Best New Restaurants 2015: No. 5 - Reeds American Table
Editor's note: Reeds American Table has closed.
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.
Unfold the menu at Reeds American Table, and you see names before you see dishes. These are the people chef-owner Matthew Daughaday wants you to know before digging in – the ones who braise that succulent beef cheek, concoct house tinctures and know exactly how long the kitchen worked to perfect the lamb sugo.
Traditional restaurants operate under a relatively strict hierarchy: An executive chef directs a staff that operates in descending order from sous chef on down to line cook and dishwasher. The bar may have some interaction with the kitchen, but not much. Servers live at the front of the house, balancing trays and scribbling orders. It’s a time-honored method that’s produced top-notch results – but Daughaday is doing things a bit differently.
The former executive chef of Taste announced he was leaving the swanky CWE cocktail bar last December. Public anticipation built over the following months as Daughaday assembled a crack team to aid his first solo enterprise: sommelier Andrey Ivanov as beverage director, Summer Wright as executive pastry chef, Nicki Ball as general manager and Andrew Moore as office manager.
“We all try to be people who are very open about the learning process,” Daughaday said. “(We’re) creating a mentoring environment where you’re teaching people things and pushing them to be better, but not in an overbearing, demanding (manner).” The result is a delightfully collaborative and approachable menu, resulting in dishes like the decadent chicken potpie and silky panna cotta. Pastry chefs craft syrups and tonics for the bar team. Extensive beer and wine lists include charts, maps and graphs; the house coffee program details brewing methods.
Most important, Daughday said, is that everyone from the executive sous chef to the busser to the bartender feels a sense of ownership. “I always use the analogy of a baseball team,” he said. “Everybody has their positions and the expectation is that you play your position, but we all know that it supports the greater goal.”
-photo by Jonathan Gayman
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