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R E S T A U R A N T S beet tartare at sardella, this year's best new restaurant, p. 28
SARDELLA, VISTA R AMEN, OLIVE & OAK, KOUNTER KULTURE , NIXTA, PORANO PASTA, THE PRESTON, SHEESH RESTAURANT, EGG, MELO’S PIZZERIA ST. LOUIS’ INDEPENDENT CULINARY AUTHORITY
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D E C E M B E R 2 016 • VO LUM E 16, ISSU E 12 What’s your favorite new St. Louis restaurant?
PUBLISHER ART DIRECTOR MANAGING EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR, DIGITAL ASSOCIATE EDITOR EDIBLE WEEKEND EDITOR PROOFREADER PRODUCTION DESIGNER CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Vista Ramen, hands down
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Allyson Mace Meera Nagarajan Kounter Heather Hughes Kulture Catherine Klene Tiffany Leong Catherine Klene Emily Lowery Michelle Volansky Jonathan Gayman, Elizabeth Maxson, Cory Miller, Dave Moore, Greg Rannells, Carmen Troesser, Michelle Volansky Vidhya Nagarajan Glenn Bardgett, Andrew Barrett, Matt Berkley, Sara Graham, Katie Herrera, Heather Hughes, Kellie Hynes, Jamie Kilgore, Ted Kilgore, Catherine Klene, Tiffany Leong, Meera Nagarajan, Michael Renner, Dee Ryan Rebecca Koenig, Lauren Schumacker Allyson Mace Jill George, Angie Rosenberg Jill George I really like Amy Hyde Parigi. Amy Hyde Elizabeth Bruchhauser, Olivia Dansky, Isabella Espinoza, Brianna Velarde
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contents DECEMBER 2016 editors' picks
MAKE THIS Thai noodles with gai lan
by dee ryan
EAT THIS mangia bene at smokee mo’s
by catherine klene 11
I’LL HAVE WHAT THEY’RE HAVING compiled by sara graham
STUFF TO DO by olivia dansky and brianna velarde 46
WHAT I DO Doug Marshall of The Tamale Man
by heather hughes
NEW AND NOTABLE The Garden on Grand
by michael renner
LUNCH RUSH Yo Salsa!
by andrew barrett 19
by matt berkley
beet salad at the preston, p. 28
BEST NEW RESTAURANTS by heather hughes, catherine klene, tiffany leong and meera nagarajan
FANTASTIC BOWLS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM by meera nagarajan
dine & drink 21
A SEAT AT THE BAR Four experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake
PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER
by glenn bardgett, katie herrera and ted and jamie kilgore 23
ELIXIR Buzzed brews
by catherine klene 24
VEGETIZE IT Vegetable marsala
by kellie hynes
On this month’s Sound Bites, art director Meera Nagarajan and managing editors Heather Hughes and Catherine Klene discuss Sauce’s best new restaurants of 2016 and how these 10 eateries earned the title. Tune in to St. Louis Public Radio at 90.7 FM KWMU for more.
COVER DETAILS BEST NEW RESTAURANTS OF 2016 Beet tartare at Sardella, our best new restaurant of the year. Find out the other nine restaurants that topped our list on p. 28. PHOTO BY GREG RANNELLS
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The MANGIA BENE at SMOKEE MO’S BBQ requires stretchy pants and time for a post-meal nap. Thick, tender slices of smoked brisket are carved to order and smothered with Mo’s White Sauce, a creamy vinegar-horseradish aioli. The meat’s layered between two halves of buttery garlic bread shellacked with Provel cheese. Lettuce? Onion? PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER
Tomato? Such paltry accouterments would just get in the way.
606 JEFFCO BLVD., ARNOLD, 636.296.2111, SMOKEEMOSSTLOUISBBQ.COM
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I'LL HAVE WHAT THEY'RE HAVING
PHOTO COURTESY OF PÚBLICO
Ever wonder what servers order for themselves? Here’s the insider intel on what to eat at St. Louis restaurants right now. – Compiled by Sara Graham
The Tacu Tacu. It’s a cheesy lentil cake with jasmine rice. It’s served with a really good mole, avocado salsa verde and pickled tomatoes. I have celiac disease, and this dish is one of the great gluten-free options on our menu. The flavor profile is absolutely incredible. I recommend it to everybody, gluten-conscious or not.
I LIKE THE HOT GRILLED VEGGIE SANDWICH. IT’S GOT GOAT CHEESE, PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS, PEPPERS AND DIJONNAISE. WITH THE WARM, TOASTY BREAD AND THE MELTING CHEESE, IT’S SO GOOD!
– BRI RUBIN, PÚBLICO
– CONNIE FOSTER, THE WOLF
We have the best pork steak in town. It has an awesome mustardy, smoky sauce on top, kind of like a Carolina barbecue sauce. It’s so tender you can dip [into it] with a chip. They cook it around 13 hours, and the end result is pretty perfect. – KELLY BERNARD, HACIENDA MEXICAN RESTAURANT
I REALLY LIKE THE VITO’S HOUSE WITH HOT HAM, BEEF AND CHEESE. EVERYTHING IS GOOD ON GARLIC CHEESE BREAD, AND THIS IS SERVED WITH AU JUS FOR DIPPING. – CAMERON DYER, GRASSI’S saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 11
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reviews All Sauce reviews are conducted anonymously.
roasted king salmon
new and notable The Garden on Grand BY MICHAEL RENNER PHOTOS BY JONATHAN GAYMAN
t reminds me of The Secret Garden,” the woman across the table said, referencing the early 20th-century children’s novel as we picked our way through a plate of pickled vegetables and crunched on crostini. Looking around The Garden on Grand, the room did indeed feel secret and special, like an urban botanical refuge from the hustle and bustle just outside on South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis’ Shaw neighborhood.
n e w a n d n o t a b l e T H E G A R D E N O N G R A N D p . 1 3 / l u n c h r u s h Y O ! S A L S A p . 1 6 / n i g h t l i f e S C A P E G O AT p . 1 9 December 2016
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“Order the squash blossoms,” the server advised. The special appetizer consisted of three blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and green onions, battered, fried and served on beet puree for a crispy, creamy, earthy flavor bomb.
reviews NEW AND NOTABLE p. 2 of 2
cheddar whipped potatoes … served cold. A couple of misses like these can mean the difference between a reasonable extravagance and an unhappily expensive night out. Service wasn’t an issue during one visit, but another time a half-hour passed between appetizers and entrees – interminably long while nursing a glass of wine. At least that didn’t arrive at room temperature; kudos to the bar for understanding that red wine is best served at cellar temperature. The bar also mixes a fine litany of cocktails. Brexit 75 was a gin, rhubarb liqueur and lemon juice concoction topped with sparkling wine. The Hemingway pulled no punches with bourbon, maraschino liqueur, Benedictine and San Pellegrino Pompelmo.
“The roasted salmon is the chef’s favorite,” the host said. Mine, as well: Beautifully cooked to medium, the fatty king salmon melded with the sharpness and crunch of the whipped feta and pistachios encrusting the fish. Bolstered by a mound of lemon-herb risotto and topped with a tangle of microgreens, taste and texture were in abundance; a schmear of contrasting pureed asparagus on the plate echoed the restaurant’s verdancy. The Ground Score was a close second: Long strands of pappardelle and local shiitake, hen of the wood and button mushrooms were tossed in orange basil pesto and creamy white wine sauce. A garnish of peasized sweet red peppers provided a sweet contrast to the dish’s umami earthiness.
Lee has talked openly about his motivation to open a restaurant focused on healthy eating following his own journey into a mostly raw and vegan diet. The restaurant’s website promotes using as much locally-sourced, nonGMO and organic ingredients as possible, while offering “healthy, inspired food without compromising taste and texture.” It all sounds pretty noble, but the menu is not exactly aligned with Lee’s inspiration. A burger made with grass-fed beef isn’t necessarily healthier, especially when served with bacon, cheese and fries. Vegetarian and vegan options may be available as specials, but the menu offered only one entree and a couple appetizers on my visits.
There were misfires, though. Duck Over-due was an enigma. While the medallions of roasted breast were fine, the accompanying side suffered from a profusion of description (“Confit leg and thigh with potato hash, sweet and savory segmented caramelized orange, onion brulee, sauteed kale, a poached egg and a reduction of orange balsamic garnished with local micro greens”) that took longer to read than to eat, conveying more rhetoric than substance. Despite a puzzling presentation and that unnecessary egg on top, everything tasted good, proving that the skill was there, but experience was lacking somewhere in the kitchen. The grass-fed filet mignon topped with demi-glace, chopped tomatoes and sprout salad sat on a pancake-sized portion of aged THE INTERIOR AT The Garden on Grand
From the exposed brick arches to the distressed polished cement floor to the lush greenery (potted golden pothos plants stuffed into wall-mounted wooden boxes, philodendron cascading from a massive metal grid, flowers and air plants all over the place), everything jives, creating a rustically chic space. No surprise, then, that owner Cevin Lee’s eclectic sensibility also influenced the menus he created with executive chef Kore Wilbert (formerly of Mad Tomato and winner of this year’s Chef Battle
AT A GLANCE The Garden on Grand
Royale at Taste of St. Louis) in which Asian and European flavors share space with American classics like steak and a burger with fries. Coconut fried rice exemplified a less-ismore approach: fluffy jasmine rice stir-fried with green onion, shaved coconut, garlic, honey and scrambled egg topped with three large wild-caught shrimp and microgreens. Wilbert evaded the potential pitfalls of using honey – too much, too sweet; not enough, what’s the point? – and dialed in on the right balance of subtle sweetness.
Where 2245 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.898.3788, thegardenon grand.com
Don’t Miss Dishes Roasted king salmon
Vibe An eclectic, plant-filled space that’s both rustic and chic with diners from the well-jacketed to the well-bearded.
To be clear: I liked the place quite a bit. Along with sourcing ingredients locally and paying attention to preparation, the real beauty of The Garden on Grand is its eclectically elegant and relaxing atmosphere. And that it exists where it does – north of South Grand’s popular restaurant district – echoing the theme of rejuvenation running through that classic children’s book.
Entree Prices $12 to $36
When Tue. and Wed. – 5 to 10 p.m.; Thu. – 5 to 11 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. – 5 p.m. to midnight; breakfast, lunch and brunch available
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reviews LUNCH RUSH
Lunch Rush YO! SALSA BY ANDREW BARRETT | PHOTOS BY DAVE MOORE
Yo! Salsa is an oasis, bringing modern Latin flavors to an otherwise bland landscape of chain restaurants in Wentzville. What started as a food truck and catering business is now a brick and mortar with a staff that’s fresh, helpful and ready for the task.
one is the carnitas. Sweet, savory and salty, it makes a rock solid taco. Shredded braised pork comes topped with salsa verde, caramelized onions and cotija cheese. This is the kind of street taco that gets a food truck loyal followers.
SHRIMP AND POBLANO GRITS
SHRIMP AND POBLANO GRITS I’m not usually a fan of grits, but here, the grits themselves are made of poblano peppers – a preparation I’ve never seen before. The poblanos lend lots of flavor and texture to what could otherwise be a bland porridge. They’re topped with plump shrimp, chorizo and sliced avocado, finished with a spicy tomato and chipotle pepper sauce. Fresh, hearty and unique, this dish escapes association with the assembly-line Mexican food category. CARNITAS TACOS The tacos come in pick-two pairs. Make sure at least
food textures.) Fried sweet potato lends a bit of crunch, and a hint of allspice makes for a nice Thanksgiving undertone.
CHORIZO WITH FRIED SWEET POTATO TACOS Chorizo is one of the best proteins available at Yo! Salsa. The texture deviates a bit from other tacos, but still gives a very pleasant Taco Bell feel. (Say what you will, Taco Bell sets the bar for good fast-
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CHIPS AND SALSA This assumed starter might seem run-of-the-mill, but Yo! Salsa’s version is special. Corn tortilla chips commingle with your choice of three salsas. Go with the black bean, which is hearty with a tangy lime kick; the salsa verde, which is well balanced and one of the best; and the fire-roasted tomato for a taste of a classic.
Yo! Salsa 2 W. Pearce Blvd., Wentzville, 636.856.8444, yolosmex.com
THE DOWNSIDE Many dishes look and taste like what you’d find at any other Mexican restaurant in the area – the shredded chicken taco, for example, is uninspired. So be sure to pick out the unique and interesting options. Yo! Salsa shines when it’s not accommodating lowest common denominator palates. It may not be a destination for city-dwellers, but if you’re anywhere west of the Missouri River, this should be your go-to Mexican restaurant. December 2016
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Scapegoat Tavern & Courtyard
BY MATT BERKLEY | PHOTOS BY JONATHAN GAYMAN
rye. Served up, this was one of the better whiskey cocktails I’ve ever had. Rum fans will be pleased by Scapegoat’s version of Planters Punch, flowing with Myers’s Dark rum and citrus with a grenadine topper. Patrons looking for something Scapegoat Tavern entirely different can & Courtyard choose from signature 52 Maryland Plaza, St. cocktails named after Louis, 314.361.7227, historical scapegoats. scapegoatstl.com The sweet and sassy Pandora is a tequila-based Champagne cocktail mixed with St. Germaine and served in a tall flute. Or, leaning more toward frat strength is the Buckner, a beer-garita mixing gold and silver tequilas with fresh lime juice, triple sec and Schlafly Pale Ale. While the drinks are high quality, I could find nothing dynamic or rewarding on Scapegoat’s food menu, which lulled me into submission with promises of fun comfort food. The bartender offered Scape’s larger menu as well, which is available since the two share a kitchen. Looking back, it would have been worth the extra few dollars. Instead, I dug into plate after plate of disappointment.
capegoat is the Central West End’s latest and greatest haven for classic cocktail lovers. With an enviable location, a smart, understated look and a well-executed bar program, this joint has all the important things going for it. Little brother to Scape proper, Scapegoat is a laid-back standalone bar complete with easy access to the former’s gorgeous, expansive back patio. The meticulously overhauled and shined-up space, which previously housed Crepes Etc., is a study in simplicity. A rich wood bar, bright subway tile backsplash, intricately tinned ceiling and black-and-white checkered floor give the relatively small room a clean, classic look. This dimly lit canvas is dressed with a long leather bench, a few high-top wood tables, metal bistro chairs and a handful of flat-screen TVs.
Don’t expect to fight for a seat. Though busy on Friday nights, the bar is rarely at capacity. Both the wait staff and the clientele are young and well dressed. You’ll have to go up the street for the college-aged crowd; Scapegoat is for those who have moved past the nightclub scene. If I weren’t a married man, I’d definitely be spending some quality time here looking for my next ex-girlfriend. Stiff cocktails, attractive young professionals and flirty singles abound.
Lollipop-style Frenched chicken wings had a lackluster seasoning that not even a river of ranch or blue cheese sauce could rectify. But that side of ranch came in handy for the trio of pork tacos. A sprinkle of onions and dash of hot sauce on a bed of bland pork wrapped in an equally bland flour tortilla did not make for a good time. That the bartender swore by the tacos as the best thing on the menu made the experience worse. The fennel sausage flatbread, which promised a delightful sounding tomato basil sauce and mozzarella, delivered instead a drooping few squares with rubbery cheese worthy of a high school cafeteria.
A list of approachable beers and house cocktails make up the drink menu, but the true stars of the show are the classic cocktails. A real standout was the Vieux Carre, a New Orleans-style Manhattan of sorts, melding Courvoisier, Benedictine, Dolin sweet vermouth and two kinds of bitters with a healthy, though not overpowering, dose of George Dickel
This is hardly a deal breaker, though. Minus the lousy edibles, the swanky, informal drinking den pushes balanced, straightforward cocktails worthy of a return visit across its slick wood bar. An ideal spot for a first date, casual pre-dinner drink or nightcap with friends, Scapegoat is a sexy, no-nonsense, cosmopolitan cocktail oasis.
ORDER IT: Scapegoat Tavern
Order the New Orleans classic cocktail, Vieux Carre.
Planters Punch at Scapegoat is a mix of Myers’s Dark rum, citrus and grenadine.
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& drink sip on this pinot noir from the russian river valley
ILLUSTRATIONS BY VIDHYA NAGARAJAN
A SEAT AT THE BAR / Four experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake Sfumato is a painting technique where colors blend and evaporate like smoke. Cappelletti Sfumato is an amaro that quickly evaporates when we drink it. Rich rhubarb notes blend with amaro bitterness, candied TED AND JAMIE orange peel, molasses and KILGORE red berry notes. Enjoy it USBG, B.A.R. Ready, BarSmart in a Renaissance for Real and co-owners/bartenders at Planter’s House cocktail: Stir together 1 ounce Sfumato, ¾ ounce bourbon and ½ ounce dry curaçao with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with 2 ounces dry Champagne and a lemon twist. $20. The Wine & Cheese Place, wineandcheeseplace.com December 2016
The 2013 Russian River Valley pinot noir from Mount Vernon, Illinois native Ron Rubin has a love connection with poultry, which is happy with both white and red GLENN BARDGETT wines. The cool ocean Member of the Missouri Wine fog of Sonoma’s Russian and Grape Board and wine River Valley makes director at Annie Gunn’s incredible pinot noir. I paired it with Cornish hens at a recent Sauce Magazine cooking class at Dierbergs, and the oak-aged bourbon-mustard pan sauce met its match in this French oak-aged red. $20. Dierbergs, dierbergs.com
While there is no wrong time to drink rich roasty stouts, now is definitely the right time. Left Hand Brewing Co.’s foreign stout, Fade to Black Volume 1’s heavily KATIE HERRERA roasted malt brings Co-founder of Femme intense espresso and Ferment and manager at The Side Project Cellar licorice flavors, while Brouwerij de Molen’s Spanning and Sensatie is a bit sweeter with loads of cocoa, mellow chile and sea salt. $10. Total Wine & More, totalwine.com; $7. Craft Beer Cellar, clayton. craftbeercellar.com saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 21
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buzzed brews BY CATHERINE KLENE
Perennial Artisan Ales produces some of the most highly sought after Imperial and coffee stouts in the country, but you’ll rarely find them in bottle shops. Eager beer nerds wait in long lines for prized bottles of Coffee Abraxas (a coffee variant of the equally popular Imperial stout) and Sump Coffee Stout every year. Perennial co-owner Phil Wymore explained that blending coffee with beer is one way to enhance fruit notes, roastiness and other elements. Here, Wymore shared how to blend your own coffee stout – no homebrewing kit required.
Select a stout A good coffee stout needs a strong highalcohol base beer that can stand up to coffee. “Do something that’s pretty big,” Wymore said. “When you’re adding coffee to beer, you’re essentially diluting the stout, because coffee is mostly water.” He suggested Bell’s Brewery’s Expedition Stout.
Choose a coffee bean To source the perfect beans for its coffee stouts, Perennial partners with Sump Coffee. Wymore said Central and South American beans generally pair well with fruity American stouts,
though this year’s Coffee Abraxas used an Ethiopian Chelbessa bean with piney lemon notes. “When we do these [coffee] tastings I’ll find one or two that I’m not a big fan of, and I might find one or two that are very interesting, and one or two that are kind of classic,” Wymore said. Compare different coffees at home by choosing two single-origin beans with distinctly different flavor profiles. For the freshest beans, Wymore suggested using a local roaster like Sump or Blueprint Coffee.
Brew the coffee Cold brew coaxes the most concentrated flavor from the coffee. Combine 1 ounce ground coffee with 8 ounces water in a jar and let it steep overnight at room temperature. Strain the coffee through a fine-mesh sieve, then again through a paper coffee filter to remove all the grounds.
BUY IT Bell’s Brewery Expedition Stout, $17. Randalls, shoprandalls.com
Blend Wymore recommended home blenders think as if they were building a cocktail. Start with a 4-ounce pour of stout and add ½ ounce coffee; jot down tasting notes and repeat with a fresh pour until you find the elusive perfect blend. “You have to find that intersection where it works best both ways,” Wymore said. “There’s no better way than sensory [experiences].”
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Veggie Marsala BY KELLIE HYNES | PHOTOS BY CARMEN TROESSER
h, heavy whipping cream, you seemed like such a good idea. But instead of adding a silky finish to this vegetarian riff on chicken Marsala, you whitewashed the mushrooms and clouded the translucent yellow onions. Itâ€™s not enough to vegetize this dish; it needs to look as good as it tastes.
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Obviously the cream had to go, and my sad onions and sweaty mushrooms weren’t winning any beauty pageants either. Thinly sliced shallots added sweet oniony flavor without the mush. I quartered whole button mushrooms, placed them in a hot skillet and left. Them. Alone. No stirring, no shaking. I just turned them once for beautiful chestnut-colored edges and a crisptender bite. For those who struggle with the impulse to constantly stir and scrape when sauteeing, start a pot of polenta on another burner and go stir-crazy to give the veggies a buttery yellow bed. The browned mushrooms and golden polenta needed a dash of color, so I looked for another veggie that would pair well with Marsala. Brussels sprouts bring a cheerful bright green color, and give the dish some extra heft. The secret to making the best sprouts is to stay away from those larger than a shooter marble, or with a long woody stem. I halved the sprouts lengthwise, placed them cut-side down on the cutting board, then thinly sliced them. They cooked up sweetly with some blackened edges to liven up the texture. It’s tempting to saute the onions, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts at the same time to speed up the process. But when I tried, some of the veggies were overdone, and I was right back where I started with a mushy meal. To speed things up, chop the vegetables the night before and refrigerate them in separate sealed containers. You can also simplify your starch by substituting rice, pasta or store-bought mashed potatoes.
With the vegetables solved, it was time to focus on the headliner. While it’s convenient to grab a bottle of Marsala wine from the grocery vinegar aisle, Parker’s Table wine buyer Kara Flaherty recommended spending a few dollars more for a good bottle of vino. “Cooking Marsala is just a lower quality level of drinking Marsala,” she said. “If you use a poor quality ingredient, you’re more likely to get poor results.” The bonus of using a drinkable wine is the option to serve it with dessert.
VEGGIE MARSALA 4 SERVINGS 3 cups water 1¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste 1 cup polenta, such as Bob’s Red Mill 1½ Tbsp. unsalted butter or vegan spread ½ lb. small Brussels sprouts, trimmed 4 Tbsp. canola oil, divided 1 lb. whole button mushrooms, quartered 2 shallots, thinly sliced 2 tsp. minced garlic 1 Tbsp. flour 2 cups dry Marsala wine
1 Tbsp. dry sherry 1 tsp. fresh thyme 1 ∕8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley • In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil. Slowly add the polenta and stir constantly until it returns to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the polenta is creamy, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the butter, set aside and keep warm. • Meanwhile, cut the Brussels sprouts lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices. • In a large cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil. Add the Brussels sprouts and 1∕8 teaspoon salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are bright green, tender and some leaves are charred, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the sprouts, cover and set aside. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. • Heat 1 tablespoon oil over mediumhigh heat and add the mushrooms in a single layer with ⅛ teaspoon salt. Sear undisturbed 3 minutes, until the mushrooms are browned on one side. Flip and sear another 2 minutes, until browned and soft. Remove the mushrooms, cover and set aside. Wipe out the skillet and return it to the stovetop.
• Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds, until fragrant. Sprinkle the shallots and garlic with the flour and saute 2 minutes. Add the Marsala, the sherry, the thyme, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer about 7 minutes, until the sauce is reduced by half. Return the mushrooms to the skillet and heat through. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. • Divide the polenta between the plates and add the mushroom mixture, then top with the Brussels sprouts. Garnish with the parsley before serving.
BUY IT Paolo Lazzaroni & Figli Marsala, $14. Parker’s Table, 7118 Oakland Ave., Richmond Heights, 314.645.2050, parkerstable.com
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MAKE THIS THAI NOODLES WITH GAI LAN ACTIVE TIME: 15 MINUTES
Skip the Thai takeout and put this dish on the table in 15 MAKE THIS minutes flat. In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over 14 ounces rice stick noodles and let sit 7 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles then toss them with 2 tablespoons sesame oil. In a small bowl, combine ¹∕³ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1½ tablespoons chile-garlic sauce, 1 tablespoon grated ginger and 2 teaspoons rice vinegar. Set aside. In a large skillet or wok over high heat, warm 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add the noodles to the skillet with 6 cups roughly chopped gai lan. Saute 2 minutes, then stir in the sauce and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Garnish with ¹∕³ cup each chopped basil, cilantro and mint; 1∕4 cup chopped peanuts; and lime wedges. – Dee Ryan
PHOTO BY GREG RANNELLS
Gai lan, also known as Chinese broccoli, is available at most international grocery stores and Asian markets. You can substitute chard, kale or spinach, too. December 2016
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B E S T N E W R E S T A U R A N T S To be the best, everything matters â€“ atmosphere, service and food. Here, the places that dazzled us from the moment they opened: St. Louisâ€™ 10 best new restaurants of 2016.
BY // heather hughes, catherine klene, tiffany leong and meera nagarajan PHOTOS BY // jonathan gayman, elizabeth maxson, cory miller, dave moore,
greg rannells and carmen troesser
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PHOTO BY GREG RANNELLS
S A R D E L L A
this year's best new restaurant
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S A R D E L L A
on the menu) never tasted so good. Same goes for the thinly sliced bavette steak: We don’t care why it’s topped with miso butter, we’re just glad that it is. Or the marinated sunchoke with a tender, acidic base joined by rich prosciutto and a kick of jalapeno – don’t ask questions, just eat. In this dance of Italian plates moving to various Asian, African or Mexican beats, diners have as much fun as the kitchen.
So what kind of place is Sardella? “That’s the toughest question,” Craft said. “I think it’s our restaurant … [We’re] getting to have fun, getting to cook the food we want to cook.” It’s a place of freedom – even improvisation – for a team nationally famous for precision and adherence to Niche’s restrictive Missouri-only sourcing.
“At Niche, we were the special occasion restaurant, the nicest restaurant in town,” said general manager Chris Kelling. “But here, we just want to be the most fun.”
above left: the interior at sardella
Even on a Monday night, the energy is high. The music is louder, the drinks better, the clientele hipper. It’s too lively to feel formal. It feels cool.
above right: from left, executive chef nick blue, chefowner gerard craft and general manager chris kelling
Sardella’s concept is more suggestion than mandate: food shaped by Italy, rather than Italian food. That may seem like semantics, but the freedom is in the phrasing. “It’s a slight direction,” Craft said. “Sardella is influenced by Italy, but it’s not straight Italian. Honestly, it would confuse many Italians. My greatest example is the green bean dish. It’s green beans on garam and roasted garlic custard with crispy garlic and Calabrian chile vinaigrette. It’s a dish that’s so Italian ingredient-wise, and so un-Italian any other way. When you eat it, it feels Southeast Asian.” Italian, Southeast Asian, Missourian – one bite of this shockingly rich and savory vegetable small plate and you won’t care how it got here. Green beans (or the charred squash version now
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Talk to any Niche veteran on Sardella’s team, and you can see that relief, like loosening one’s tie at the end of a long day (literally – servers now wear black jeans and chambray shirts). The whole space has undergone a parallel stylish, casual makeover. The long wood bar is flanked by bookshelves. Servers weave between closer, smaller tables. The once cavernous ceiling was lowered over a wall-length butter-soft leather banquette. There are hanging plants, sardine tins and a general sense of lightness: blond wood, white walls, smiling faces. With Craft, executive chef Nick Blue and executive pastry chef Sarah Osborn in the kitchen we expected the food to impress, but it’s the
atmosphere, the posture of Sardella that’s most striking. This is a restaurant full of people doing what they love in the way they want to do it. previous page: beet tartare from sardella
opposite page: misoricotta ravioli with orange, pepitas, brown butter and tarragon
“It sounds cliche, but I get to throw a party seven nights a week,” Kelling said. “I enjoy doing it. I feel that energy transfers to the team, to the guest, and it’s all reciprocal.” We feel it, too. The intimidation of fine-dining service (that sense of attempting a dance to which many don’t know the steps) is gone from Sardella, with no great loss. But anyone who’s ever hosted knows how hard it is to make a party look this effortless. “We don’t have rules for rules’ sake, because then it stops being a service,” Kelling said. “Everything is about the flow for the guest. It’s got to be smooth and have precision. … If we just create a platform for the guest to enjoy themselves, then we do a good job.”
his is what Sardella is about: a good time. Craft has been around long enough to know that when the kitchen isn’t having fun, no one is. “That’s Gerard’s strength: He cares. He listens to feedback,” Kelling said. “If you don’t care – if you’re not listening – then the emperor has no clothes.” We’re happy to report Craft is resplendently dressed at Sardella. We went to Niche when we wanted to feel fancy. We go to Sardella when we want to have fun – as often as we can. – H.H. December 2016
PHOTOS BY GREG RANNELLS
ou don’t close the restaurant that just won you a James Beard Award – unless you’re Gerard Craft. He closed Niche one year after winning Best Chef: Midwest. St. Louis expects new concepts from Craft, but it was another thing entirely to eliminate his first restaurant and the namesake of Niche Food Group to try something new. Sardella had a lot to live up to.
PHOTO BY GREG RANNELLS
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V I S T A
R A M E N
PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER
Love this bowl? Learn more about the artist on p. 41.
THE TOP 3 DISHES OF THE YEAR BY MICHAEL RENNER 32 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I saucemagazine.com
1. 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 peppercherry tomato remoulade.
2. Veggie 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.
3. Pot Pie 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 pot pie requires chicken or beef. December 2016
PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER
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 December 2016
caramel, it’s the attention paid to humble vegetables that sets Vista apart. opposite page: veggie ramen at vista ramen
above: from left, general manager aaron stovall, chef chris bork and sous chef zach siecinski at vista ramen
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. – C.K.
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ince Olive & Oak opened to great acclaim in January, eager customers have had to book reservations well in advance. Determined walkins order cocktails and prowl the bar, waiting to pounce on a vacant seat. Webster Groves residents who used to drive 20 minutes for a night out now have a dining destination in their own backyard. Despite the hustle, you’ll rarely see disgruntled or discontented staff at Olive & Oak. In fact, servers look downright cheerful as they weave through standingroom only crowds carrying trays piled with food. After more than a decade in the hospitality industry, owner Mark Hinkle found that poor service was often due to an overwhelmed wait staff, not bad attitudes. “If you never staff to be busy, you’ll never be busy, ” he said. Hinkle wants his staff to be professional, but relaxed. If they aren’t enjoying their night, neither will the guest. “I look around and they all seem to be having fun … [There’s] a good vibe and a comfortable feel,” Hinkle said. Dining at the bar best exemplifies this superior hospitality. These multitasking
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O A K
masters are servers, bartenders, bar backs and your best friend. Settle in to an open seat and order a drink from the surprising, wellbalanced menu that can hold its own in a city obsessed with craft cocktails. Try the No. 78, made with pear, lime, sherry, Scotch, gin and umami bitters for an unusual concoction with savory notes that you can only find at Olive & Oak. Your bartender will happily chat and simultaneously take an order from the patron standing behind you as she mixes your drink.
hile you ponder the menu that entices such a crowd, another bartender sets down The Dip sandwich piled high with shaved leg of lamb, served with a cup of rich jus and fries so crisp, you may be tempted to steal them from your neighbor’s plate (Don’t – that’s rude.). If you can’t decide whether to get the starter of bubbling blue crab gratin, thick and cheesy with a kiss of Calabrian chile oil, or jump straight to the perfectly charred, medium-rare flank steak you just saw flying past on its way to another table, the solution is simple: get both. Order another round. Take your time. You’re a guest at this classy yet laid-back dinner party. – C.K. December 2016
PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER
O L I V E
KOU N T E R K U LT U R E
carryout-only restaurant this high on our list will only surprise those unfamiliar with Kitchen Kulture from co-owners Christine Meyer and chef Michael Miller. The fine dining veterans make the foreign local and the local foreign at their first brick-andmortar with a tight, rotating menu of Asian-inspired dishes.
PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER
“Using ingredients that people are familiar with – sourcing locally – is a great way to introduce people to things,” Miller said. The same goes for familiar dishes, which can help expose diners to new flavors. Take, for example, the shrimp and grits currently on the menu, made with coconut milk grits, lemongrassmarinated shrimp and a peanut-pepper relish. “I get that by nature [shrimp and grits] is not an Asian dish, but it’s one of those things that brings people in on a comfort level,” he said. “It’s a great gateway dish. “That’s why we play a lot with our amuse-bouche,” he said. “Because it’s something that people might not order, but they’ll try because it’s free. There’s no risk.” Yes, Kounter Kulture offers complimentary, intricately composed bites for those waiting to pick up to-go orders. Not something you’d expect at a counter service spot with zero elbowroom on Watson Road.
five or six minutes,” Meyer said. Servers at a sit-down restaurant can see if diners enjoy their meals or not, but the team at Kounter Kulture has to get more creative. “Having that customer contact every day has been fabulous,” she said. “It allows you to build better relationships, and the feedback is so important.”
“We’re trying to jam two hours worth of service into
But let’s be clear: We don’t go to Kounter Kulture for
opposite page: flank steak at olive & oak
above: khao soi at kounter kulture
an education. We go for the food. We go for the khao soi. Miller’s version of the northern Thai soup starts with his house-made curry paste, which he cooks in schmaltz and simmers in stock. The bowl full of shredded Buttonwood Farms chicken, Midwest Pasta Co. egg noodles, pickled greens, lime juice, cilantro and burnt chile oil takes more than four hours to make. “It’s worth the time,” Miller said.
Like Kounter Kulture itself, the khao soi fits more in a small package than should be possible. It’s spicy, smooth, sweet, savory, bright, rich and piquant. “Asian food is a balancing act, because there are so many flavor notes,” Miller said. “It’s like a symphony – you can have something that’s really balanced but still has so much going on.” Consider this our standing ovation. – H.H.
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N I X T A
urrounded by hip Latin music and tropical plants during Nixta’s recent opening, we kept spontaneously exhaling and saying, “This feels like vacation.” Along with the bright, beachy colors and dim, candlelit atmosphere of Ben Poremba’s newest restaurant, the menu is strewn with flowers and fruit: ceviche served with a fragrant, viscid
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sphere of rose water espuma; pork belly al pastor topped with caramelized pineapple pico de gallo; a sea scallop in a pool of green, bergamotinfused aguachile sprinkled with tiny whole blooms.
above right: mole negro with braised beef cheeks at nixta
This pretty chiaroscuro of rich meats and delicate seafoods, deep dark mole and bright vegetal spice, is thanks to executive chef Tello Carreón.
opposite page: ’nduja pizza at porano pasta
He’s the reason Poremba wanted to open a Mexican restaurant.
hey got to know each other in the kitchen of Poremba’s fine-dining restaurant Elaia, just down the street. “I like his cooking a lot and thought a modern take on Mexican food – his kind of food – would make a great restaurant,” Poremba said. Why look outside – why go to New York to research new ideas – when you have such talent inside your own St. Louis kitchens? Carreón’s passion for creativity is reflected in unexpected dishes, like the tuna tostada
with lime-white shoyu glaze, and in more traditional offerings he grew up eating. “What I’m trying to say is you don’t have to be stuck with the same ingredients,” Carreón said. Which is why he paired his grandma’s classic mole recipe with braised beef cheeks instead of the expected chicken. “I like to have dishes fresh and more alive than you typically find them. I want to elevate them a little more – bring them to life,” Carreón said. “I think I have the taste, the cuisine that people want to try.” We think so too, jefe. – H.H. December 2016
PHOTOS BY CARMEN TROESSER
above left: from left, chef tello carreón and owner ben poremba at nixta
P O R A N O
orano Pasta is the fast-casual restaurant we have been waiting for. It took Gerard Craft, the chef mind behind Niche Food Group, to combine affordability and speed with such quality ingredients and consistently well-executed food. Walk in and notice the restaurant’s towering ceilings and wall-sized illustrations of Italian and St. Louis landmarks. Sunshine pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows and upbeat pop music fills the air (Ace of Base, anyone?).
PORANO PASTA PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER; THE PRESTON PHOTO BY JONATHAN GAYMAN
Queue up to build your bowl from a variety of
P A S T A starches, sauces, proteins and toppings. The possibilities are endless, but we’re loyal to a combination we call the Suzie Bowl (That’s Suzie Craft, marketing director of Niche Food Group.): a halfkale, half-farro base, anchovy dressing, spicy tofu, green olives, crispy garlic, herbs and a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey. Spicy and sweet with briny bites, fresh crunch and pops of intense garlic and herbs – it’s been hard to order anything else since she suggested it on opening day.
hile such healthy options are available, comfort combinations should
also be indulged in, like a strozzapreti pasta bowl with Alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, herbs and toasted almonds. It’s a version of fettuccine Alfredo also known as our Achilles’ heel. Or go for executive chef Michael Petres’ new Detroit-style pizza: square focaccia-like dough with edge-to-edge cheese that bubbles at the brink into a salty, crackling border. Pair that with a Negroni slushie, and you’re in for a good night. Niche Food Group took a national, fast-casual business model and made it work. Will it ever be a franchise? The possibilities, like their bowls, seem endless. – M.N.
T H E
P R E S T O N
otel bars aim for luxury and sophistication, but most miss the mark, landing in chintz and disappointment. The Preston at The Chase Park Plaza hits a rare bull’s-eye with stylish leather chairs, cool gray wainscoting and stiff drinks served in cut crystal glasses on a marble bar. The atmosphere is swanky, but still comfortable with a refined, masculine elegance. Service at the bar and in the dining room strikes the sweet spot of being attentive without getting in the way of conversation, with a staff dressed as smartly as the room. Some original cocktails have a classic vibe, like Goodnight Mr. Preston, which stares you down with bourbon, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Benedictine and bitters. But others, like
Smokey and The Bandito, have more drama with hickory smoke and poblano-infused tequila. Pecan-encrusted pork tenderloin may sound like boring hotel food, but one bite of the ultra tender meat glazed in barbecue jus and pulled through the bright orange and green swirls of carrot and pea purees, and you’ll want to check into The Chase and spend the whole night. Before you pick up your room key, order the salty-sweet pretzel croissants – at any time of day, at any point in the meal; just get them. And take a moment, as you’re cozied into the rounded plaid banquettes in dim, flattering lighting, to appreciate how rare it is to realize the fantasy of accommodations that aren’t just expensive, but downright glamorous. – H.H.
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S H E E S H R E S T A U R A N T
E G G
Baba Ghanoush The kitchen doesn’t cut any corners with this classic Turkish dip. The smoky eggplant and rich tahini are balanced by garlic and lemon, but it’s the sprinkle of savory, pungent sumac that makes this starter so addictive.
Ezogelin Soup Shove off, Campbell’s. This tomato soup is bulked up with bulgur, rice and lentils for a comforting bowl that actually feels like a meal. Adana Kebab Tender ground lamb intensely seasoned with Turkish spices (we meet again, sumac) is formed around a blade and grilled before it arrives atop a bed of delicate rice pilaf. This is what kebabs aspire to be. Sheesh Tawook Not to be outdone by its lamb counterpart, chunks of chicken breast are served juicy and packed with flavor thanks to a lemony marinade with tomato and pepper paste. Knafeh The best of baklava and cheesecake come together in knafeh, a disc of hot Turkish cheese covered in layer of crunchy, buttery phyllo and soused in sweet syrup. – C.K.
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gg, the former weekend brunch pop-up at Spare No Rib, hatched into its own restaurant this October, and we couldn’t be happier.
left: adana kebab at sheesh restaurant
right: cornbread benedict at egg
bottom right: the interior at egg
opposite page: dom pizza at melo's pizzeria
Certain combinations may sound odd, but don’t let that stop you from ordering chakchouka alongside a cheesy carne asada wrap or a chorizo breakfast taco with the cornbread and gravy. The eclectic, Tex-Mexleaning menu is a reflection of chef-owner Lassaad Jeliti’s background, from growing up in Tunisia to running a barbecue/taco joint for the past three years. The chakchouka, a hearty tomato and pepper stew topped with creamy soft-baked eggs and served with toast for dipping, was a childhood breakfast favorite. The Benedicts begin with the sweet, crumbly cornbread Jeliti perfected at Spare No Rib, topped with sauteed veggies or house-smoked pork belly and
poached eggs, all drenched in hollandaise. “They all have similar flavor profiles,” Jeliti said of his influences. “The Mexicans got their flavors from the Spaniards, who got their flavors from [North Africans],” he joked. “That’s my theory, anyway.” Whatever its heritage, Egg’s flawlessly prepared, wideranging fare keeps us coming back for brunch. – T.L. SHEESH PHOTO BY ELIZABETH MAXSON; EGG PHOTOS BY CORY MILLER
heesh Restaurant is more than just another spot to grab great kebabs. Each time we settle around a low copper table etched with intricate scrollwork, we’re transported a long way from South Grand Avenue. The menu of traditional Turkish dishes is all delivered under heavy burnished domes: from large plates to tiny cups of strong Turkish coffee. Every time a server whisks away the copper cloches, each kebab appears with quiet drama through a cloud of steam. Don’t get overwhelmed among the dozens of sharable mezze, richly spiced entrees and sweet buttery desserts; order one of our five go-to dishes at Sheesh:
BE ST N EW R E STAU R A N T S OF 2 016
1 Sardella 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.773.7755, sardellastl.com 2 Vista Ramen 2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.797.8250, vistaramen.com 3 Olive & Oak 102 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314.736.1370, oliveandoakstl.com 4 Kounter Kulture 3825 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314.781.4344, kounterkulturestl.com 5 Nixta 1621 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.899.9000, nixtastl.com
M E L O ' S
PHOTO BY DAVE MOORE
ive seats, five menu items and a fire crackling merrily in the oven: This is Melo’s. The small but mighty Italian-American pizza shop is run by the Valenza family – brothers Joey, Johnny and Vinny, and their dad Vince Sr., the owner of Blues City Deli, whom you could call their consigliere.
6 Porano Pasta 634 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.6414, poranopasta.com
P I Z Z E R I A
When Vince finally bought the Blues City building in 2013, it came with a teeny garage, big enough to fit a couple cars, or to give life to Joey’s bread-making hobby turned pizzamaking obsession. Happily, Dad went with the latter, and now we’re obsessed, too. The Dom is our favorite, a simple pizza topped with
Grana Padano, sliced garlic, fresh basil, oregano and a glug of extra-virgin olive oil. It’s Neapolitan-style, with a thin, wood-fired crust and a perfectly pure crushed tomato sauce, but has an American twist, mixing fresh mozzarella with drier, shredded mozzarella. This transgression makes for a lower moisture content that keeps the dough from getting too wet.
7 The Preston 212 N. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314.633.7800, theprestonstl.com
“It’s more of a familiar flavor for people,” Joey said. “I don’t know if it’s our American taste buds, but we think it tastes better.” Melo’s formula for an ItalianAmerican pie combines the best of both worlds. We appreciate an edited menu, pared down to the bare, most delicious bones. – M.N.
8 Sheesh Restaurant 3226 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.833.4321, sheeshrestaurant.com 9 Egg 2200 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314.202.8244, breakfastcamefirst.com 10 Melo’s Pizzeria 2438 McNair Rear, St. Louis, 314.833.4489, melospizzeria.com saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 39
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FANTASTIC BOWLS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
by meera nagarajan photos by greg rannells
In a world where most originals are mass-produced, itâ€™s nice to have the real deal. These four local ceramicists are creating understated, chic tableware. Upgrade your home collection with unique plates, bowls and serving dishes no one else will have.
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1. SUSAN ZIMMERMAN
2. GABE KARABELL
3. PHILLIP FINDER
4. AL WESTCOTT
Susan Zimmerman creates imperfectly gorgeous plates with a hand-building technique and glowing pearl glaze finish. Prices vary. Special orders only, 314.609.7292, susanzpotter.com
The elegant bowls at Vista Ramen introduced us to Gabe Karabell. The neutral glaze of his generously sized bowls has a subtle combination of colors that will never go out of style. $30 and up. Special orders only, 314.915.6909, gkarabell@ gmail.com
Phillip Finder’s stylish, pretty bowls are thin and delicate for an ultra sophisticated look. $20. Urban Matter, 4704 Virginia Ave., St. Louis, 314.456.6941, urbanmatterstl.com
Al Westcott’s classic serving dishes come in a neutral sand color or signature slate blue. Prices vary. Union Studio, 1605 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.771.5398, stlunionstudio.com
Fancy yourself a potter? Sign up for one of these six-week classes to throw down on the wheel and make your own tableware. Clay, glaze and kiln-firing are included.
KRUEGER POTTERY SUPPLY $225. Krueger Pottery Supply, 8153 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314.963.0180, kruegerpottery.com
CRAFT ALLIANCE $159. Craft Alliance, 6640 Delmar Blvd., University City; 501 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.725.1177, craftalliance.org
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stuff to do:
DECEMBER BY OLIVIA DANSKY AND BRIANNA VELARDE
Miracle on Chouteau Through Dec. 24 – 4 to 11:30 p.m., 1740 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, 314.243.7175, Facebook: Miracle STL Kick off your holiday celebrations at Miracle on Chouteau, a pop-up bar from the owners of Planter’s House in the former Gast Haus space. Sip on festive holiday cocktails like the Jingle Ball Nog (brown butter fat-washed cognac, amontillado, almond milk, cream, sugar, egg and nutmeg) or the Santa-Quila (cacao nibinfused tequila, Pedro Ximenez sherry, maple syrup and black walnut bitters). While you sip, grab a bag of housemade snacks including holiday popcorn, Christmas cookies and lumps of coal, aka crispy rice treats with Oreos.
Kegs and Eggs 8 Dec. 3 – 9 a.m. to noon, Quincy Street Bistro, 6931 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314.353.1588, quincystreetbistro.com Beer and brunch combine once again at Quincy Street Bistro’s Kegs and Eggs 8. Pair Civil Life Kolsch with a crab and crawfish Benedict covered in chipotle hollandaise, or sip a 4 Hands City Wide with Fire in the Bowl! — house-made sourdough brioche bowls filled with eggs, spicy chorizo, baby spinach and ghost pepper cheese sauce. Three other food and beer pairings are available, as well as nine additional offerings from Urban Chestnut, Earthbound and Tallgrass.
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The Waffle Nut Pop-Up Dec. 3 and 4 – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Brennan’s, 4659 Maryland Ave., St. Louis, 314.497.4449, Facebook: The Waffle Nut Rise and shine with Revel Kitchen chef-owner Simon Lusky and chef Adam Altnether at a waffle-themed pop-up. Start with a Liege-style pearl sugar waffle or a yeasty sourdough waffle, then customize with sweet options like tiramisu, American Pie or Waffle Nutter. If savory is more your speed, try the Lambert Red Eye, chicken and waffles or the Boss Hog – bacon, pulled pork, barbecue sauce and eggs. Feed your caffeine addiction with a cereal milk latte flavored with Cocoa Puffs, Fruity Pebbles, Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch or Honey Nut Cheerios, or opt for a bloody mary or mimosa from Brennan’s bar.
Wintermarkt Dec. 3, 10 and 17 – 2 to 6 p.m., Urban Chestnut’s Midtown Brewery & Biergarten, 3229 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.222.0143, urbanchestnut.com Pair your holiday shopping with a pint or two at Urban Chestnut’s annual Wintermarkt in Midtown. Peruse local vendors selling jewelry, crafts and home goods while you enjoy beer specials, mulled wine, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Grab an afternoon snack of warming goulash, Leberkäse (a Bavarian beef and pork meatloaf), German Christmas cookies or take a seat at the fire pits and make some s’mores. December 2016
Great St. Louis Czech Beer Festival Dec. 10 – 1 to 5 p.m., American Czech Education Center, 4690 Lansdowne Ave., St. Louis, 978.785.7486, stlpivo.com Raise a glass of pivo (beer in Czech) and celebrate at the Great St. Louis Czech Beer Festival. Twenty area breweries like Earthbound Beer, Big Muddy Brewing and Square One Brewery pour their latest and greatest, and see which brewery takes the award for Pivo of the Year, the best Czech American Pilsner. Seven Czech import brews are also available, including Pilsner Uquell. Sample Czech-American food, too, including stuffed kolache and paprikash meatballs. Tickets available online.
sponsored events Food From the Vine Through Dec. 31, participating restaurants and retailers, operationfoodsearch.org Drink to do good during Food From the Vine, benefiting Operation Food Search. Purchase a glass or bottle of “OFS Wine” at a participating restaurant or retailer and a portion of the sale benefits Operation Food Search. A full list of participating restaurants and retailers is available online.
Buck, Buck, Moose Dinner Dec. 11 – 5:30 p.m., Companion West St. Louis Campus, 2331 Schuetz Road, Maryland Heights, 314.627.5262, Facebook: Buck Buck Moose in St. Louis Author Hank Shaw introduces St. Louis to his newest cookbook, Buck, Buck, Moose, with a book signing and a five-course dinner. Shaw joins Companion chef Josh Galliano to serve game-inspired dishes like Hinkebein Ranch Elk with potatoes and jus; rabbit confit with radishes, sprouts and butternut romesco; and Missouri trout with creamed onions, cabbage and country ham. Guests can bring their own beer or wine. The cookbook is included in the price of the ticket. Tickets available online. December 2016
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WHAT I DO
The Tamale Man 314.456.1339, Facebook: The Tamale Man STL from left, rachael rogers and her father, doug marshall
AZTEC HOT POCKETS “[Tamales have] been around for centuries. We tell people it’s like the original Hot Pocket. They were already wrapped, and they traveled easily. The Aztecs, when they went on hunting parties, cooked a bunch of them.” CHRISTMAS TRADITION “[Tamales were a] Christmas present from my grandmas, every year. My mom passed away when I was 9 and my dad married another woman, who was half Mexican, half Cuban. So I basically grew up with two Mexican grandmothers. That was always a blast, [making] the tamales. I would help. When you got to driving age, you had to take them shopping. We went to the Soulard [Farmers] Market because they had to get the fresh stuff. There was a process. They basically pointed and told you what to do. I was trying to be nice, but yeah. They were pretty bossy.” FAMILY RECIPE “When my grandmothers cook, they have their favorite coffee cup with the handle broken and stuff. They didn’t use tablespoons or anything. I really started from memory, and just kind
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of adapted it over the years to try to capture what I remember as a child.” SKIN IN THE GAME “Family dynamics are interesting when you’re working together because everybody wants to have ownership of what you’re working on – which is a good thing. They want to be involved. I used to be ‘It’s my way or the highway,’ but for long-term success, that’s not really a good strategy. In any situation, I think if everyone has skin in the game, they’re going to be more productive.” PROPER TECHNIQUE “For years, everybody boiled the meat. Now we marinate it and roast it. We take the trimmings and render our own fat and lard to use in the tamales. We make our stocks. … You’ve got to roast [the chiles], put them in a container, let them steam, clean them. [The kids] were like, ‘Can’t we just use canned chiles?’ No.” FATHER OF SEVEN “I used to try to micromanage everything. Now I try to let them figure it out. My
youngest is 18, so now I like to say, ‘We’re all adults here, so figure it out.’ You can be mad at each other, but at the end of the day we’re all on the same team.” FAMILY COMPETITION “I was a former athlete and I still believe in keeping score. We have friendly competitions on Saturdays at the different markets. We compare totals and rib each other. I’ll say something like, ‘Nobody remembers second place.’ But it’s all in good fun. I’m admonished frequently. … If I have an off day, I’m kind of dour, kind of sullen about that and of course they pile on. My daughters [tell] me to be grateful, and [my son] Rudy and [son-in-law] Brian basically say, ‘Ha ha!’” BUSINESS GOALS “If you asked me the long-term goal when they were in diapers, that was my goal: That we enjoy each other’s company and like being around each other. I’d say that’s come to fruition. Marisa and I are very happy about that. There’s no black sheep thus far. They’re all really good friends.”
PHOTO BY PHOTO BY CARMEN ASHLEY GIESEKING TROESSER
When Marisa Marshall decided to take up organic farming, her husband Doug Marshall figured the best way to get a foot in the door at local farmers markets was by offering prepared food. Now, most Marshall Family Farms produce is sold in tamale form, and you probably know him as The Tamale Man – dishing out family recipes with three of their seven children and one son-in-law at private events, Southwest Diner’s Tamale Tuesdays and farmers markets from Tower Grove to Lake St. Louis. Here, the boss dad shared his perspective on family business. – Heather Hughes
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