rustic torchio pasta at the last kitchen photo by samuel reed

2019 Best New Restaurants // No. 9 The Last Kitchen

Hotel restaurants often offer serviceable, predictable food at inflated prices to captive hotel guests. Not so at The Last Kitchen. Executive chef Evy Swoboda’s flawless fare attracts local diners and out-of-towners alike to the midcentury modern dream of The Last Hotel.

Swoboda has developed menus for the restaurant (which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner), event catering, the lobby bar and the rooftop bar. Her energy was evident when she was named a 2018 One to Watch while working at Pastaria in Clayton. But knowing her current schedule, her persistent commitment to in-house butchering, pickling and pasta-making seems a tad insane. It’s that extra effort that sets her cuisine apart.

executive chef the last kitchen // photo by samuel reed

Pops of pickled mustard seed dot a feather-light goat cheese tart topped with roasted beets. A St. Louis staple gets a New Orleans twist in house-made toasted ravioli stuffed with wild boar boudin. Summer veg is enjoyed year-round when pickled, tempura battered and fried. Even the house pub chips get a little something extra, coated in a spicy dust made from dehydrated, leftover hot sauce mash.

Deceptively simple dish names belie their complex, stellar flavor profiles. An innocuous steak sandwich features the perfect balance of shredded flank steak, piquant house giardiniera and creamy Havarti. Days later, you’ll still be talking about “that steak sandwich.” 

steak sandwich at the last kitchen // photo by samuel reed

Grown Up Garlic Noodles and the Rustic Torchio pasta in pesto showcase Swoboda’s way with noodles, and the kitchen is just as skilled with proteins, including a perfectly seared duck breast and burnished half chicken with crisp skin and succulent meat. 

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine.