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ones to watch food and drink pros with promise

New year new beer p. 27

A lesson from Thomas Keller

fresh, winter s a l a d

p. 30

p. 32

st. louis’ independent culinary authority

January 2014

Planter's House S T L ' s n e w e s t c o c k ta i l b a r p. 15 FREE, January 2014

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janua r y 2 014 • VOLUM E 14, Issue 1 PUBLISHER EXECUTIVE EDITOR ART DIRECTOR MANAGING EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR, DIGITAL SPECIAL SECTIONs EDITOR Fact checker PROOFREADER PRODUCTION DESIGNER EDIBLE WEEKEND WRITER CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

What's your food resolution for 2014?

Increase my overall proficiency in cooking techniques

CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Events coordinator Listings manager ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER Account Executives Advertising Accounts Coordinator

To place advertisements in Sauce Magazine contact the advertising department at 314.772.8004 or sales@ saucemagazine.com. To carry Sauce Magazine at your store, restaurant, bar or place of business Contact Allyson Mace at 314.772.8004 or amace@saucemagazine.com. All contents of Sauce Magazine are copyright ©2001-2014 by Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC. The Sauce name and logo are both registered to the publisher, Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC. Reproduction or other use, in

Allyson Mace Ligaya Figueras Meera Nagarajan Julie Cohen Eat breakfast daily and Catherine Klene have more happy hour Julie Cohen meetings Rosa Heyman Emily Lowery Michelle Volansky Catherine Klene Jonathan Gayman, Ashley Gieseking, Elizabeth Jochum, Laura Miller, Greg Rannells, Carmen Troesser, Michelle Volansky Vidhya Nagarajan Glenn Bardgett, Matt Berkley, Julie Cohen, Ligaya Figueras, Eric Hildebrandt, Kellie Hynes, Byron Kerman, Jamie Kilgore, Ted Kilgore, Cory King, Catherine Klene, Meera Nagarajan, Michael Renner, Dee Ryan Less scotch and steak, Rebecca Ryan more Tempranillo and Rebecca Ryan shrimp paella Allyson Mace Kaylene Cohen, Rachel Gaertner, Jill George, Drew Owen, Bruce Prediger Jill George

whole or in part, of the contents without permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. While the information has been compiled carefully to ensure maximum accuracy at the time of publication, it is provided for general guidance only and is subject to change. The publisher cannot guarantee the accuracy of all information or be responsible for omissions or errors. Additional copies may be obtained by providing a request at 314.772.8004 or via mail. Postage fee of $2 will apply.

editorial policies The Sauce Magazine mission is to provide St. Louis-area residents and visitors with unbiased, complete information on the area’s restaurant, bar and entertainment industry. Our editorial content is not influenced by who advertises with Sauce Magazine or saucemagazine.com.

Sauce Magazine is printed on recycled paper using soy inks.

Our reviewers are never provided with complimentary food or drinks from the restaurants in exchange for favorable reviews, nor are their identities as reviewers made known during their visits.

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SEND A $25 CHECK TO: SAUCE MAGAZINE – SUBSCRIPTIONS for a 12-month subscription 1820 Chouteau

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St. Louis, MO 63103

January 2014


January 2014

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contents january 2014

editors' picks 11

EAT THIS Goji Sole at Hiro Asian Kitchen

12

TRENDWATCH

Short ribs at Element, p. 17

A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now

by ligaya figueras 30

15

HIT LIST

wine & dine

4 new places to try this month

reviews 17

NEW AND NOTABLE Element

by michael renner 20

25

A SEAT AT THE BAR Four experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake

by glenn bardgett, cory king and ted and jamie kilgore

VEGETIZE IT Vegan French onion soup

by kellie hynes 32

MAKE THIS Shrimp & citrus salad

by dee ryan

POWER LUNCH

Break out of your beer funk

Frank & Helen's Pizzeria

by eric hildebrandt

48

STUFF TO DO by byron kerman

by byron kerman 29

BUY THIS

50

WHAT I DO

Billy G's

Pinckney Bend's Classic Tonic Syrup

Joy Grdnic Christensen

by matt berkley

by ligaya figueras

by ligaya figueras

23

NIGHTLIFE

January 2014

36

ones to watch Food and drink pros with promise By Julie Cohen, Ligaya Figueras, Kellie Hynes, Byron Kerman, Catherine Klene and Michael Renner

last course

27

BEER

Features

Cover Details Ones to Watch p. 36 Clockwise from top left: Josh Poletti, Mandi Kowalski, Josh Charles, John Fausz, Jimmy Hippchen, Martin Toft and Alex Lakin Photos by Carmen Troesser

saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 7


letter from the editor

H

appy New Year! A new year is synonymous to change. For many, a flip of the calendar means a resolution to improve diet, exercise or work habits. Change is in the air at Sauce, too, as we gear up for another exciting year in the St. Louis food and beverage scene. In this issue, we’ve rolled out a number of changes, such as the addition of Power Lunch, a restaurant review written by longtime Sauce contributing writer Byron Kerman. Each month, Byron will weigh in on his noon noshing experiences at an area restaurant. In addition, we’ve ramped up our drink reportage. St. Louis’ storied beer scene continues to warrant press; regionally distilled products are hitting international shores; local wines are turning heads beyond Missouri wine country. Sauce has a phenomenal drink team – a

fine blend of award-winning beverage professionals and experienced writers. We’re excited to bring you the most comprehensive beer, wine and spirits coverage you can find anywhere in St. Louis. Lastly, you’ll notice that we’ve divided columns into four departments: Editors’ Picks, Reviews, Wine & Dine and Last Course. While we’ve made these changes in hopes of improving your experience with the magazine, some things aren’t changing at all – like our standards for excellence in journalism, the kind that garnered this magazine two Association of Food Journalism awards in 2013, including Vegetize It being named Best Food Column in the country. And we’re proud that, at a time when the identities of restaurant critics around the country are being made known to restaurant employees and readers alike, ours remain secret.

Being anonymous means they receive the same treatment that any patron would expect, enabling their critiques to be more fair and unbiased. Sauce is currently in its 13th year in print. To some, 13 is an unlucky number. We say, “Let’s celebrate!” Our glasses are raised, and we look forward to sharing with you the best that this year has to offer, starting with our Ones to Watch Class of 2014 (p. 36). Cheers,

Ligaya Figueras Executive editor

Photo by jonathan gayman

From left to right, publisher Allyson Mace and executive editor Ligaya Figueras gather with the Sauce beverage writing team including Cory King, managing editor Julie Cohen, Glenn Bardgett, Jamie Kilgore, Ted Kilgore, Daniels Blake-Parseliti and Lauren Blake-Parseliti.

All of Sauce’s beverage writers enjoy a good drink, but we each have our preferred vessel. Go to saucemagazine.com/blog to read anecdotes about our favorite glassware.

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editors' picks

eat this

We’d love to get away for a weeklong winter spa trip and rejuvenate with massages, yoga and healthy meals. Since we can’t, we’re doing the “feel-good” thing by ordering our favorite spa-like menu item at Hiro Asian Kitchen: GOJI SOLE. Fillet of sole is gently steamed with a sweet and spicy goji berry broth. The delicate fish is placed atop pan-seared photo by carmen troesser

tofu, steamed Napa cabbage rolls stuffed with enoki and shiitake mushrooms, and then garnished with crisp ginger slices. Be sure to pack up whatever remains of that divine goji sauce to pour over hot rice for day two of your spa getaway. Hiro Asian Kitchen, 1405 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.4476, hiroasiankitchen.com

January 2014

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A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now By ligaya Figueras

Black is t he ne w black

Snap, crackle, pop Forget Rice Krispies. Get your snap, crackle, pop from cracklings – and not the pork variety. The Libertine was serving both beef and squid versions of these crunchy munchies. The kitchen brigade at Brasserie is still quacking up over its special of duck confit-stuffed eggs garnished with duck cracklings, and you can dive into scallop cracklings at Sidney Street Cafe when you order Scallops and Piggy Noodles.

Black is the color of the moment. Squid ink has been tingeing everything black – from the poached sea scallops that were at Elaia to fried oysters in a black sauce gribiche at Central Table Food Hall to the black vinaigrette that accompanies the ahi tuna at Eau Bistro. Black lentils appeared at Elaia’s sister restaurant, Olio; boudin noir as dark as night graces the plates at The Libertine. But what we really want painting our plate black is that rare breed of Indonesian black chicken called Ayam Cenami that recently arrived to breeders stateside.

Beignets with espresso cream at Three Sixty

Bringing pickleback There’s nothing quite like a shot of Jameson’s Irish whiskey with a chaser of salty pickle brine. This two-shot hipster drink, known as a pickleback, is gaining traction here in town, especially at Quincy Street Bistro. Beginning this month, the restaurant’s, executive chef, Rick Lewis, introduces a pickleback with a local twist. Order a “Tall, Neat and Pickled,” and you’ll get a 25-ounce tallboy of Busch beer, a shot of Missouri-made Mad Buffalo Moonshine and a shot of house-made pickle juice.

Banh mi goes mainstream

Breakfast for dessert The dessert pairing of the moment is an after-church specialty: coffee and doughnuts. Element has cleared the menu of coffee creme brulee with doughnuts for dessert, but you can still find caffeinated sweet treats elsewhere. Order beignets stuffed with espresso mascarpone and drizzled with coffee liqueur and warm chocolate sauce at Nico or bite into beignets with espresso cream at Three Sixty.

PB&Js grow up

The quintessential sandwich of your childhood – a PB&J – is something you can never outgrow. And why would you, when unconventional adult versions improve on the original? In the crepe cake recently offered at Crêpes: Etc, muscat jelly and peanut butter mousse were spread between crepe layers. Iron Barley’s Ballistic Elvis sees strawberry preserves and chunky peanut butter, grilled bananas, American cheese and hot pepper flakes (add bacon if your arteries can handle it) slapped between two pieces of Texas toast and then grilled, making it the hottest PB&J you’ve ever eaten. The childhood delight makes for a fine ending to a meal at Five Bistro, where you can periodically find a brioche doughnut with jam, peanuts and pecans.

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You don’t have to head to a Vietnamese eatery to get your banh mi flavor fix. The Asian sub sandwich is becoming a near staple at new American restaurants that dabble in global flavors. It’s come and gone at Element and Mike Shannon’s Grill, but you can still bite into a creative banh mi at Taste, Bridge and Dressel’s Public House or sink a fork into a latenight banh mi salad bowl on the bar menu at newly opened Nathalie’s.

Neck-and-neck

Why go as far as Portland, Ore., to try the sausage-stuffed duck neck at St. Jack Restaurant when you can find funky neck dishes all around town? On a recent Butcher Block Wednesday at Eleven Eleven Mississippi, chef-GM Bob Colosimo broke down the bird – turkey, that is – and turned the neck into a heck of a turkey osso bucco. Meanwhile, lamb is running neck and neck with birds of a feather. At Taste, chef Matt Daughaday shakes up his mainstay, lamb neck sugo, by giving lamb neck a long hot braise in Moroccan flavors then serving it as a ragú over cavatelli. And over at Sidney Street Cafe, chef Kevin Nashan features a roasted lamb dish with a side of roasted lamb neck stuffed in pastry, fried and served with curry aioli. January 2014


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hit list

4 new places to try this month

1

Planter’s House 1000 Mississippi Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2603, plantershousestl.com

planters house and nathalie's photos by michelle volansky; pasta photo courtesy of katie's pizza & pasta osteria

Veteran bartenders Ted and Jamie Kilgore and their business partner Ted Charak have finally opened the much-anticipated cocktail bar and restaurant Planter’s House in Lafayette Square. Grab a seat in the stately main room and sample from an innovative cocktail menu that features well-curated spirits and house-made vermouth, cordials, syrups and shrubs – or head to the swanky Bullock Room for a more intimate bar experience and a special drink menu. Wherever you sit, start with the Manhattanite; Rittenhouse rye whiskey, vermouth, French aperitif Suze, Scrappy’s chocolate bitters and a flamed orange twist make for a truly knockout drink. If coming for dinner, try the farro pilaf, a warm pile of the toothsome grain tossed with grilled winter vegetables, wild mushrooms, dried fruit and walnuts, finished with a drizzle of egg yolk. After a couple more cocktails, including a glass of sweet, citrusy whiskey punch, move on to the poutine: Crisp fingerling potatoes coated in thick red wine pork gravy dotted with aged Gouda makes for sophisticated French drunk food at its best.

2

Nathalie’s 4356 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, 314.533.1580, nathaliesstl.com

Salt’s former space sees life again as Nathalie’s, an eclectic manse, featuring produce from owner Nathalie Pettus’ Overlook Farm in Clarksville, Mo. Fans of Duff’s will champion the return of Jimmy Voss, Nathalie’s executive chef. Enjoy a cup of his rich, beefy French onion soup while you wait for your entree of Vegetarian Winter Roulade (another Duff’s staple), a hearty mix of wild rice, lentils and roasted vegetables wrapped in a flaky phyllo pocket. Finish your meal with a slice of gluten-free Ibarra cake. January 2014

3

Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria 9568 Manchester Road, Rock Hill, 314.942.6555, katiespizzaandpasta.com Katie’s Pizzeria Cafe founder Katie Lee and her fiance Ted Collier have opened Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria, thanks in part to a successful Kickstarter campaign last year. Fans of Katie’s Pizzeria will be pleased to find the same chewy and slightly charred pizza crust (but here, it’s baked in a wood-fired oven) and a slew of peculiar yet winning topping combinations such as Kup’s Egg, featuring wild mushrooms, fiama sausage, fontina, goat cheese, thyme and a runny farm egg. Fig & Squash is a nice, seasonal pizza starring roasted butternut squash, black mission figs, pancetta, goat cheese and a tart balsamic reduction to cut the sweet. Of the house-made pastas, we recommend the Fiori, a flower-shaped pasta that comes with a mix of mushrooms in a porcini sauce fragrant with roasted garlic and topped with a dollop of velvety marscapone cheese.

4

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants 1146 Town and Country Crossing Drive, Town and Country, 636.489.0059, chwinery.com When you walk into the massive 9,000-square-foot Cooper’s Hawk Winery in Town and Country, grab a seat at the bar or in the 300-seat dining room and relax with a glass of the house red or white, easy picks when you don’t feel like choosing among more than 40 wines, all made with California grapes, all available by the glass and all sold at bargain prices. When you do feel like thinking varietal, go for the Sangiovese or the Barbera. On the food side, Cooper’s Hawk offers a sizeable menu, but we went straight for the crispy roasted vegetable and goat cheese flatbread, topped with pesto, a medley of veggies, roasted grape tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella and a divine drizzle of balsamic glaze. For dessert, it’s a split decision between the banana caramel ice cream sandwich and the airiest of chocolate cakes layered with chocolate mousse and ganache. saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 15


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reviews Venison chop at Element

new and notable

element

T

by Michael Renner | Photos by Jonathan Gayman

he beauty of roast chicken is its timeless simplicity, humble comfort and one-in-every-oven affordability. Yet, I recently read that there’s a bird boom in New York City, with some restaurants commanding upwards of $80 for a whole roasted chicken (At those luxurious prices, I’m sure it’s labeled poulet on the menu.). Of course, these aren’t the bland commodity chickens found on most Americans’ plates; only organically raised heritage birds sourced from small, nearby farms have the flavor to fetch such prices.

new and notable element p. 17 / power lunch FRANK & HELEN'S PIZZERIA p. 20 / nightlife BILLY G's p. 23 January 2014

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verdant Swiss chard and whipped rutabaga subbing for mashed potatoes on which exquisitely tender rib meat slid off the bone, glistening from its long braise in 4 Hands Morning Glory sweet potato ale. Beef cheeks as an appetizer seemed a bit much given the meat’s extreme richness, but slivers of celery combined with a mild chile heat, a mint chimichurri and an acidic tang from a light lime sauce sufficiently cut the fatty texture.

reviews new and notable 2 of 2

The roasted half-chicken at Element – the new four-chefs-in-one restaurant located on the grounds of the former City Hospital – also came from a small, nearby farm, but it only set me back 18 bucks. It also made me wonder how roasted chicken four times the price could possibly taste.

rich and intimate, enhanced by reclaimed barn wood, exposed brick and rusted iron girders. Many of the handmade tables are arranged along the perimeter of the open kitchen, a setup that is – unlike a chef ’s table or kitchen bar – more conducive for table talk than chef chat.

But before you dig into that succulent bird, look around. Housed on the top two floors of the old hospital’s power plant, Element has a chic, post-industrial feel. The third-floor lounge is warm and masculine: heavy leather couches, low light, polished cement floors, a commanding view of Busch Stadium from the eastfacing windows and a stunning outdoor terrace on the west side. The second-floor dining room is dim and sensual, lit by the subtle flicker of vintage Edison-style bulbs emanating from wooden fixtures and amber-hued glass pendants. The space is

Not that these chefs wouldn’t be worth chatting up. Executive chef Brian Hardesty (Terrene, Guerilla Street Food food truck) has organized a team that currently includes chefs Sam Boettler, Chris DiMercurio and Jerrid Scholten. Rather than sticking to the old commandand-control structure, these guys share everything needed to run a tight kitchen. It’s a kind of crucible, where the chefs clash, converge and collaborate, ultimately fusing their styles and techniques into a cohesive dinner menu (this one divided into small and large plates).

AT A GLANCE Element

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Where Element, 1419 Carroll St., St. Louis, 314.241.1674, elementstl.com

Don’t Miss Dishes Roast chicken, venison chop, short ribs

While the kitchen is open, the collaboration is invisible to the diner. We wouldn’t know that Boettler created the venison dish. But we do know the meaty, savory bone-in chop from the large plates menu was seared to medium, tasted richer than beef and lacked the gaminess of wild venison. A bed of roasted parsnips, radishes and red potatoes provided winter earthiness, while a smoked Concord grape sauce added a touch of sweetness. Another meaty favorite is that halfchicken. The three-step process (brine, sous vide and oven roast) rendered the bird tender and succulent with perfectly crisp, crackling skin. Root vegetables and mushrooms in butter and a douse of sherry sauce rounded out this soul-satisfying meal. Portions of the menu change every few weeks, but this is a dish that I hope takes up permanent residence. Short ribs define winter comfort, but the kitchen redefined the dish with

Vibe The renovated space has a post-industrial, warm, woody and intimate feel.

A plate of beet pappardelle didn’t Chef suffer from the assistants gloppiness that Paul Christian often plagues and Beth the noodle when Esporrin, right made in-house; these were thick and perfectly al dente. But the sauce of rosemary-scented brown butter and crushed Marcona almonds was too light, making for a dry heap of bright red pasta. A salad of spicy-bitter greens, guanciale bits and shaved Honeycrisp apple would have excelled, but it was laden with oil and not enough cider to cut the slickness. Bread is a Companion mini baguette served warm and crispy with honey-thyme butter, but unless you’re craving carbs, there’s no need to spend an extra $3 for the service. Desserts are limited to three or four changing selections, but that doesn’t mean they’re given short shrift. One night there was a deliciously festive float of house-made pumpkin ice cream and house-made ginger snap soda, served with a half-shot of rye, if desired. I did. The Blondie was a sophisticated s’more for adults: Crunchy graham cracker cake, house-made marshmallow ice cream, torched marshmallows and chocolate ganache proved to be a chewy union of burnt sweet, salty and butter. Maybe putting a team of chefs in one kitchen is a recipe for disaster; chefs are known to have some pretty big egos. Maybe the whole concept is a gimmick. But when watching this crew in action, I was struck by how well the components came together. Perhaps these are the four elements of success.

Entree Prices Small plates: $8 to $14; large plates: $14 to $23

When Lunch: Tue. to Fri. – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner: Tue to Sat. – 5 to 10 p.m.

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reviews

artichoke heart and pickled pepperoncini guarding the perimeter. It’s Frank & Helen’s House Creamy Garlic dressing, though, that will have you ordering this salad again. It’s powerfully garlicky (as in, so garlicky it will sting your tongue) and super tangy – you could get finicky kids to eat just about Frank & Helen’s anything dunked in this stuff. Pizzeria Hell, I’d eat tomato slices 8111 Olive Blvd., dipped in it all day long. University City, There are plenty of delicious 314.997.0666, Italian house dressings in frankandhelens.com town, but this one is habitforming.

power lunch

The runners-up Pasta is served as per usual in a white or red sauce. The latter – with or without meat – was average, and the disappointing macn-cheese tasted like Velveeta right out of the box. Sweet potato fries were perfectly crunchy.

[1]

is fried, not broasted, it tasted plenty juicy. Consider ordering the wings in the spicy sauce, which is actually a subtle butter marinade that enhances rather than masks the salty, crunchiness of the skin. No dipping sauce required.

Power Lunch

Frank & Helen's Pizzeria by Byron Kerman | photos by Elizabeth Jochum

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eighborhood Italian spot Frank & Helen’s Pizzeria is known for three things: chicken, pizza and a cozy, unpretentious interior that has remained fairly unchanged for 58 years. With a smoked-glass mirror lining one long wall and turquoise accent partitions, Frank & Helen’s vintage dining room is perfect for Tony Soprano but has stood long enough to welcome a young Tony Bennett.

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“Broasted” Chicken is the Bomb Pizza is in the name, but it’s the chicken that’ll make you a regular. Frank & Helen’s is famous for its chicken [1] that is “broasted,” a 12-hour process that simultaneously pressure-cooks and flashfries the bird. The meat comes out superjuicy while the skin stays crispy, making traditional fried chicken seem parched in comparison. While an appetizer of wings

Pizza on a stone The most popular pizza crust is thin, which is on the thin side of medium (Frank & Helen’s “extra-thin” is the infamous St. Louis cracker-crust we know so well.). Regulars love this thin crust, cooked in the oven on a hot stone, but your mileage may vary. The dough itself did not set my world afire, but it was baked to a nice chew, and the extra-thin was nice and crispy. (A 1-inch thick crust is available, too, at no extra charge.) Pizzas, cut into small squares, are topped with a choice or combination of mozzarella, Provel, cheddar, Parmesan or Gorgonzola. “Frank’s Special” [2 ] features nearly every topping on the menu, with five different meats bonded by tomatoes and the snap of raw onion, plus anchovies, green peppers, garlic, black olives and mushrooms. It’s a hearty meat-bomb that satisfies. Garlic and more garlic The house salad was what you might expect from a local Italian spot – iceberg and romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese and red onions with a single tomato wedge,

Lunchtime rush Lunch specials, including pizza, calzones and sandwiches, come with two sides, salad or soup. None of them will leave you hungry, and the calzone may necessitate a nap. The half-chicken is here, too, offering a juicy, golden respite from workday concerns. Speed of service varies widely but expect brisk, competent servers during the busy lunchtime.

[2 ] the takeaway With juicy, crispy broasted chicken, an addictive house salad dressing and serviceable pizza, Frank & Helen’s is more than a neighborhood joint. Locals in-theknow have been sliding into these booths for generations. If you can’t let your hair down at Frank & Helen’s, you might need some sort of animal tranquilizer. The thoroughly unpretentious dining room – with its goldflecked Formica tables and large parties of U. City families enjoying the scene – is a bubble trapped in the amber of an earlier era. When your salad arrives with a “cracker boat” on the side, it’s not some ironic hipster nostalgia – it’s just old-school cool. January 2014


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reviews

nightlife

nightlife

Billy G's by Matt berkley | Photos by jonathan gayman

Eclectic is a nice way of describing a place that is, more accurately, confused. Billy G’s lives at the intersection of rowdyyuppie sports bar and family-friendly kitchen. Though it fails to do anything Billy G’s innovative, the menu, 131 W. Argonne like the atmosphere, is Drive, Kirkwood, impossible to dislike. 314.984.8000, Seemingly Italian, billygskirkwood.com the food selection is actually a scattershot of upscale comfort dishes, barbecue plates, pseudo-Southern fare, pub food and greasy staples straight from the Hill. You want a Cajun black burger? Sure thing. Scottish salmon? Why not? Greek pita board? Coming right up. While unfocused, the menu is nonetheless appealing to Kirkwood’s upper-middle class, if the crowds bear witness. Though certainly good bar food, even staples such as Caesar salad and eggplant Parmesan were just a shade above average. The shrimp diavolo, the most interesting option on the appetizer menu, was just undercooked prawns bathed in what may as well have been canned marinara.

I

f the former Italian restaurant Massa’s was an old uncle who sipped Chianti and clung to conventions, its replacement, Billy G’s, is the rascally cousin who slips grain alcohol into the punch bowl. Even on a Wednesday, three bartenders are hustling to sling drinks for crowds two to three deep. It’s worse on weekends when the no-reservations policy (unless you’re with a big group) makes for a perpetually packed house. Fortified by an incredibly wellrenovated, smartly stocked bar, the popular new kid on West Argonne is fast becoming a regular haunt for the county crowd. The Gianino family pulled out all the stops with Billy G’s – its 10th restaurant endeavor. To passers-by, it cuts a fine figure. A supersized patio provides a nifty rock-laden, communal fire pit, flaming torch towers, and plush, allweather couches and armchairs situated in little nooks where gaggles of friends huddle in scarves and peacoats with bottles of craft beer in hand. The space, located directly across from the Kirkwood Train Station, has undergone substantial reconstructive surgery, stripped down to exposed brick walls and an open

January 2014

kitchen. The front of the house is dominated by a U-shaped bar and a bunch of HD flatscreen TVs perpetually set to sports. The casual, often boisterous atmosphere spills into the dining room – itself a contemporary space with muted wood decor and massive paper light fixtures. The 10 or so taps stemming from the back wall are mostly local craft brews – Civil Life, 4 Hands, Perennial, Urban Chestnut, O’Fallon and the like – plus another 30 or so bottles – from Scrimshaw to Crispin cider. This I can get used to. It’s almost enough to make me overlook the forgettable and seemingly obligatory offering of martinis thrown into a cocktail menu that could use some streamlining. (I get that fruit chunks are fresh, but, seriously, the world can do without another strawberry-tini.) Exceptions are two signature house cocktails: Blackberry Smash Lemonade, a tart little guy with a healthy wallop of Jack Daniels and a handful of crushed blackberries served up in a mason jar; also worth sampling is Caboose Juice, a fruit punch doused in a mystery liquor that even the bartender kept secret.

Where the kitchen does shine, though, is the pizza. For decades, critics have tied St. Louis-style pizza to the whipping post. This will no doubt always be the case, especially for interlopers who detest the lava-like, sugary-sweet Provel cheese and cracker-thin crust. But for its faithful fans, the Gianino’s version will prove to be a crisp yet gooey piece of perfection. Served on a wooden plank, the Deluxe comes stacked high with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions and thick slices of green pepper. If there’s a gourmet version of St. Louis-style, this pizza certainly qualifies. For the more traditional, the kitchen’s wood-fired, brick pizza oven also pushes out a delectable version of the Margherita with buffalo mozzarella and crushed tomatoes. Since the opening of Billy G's in August, the staff has become exceptional in juggling the regular onslaught of patrons cramming the bar area and angling for a seat. This problem will likely carry over to the patio, which will, no doubt, be swamped with crowds this spring. So grab a beer. The table is going to be awhile.

order it: Billy G's

Blackberry Smash Lemonade is a tart little guy with a healthy wallop of Jack Daniels.

If there’s a gourmet version of St. Louisstyle pizza, the Deluxe certainly qualifies.

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wine& dine

Loveblock 2011 pinot gris

ILLUSTRATIONS BY VIDHYA NAGARAJAN; PHOTO BY ELIZABETH JOCHUM

A Seat at the Bar / Four experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake Long ago, beer was made differently in areas around the world, which is what created many of the modern styles. Today, this trend is still evolving as regions, even here in the U.S., have developed new cory king interpretations and whole new Certified Cicerone, head styles. The West Coast version brewer at Perennial Artisan of the IPA is a great example. Ales and founder of Side Often extremely dry in order Project Brewing to let the hops overpower any malt balance, West Coast IPAs are more bitter, with notes of pine needles, resin, earthy spice and floral aromatics. For the best of the West, try Green Flash’s West Coast IPA and Port Brewing’s Hop-15, or keep it local with 2nd Shift’s Art of Neurosis IPA. January 2014

As New Year’s resolutions and post-holiday cleansings commence, don’t think you need to cut out cocktails; rather, look to aperitifs. Aperitifs are lower in alcohol, are often wine-based, and find their flavors and aromatics most ted and jamie prominently from fruit, herbs kilgore and spices. Two aperitifs we love USBG, B.A.R. Ready, BarSmart are Cocchi Americano Rosa and co-owners/bartenders at (fruity, floral and slightly bitter) Planter’s House and Cappelletti Aperitivo (fruity and herbal with bitter orange notes). These tasty new arrivals tend to have more fruit flavors, while being an easy substitute for vermouth in your favorite cocktail. Or try mixing them with club soda, tonic or Champagne. Sipping on a rose-hued drink is sure to keep you in the pink!

A new year for me has meant a new winery from an old friend. For the longest time, I’ve had issues with the overly acidic, “cat pee” style of sauvignon blancs coming out of New glenn bardgett Zealand. Well, I guess the Member of the Missouri Wine planets are in alignment and Grape Board and wine because I just found an director at Annie Gunn’s alternative white from the land Down Under: the stunning Loveblock 2011 pinot gris from Erica and Kim Crawford’s new Loveblock Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand. This $25 dry white is a vision of varietal character and ripeness, while being full, weighty and jampacked with melons and pears. saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 25


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new beers to try

Break Out of Your Beer Funk We’ve all been there. You venture out of your beer comfort zone only to have your palate assaulted by unfamiliar, unpleasant tastes. Disheartened, you return to your same, safe brew. Here, we offer three widely available alternatives sure to help you expand your beer repertoire. — Eric Hildebrandt

Bud Light Why you like it It’s what you were raised on. It goes down quick, and its marketing machine is the best in the business. Try Keller bier or zwickel bier Keller and zwickel biers are unfiltered, lightly hopped, low-alcohol lagers. Just like their mega-brewery counterparts, the key to these styles is freshness. Buy Urban Chestnut Zwickel The Midtown brewery’s flagship lager is the perfect beer to transition from the beer of the masses. Smooth and rich, this beer is perfect for every occasion.

Blue Moon Why you like it It’s easy to find. Blue Moon is likely on the menu, even at places that don’t carry a large beer selection. And that slice of orange is an eye-catcher. Try Belgian white ale (without the fruit) A beer should stand on its own. That slice of orange actually kills the head, which in turn kills much of the aroma and taste. Buy Avery White Rascal Brewed with coriander and Curaçao orange peel, Avery White Rascal is a true Belgian-style white ale.

Guinness Why you like it It’s known as a classic around the world, and that white head hypnotizes during the pour. Try Milk stout Milk stouts are generally sweeter than dry stouts, thanks to the unfermentable sugars added to the brew kettle. These additions contribute to the beer’s silky body and mouth feel. Buy Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro Most beers use carbon dioxide in the carbonation process, but like its Irish counterpart, Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro gets its fizz from nitrogen. The smaller bubbles produce a creamy delight and a benchmark for the style.

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buy this: tonic syrup

buy this Pinckney Bend's Classic Tonic Syrup

We just got pickier about our tonic. The newly released tonic syrup by local distillery Pinckney Bend turns a gin and tonic on its head. Its lemon-rose garden scent, hibiscus and citrus-forward flavors and beautiful, blushpink color make for a wowza G&T. According to Pinckney Bend’s Ralph Haynes, the distillery is the only one in the world to offer its own companion tonic syrup, but after testing it (tough job, we know), we concluded that it pairs with loads of other alcoholic beverages – bubbles, bourbon and even white rum. Our winning drink with this versatile mixer? A riff on a French 75, a vintage cocktail that gets its name from a powerful French 75 mm field gun. We’re calling our creation SA-MO2014: It has the kick of a semiautomatic and it’s made (mostly) in Mo. – Ligaya Figueras

SA-MO2014 1 serving ¾ oz. Pinckney Bend classic tonic syrup 1 oz. Pinckney Bend gin 4 oz. extra dry (brut) Champagne, chilled • To an ice-filled Collins glass, add the tonic syrup, then the gin, followed by the chilled Champagne. Stir briefly.

One bottle of tonic syrup is enough to build a 22-drink armory of SAMO2014s.

Pinckney Bend’s tonic syrup is available at The Wine & Cheese Place’s Clayton location, Lukas Liquor and Schnucks’ Ballwin and Kehrs Mill locations.

Since you can’t summon your favorite bartender when you want to sip a fine cocktail at home, it’s time you learned how to stir and shake on your own. This month, we’re whipping up drinks from the latest cocktail books: Craft Cocktails at Home by Kevin Liu, Handcrafted Cocktails by Molly Wellmann, Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry and Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from The Lone Star State by David Alan. Join us every Tuesday at saucemagazine. com/blog as we try our hand at mixology and reveal recipes from these books. Then, enter to win a copy to add to your own collection. January 2014

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vegetize it: french onion soup

The onion race: a marathon not a sprint BY kellie hynes | Photos by Carmen Troesser

S

ure, you can avoid meat when it’s obvious, but sometimes it sneaks into a seemingly vegetarian dish. At the very top of my Who Knew There Was A Cow In There? list is French onion soup. Apparently, my cold weather favorite gets its rich, hearty flavor from beef broth. Oops. One would assume it shouldn’t be hard to make a vegan French onion soup. The ingredients are pretty basic: yellow onions, broth and time. Lots of time.

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In his cookbook Bouchon, Thomas Keller of The French Laundry infamously suggests caramelizing onions for … not 30 minutes … not 60 minutes … not even three hours. Keller wants you to bathe in onion steam for five hours. Which sounds totally insane, except I’m a working mom who will do anything for a half day of “me time.” I put together a French onion soup recipe that’s part Thomas Keller, part Famous-Barr, and part Beyoncé (She does the soundtrack for the cooking show in my mind.). Until this project, I had no idea that I was slicing onions incorrectly. My usual way, down the middle and across the grain, yielded different sized pieces. The little ones cooked too quickly and burned. The big pieces didn’t cook enough and were tough. Instead, you can slice uniform slivers by cutting with the grain. Slice in half from root-to-tip, adjusting the angle of your knife to make radial cuts as you go. The resulting pile of perfectly proportioned onion slices filled my 3-quart Le Creuset French oven. Here’s what happened next: 1 hour: I’ve been stirring every 15 minutes, and nothing is brown yet. The onions are sweating like an old man in the steam room at the Y. I clean out my junk drawer. 2 hours: Onions are a blah shade of beige. I turn up the heat to medium. The onion steam is making my eyes water and my upper lip glisten. 2½ hours: The enamel on my pot is scorched, and the onions are starting to burn. I’ve invested 150 minutes in these babies and will not throw them away. I transfer the onions to a mixing bowl, and use a paste of water and

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Bar Keeper’s Friend to scrub away the charred spot. I return the onions over a lower temperature and pretend nothing has happened. 3 hours: I’m stirring constantly now, desperately avoiding another scorched incident. The onions are a viscous dark brown and will stick to the bottom of the pan if I pause for even a minute. Onions are jackasses. 3½ hours: My onions seem to be perfectly caramelized. They are tender, syrupy and a gorgeous shade of mahogany brown. I would stop here, but Thomas Keller thinks they need another hour and a half. Thomas Keller doesn’t smell like Eat-Rite Diner. 4 hours: The good news is that my onions are no longer sticking to the bottom of the pan. 4½ hours: They’re so fluffy, they’re practically ethereal. I marvel at Keller’s ability to transform a vegetable from a solid to a liquid to a gas. 5 hours: That’s not chemistry; that’s dehydration. I’ve managed to overcook the onions so badly that they are basically ash, and completely devoid of flavor. I throw them away and start over. Eating chicken would be so much easier. I got it right the second time around – when I listened to the onions and stopped caramelizing after three and a half hours. Some vegetable broth, sherry and vinegar turned the onions into a soup. And a night in the refrigerator turned the soup into sublime. Of course, I still had to figure out how to finish the dish. The traditional

recipe suggests a baguette smothered in ooey-gooey Gruyere that is literally and figuratively over-the-top delicious, and if you’re not vegan, by all means, indulge. But if you’re watching your dairy intake, you need to meet my friend, nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast flakes are packed with B vitamins and taste cheesy, salty and a little nutty. I sprinkled some over sprouted wheat bread and broiled it for a few seconds. These vegan cheesy toasts didn’t look quite as luscious as the cheese fete in Thomas Keller’s version, but they tasted like a worthy topper for my epic onions. What have I learned from all this? 1) Don’t even think about washing your hair before you cook onions. 2) I need to trust my intuition instead of a timer. We all do. If you think something is finished, undercooked, over salted, or in some way different than what your recipe says, then you should listen to yourself. Unless, of course, the real Thomas Keller is actually in your kitchen and tells you his secret for marathon caramelizing. Then you should definitely listen to him.

Vegan French Onion Soup 6 servings 3 lbs. yellow onions 5 Tbsp. canola oil Pinch each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour 6 cups vegetable broth ½ cup dry sherry 1 tsp. sherry vinegar 6 slices Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted wholegrain bread

2 Tbsp. olive oil 3 tsp. nutritional yeast flakes, divided* • Slice the top and bottom off an onion. Remove the skin and tough outer layers. Cut the onion in half, lengthwise, from root to tip. Remove the core. Place the flat side on the cutting board, and slice it lengthwise, along the grain, into ¼-inch ribbons. Repeat with the remaining onions. • Heat the canola oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until they are wilted and the juices are reduced, approximately 1 hour. Lower the heat and stir frequently, scraping the bottom of the pan to ensure the onions don’t stick, until they are dark brown, viscous and sweet, approximately 2 to 3 hours. • Add the whole-wheat flour and stir to coat the onions. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the broth, sherry and sherry vinegar. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. • Before serving, reheat the soup over medium heat. Turn oven to broil. Place the bread slices on a broiler sheet. Brush the tops of the slices with the olive oil, and sprinkle ½ teaspoon of nutritional yeast on each slice. Place the sheet under the broiler for a few seconds to toast the bread, watching carefully to avoid burning. Slice the toasts into triangles. Divide the soup evenly among 6 bowls and garnish with the toasts. * Available in the bulk-food aisle at Dierbergs and Whole Foods

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MAKE THIS Shrimp & Citrus Salad

make this: shrimp & citrus salad

Banish the winter blahs with this bright pink and green salad. In a large bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 lime, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon agave and 1 teaspoon minced shallot. Supreme 1 pink grapefruit by peeling and removing the pith with a sharp knife, and then slicing between the membranes. Add the grapefruit sections to the bowl. Gently toss with 1 head torn Boston lettuce and 1 chopped avocado. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Sprinkle 8 peeled, deveined shrimp with a little salt and chile powder and saute until cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove, toss with the salad and serve. — Dee Ryan

active time: 15 minutes

For more fresh, flavor-packed salads, join us online as we kick off the new year with “31 Days of Salad.” Every day in January, we’ll post a fabulous seasonal salad from around town or a salad recipe to make at home. Go to Saucemagazine.com/blog and start 2014 off right!

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photo by elizabeth jochum

Serve with thick slices of baguette brushed with olive oil and toasted under the broiler.


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Food and drink pros with promise We’re always on the lookout for the next big name from the local food and drink scene. From zealous culinarians and cerebral cocktailians to an unflappable general manager and the brain behind a best-selling beer, this year’s mighty seven are young, talented and overflowing with possibility. Meet the Ones to Watch Class of 2014.

By Julie Cohen, Ligaya Figueras, Kellie Hynes, Byron Kerman, Catherine Klene and Michael Renner Photos by Carmen Troesser

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Mandi Kowalski

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Mandi Kowalski

Why Watch Her: Bartending is her academic pursuit. Age: 24

Abstract: Mandi Kowalski began bartending while studying abroad in London. Her resume includes Petra Cafe, Livery Company, The Block, Pi, Tree House and Sanctuaria. Currently, she works at this city’s newest cocktail lounge Planter’s House. In 2013, Kowalski jumped into the bartending competition ring. An active member of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild - St. Louis chapter, she appears to have the drive to remain at the forefront of contemporary bartending. Kowalski recently earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, which seems to have shaped her perception of the industry. This study seeks to ascertain whether Kowalski is a bartender with promise.

Method: • One-on-one interview with subject • Interviews with subject’s supervisors and industry peers • Observations of subject in her work environment

Findings: Demonstration of mixology proficiency: • BarSmarts certified • Survived Sanctuaria. “It was a lot of studying because the lists are so overwhelming,” Kowalski said. “I’m really glad I got thrown into working at Sanctuaria because not only is it a cocktail bar, it’s a high-volume bar.” • Helped create the debut cocktail menu for vegetarian restaurant Tree House in 2013. “It allowed me to experiment with a lot of ingredients that I hadn’t done [much] with [before], like kombucha.” • Fan favorite winner in two cocktail competitions in 2013: The Big O Classic Couples Cocktail Competition for cocktail Gatsby and Daisy, and the regional Paris of the Plains Bartending Competition for cocktail Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

Self-motivated learner: • Kowalski is bookish. “I read a lot.

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I’m very studious. That plays into everything I do.” • Subject’s two-week vacation to Europe in 2013 included industry-minded visits to: Plymouth Gin distillery (“I got to make my own gin when I was there.”); London cocktail bars, including culinary-inspired speakeasy The Nightjar (“I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins best new cocktail bar or best cocktail menu.”); Scotland (“I tasted a lot of scotch. I tried to stick to things not available in the U.S.); France (“The cocktail scene is not phenomenal.”); and Poland (“I fell in love with mulled beer. Why are we not mulling beer in the States?”).

On-the-fly creativity: • “Her creative abilities are spot-on. She can make you anything you want. She’s good at drawing out information from people to make them a drink right there and then,” remarked Matt Seiter, former bar manager at Sanctuaria. • “Throw weird ingredients at me. I like to play with it until I find something that is amazing,” Kowalski said. Subject underwent a theoretical, makeme-a-drink test. Parameters: frothy, lovely, gin, lavender, dessert. Result: “Something

slightly warm. Vanilla and lavender. Some spice. Maybe cream, an egg. I’m a big fan of pairing gins with mezcal. So I’d probably sneak some mezcal, hoping you weren’t too afraid of smoke.” • Subject withstood disaster at the Bombay Sapphire Gin competition despite missing bar tools: “The promotional girls working the event took my Hawthorne strainers. I was in the middle of making my drinks. My strainers weren’t there. That was a good lesson learned.”

organization whose mission is to build a community for the beverage industry – tea, coffee, wine, cocktails, etc. – with a particular focus on working with recovering alcoholics to “take care of our own … shed light on [alcoholism]. We’ve all lost friends to it, sadly. We don’t want to see that anymore.”

Conclusion: Finalist, Ones to Watch Class of 2014 – Ligaya Figueras

Unafraid to go against the grain: • “I call myself a ‘bartendress.’ I’m usually the lone female.” • “I’m definitely a gin palate. I’m working with guys [at Planter’s House] who’ve been whiskeylovers for far longer than I’ve been able to drink.”

Industry viewpoint: • “Bartending is not the service industry, the food industry, the restaurant industry. It’s the hospitality industry.” • “Bartending is part sociology – learning about the person you are making the drink for.” • Subject is in the conceptual phase for Libation Laboratory, a nonprofit social service

Tune in to St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 KWMU’s Cityscape on Friday, Jan. 17 at 11 a.m. and 10 p.m., as managing editor Julie Cohen speaks with this year’s Ones to Watch Mandi Kowalski, along with Bradley Hoffmann, executive chef at Planter’s House and a member of the Ones to Watch class of 2013. January 2014


Jimmy Hippchen /

Dinner at Cleveland-Heath was literally a life-changing experience for Jimmy Hippchen. After eating a “perfect” meal there, he put down his fork – and an executive chef position at The Crow’s Nest – to pick up an education as a line cook in the much-respected C-H kitchen in Edwardsville, Ill. Here, he shares everything from his favorite band (You’ve never heard of it.) to his favorite after-hours meal (You should make it tonight.). January 2014

Why work with food? I dropped out of art school, but food is kind of the same thing. You have a blank canvas, and you can do whatever you want with it. And food is reproducible. You make one big painting; that’s it. It’s done. But I can make 20 pappardelles in one night. Who taught you how to cook? Jackson Noon at the Bleeding Deacon was the first one who showed me what food can do. But everyone teaches me how to cook; in every job you learn a little bit

Why Watch Him: He took one step back to take two steps forward. Age: 27

more. I still don’t know how to cook – but I know a couple of tricks. I think you know how to cook. There’s still a fail rate. Sometimes you think you’re doing something great, but something goes terribly wrong. Like, I’ll make a dish at home, and I’ll think it’s gonna be the best, and then I take a bite, and I’m like, “Oh, we’re ordering pizza.” What would you cook for the queen of England? A shepherd’s pie: roasted lamb, spaetzle, curried

carrot sauce, peas and pea shoots. But I’d deconstruct it, which is just pure, brash, American brattiness. What do you listen to in the kitchen? If I’m prepping, usually the most intense, over-the-top rap music I can find. But when I’m cooking, I like it cathartic. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is my favorite band. It’s my transcendental cooking music. What do you eat after a long shift? I have become the king of

leftovers in omelets. Like, take some fried chicken, put it in the skillet and make an omelet. People can say whatever they want, but a fried chicken omelet is the best thing ever. Hypothetically speaking, what’s the name of your future restaurant? Plainview Tavern, named after Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. He’s a horrible person, but it’s gritty Americana, man. – Kellie Hynes

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Why Watch Him: His Chocolate Milk Stout is 4 Hands’ bestselling seasonal to date – and his first brew. Age: 25 Call it a case of “right place, right time.” In 2011, Kevin Lemp was assembling a team to launch 4 Hands Brewing Co., just as Martin Toft, recent beer-school grad, was hunting for a job. Toft, who cut his teeth at Six Row Brewing Co., and Schlafly, was hired as 4 Hands’ assistant brewer. Two years later, he debuted his first beer – a thick, coffee-laced number made with a whopping 2 pounds of cocoa nibs per barrel. Here, 4 Hands’ golden boy tells the story of his stout.

Hooked The first time I home-brewed a batch of beer, it was horrible, a terrible beer … but I think for my roommate and I, we were brewing together; it clicked for us. Even though this beer was awful, we made beer. In on the ground floor We had to rebuild [4 Hands’] bottling line. We bought a used piece of equipment and myself and one other guy … we sat down and rebuilt an incredibly complex piece of machinery from the ground up, rerunning pneumatic lines, installing pistons, working with electrical, dealing with conveyors. We really had no clue what we were doing. Got Milk? I’d never actually brewed a milk stout on my own before. When the moment came to brew the beer, I think I already had a good idea of what I wanted it to be. I’ve always had one in the back of my head, shaping and coming together. I like the sweetness, the mouth feel, the body of a milk stout – something about the complexity that coffee or cocoa nibs would give it was really appealing, and

I thought the two of them would play really well together and be a nice, rich, complex winter beer. I think it only took me about two test batches before we hit exactly what we wanted. Stepping Up I was a little bit unsure doing my first full-scale batch. It was definitely something I was nervous about, but seeing how well it did on the market – that made me a lot more confident in what we were doing here at the brewery and what I was doing as a brewer. Letting Go I think most brewers will tell you that you never really take your hands off any brew that you’ve designed. Every time you taste that beer from then on out, you’re thinking, is this perfect? Could I change it a little bit? I think anybody who works in any field where they create something … that’s always going to be their baby, and they’re always going to be thinking, is there something I can do to make this a little better? But that’s part of producing good beers – we’re never really satisfied with them. – Catherine Klene

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Alex Lakin “Someone once emailed to ask if we could accommodate a large party on a Friday night at 7 p.m. Alex didn’t just email back to explain why we’re too busy to do that then, he responded with a five-paragraph essay,” Adam Tilford, owner of Mission Taco Joint, recalled about his general manager, Alex Lakin. “He goes beyond anything I could have asked for. This is a guy who will definitely have his own restaurant someday, and it’s gonna kick ass.” Despite his age, Lakin has been around quite the impressive front-of-the-house block – Eclipse, Monarch and Salt – before arriving at Mission. Here, the master of tact tells us how to deliver quality service, come … January 2014

HELL At one of the places I used to work, we were doing a large banquet, and we used a hot box full of sheet pans to keep trays of food warm. The bottom rack was a whole chicken or turkey, and the Sterno cans under it were steadily heating the bird until the fat hit its flashpoint, caught fire, and melted through the aluminum sheet pan it was sitting on. The whole thing went up in smoke. We grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out, but it ruined the whole hot box of food. We had to think on our toes and feed this large party in 10 to 15 minutes. That’s the kind of stuff I try to avoid, but it does happen. That’s part of the attraction of restaurant management – it’s never boring. OR HIGH WATER Last spring, when Mission was still a very new restaurant, we had a very bad storm and the tornado sirens went off. Twenty or 30 guests and a couple of staff went into the basement. While

Why Watch Him: Come hell or high water, this guy keeps it together. Age: 26

we hid out there, we kept serving the customers drinks and water. A couple of people even ordered a second margarita. Then it got worse. Stormwater began flooding the basement from the drain. A small lake began to grow, and it was situated between the customers and the stairs. We wound up using about 10 chairs to make a bridge, and they walked across them to get back upstairs. The staff even held some people’s hands while we walked through the water to keep them steady. (OR NUDITY). If you want to talk about room-service delivery in a hotel, you’ve got any number of crazy-ass things. I had a woman answer the door for room service wearing nothing but a T-shirt. A guy came around the corner wearing nothing but a wadded-up T-shirt he was holding in front of his crotch. Did he have a tip in his other hand? I don’t recall. – Byron Kerman

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Josh Poletti Why Watch Him: His culinary journey began before most are allowed near the stove. Age: 28 From his first job at Imo’s Pizza to serving as Josh Galliano’s righthand man at The Libertine 12 years later, all Josh Poletti ever wanted to do was cook. In between, he studied at the Oregon Culinary Institute and worked at Portland’s esteemed Bluehour Restaurant. Locally, he interned at Harvest and cooked at Niche, Dressel’s Public House, Araka and Monarch. Here, Poletti explains how to stand the heat in the hottest of kitchens. My earliest memory of cooking is when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I started cooking pancakes, bacon and eggs for my mom while watching Saturday morning cartoons in the background. I’d serve her breakfast in bed. Penn Station Subs set the course. I had a great work ethic for a 16-year-old and the manager said, “I’ll make a restaurant guy out of you.” But what really got me to do this professionally was working at Il Bel Lago when I was 18. Carmelo’s [Gabriele, owner of Il Bel Lago] mother-in-law Rosa taught me old-style Italian. She cooked for me all the time – how to do it the right way, give it a lot of love. She was the best inspiration for me early on. Being a sous chef, it’s a job you have to love. It can be exhausting sometimes, but I have to keep pushing no matter what. I don’t hold anything back. I don’t do much else. All I really do is cook and read cookbooks. I put everything I have into what I do. It can be stressful, but that’s what keeps it interesting. I love Josh [Galliano]. He’s a great mentor. My two years at Monarch were very intense; I was still green. I’ve never had a chef be so hard on me to make things perfect. But it was tough love; we got along really well. After about a year, he softened up a bit. I’m a very intense person myself, so I appreciate it. It’s like a pirate ship in the kitchen. There’s a lot of swearing, and it’s mainly me. It doesn’t matter if a critic* or big shot is in the room. We don’t do anything different. Just mind your Ps and Qs; do the food the same way. Everybody is a VIP. – Michael Renner * Speaking of critics, this interview was conducted by phone to maintain the anonymity of Michael Renner, our New and Notable reviewer.

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Josh Charles Age: 23

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John Fausz

Why Watch Them: Every day is a meeting of inquiring minds.

Age: 27

When Josh Charles was 16, his mother gave him a copy of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook for Christmas. The gift would irrevocably change his life. Since then, he’s worked in about as many kitchens as he is years old. Yet when he stepped into the fine-dining restaurant Elaia, just over a year ago, he was willing to take a position he considered “the very bottom of the line.” A mere five months later, his name appeared at the bottom of Elaia’s menu, along with his new title of chef de cuisine. John Fausz was only a teenager when he tasted a Jever Pilsener while traveling in Germany. “Before that I think I’d had all of two Bud Lights in my life – when I tasted it, I just about panicked by all the flavors I was experiencing.” Although beer and spirits became his passion, before coming to Olio, Fausz had no managerial experience and only a couple of years behind the stick. But he was an obsessive learner, and according to Andrey Ivanov, wine director at Olio and general manager at both Elaia and Olio, “He was my first hire and the best decision I’ve ever made.” Their jobs are entirely different; Fausz is formally titled Beer and Booze General and bar manager, and for Charles, it’s all about the food. Their work areas are separate, connected by a long hallway and stairwell. But their caffeine addiction constantly brings them together. Charles prefers the drip coffee from Olio, and Fausz will only drink the espresso from Elaia. While their particular tastes make for a lot of running up and down the stairs, it’s in these brief exchanges that grounds for greatness percolate. Here, the creative forces behind Elaia and Olio share what they learn from each other. January 2014

Charles: I’m not nearly as experienced with wine as the rest of the guys. They like to play a game with me. I’ll walk into the room as they are all sitting there tasting, and they say “Josh, taste this.” One of the reasons I love being here is that they are always teaching me. Fausz: I love it when you come behind the bar. I like getting a chef’s perspective on it because he has an entirely different set of training. It’s really fun to try what I’m excited about on Josh. I’m just like “Taste this. What do you think? Is this as compelling as I think it is?” Charles: Oftentimes, when I’m creating a new dish, and he’s walking by, I’ll be like, “Hey come here, you gotta taste this.” And he’ll tell me exactly what he thinks. From there, I’ll adjust and go on. Fausz: He’s always coming down to the bar and talking about a certain flavor profile he needs for a dish, whether it be an ingredient, or something to actually add to a dish or a pairing. We each have a nice flavor bank in our minds to draw from. Charles: Completely opposite flavor banks is the key here.

Charles: Then I’ve got ingredients that he’s never tasted such as celtuce we got in from one of our farmers. It’s an Asian green primarily grown for its stalk. It’s something I saw out in San Francisco, and we don’t have here. The second I had it, I was running down, “Look! Look! Celtuce!” Fausz: The thing that gets us really excited is a cocktail dinner – something that incorporates a lot of food elements into the cocktails and booze elements into the food in such a way that is really pretty adventurous. Charles: Fausz has an obsession with vermouth. We’re gonna have to do vermouth in one way or another. The idea can be anything from putting foie gras and vermouth on the same plate, maybe a terrine of it with a gelée of vermouth and then maybe deconstructing the elements of vermouth. Fausz: There’s so much to play with, especially with a lot of heirloom ingredients and Slow Food-classified ingredients from Italy, like keynote peels, things like that. It’s really fun to try and tease out certain flavors. It’s still in such a nebulous formation right now.

Fausz: But complementary. Charles: We’re always trying to align it. Fausz: That’s what makes it really, really fun. Charles: Fausz has got a list of alcohols that I’ve never even tasted that he’s slowly, day by day, letting me try, to get me to just know what it is and give me the background and know why it tastes like it does.

Charles: We have a lot of fine-tuning to do, but we will get there. Fausz: We each have our notebooks we write food combos down in. Can I see them? Charles: No. Then you’ll know our secrets. – Julie Cohen

Fausz: Taste this Tunisian fig eaude-vie. Guess what it is. saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 47


stuff to do:

this month by Byron Kerman

Classes at L’Ecole Academy

Dates and times vary, L’Ecole Culinaire, 9807 S. Forty Drive, Ladue; L’Ecole Academy for Culinary Development, 9200 Olive Blvd., Olivette, 314.264.1999, lecoleacademy.com Start the new year with a groovy cooking class at L’Ecole Academy. Consider instruction in knife skills, fresh pasta basics, yeast bread or nutritional cooking. This month’s fun couples’ courses, aka Date Nights, focus on Thai, Spanish, French and vegetarian cooking. Reservations required.

For Garlic Lovers Only Cooking Class Dates, times and locations vary, 636.812.1336, dierbergs.com

You’ll need all the strength you can muster to make it through this icy winter, so consider fortifying with the power of garlic. In January and February, five Dierbergs School of Cooking locations offer a For Garlic Lovers Only class. Dierbergs’ Nancy LorenzArndt shows students how to whip up honey-garlic glazed wings, garlicky meatloaf “cupcakes” with garlic mashed-potato “frosting,” horseradish-and-garlic jelly, sausage wraps and chocolate hazelnut tarts for dessert. Reservations required.

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Beer and Spirit School

Jan. 4 – 11 a.m., Square One Brewery and Distillery, 1727 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.231.2537, squareonebrewery.com Class is in session the first Saturday of each month at Square One Brewery and Distillery with boozy education and samples. The free, 90-minute guided tour starts with a “beermosa,” a drink made with three parts beer and one part orange juice. The tour includes a primer on the history of Square One, a look at how products are made and a brief explanation about how Square One uses beer and spirits in cooking. Samples may include a half pint of beer, and tastings of whiskeys, rums, vodkas, gins, aquavit, tequila or house-made concoctions like bacon-infused whiskey. Reservations required.

Top Chef’s Joshua Valentine Demonstrations

Jan. 11 - 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., St. Charles Convention Center, 1 Convention Center Plaza, St. Charles, gateway2smartliving.com Chef Joshua Valentine, the handlebar-mustachioed chef who lasted 15 episodes on season 10 of Top Chef, showcases his skill with healthy cooking demos at the Gateway to Smart Living Expo in St. Charles. Three carrot dishes are on the menu: slow-roasted carrots, carrot sauce and a carrot-rye crumble. Valentine, a pastry chef, currently works at FT 33, dubbed one of Dallas’ top restaurants. January 2014


Schlafly Gardenworks Winter Garden Social and Seed Swap

Jan. 16 – 7 p.m., Schalfly Bottleworks, 7260 Southwest Ave., Maplewood, 314.241.2337, garden@schlafly.com Why would you think about your garden at this time of year? As Schlafly gardener Jack Petrovic will tell you, this is the time to prepare for spring. Petrovic and pals excite gardeners at Schlafly Bottleworks’ Crown Room. The fun includes guest speakers, expert gardeners on hand to answer your questions, door prizes, a bartender just for the event, plus instruction, motivation and enlightenment. Bring any extra seeds and plants to share on the swap table.

Freeze-Que Barbecue Competition

Jan. 25 - noon to 6 p.m., Highway 61 Roadhouse, 34 S. Old Orchard Ave., Webster Groves, 314.968.0061, hwy61roadhouse.com Baby, it’s cold outside, but you’ll care less when you’re eating barbecue at the fourth annual Freeze-Que. The event will benefit Operation BBQ Relief, a group originally formed to assist Joplin after the tornado in 2011, and Rainbows for Kids, which helps children diagnosed with cancer and their families. About 40 barbecue teams compete for prizes, and attendees can sample ‘que and rock out to live music from Two Hoosiers and a Hatchet. January 2014

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What I Do Joy Grdnic Christensen Back in the day, she was radio personality “Joy in the Morning” on KSHE 95. After she opened The Fountain on Locust nearly six years ago (when Midtown Alley was devoid of restaurants), she became Joy in the afternoon and evening at her eclectic, 1930s-era soda fountain. Here’s what it means to be Joy Grdnic Christensen at any hour.

Describe the day The Fountain opened. Feb. 19, 2008: There was snow on the ground and three customers. I’d never been in the restaurant business. It’s stupidity that made me go forward. Stupidity is the key to my success. Did you consult with any restaurateurs? Kim Tucci [The Pasta House Co. co-founder] took a look around and said, “What don’t you see here? People!” Not people in the seats; he wanted people in photographs on the walls because Italian restaurants have that. Now he’s a big fan. And the bathrooms are famous. We won the bathroom contest [Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom contest], which is so silly because

we don’t have the best bathroom in America. People would come in, and they’d go, “Oh, I came to see the bathroom.” And then they’d go, “I saw a better bathroom in Albuquerque.”

Cadillac, which is basically spinach with grilled vegetables on top … We have 47 soups in rotation. The idea was to not feel bad because you’re going to a place with ice cream.

Who designed the space? Me. I didn’t design it; I just did it. That was the problem. The idea was: It’s going to be art deco. I saw The Aviator. I’d freeze-frame and look at the Pan Am offices in New York because it was blue and it had stars. I was like, “Ooh, that’s nice for the ’30s. I’m going to do that.” I made the restaurant blue, and blue is the anti-appetite color. I read that the most appetiteinducing colors are orange, yellow and red.

You’re really picky about your ice cream. It’s the only thing we don’t make. We get it from Cedar Crest Dairy in Wisconsin. They are the only dairy in the country that ages their ice cream. That’s why it’s so good. We’ve had every competitor in the world come to us with their ice cream. I usually say to them, “Let me taste your coconut,” because I use that as a barometer. People will come in here with coconut ice cream that is just – you want to spit it out.

Those are the colors of McDonald’s. That makes people want to eat. This makes people want to diet.

The Fountain is the home of the ice cream martini? I have a confession: I thought I made it up. So much so that I didn’t even know if it would work. Not even thinking there was already a Brandy Alexander and a Grasshopper. My fear was what if the alcohol separates the ice cream and it all turns into a mess? Fortunately, it doesn’t.

They could diet if they ordered the world’s smallest ice cream cone. Or the world’s smallest hot fudge sundae. We actually have healthy food. Everything on this menu is something I would eat every day: Birdseed Salad, the Grilled Golden

The Fountain On Locust, 3037 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.535.7800, fountainonlocust.com

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Photo by ashley gieseking

Is The Fountain’s burlesque bingo your idea? No. Again, from The Aviator. They had a scene where the girls were on trapezes. I thought, this is what it has to be! It’s a little burlesque, a little bingo, more of the true burlesque, which is more like the vaudeville comedy version as opposed to Las Vegas. There’s no clever entertainment there. – Ligaya Figueras


January 2014

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