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Jul 22, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Vista Ramen’

Trendwatch: What’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

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1. Proof in the Pudding
We’ve come a long way since Snack Packs – like the butterscotch pot de crème at Olive & Oak, a rich caramel pudding capped with salted caramel and whipped cream. At Pint Size Bakery, occasionally available Yum Cups are filled with rotating pudding flavors. But we all know chocolate reigns supreme, like the blend of milk and dark chocolate pudding with a black cocoa brownie, Thai basil ice cream and fresh blackberries currently on the menu at Taste. Retreat Gastropub recently offered an orange- and lemon-scented chocolate pudding served with toasted marshmallows and almond biscotti, while ClevelandHeath serves its version with Chantilly whipped cream and chocolate-dipped puffed rice.

 

2. Activate
Charcoal has made the move from face masks to the table. Gaining popularity as a detox ingredient at California juice shops like Pressed Juicery and Juice Served Here in recent years, activated charcoal has been making an appearance in cocktails like the inky mezcal-based Moonwalk at New York’s Mission Chinese Food. Closer to home, the black-hearted ingredient showed up for brunch in a chocolate-charcoal waffle at Hiro Asian Kitchen. Try a taste of the darkness at Clementine’s Creamery, where the black cherry ice cream is made with activated charcoal.

 

3. Bring in the Funk
Savory caramels are currently lending a sweet, funky accent to all manner of cuisine in St. Louis. The Copper Pig and Juniper have both combined fish sauce and caramel to great effect – the former on chicken wings and the latter on chicken and waffles. At Vista Ramen, crab caramel brings subtle sweetness and an unctuous umami pop to a tender pork rib dish. A little funk works just as well in cocktails, like The Sound of One Hand Clapping recently at Planter’s House, which combined tequila and mezcal with a miso-caramel syrup. On a more vegetal note, a beet caramel adds earthy sweetness to roasted beets, charred carrots and whipped herbed goat cheese at Boundary, while Vicia recently offered hazelnut financiers with an onion caramel sauce.

 

4. Get Crackin’
Pistachios have been lending their mild, nutty flavor to a variety of cocktail menus around town. The Lights Down, Music Up at ClevelandHeath uses Dumante Verdenoce, an Italian pistachio liqueur, to complement apricot and lemon in the rum-based drink. At The Preston, The Lady of Kildare, a unique tiki cocktail with Irish whiskey instead of the usual rum, includes a house-made pistachio syrup that plays well with tropical flavors like coconut and pineapple. And the Garden of Forking Paths at Taste utilizes the nut itself – ground and rimming a Collins glass.

 

5. The Big Cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches have been subbing in for buns lately. Take The Big Lou special at The Corner Butcher in Fenton, where two of the sandwiches held two patties topped with nacho cheese. The Libertine appended GC to a classic BLT for a brunch special, and the ever-fluctuating menu at Shift: Test Kitchen recently experimented with The Sasquatch, pulled pork and cole slaw between two gooey sammies. Head to Festus for a Fatty Melt at Main & Mill Brewing Co., a classic patty melt with two grilled cheese sandwiches. And of course, Sugarfire Smoke House and Hi-Pointe Drive-In get in on the action with the Sweet Baby Cheesus special.

 

6. The Spice Route
Area bartenders are reaching into the spice cabinet for a taste of India on their cocktail menus. Retreat Gastropub mixes gin with coconut milk, turmeric and ginger in the curry leaf-topped Golden State, and combines rum, mango, vermouth and chai in its Cash Me Outside cocktail. Reeds American Table opts for yellow curry and coriander mixed with coconut milk in the Philosophical Zombie, while Planter’s House recently featured a chai five-spice syrup with bourbon, tequila and amaro in the Exit Stage Left. Polite Society’s arsenal of house-made tinctures and infusions includes a blood orange and cardamom gastrique featured in the Sanguine cocktail, made with vodka and coconut water. Frazer’s makes use of Desipop, a masala-cumin soda, in its rum-based Kama Sutra. Over at Eclipse, they’re shaking cardamom bitters into the Effervescent Love Machine, while just down the street, the team at Randolfi’s also added cardamom bitters to Advice from a Fortune Cookie and curry bitters to A Rule of Plumb.

 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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Edible Weekend: 3 more events to devour this weekend

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Whether you love pizza for a cause, a taste of Maplewood or nip of gin, there are plenty of ways to fill up this weekend. Here are three more events for those who’re still peckish:

 

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1. IndiHop
Try 50 local beers from breweries like Rockwell Beer Co. and Schlafly at IndiHop’s annual tasting between two iconic neighborhoods. Shuttles transport between The Grove and Cherokee Street neighborhoods. Tickets available online.
$30. Sat., May 20 – 1 to 7 p.m., IndiHop, The Grove and Cherokee Street, 314.262.4082, indihopstl.com

2. Vista Ramen’s Anniversary Party
Celebrate Vista Ramen’s first anniversary with a special a la carte menu including cheeseburgers, mushroom sloppy Joes and Thai sausages. Drinks include beer, boozy punch and nonalcoholic beverages. Food is first come, first served.
Free admission. Sun., May 21 – 4 to 8 p.m., Vista Ramen, 2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.797.8250, vistaramen.com

3. Spring Explosion Pop-up
Bulrush STL chef-owner Rob Connoley prepares a seven-course foraged dinner featuring ingredients gathered from the woods and creeks surrounding St. Louis. All dishes are gluten free and vegetarian options are available upon request. Wine pairings are available for an addition charge. Tickets available online.
$75. Sun., May 21 – 6:30 to 9 p.m., Guerrilla Street Food, 3559 Arsenal St., St. Louis, 575.956.3319, bulrushstl.com

 

Don’t miss out. Sign up for the Edible Weekend newsletter to get the best food events of the weekend delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

IndiHop photo courtesy of RJ Hartbeck

Rachel Wilson is an editorial intern at Sauce Magazine. 

Extra Sauce: Three new brunches to try this month

Friday, March 10th, 2017

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{ Okonomiyaki from Vista Ramen }

This town loves a good brunch, and three restaurants have recently debuted new, diverse offerings for our weekend noshing.

“Brunch was never really part of the original plan,” said Monas owner Brendan Marsden. But after hearing that customers wanted more brunch options on The Hill, Marsden decided to oblige on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mona’s brunch menu includes breakfast pizza with potato, bacon, salsa verde and sunny side up eggs, and a skillet hash with fingerling potatoes, baby carrots, peppers, onions, kale and two eggs, topped with a white cheddar sauce.

From Nutella risotto balls to cured salmon eggs benedict, Sardella is covering all the sweet and savory bases on its new brunch menu, offered Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “It’s not a 20-page brunch list,” said chef-owner Gerard Craft. “It’s maybe food you’ve seen before, but from our perspective.” Try Craft’s current favorite – the umami bomb Parmesan French toast, served with mascarpone and maple syrup.

Beginning March 19, Vista Ramen will also be in on the brunch game on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “I felt like there was a gap we could fill,” said chef-co-owner Chris Bork. “We offer a little something different.” Look for Asian-inspired dishes like grits with smoked shrimp XO sauce, shiro dashi, poached eggs, bacon and furikake, and a Reuben-inspired okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) piled with corned beef, white kimchi, house-made pickles, dollops of thousand island dressing and a sunny side up egg.

Mona’s, 5257 Shaw Ave., St. Louis, 314.772.8272, monasjoint.com; Sardella, 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.773.7755, sardellastl.com; Vista Ramen, 2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.797.8250, vistaramen

- photo by Michelle Volansky

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

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 2016:

 

5. Hakka Stir Fry at Tai Ke
In a single mouthful, this Taiwanese dish, consisting of matchstick slivers of pork, squid and dried tofu tossed with celery and garlic, managed to defy simplicity with a brilliant concatenation of complex flavors and textures.

 

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4. Brodetto at Parigi
This tomato-based fish stew was a picture-perfect bowl of snow-white fish, clams, mussels and head-on shrimp in a broth redolent with red wine vinegar and lemon zest. I did not come up for air until each shell was picked clean and every drop of intoxicating broth was sopped up with yeasty, crusty bread.

3. Potpie at Olive & Oak
Puncturing the buttery, flakey robe of crust revealed a treasure of mushrooms, kale, butternut squash and cauliflower through puffs of fragrant steam. The earthy roasted leek gravy proved that not every potpie requires chicken or beef.

 

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2. Vegetable Ramen at Vista Ramen
My veggie ramen at Vista was chock-full of cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms and carrots, though yours may vary. What won’t change is the broth’s deep, funky umami, so rich it seems like a liqueur.

 

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And the No. 1 Dish of the Year…
Catfish Po’ Boy Steamed Bun at Kounter Kulture
A dark-hued, crackling fried coating framed the natural succulence and fresh taste of catfish, all topped with an unforgettable sprinkle of spicy togarashi and douse of creamy shishito pepper-cherry tomato remoulade.

Parigi and Vista Ramen photos by Jonathan Gayman

Related Content
10 Best New Restaurants of 2016

New & Notable: Kounter Kulture

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2015

 

 

Best New Restaurants: No. 2 – Vista Ramen

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here, the places that dazzled us from the moment they opened: St. Louis’ 10 Best New Restaurants of 2016.

 

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{ from left, general manager Aaron Stovall, chef Chris Bork and sous chef Zach Siecinski }

 

A glimpse through the large windows at Vista Ramen reveals a slim restaurant filled with smartly dressed young people sipping sake and slurping ramen, bathed in the green glow of that iconic neon sign. This is where the cool kids eat.

The centerpiece is the open kitchen where co-owner and chef Chris Bork transmutes Vista’s chic style from the space to the plates. Bork interprets classic Asian dishes or finds inspiration entirely elsewhere, letting ingredients take the lead. While it’s easy to love something like sticky pork ribs glazed with crab caramel, it’s the attention paid to humble vegetables that sets Vista apart.

Bork is a standard bearer for seasonality, allowing vegetables to express themselves fully on the plate. Take, for example, his raw vegetable salad: Julienned Japanese turnips, carrots, radishes and kohlrabi are tossed with maple vinaigrette, lychee and house-made Chinese bacon and topped with popped sorghum.

Despite the complex, dynamic flavors, Bork’s methods don’t require expensive equipment or extravagant technique. “The treatment is very simple: Don’t fucking cook them to mush,” he said. “Being able to cook a specific vegetable to its right al dente is something that takes time and a lot of finesse. Blanching vegetables properly is an art that I wish more cooks took seriously.”

Vista’s veggie ramen best exemplifies this perfected technique. Vegetables of the moment (turnips, shiitakes, kohlrabi and so on) are individually blanched, then roasted on the flattop to order. Each vegetable retains its identity while swimming with tender alkaline noodles in a rich broth that coats every piece in meat-free umami glory.

After the last summer tomato disappears, it’s easy to give into seasonal despair in an endless parade of roasted root vegetables. Not at Vista. House-made agnolotti are filled with rich miso-pumpkin puree. Butternut squash finds its way into dessert as a delicate panna cotta sprinkled with buttery granola and topped with spheres of poached pear. For this kind of invention, we’ll gladly weather bitter temps and crowds of hipsters to indulge at Vista Ramen.

 

More about Vista Ramen

New and Notable: Vista Ramen

• Hit List: 4 new restaurants you must try this July

• Sneak Peek: Vista Ramen on Cherokee

• The Scoop: Chris Bork, Mud House owners to open Vista Ramen on Cherokee

 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Editor’s note: In the print issue, we misspelled Vista Ramen’s name. We have updated this post and the online issue to correct the error. 

Budget Crunch: 8 delicious deals to devour this month

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Got $10 and a friend? Then contributor Holly Fann has eight delicious deals you need to devour this month. 

 

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{From left, Nudo House’s pork tonkotsu and chicken schmaltz ramen}

 

1. Construction is still ongoing at Nudo House, the hotly anticipated ramen restaurant from Mai Lee’s Qui Tran and Marie-Anne Velasco, but the duo hopes to reward eager patrons’ patience with a taste on Sept. 26. Tran and Velasco host their next ramen pop-up at Mai Lee in Brentwood, offering two options for $10 each: a pork tonkotsu or a chicken schmaltz version. This cash-only event takes place from noon to 9 p.m., so grab your friends and slurp to your heart’s content.

2. Whether you have little ones at home or are up for some old-fashioned hooky, skip the school bus and head to Eckert’s Millstadt Farm. Normally $12.50 on the weekends, the cost of admission drops to $6 on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Take in the pig races, a petting farm, an underground slide and a pumpkin cannon, then stroll through the orchards to pick your own apples. Tickets available onsite.

 

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{Urban Harvest STL Food Room Farm}

 

3. If your garden has gone crazy during the last weeks of summer or you couldn’t pass up the flat of ripe peaches at the farmers market, Urban Harvest STL is ready to help during its Preserving the Harvest class at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 17. Learn how best to prepare and keep the season’s bounty at the nonprofit’s Food Roof Farm. The class costs $10; sign up online.

4. While most come to slurp noodle soups at Vista Ramen, don’t neglect the cocktail list. The $9 Cafe Pseudo the perfect sip to say hello to autumn. With flavors that nod toward sweet, roasty Vietnamese coffee, the Pseudo is a combination of Fernet, cold-brew coffee, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk and Thai basil.

 

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{Martinis at The Fountain on Locust}

 

5. It’s a madhouse at The Fountain on Locust with weeknight specials. On Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m., purchase one ice cream martini and receive a second for $1. Wednesdays bring the $2 plus Meal Madness special from 4 to 6 p.m.; purchase one meal and the next one is $2 plus the change that corresponds to the date (so on Sept. 21, your second meal price will be $2.21). Thursdays see specials on Fountain’s Classic Retro Cocktail menu from 6 to 9 p.m.; get one and the second is half price.

6. The Muddled Pig Gastropub in Maplewood now offers a custom 32-ounce growler for $10. To introduce its shiny new bottles, customers who buy a growler in September get their first fill free from any of the 16 beers on tap, including Ferguson Brewing’s Pecan Brown Ale or Modern Brewery’s Pig Island.

 
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{The Royale patio}

 

7. There’s one thing both sides of the ballot can agree on: The upcoming presidential debates will surely be entertaining. The Royale hosts a watch party on its outdoor patio Sept. 26 with a $5 Uncle Salvatore Nicholia Forte drink special: a shot of Old Charter bourbon and a 12-ounce Miller High Life. Royale proprietor Steven Fitzpatrick Smith’s Uncle Salvatore was known to hate politics, and Smith said this particular special is the best way to cope with the madness of election season.

8. Enjoy cooling autumn weather and the sweet boing of a rubber ball off your foot during a pick-up game at Kickball in The Park starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 in Sublette Park. The first 100 attendees will receive a free hot salami sandwich from the Gioia’s Deli food truck.

 

 

 

 

 

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: What’s trending now in the STL dining scene (Part 2)

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Miss Part 1? Click here to see even more of what’s trending now in STL.

 

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5. Puttin’ on the Spritz
Located at the intersection of low ABV, amaro and great-sounding names is the spritz cocktail. Traditionally made with bitter liqueur, wine and soda, this versatile Italian aperitif is bubbling up everywhere. Olio has seven varieties, a Spritz Hour and the summer motto: “Yes We Spritz.” Vista Ramen also has a whole spritz section on its drink menu. Order a clementine spritz at Eclipse or ask to create your own at Randolfi’s, with one of the largest amari selections in town.

6. ¡Poz-olé!
Traditional pozole has long held a place on weekend special boards at Mexican restaurants like Lily’s, Taqueria El Bronco and Taqueria Durango. Cleveland-Heath has had pozole on its menu for years, and Kitchen Kulture kept us warm this winter with a pozole verde. Chef Chris Bork at Vista Ramen crossed Japanese and Mexican cultures with a pozole-style ramen full of pulled chicken, hominy and springy ramen noodles. Sidney Street Cafe switched the protein, setting octopus confit swimming in a pozole broth with some chile oil. Meanwhile, Juniper chef-owner John Perkins added a taste of the South with his loose interpretation featuring a country ham consommé with charred tomatoes, black radish, zephyr squash and country ham at a recent pop-up at The Bhive in the Central West End.

7. Krispies Treats
Shelve that crisp rice cereal and taste a different take on the childhood classic. Treat House in New York City has put creative spins on the stuff since 2013, and STL is coming around. Chef-owner Kevin Nashan was an early adopter, classing up the snack by incorporating the fat from cooked foie gras and garnishing with slices of the delicacy at Sidney Street Cafe. Shift, Test Kitchen & Takeout offers a rotating selection of nontraditional squares, including flavors like caramel and Sriracha. Newly opened Start Bar ditches crispies altogether, swapping Cheetos for cereal in its treats, and will rotate other versions like Oreo, granola and Cap’n Crunch.

 

 

Trendwatch: What’s trending now in the STL dining scene (Part 1)

Friday, August 5th, 2016

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1. A Better Swiss Cheese
You may not recognize the name, but you’ve probably seen raclette (a funky, nutty Swiss-French cow’s milk cheese that melts like a dream) on a BuzzFeed list or foodie Instagram account. You don’t have to go to Raclette NYC (Yes, a whole restaurant is named for the cheese.) to get it. Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. has topped winter veggies with the stuff on seasonal menus since it opened in The Grove. Larder & Cupboard has held fondue and raclette classes, and chef-owner Jim Fiala currently melts this gooey goodness over beef tenderloin at The Crossing. Chef-owner Bill Cawthon purchases whole wheels of the stuff and broils until molten, then scrapes it to order over a basket of fries at Frankly Sausages food truck.

2. Fit to Be Fried
It’s never too early for Chinese food – or completely bastardized, completely delicious American-Asian fusion. Places like The Rice House start mornings off with breakfast fried rice (fried rice with the addition of eggs and a breakfast meat). Half & Half offers a spicy version with scrambled eggs, sausage, jalapeno and grilled onion, while Cleveland-Heath goes with green onion, bacon, peas and sesame seeds topped with eggs any style.

 

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3. Get Lit
Neon isn’t just for dive bars anymore. The beer sign classic has a fancy new job as a fun design element lighting up a number of restaurants around town. It’s the red pulsing heart behind the bar at Olive & Oak. See neon inside Friendship Brewing Co. telling guests where to eat with bright pink letters. Vista Ramen took its name from the massive vintage sign that now glows green in its small Cherokee space.

4. Spotlight on Sambal
First there was Sriracha, then pungent gochujang. Now sambal is heating up plates around town. Planter’s House uses the spicy Southeast Asian chile paste to add heat to pickled eggs, as well as the cornbread crumbs scattered atop its summer salad. Seafood got sauced with the condiment at Hiro Asian Kitchen, where it graced the grilled whole squid, and at Guerrilla Street Food, where it livened up a recent pan-roasted salmon special. The Crossing drops the temp a few degrees, mixing sambal into a cooling aioli for its Maryland blue crabcake sandwich, and a house-made version snuck in with strawberries atop ricotta and fresh snap peas at a recent Sardella pop-up.

 

Ready for more? Click here for Part 2 of Trendwatch.  

Hit List: 4 new restaurants you must try this July

Friday, July 1st, 2016

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1. Vista Ramen: 2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.797.8250, vistaramen.com

Style meets good tastes at Cherokee Street’s ultra-cool Vista Ramen. The relaxed, stylish interior sets the stage for approachable Asian-inspired food with a hint of fine-dining finesse. The menu of mostly small plates and ramen bowls comes courtesy of chef Chris Bork (formerly of Blood & Sand). Dishes rotate frequently; an artfully plated, unexpected starter featuring bites of beet and black sesame chiffon cake drizzled with charred lemon sauce and popcorn has already disappeared from the menu. However other dishes, like the small plate of Korean fried chicken sliders, are still available. Crisp chicken is tossed in a spicy gochujang-based sauce and topped with fish sauce pickles sandwiched between a sweet house-made Hawaiian roll. Among the ramen, we slurped up the veggie version with firm noodles swimming in a delicate broth alongside seasonal vegetables and the perfect egg with a yolk as thick as cold custard. Likewise, the well-rounded pozole hit all the right notes: spicy, savory, silky broth soaked pulled chicken with a fresh green hit of cilantro on top.

 

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2. Scarlett’s Wine Bar: 4253 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.797.8223, Facebook: Scarlett’s Wine Bar

Fans of Sasha’s on Shaw should flock to sister restaurant, Scarlett’s Wine Bar. The Central West End counterpart is busy and cheerful, stylishly designed with a tinned ceiling and marble-topped bar. Glance over the iPad menu boasting dozens of wines, or take our sage advice and request a glass of Benton-Lane pinot noir, an easy red with dark berry notes. Enjoy a light meal with the fresh crab salad. Tender greens, lump crab, grilled asparagus and avocado are dressed in light white balsamic vinaigrette for an indulgent meal that won’t weigh you down. Though, you should probably round out your order with the sausage and pepper pizza. This memorable pie boasts wood-fired crust that bread aficionados will love, baked in an oven Italians would kill for.

 

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3. Scapegoat Tavern & Courtyard: 52 Maryland Plaza, St. Louis, scapegoatstl.com

Scape’s sister space has switched to the night shift. The former home of Crepes, Etc. is now Scapegoat Tavern & Courtyard. The newly renovated space features a long L-shaped bar lined with sleek white subway tile and bottle after boozy bottle. Grab a seat inside (or on the secluded back patio it shares with Scape) and start with a classic cocktail like a summery mojito. For a snack as you sip, turn your attention to small plates like the G.O.A.T. Sliders: macadamia nut-crusted fried chicken topped with pepper jack cheese and a honey-mustardy sauce on a Hawaiian bun. You can also split a crisp flatbread slathered in arugula pesto, tart balsamic glaze, roasted peach slivers and melted burrata. Hungier patrons can opt for the entree-sized house-smoked pastrami melt stuffed with kraut, gooey Gruyere and Russian dressing. Scape’s little sister is all grown up.

 

4. Club Taco: 200 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.858.1488, Facebook: Club Taco

Kirkwood has recently been granted a membership to Club Taco. Start with a West County Housewife, which weaves adobo-grilled beef tenderloin with portobello mushrooms, candied bacon and Gorgonzola on a house-made corn tortilla. The vegetarian Fun-Guy features those same portobellos and stout-braised black beans covered with roasted green chiles and topped with a slice of fried avocado. Break all the rules with the Deep South: fried chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes with corn relish and a spicy pepper sauce. Snag a side of Club Tots, too: crisp tater tots smothered in white cheddar, green chiles, chipotle crema and a sunny-side up egg.

 

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