The Loop. Situated at the corner of Rosedale Avenue in the space most recently occupied by Horseshoe House, Cabana on The Loop will offer American cuisine rooted in Southern cookery. The eatery will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily – the latter by reservation only – but the focus will be on morning fare.

The restaurant is a project by husband-and-wife team Wendell Bryant and Latoshia “Hope” Morrow. “We always wanted a family restaurant,” Bryant said. Cabana on The Loop will indeed be a family affair; Bryant’s cousin Nicole Griffin will take on the dual role of directing kitchen operations and managing the restaurant. A graduate of L’Ecole Culinaire, Griffin helped open Southern-inspired SoHo in The Grove in 2012. After a culinary stint in Phoenix, she returned to St. Louis to manage the downtown location of Rib Shack and run her own private catering company.



{The cereal bar at Cabana in The Loop will feature 20 cereals displayed in dispensers around the bar.}


At Cabana in The Loop, Griffin will return to a down-home cooking style similar to that from her yearlong tenure at SoHo, including shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy and chicken and waffles. Look also for a number of omelets, such as the Soul Food Omelet that features collard greens and smothered turkey. Morning mainstays like pancakes are on the menu, as is build-your-own French toast. If diving into a bowl of cereal is your wake-me-up meal, Cabana in The Loop will open your eyes with its cereal bar, featuring 20 varieties behind the bar. Customers can add toppings such as chocolate chips, M&Ms or pecans. “It’s something different that The Loop doesn’t have,” Griffin said.



 {Cabana in The Loop’s shrimp and grits are plated with crisp turkey bacon.}

Lunch items include a few salads with house-made dressings, appetizers like honey-glazed onions, and a variety of chicken wings, sandwiches, burgers and wraps. When dinner service is added, that menu will change weekly. Cabana in The Loop will not serve alcohol. The new eatery’s initial hours of operation will 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Its tropical name comes not from the cuisine, Bryant said, but from a longing for an unfulfilled island getaway. “We wanted to take a vacation for so long, but we can’t do it,” he said, adding that besides opening a restaurant, the couple is expecting their third child in November.


-photos by Michelle Volanksy






The Scoop: Racanelli’s New York Pizzeria to open fifth location in The Loop

Thursday, September 25th, 2014


{Racanelli’s owner John Racanelli}


A slice of the Big Apple is coming to the Delmar Loop thanks to John Racanelli, owner of Racanelli’s New York Pizzeria, who will open his fifth storefront at 6314 Delmar Blvd., in November.

Racanelli learned the art of pizza-making growing up in an Italian neighborhood in the Bronx. “I learned to make pizza the old-fashioned way,” he said. “We make everything from scratch using the best products.” His brothers, Vito and Sam Racanelli, were also inspired by their food-oriented Italian upbringing, opening Onesto Pizza & Trattoria in South City and later Mad Tomato in Clayton, which is still owned and operated by Vito Racanelli.

The first Racanelli’s Pizzeria storefront was opened two decades ago in University City, which was later transformed into Market Pub House in 2010 and is still owned by John Racanelli.

The menu will remain consistent with the offerings found at the Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Central West End and St. Peters locations. While slices of hand-tossed, New York-style pizzas are the house specialty (Racanelli’s personal favorite: sausage, mushroom and jalapeno with extra cheese, cooked well-done), other crowd-pleasers include parmigiana heroes topped with a generous ladle of fresh tomato sauce, sandwiches on house-baked focaccia and house-made calzones and strombolis.

Construction crews began work on the new storefront in mid-September in the space that formerly housed the vintage designer clothing shop, Timeless Authentic Garments. Racanelli expects two dozen seats inside and an additional 10 to 15 seats outside. The new location will also offer dine-in, carryout and delivery.


The Scoop: Local sushi star Naomi Hamamura joins the culinary team at United Provisions

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014


With the opening of United Provisions just weeks away, there’s news that another talented face from the local culinary scene is joining the team at the highly anticipated international grocery store at 6241 Delmar Blvd., in University City.

Naomi “Hama” Hamamura, previously executive chef at the Wasabi location downtown, has been hired as the chef at The Dining District, the prepared foods and dining section inside the grocery store. United Provisions partner Ben Poremba said he hired Hamamura two weeks ago. “He’s the best,” said Poremba, who also owns Elaia and Olio and co-owns La Patisserie Chouquette. “I called him up. He liked the idea of a new place … something a little different from what he’s done so far.”

While Hamamura will be in a new location, he’ll still be the focus of attention as he prepares sushi, ceviche and other raw far at the 16-seat raw bar at United Provisions. The Dining District’s other stations include a grill, a plancha and a deli with cured meats and cheese, according to St. Louis Magazine. Executive chef Jay Stringer will overseeing the entire dining and prepared foods operation. A veteran of the Chicago dining scene, Stringer has worked in the kitchen at Olio since it opened almost two years ago.

Lunch hours at The Dining District will be counter service with dine-in or carryout options, while dinner will be full service at this restaurant within a grocery store. There will also be a coffee shop serving up drip Northwest Coffee and pastries from La Patisserie Chouquette. Poremba said United Provisions is expected to open Aug. 11.

While Hamamura’s career began in Japan, the chef has made a mark on the local food scene since arriving to the U.S. in 1979, including working at now-closed Japanese steakhouse Robata of Japan and Ritz Carlton – St. Louis, and owning and operating the now defunct Sansui and Sansui West. In 2010, when Hamamura sold Sansui West to Wasabi, he stayed on as its corporate chef. After a stint at Prasino, Hamamura returned to Wasabi, where he worked until July 14.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Editor’s Note: This piece originally misstated Naomi Hamamura’s responsibilities at The Dining District. It has been corrected.

The Scoop: Sandwich shops open doors in The Loop, Midtown

Monday, June 2nd, 2014


{Sandwiches and Zapp’s chips from Snarf’s}

Hungry for crusty bread filled with whatever meat, cheese or veggie you crave? Get your fix at one of two sandwich shops, Snarf’s and Which Wich, which have both recently expanded in St. Louis.

Snarf’s opened its third location today, June 2, at 374A S. Grand Blvd., near Saint Louis University. The family-owned business offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although known for its made-to-order, oven-toasted sandwiches, the menu also includes breakfast sandwiches for the morning crowd, fresh salads, soups and desserts. Beer and wine are among the beverage offerings. The newest location is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to midnight and weekends from 8 a.m. to midnight.

Snarf’s entered the St. Louis market four years ago with a shop in The Loop. A location downtown in the MX Building followed in 2012. With origins in Boulder, Colorado, Snarf’s has grown to a total of 18 restaurants located throughout that state, as well as in Chicago and St. Louis. A shop is also slated to open this summer in Austin, Texas.



{Sandwich bags to order at Which Wich}

A new local unit for national sandwich chain Which Wich open less than two weeks ago in The Loop at 6662 Delmar Blvd., in the space formerly occupied by Cold Stone Creamery. This unit is operated by franchisee Satish Kumar, who also owns House of India in University City.

Which Wich offers more than 50 varieties of customizable sandwiches and is known for its ordering system. Patrons fill out their orders on a sandwich bag with the menu printed on it. Customers choose from one of 10 sandwich categories (such as turkey, Italian or seafood), then select the type of bread, sandwich length, cheese, spreads and vegetables. The sandwiches are made-to-order and handed to customers in the marked-up bag. This makes the third St. Louis-area Which Wich unit; the other two are located in Des Peres and Chesterfield.



The Scoop: Candy and soda shop Rocket Fizz to open in The Loop

Monday, May 12th, 2014


Listen up, sugar fiends: Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop will open a new location at 6303 Delmar Blvd., in The Loop, the space formerly occupied by City Sprouts. A recorded phone message at the shop stated its owners hoped to open doors May 24. Calls to Rocket Fizz for comment were not immediately returned.

Rocket Fizz opened its first store in southern California and has since expanded to more than 40 franchise locations across the country. Best known for its line of unusually flavored name-brand sodas – bacon, pumpkin pie – the shop also stocks a wide range of rare or small-batch candies to keep your sweet tooth satisfied.

-photo by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Nico in The Loop to become Salt + Smoke BBQ

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014



The word of the day is certainly barbecue! In addition to Wild Flower’s plans for Majestic in the Central West End and Dave Bailey’s announcement about a new restaurant downtown, Tom Schmidt also announced that he is changing the concept and name of his restaurant Nico (pictured), located at 6525 Delmar Blvd., in The Loop. Instead of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, patrons will be able to fill up on, you guessed it, slow-smoked barbecue. The new concept will be called Salt + Smoke BBQ and, while Schmidt has targeted an early summer opening, he stated that the restaurant may open as early as the last week in May.

“This is a great time for this concept to come to The Loop,” said Schmidt regarding the switch from Mediterranean fare to barbecue. “We’ve been smoking and curing meat in-house for years,” he said about the culinary program at his other restaurant, Franco. “Chef is excited to expand that passion into the barbecue world,” he elaborated, adding that while the menu will be barbecue-focused, “sides won’t be an afterthought.”

John Dreja will take on the role of pitmaster for Salt + Smoke. Helming the kitchen will be Haley Riley, who assumed the executive chef position at Nico last week, replacing chef Grace Dinsmoor. Dinsmoor’s last day at Nico was March 31. While she has accepted a position with a different employer, when The Scoop spoke with her, she was not at liberty to disclose such information.

Nico remains open but will close for a brief period in late May or early June so that the interior can be remodeled and the kitchen outfitted to accommodate the new menu.

– photo by Jonathan Gayman

The Scoop: Three Kings Public House to open a second location in Des Peres

Monday, March 17th, 2014


{From left: Derek Deavers, Derek Flieg and Ryan Pinkston}


Since opening in 2011, Three Kings Public House has garnered a reputation as a fun neighborhood bar serving quality food and fine craft brews in The Loop. Now, co-owners Ryan Pinkston, Derek Deavers and Derek Flieg are looking to bring that same neighborhood bar feel to Des Peres.

Three Kings is opening a second location at 11925 Manchester Road, in the space formerly occupied by the now-defunct Mosaic, as reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe. June 1 is the target opening date. “That’s an aggressive timeline, but we feel we can get it done,” Pinkston said. “We feel that, right now, there is a good market out there for what we are doing.”

Three Kings fans can expect numerous similarities between the two locations. Pinkston said the Des Peres spot will have “the same look with the wood and the brick” as its sister restaurant in University City, where old photographs of The Loop pay homage to the history of the neighborhood. Although design is still to be determined at the Des Peres space, items from that neck of the woods could make an appearance. “Hopefully we can track down something,” Pinkson said. “We definitely want the people of Des Peres to feel this is their neighborhood bar.”

The majority of the food on the menu will be similar to the current Loop menu. The bar will have between 20 to 25 craft beers on tap, as well as a dozen or more bottled beers, primarily domestic brews. A cellar list is available at the Delmar watering hole, but Pinkston did not think that element would be carried over to the new location.

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

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