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double cheeseburger with bacon at hi-pointe drivein, p. 39


mike johnson hits a high note



June 2017





P. 17





June 2017


J U N E 2 017 • VO LUM E 17, ISSU E 6 What’s your favorite drink at your favorite patio?




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St. Louis, MO 63103 June 2017

contents JUNE 2017

editors' picks 7 E AT THIS Kale-ifornication salad

26 ELIXIR Patio oasis

by matt sorrell

by catherine klene



Rhubarb sauce

4 places to try this month

by kellie hynes

by heather hughes, catherine klene and matt sorrell



by dee ryan

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

by heather hughes, catherine klene, meera nagarajan and matt sorrell

reviews 17 N E W AN D NOTABLE

Summer clafoutis

last course 44 STUFF TO DO by matt sorrell 46 WHAT I D O Logan Ely

by heather hughes


by michael renner 20 LUNCH RUSH Cafe Osage

by andrew barrett 23 NIGHTLIFE 2nd Shift Brewing


by stephanie zeilenga

dine & drink 25 A SE AT AT THE BAR Four experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake

by glenn bardgett, katie herrera and ted and jamie kilgore June 2017


spicy greens with garlic scape vinaigrette at vicia, p. 17

by anne marie and dan lodholz 39 MR. JOHNSON’S OPUS

by julie cohen

COVER DETAILS BURGER KING Meet Mike Johnson, the mastermind behind this double cheeseburger at Hi-Pointe Drive-In and Sugarfire Smoke House. p. 39

FLIP THE MAGAZINE OVER TO SEE THE READERS' CHOICE. Where are your favorite places to eat, drink and shop? We asked; you voted. We tallied, then tallied again. Now, our readers have declared the 2017 Readers’ Choice Winners, including champions like Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria chef-owner Katie Collier, your Chef of the Year (That’s her on the cover.) A Saucy congrats to all the winners! Cover photo by Ashley Gieseking



June 2017

editors' picks


Not just any salad can win our hearts over deep-dish pizza. In PI PIZZERIA’S KALE-IFORNICATION SALAD, quinoa adds heft to a baby Tuscan kale base, and spiced roasted chickpeas and flaked almonds bring necessary crunch. Tart slivers of pickled red onion and juicy grape tomatoes cut through the indulgent, peppery buttermilk PHOTO BY JULIA CALLEO

dressing, and two triangles of chewy cornmeal flatbread satisfy any lingering crust cravings. Pizza who?




June 2017

hit list

4 new places to try this month

the sloppy joe joe at charleville brewing co. & tavern



What happens when you combine a Ste. Genevieve brewhouse with a city-savvy restaurant group? Charleville Brewing Co. & Tavern. The newest partnership between the 14-year-old brewery and Hamilton Hospitality (of Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin de Set, et al.) offers a relaxed eatery with a backyard cookout vibe. Choose from 14 Charleville brews on tap like the Long White Cloud, a New Zealandstyle Pilsner, or the Rye by Night, a black rye IPA collaboration with Heavy Riff Brewing Co., and peruse an extensive menu of bar snacks and creative takes on comforting classics. Don’t miss the Sloppy Joe Joe, a meaty, cheesy mess served open-faced on spent-grain sourdough that requires a knife and fork, or the house-smoked pastrami sandwich cut thick and generously portioned. Share a pile of South City Fried Chicken Livers with all the smooth creaminess you want (and none of the gaminess you fear). If you’ve managed to save room for dessert, order the classic diner-style apple pie domed with a cinnamon-sugar crumb crust and served a la mode with house-made vanilla ice cream.

2101 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.4677, June 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 9

hit list

from top: the bar at charleville brewing co. & tavern, hand pies at charleville, cheese pizza at pizza head


Bevo Mill has a new lease on life as Das Bevo. The rejuvenated South City landmark now houses an event space and a modern day Bierhall with a compact, pub-style menu with a German-American accent. The kraut balls – deep-fried spheres of sauerkraut and bratwurst with a side of tangy beer cheese mustard – make a fine accompaniment to a frosty stein of lager. Bigger plates include burgers, sandwiches, sausage boards and specialties like the pork schnitzel, pounded thin, fried and served open-faced on a slice of grilled rye bread and augmented with a bacon and bratwurst gravy and carrot-kraut slaw. Prost!


4749 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314.396.6900,



The team at Fozzie’s Sandwich Emporium has stepped into the pizza game at Humble Pie. Start with fresh, green-tasting pesto chicken salad served atop crisp romaine before digging into your pizza. You can’t go wrong with a classic like pepperoni on super-thin crust, but we also love The Lily Pad pizza on the crispy, focaccia-like Sicilian crust. It comes with herbed ricotta sauce topped with leeks, caramelized onion, portobellos, sausage and a drizzle of truffle oil. And don’t forget dessert – the Gimme S’more pie is filled with a crazy rich, dense hazelnutchocolate ganache and topped with marshmallow fluff. There’s no reason Humble Pie should be so modest.

3196 S. Grand Ave., St. Louis, 314.266.5400,

9783 Clayton Road, Ladue, 314.997.7070,


June 2017


This month on Sound Bites, managing editor Heather Hughes joins Square1 Project’s Logan Ely to discuss the ins and outs of opening a restaurant. And tune in to St. Louis Public Radio KWMU 90.7 FM at the beginning of June for Sauce Hit List.

Pizza Head PIZZA is simple: HEAD enormous New York-style pies consumed to the tunes of classic punk. The chewy, thin crust – just sturdy enough to support massive slices – is topped with classic red sauce and cheese, creamy white pizza accouterments or vegan “cheese,” then piled high from a list of vegetarian toppings. It’s an edgy, less refined departure for chef-owner Scott Sandler, best known for his meticulous Neapolitan-style pies at Pizzeoli. With just one salad and a handful of drinks, Pizza Head’s barebones menu is focused on specials. Grab some friends and get a 20-inch cheese pizza and four 16-ounce Stags for $25, or dine solo with two cheese slices and a domestic pint for $8.



June 2017

A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now BY HEATHER HUGHES, CATHERINE KLENE AND MATT SORRELL

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


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

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

Grilled cheese sandwiches have been subbing in for buns lately. Take The Big Lou special at The Corner Butcher in Fenton, where two of the sandwiches held two patties topped with nacho cheese. The Libertine appended GC to a classic BLT for a brunch special, and the ever-fluctuating menu at Shift: Test Kitchen recently experimented with The Sasquatch, pulled pork and cole slaw between two gooey sammies. Head to Festus for a Fatty Melt at Main & Mill Brewing Co., a classic patty melt with two grilled cheese sandwiches. And of course, Sugarfire Smoke House and Hi-Pointe Drive-In get in on the action with the Sweet Baby Cheesus special. June 2017



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

Charcoal has made the move from face masks to the table. Gaining popularity as a detox ingredient at California juice shops like Pressed Juicery and Juice Served Here in recent years, activated charcoal has been making an appearance in cocktails like the inky mezcal-based Moonwalk at New York’s Mission Chinese Food. Closer to home, the black-hearted ingredient showed up for brunch in a chocolatecharcoal waffle at Hiro Asian Kitchen. Try a taste of the darkness at Clementine’s Creamery, where the black cherry ice cream is made with activated charcoal. I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 13


June 2017



June 2017

reviews All Sauce reviews are conducted anonymously.

rutabaga carbonara at vicia



There aren’t enough excuses in life to eat lard. At Vicia (vee-SEE-yuh), the long-awaited restaurant from husbandand-wife team Michael and Tara Gallina, high-quality leaf lard whipped into fluffy, creamy white clouds and spread on hearty bread and crunchy, raw vegetables is one of the best justifications. Mixing it with a bit of three other accompanying dips on the Naked Vegetables snack plate – pesto made from the leafy vegetable tops, goat cheese and sweet potato hummus – helps mask the guilt of eating pig fat, but not the pleasure. It proved a worthy prelude to what was yet to come.

new and notable VICIA p. 17 / lunch rush CAFE OSAGE p. 20 / nightlife 2ND SHIFT p. 23 June 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 17


June 2017

accompanied the chicken one night; another night brought root vegetable puree, potatoes, flowers and a mild horseradish sauce. Pork on both visits came with a rich assortment of shelling beans, turnip greens and more wild blooms. Entrees would be considered skimpy by those used to a half-chicken or thick chop, but with a nosh from the snacks section and something from the starters area of the menu – Rutabaga Carbonara made with julienned strands of the vegetable topped with a sauce of salty bacon, pullet yolk and grated cheese – no one left hungry.

of cherry-rose syrup and the richness of Cherry Heering liqueur with rye, Dolin Blanc vermouth and a splash of Byrrh (an aromatized red wine with quinine) for a brisk slap of fruit and bitterness.

reviews NEW AND NOTABLE p. 2 of 2

These and other aperitifs will have you michael considering nibbles like gallina at the turnip tacos, where vicia's woodfour thin slices of the fired grill raw root vegetable serve as “tortillas” for either mushrooms or pork, topped with charred vegetables, mole, sour cream and whatever else the kitchen has procured for the night – like strawberry sofrito. Prosciutto roll-ups looked like meaty spring rolls stuffed with arugula. A few swipes through a tarragon puree and, one, two, three, four – they were gone.

Followers of Rooster and the Hen – the Gallinas’ series of peripatetic dinner collaborations with local chefs and producers – exhaled a collective sigh of relief in March when, after months of delay, the couple debuted their eagerly anticipated brick-and-mortar. But before moving to Michael’s hometown of St. Louis nearly two years ago, they honed their approach at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns. He was chef de cuisine, she the dining room captain at the highly acclaimed restaurant in New York’s Hudson Valley. And it shows. Everything about Vicia is mannered and urbane. The food is refined without excessive trickery. Selections change almost every day based on seasonal availability, with produce


June 2017

front and center, flip-flopping the typical protein-to-vegetable ratio. The decor is modern, yet homey. Glass, wood, stone and steel blend with plants and other organics for a clean-lined minimalism with a stylishly unrefined edge. The bright, airy space is divided into three distinct dining areas. It’s all visually striking, but the first sense stimulated upon entering Vicia is olfactory: A campfire aroma wafts from the wall-sized wood-fired grill housed in the indoor-outdoor dining room. Without reservations, you’ll camp out at the sleek bar a while, nursing an interesting glass of natural wine or an excellent, botanical-focused cocktail like the Rose. Made with rum and infused vodka, it tasted bright and herbal and drank surprisingly light, served up in a coupe. The Cherry balanced the sweetness

Where 4260 Forest Park Ave. (corner of Duncan and Boyle avenues), St. Louis, 314.553.9239,

Not everything on the menu captured my fancy. A goose egg starter, nestled in a distressed iron basket with fake hay, came off as too precious. As in, “Your majesty, I present an egg from a goose, soft scrambled and served in its shell with ramps, bits of asparagus and foraged morel mushrooms, all in a frothy cheese rind broth topped with focaccia breadcrumbs. Please, use this dainty spoon to scoop out every darling drop.”

While most dishes can be made vegetarian, I wouldn’t suggest it for the Beef Fat Carrot, one of three mains on the menu during my visit. Served on a cutting board with a steak knife (as if to say, “Look at me! I’m center stage now!”), I can’t recall being moved by any carrot as much as by this: its deep, surprising fatty richness, the caramelized char, the way the knife slid cleanly through the meat of the vegetable. Yes, a mere carrot, but one at its peak. The sizable meal-in-a-bowl that accompanied the carrot only solidified Gallina’s approach – the dish could have been titled Creamy Polenta, Beef Neck Bolognese and Creamy Stinging Nettles with Carrot.

Desserts are similarly complicated but less pretentious. The hazelnut financiers, a special one evening, won me over with its seemingly incongruent but surprisingly compatible onion caramel sauce and root vegetable ice cream. Service is sharp and well informed. Small touches – like wines-by-the-glass poured tableside, putting you more in touch with what you’re drinking – conveyed an adroit attention to detail.

At some point, carnivores are sure to ask, “But where’s the meat?” Berkshire Pig and Pastured Chicken answer. Both included three to four ounces of meat made butter-soft from sous vide cooking and finished on the grill for a bit of smoke and crispy skin. Now, vegetable and grain sides are sold separately, steakhouse-style, but on previous visits beet puree mixed with strawberries and edible flowers

Don’tMiss Dishes Pork, Rutabaga Carbonara

Vibe Sophistication with natural accents

Vicia won’t be for everyone. The prices are astonishingly high. The portions may seem shockingly small. But equitably showcasing all that our area offers – all that is grown and raised, not just the elite foodstuffs – represents a true farm-to-table approach and allows for more balanced eating, all executed in superb fashion. From concept to design to menu, Vicia is worthy of the hype.

Entree Prices $22 to $26

When Counter-service lunch: Mon. to Fri. – 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Dinner: Tue. to Thu. – 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. – 5:30 to 10 p.m. I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 19

reviews LUNCH RUSH



Walking into Cafe Osage, you’re greeted by an abundance of lush plants and cute home goods. The restaurant is located inside Bowood Farms – a rehabbed early 20th-century warehouse straight out of a twee romantic comedy, complete with a scrappy cat named Olive perched atop the bookshelf separating the shop from the cafe. Walk up the few steps to the right of that bookshelf – where Jack Russell terrier Ruby isn’t allowed – to find seating. The space is bright white, surrounded by paned windows and dripping with botanical prints, and cocktails come looking like floral arrangements. The clientele, on the other hand, seem more “Sex and the City 2” rather than “500 Days of Summer.”

lettuce and green beans that showcase Bowood’s impressive green thumb. A buttermilk ranch dressing brings it all together without smothering any of the fresh flavors.



The Brie LT is your Manic Pixie Dream Sandwich. The “L” here is arugula from Bowood’s own gardens, and the “T” is in marmalade form – a smart move for fresh, sweet tomato flavor during any season. Despite its name, the sandwich does include Nueske bacon along with the creamy cheese. All of this is served open-faced on toasty five-grain wheat, crowned by a flashy pile of arugula.

Cobb salad usually falls into the background, forgettable and ubiquitous on cafe menus, but CO’s cobb is the “She’s All That” version, all dressed up with contacts and a new haircut. You may not have noticed, but she’s been great all along. Standard with chicken, avocado, hard-boiled egg, bacon and Roquefort, the makeover transformation is completed by butter


making it the main character of the menu. A rainbow of beets, butternut squash, avocado, carrots, Marcona almonds and dates nestle into crisp, lush butter lettuce. Honey mustard dressing wraps the individual ingredients in a warm hug. With so many textures and tastes to explore, I couldn’t let a single bite go.

THE DOWNSIDE The veggies were always the best part of each dish, so I was disappointed that there weren’t more salad options. When surrounded by greenery, I want to eat any and all that is edible, but the menu seemed to play it safe. I’ve heard good things about the weekend brunch bar, but the two cocktails I tried on weekdays – the bloody mary and Bowood, Berries and Bourbon – were not good. The bloody mix was incoherent and heavy with sediment, and the Bowood, Berries and Bourbon was far too sweet.

MOROCCAN CHICKEN SALAD Sometimes salads that sound exciting still end up sad, but the Moroccan chicken salad delivers on all its promise,

Cafe Osage 4605 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.454.686, June 2017




June 2017


2nd shift brewing



sour citrus notes with a bit of funk and undertone of oak from its time in wine barrels. For something heavier, try the Liquid Spiritual Delight with Vanilla, a smooth stout that beautifully balanced 2nd Shift sweet vanilla with a hint Brewing of smoke.


2nd shift brewing

1601 Sublette Ave., St. Louis, 314.669.9013,

On my visit, there were several pale ales on tap. The Brewcocky, a double IPA, had notes of grapefruit and pine. True to style standards, it was indeed bitter, but subtle and didn’t simply punch me with hoppy bitterness. There were also the earthy and hoppy Art of Neurosis APA and the Sub-Mission IPA, which hit heavy with citrus. The food was tasty enough, although probably not worth a trip in and of itself. The small menu by the Tilford Restaurant Group of Mission Taco Joint and Milagro Modern Mexican included hearty crowd-pleasers begging to be washed down with a few beers, as well as a few lighter options for the more health conscious. But the offerings may change soon, since the brewery is planning to bring in a new food vendor in the near future.


hough it’s tucked behind train tracks in an industrial, decidedly unhip section of The Hill, 2nd Shift Brewing’s location shouldn’t scare you away. It may be in the last place you’d expect to find a buzzing beer scene, but that’s what 2nd Shift delivers. To the rejoicing of local beer fanatics, the brewery moved from New Haven to the city in late 2016. The new warehouse-sized space has a casual vibe – like hanging out in a friend’s garage, in the best way. Beer drinkers commune at tables scattered around the tasting room, separated from the brewery by a wall of stacked barrels, and spill outdoors to picnic tables in front when the weather’s nice. A record player spins everything from James Brown to Black Sabbath off to one side, and a shelf stocked with board games invites patrons to settle in. Oh, and there are cats – two very comfortable felines who

June 2017

make themselves at home among patrons. The crowd incorporates all ages (including some children earlier in the night), but skews slightly toward the young professional crowd. The beer, of course, is the big draw. With an intimidating national reputation, 2nd Shift doesn’t take itself too seriously – offering a wide-ranging mix of styles and menus equipped with a glossary of beer terms to keep novices up to speed. And you can always just ask the friendly staff your questions. They clearly love beer and seemed eager to help customers love it, too, with ready recommendations and samples. On-trend for sour and barrel-aged beer lovers, 2nd Shift’s Katy is one of the brewery’s best and most popular. An American wild ale brewed with the yeast strain Brettanomyces, Katy balanced

On my visit, the nachos – a pile of tortilla chips smothered in mild cheese sauce and crowned with flavorful beef brisket, salsa fresca and sliced jalapenos – were hardly groundbreaking, but crave-worthy nonetheless. The duck quesadilla sounded uber-flavorful with ancho barbecue sauce and sides of chipotle mayo and salsa verde, but ultimately just tasted greasy with the duck and ancho sauce lost in the shuffle. The toasted ravioli was a miss, too – pockets of limp pasta rather than crispy squares. But the two paninis hit the right notes. Straight-up comfort food, the pimento panini was upstaged by the beef brisket option, which included onions, pepper jack, chipotle mayo and ancho barbecue sauce. The bottom line: 2nd Shift is a good time, perfect for meeting up with some friends, throwing back a (fantastic) beer or two and grabbing a snack.

2nd Shift offers a range of beer from sour and barrelaged to several pale ales.

Nachos are covered in beef brisket, salsa fresca and jalapenos. I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 23


June 2017


& drink

this romanian wine is affordable and delicious


A SEAT AT THE BAR / Four experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake The Paper Plane cocktail was supposedly so named because its creator, New York bartender Sam Ross, was listening to rapper M.I.A.’s song by the same name when he came up with it. Regardless, this modern TED AND JAMIE variation of a Last Word is KILGORE easy to mix and drink. In an USBG, B.A.R. Ready, BarSmart ice-filled shaker, combine and co-owners/bartenders at Planter’s House equal parts bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino and lemon juice. Shake vigorously, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy. All you’ll wanna do is drink this cocktail.

June 2017

I used to think all Romanian wines were simple and cheap. So when I tried Paparuda Estate Selection Pinot Grigio 2015, I wasn’t expecting a solidly made, GLENN BARDGETT medium-weight dry Member of the Missouri Wine white with impressive and Grape Board and wine flavor and finish. When director at Annie Gunn’s I realized it cost less than $10, my baditude was seriously humbled. Note to self: (almost) never judge a wine by the label. $8.50. Global Foods, 421 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.835.1112,

Charleville Brewing Co.’s Long White Cloud is a new addition to the lager trend. Beautifully balanced and nicely carbonated, the clean, New Zealand-style Pilsner is blissful with KATIE HERRERA bright aromatic notes Co-founder of Femme of bread, citrus, tropical Ferment and manager at The Side Project Cellar fruit and grass that play nicely with just a touch of grain and black pepper to round out the palate. $11. Charleville Brewing Co. & Tavern, 2101 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.4677, I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 25


patio at sasha's on shaw


June 2017

eclipse; below: sangria at eclipse



BY MATT SORRELL Patios should be more than just a place for outdoor seating. A good patio can transport you from the day-to-day grind, offering a happy hour-length vacation. From Scape to Vin de Set to Cielo, St. Louis has its share of spectacular spots for drinking alfresco. Here are seven more outdoor spaces to add to your rotation.

The Block The ivy-covered, multi-level brick patio of The Block’s Central West End location has an airy, garden-party atmosphere ideal for a relaxing lunch or dinnertime getaway. Order a glass of wine, munch on some house-made pork rinds and escape the worries of the day. 33 N. Sarah St., St. Louis, 314.535.5100,


the venice cafe

The Scottish Arms This Central West End standby, from its leafy trellis for that shady, English garden feel to the small covered area with a TV to check the score, has March 2017

a spot for nearly every taste. Settle in, nip on a wee dram from the long Scotch whisky list and take a load off. 6 S. Sarah St., St. Louis, 314.535.0551,

Eclipse Rooftop Terrace Bar It’s the next best thing to a grown-up tree fort. Sink into the Jetsons-aesthetic patio furniture and gaze upon the view of The Delmar Loop while imbibing a pitcher of house sangria, or a refreshing seasonal cocktail like the Cuban Daquiri Crisis, made with three different rums. 6177 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.726.2222,

Just John Nightclub Sequestered by tall fences and bursting with greenery, stepping onto JJ’s patio from the raucousness of The Grove will definitely lower your blood pressure a few points. With a bucolic mural and a covered bar reminiscent of a beachfront drink shack, it’s the perfect place to dive into a bucket of Buds. 4112 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.371.1333, Sasha’s On Shaw This garden spot with lush foliage and burbling fountain seamlessly melds into the leafy green vibe of the surrounding neighborhood. Indulging in a glass of wine (or a bottle, who are we kidding?) and a selection of shareable plates is like partying in a neighbor’s well-appointed backyard. 4069 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, 314.771.7274,

and some house-made pretzels. 1200 Russell Blvd., St. Louis, 314.776.8309, The Venice Cafe Part art gallery, part playground, this patio is a sensory overload in the very best way. Every square inch is festooned with multicolored mosaics or kitten figurines or repurposed license plates. Where else can you knock back a Busch or two and contemplate a giant painting of Pee-wee Herman? 1903 Pestalozzi St., St. Louis, 314.772.5994,


John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub & Garden Beyond this sprawling urban oasis’ wrought iron gates is another world: two levels of seating, three bars and enough room for a small town to sit down for a pint of Guinness I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 27



I’ve never known what to make of, let alone out of, rhubarb. It’s an edible oxymoron – a vegetable best known for its starring role in pie. Can you imagine a kale doughnut? Me neither. In the interest of continuing education and culinary adventure, I bought a few pounds of the spring stalk and am excited to report that rhubarb can brighten everything from a beverage to an entree to, yes, pie. Skip the rhubarb leaves, which are a wee-bit poisonous. Instead, take home the raw stems, which look like celery


that’s been dipped in a fiery sunset. The rhubarb’s variety determines where it falls on the color spectrum, usually somewhere between pale pink to cherry red, but the color doesn’t affect the taste – all will be super tangy. It couldn’t be easier to cook rhubarb. Just chop up your stalks and throw them in a pot with a little sugar and a splash of water. The flavor mellows to sweet with a citrusy edge – think a strawberry that dates drummers. If you’re more Rizzo than Sandra Dee, rhubarb is for you.

Let your palate be your guide when adding sugar. Some research recipes suggested a cup of sugar to four cups of rhubarb. Others skipped it entirely and used dates and raisins. I split the difference and used a half cup of sugar, which made it sweet without fully masking the sour. Not unlike a handful of Sour Patch Kids, or when I say, “bless your heart.” The rhubarb deconstructs as it cooks, melting from coarse stalks into a smooth sauce in about 30 minutes. Since rhubarb is fiber-rich, some

June 2017

of those pesky pink strands may stand out in the syrup. If you’re visually squeamish, a spin with the immersion blender will even out the texture and color.

he asked for a second helping. I’m sure it’s because he knows the importance of eating more vegetables.

Use the rhubarb sauce to give old favorites a new twist. Drizzle it over pancakes, waffles or Greek yogurt for breakfast. Shake the sauce with a bit of vinegar and oil for a quick and easy salad dressing. Need a canapé for cocktail hour? Rhubarb deliciously cuts through creamy Camembert. Pour it over ice cream, or better yet, blend it into a homemade quart. There are savory applications as well. You can baste chicken and pork with rhubarb sauce, and if grilling is on the calendar, use it in place of brown sugar in an easy homemade barbecue sauce.


Yes, working rhubarb into every meal for several days may have been slightly overenthusiastic, but I was thrilled to find a food full of vitamin C and plant-based calcium that my kids loved. My pickiest child, who has never fully forgiven me for “zucchini week,” declared the rhubarb ice cream to be the best dessert I’ve ever made. And then

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1¾ CUPS 1 lb. rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces ½ cup sugar 1 Tbsp. water • Combine all ingredients in a large pot over medium heat. Stir constantly until the rhubarb releases moisture and the sugar melts. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until no chunks remain and the sauce returns slowly after dragging a wooden spoon through it, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature. • Blend with an immersion blender 30 seconds to break down any remaining rhubarb fibers. Cover and store in the refrigerator up to 4 days.

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce Stir together 1 cup ketchup, ¼ cup rhubarb sauce, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. No-Churn Rhubarb Ice Cream In a large bowl, combine 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup rhubarb sauce and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. In a second bowl, beat 2 cups cold heavy whipping until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream, 1 ladleful at a time, into the condensed milk mixture. Freeze in an airtight container 4 hours before serving. Rhubarb Seltzer In a cocktail shaker, gently mix 8 ounces chilled sparkling water with 2 tablespoons rhubarb sauce. Pour into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a lemon slice or mint sprig. Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Glaze Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush a 1½-pound

pork tenderloin with 2 tablespoons rhubarb sauce and sprinkle with ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt and ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Roast the tenderloin, brushing with an additional 2 tablespoons sauce after 10 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes total. Let rest 10 minutes before serving with additional rhubarb sauce on the side. Rhubarb and Goat Cheese Hand Pies Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut prepared refrigerated pie crusts into 12 3-inch rounds. In a small bowl, combine 4 ounces goat cheese and ¼ cup rhubarb sauce with a mixer on low speed. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of the mixture onto the center of each dough circle. Fold the pie dough over the filling into a crescent, pinching the edges shut. Brush the hand pies with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon milk). Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool before serving. I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 29


June 2017


Somewhere between a fruit-filled pancake and a custard, clafoutis can be drizzled with syrup for brunch or topped with ice cream for dessert. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup whole milk, 3 eggs, ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon lemon zest and ½ teaspoon almond extract. Stir in ½ cup flour, then pour the batter into a buttered cast-iron skillet or pie pan. Sprinkle 2 cups blueberries over the top and bake until puffy and light brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, dust with powdered sugar and serve. – Dee Ryan




Customize your clafoutis: Use halved cherries, seasonal berries, chopped peaches or quartered figs. Try pears, apples or grapes in the fall, or throw in chocolate chips and cinnamon year-round.



June 2017




Supposedly invented by a resourceful Queens bagel shop boy in the 1980s, the everything bagel is signature of both the indecisive and the decisively bold. Named “the thinking man’s bagel” by chef Wylie Dufresne, who garnered national attention with everything-spiced ice cream with salmon at his modernist WD-50 in New York, everything has moved beyond its bagel days. The spice blend made similarly surprising recent local guest appearances in a shortbread special with salmon tartare at Vista Ramen and in an everything pastrami steamed bun from Kounter Kulture. Bring the boldness home with these recipes that are currently our everything. June 2017


RECIPES EVERYTHING SPICE BLEND 1½ CUPS Customize your everything spice by using smoked or pink salt or adding caraway, paprika or chile flakes to the blend. ½ cup dehydrated garlic ½ cup dehydrated onion ¼ cup poppy seeds ¼ cup sesame seeds 2 tsp. flaked or kosher salt • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until evenly combined. Store in an airtight container up to 6 months.

EVERYTHING GRILLED PORK LOIN 6 TO 10 SERVINGS 1 3- to 4-lb. pork loin 3 Tbsp. kosher salt 3 Tbsp. Everything Spice Blend (recipe precedes) • Rinse the pork loin, pat dry with paper towels and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle all over with salt and let rest at room temperature 1 to 2 hours. • Prepare a charcoal grill for medium, indirect heat. • Rub the pork loin with the spice


blend. • Place the meat on the grill over indirect heat. Cover the grill and cook, turning every 15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, about 1 hour. • Let the meat rest, covered with foil, 15 minutes, then slice and serve immediately.

• Use 2 spoons or an ice cream scoop to distribute the batter evenly into the muffin tins. • Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. • Serve immediately or store for several days in an airtight container.



24 MUFFINS This recipe can also be made as cornbread – simply bake in a 9-by-12inch pan 20 to 25 minutes. 2½ cups flour 1½ cups cornmeal 1 Tbsp. Everything Spice Blend (recipe precedes) 1 Tbsp. sugar 4 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. kosher salt ½ tsp. baking soda 2¼ cups buttermilk ½ cup butter (1 stick), melted 2 eggs, beaten 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz.) • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease or line 2 12-cup muffin tins. • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, spice blend, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add the buttermilk, butter and eggs, and stir until barely combined. Gently fold in the cheddar. The batter may have some lumps.

• •

and forms a ball. It should be wet enough to roll out, but not sticky. Divide the dough in half and place one half on a clean, floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough to 1∕8 -inch thick. For precisely shaped crackers, cut the dough using a pizza cutter or cookie cutter and place on an ungreased baking sheet. For rougher edges, place the whole dough sheet on the baking sheet. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Bake 12 minutes, until the crackers begin to brown. Cool on a wire rack. If you baked the whole sheet, break the crackers to preferred size. Serve immediately with smoked salmon dip or store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

8 TO 10 SERVINGS For more intense everything flavor, brush the crackers with oil before baking and sprinkle additional spice blend on top. 4 cups flour, plus more for dusting 2 Tbsp. Everything Spice Blend (recipe precedes) 2½ tsp. kosher salt 2 tsp. sugar ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil 12 to 14 Tbsp. ice water (about ¾ cup) Smoked Salmon Dip, for serving (recipe follows) • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, spice blend, salt and sugar. With the mixer on medium speed, drizzle in the oil and mix until combined and the dough forms pea-sized crumbles. • Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together

SMOKED SALMON DIP ABOUT 10 OUNCES 1 8-oz. package cream cheese 2 oz. smoked or cured salmon 2 tsp. minced capers 2 tsp. minced red onion 1 tsp. white wine, vermouth or lemon juice ½ tsp. kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste • Add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. • Add the salmon, capers, onion, wine, salt and pepper. Mix until evenly combined. • Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.

June 2017


spice blend R E C I P E O N P. 3 6


RECIPES EVERYTHING SUSHI ROLL 4 TO 6 SERVINGS 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise ½ tsp. rice wine vinegar ½ tsp. Sriracha 4 to 6 sheets nori 2 cups cooked sushi rice (recipe follows) 4 oz. sushi-grade salmon, thinly sliced, or imitation crab ½ carrot, cut into 8 to 10 thin slices with a vegetable peeler ¼ avocado, cut into 8 to 10 thin slices ¼ cucumber, seeded and cut lengthwise into 8 to 10 matchsticks ¼ red bell pepper, cut into 8 to 10 thin slices 1 Tbsp. wasabi 1 tsp. Everything Spice Blend (recipe precedes), plus more for sprinkling Special equipment: Bamboo sushi mat • In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar and Sriracha. Set aside. • Lay the sushi mat out on a work surface and place 1sheet of nori on top, lining up the edges closest to you. • Scoop ½ cup sushi rice onto the nori and press into an even layer with wet fingers, leaving a ½-inch border at the top. Lightly wet the exposed top of the nori. • About 1 inch from the edge closest to you, layer thin slices of salmon and 2 pieces each of carrot, avocado, cucumber and pepper in a tight parallel line. Top with a thin line of wasabi and ¼ teaspoon spice blend. • Gently lift the bottom of the bamboo mat closest to you and roll so that the


nori forms a tight cylinder around the ingredients. Use your palms to gently roll the bamboo mat and seal the sushi roll. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. • Drizzle the rolls with the Srirachamayo sauce, sprinkle with the spice blend and slice the rolls into 1-inch rounds. Serve immediately.

SUSHI RICE Adapted from a recipe published on Allrecipes 2 CUPS 2 cups short-grain rice (also labeled as sweet or glutinous) 3 cups cold water ½ cup rice wine vinegar ¼ cup white sugar 1 tsp. kosher salt • Rinse the rice in a colander under cold water until it runs clear, 2 to 5 minutes. • Place the rice and water in a 2-quart pot and bring to a boil uncovered over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the salt and sugar are dissolved, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. • Stir the vinegar solution into the rice, then spread the mixture on a baking sheet to cool and dry. • Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.

EVERYTHING KALE SALAD 6 TO 8 SERVINGS 1 lb. kale (about 1 bunch) 1 medium carrot 9 radishes, thinly sliced 7 sweet mini peppers, seeded and thinly sliced 1½ cups Everything Croutons (recipe follows) ½ cup Everything Buttermilk Ranch (recipe follows) • Remove the stems from the kale and tenderize the leaves by squeezing them about 1 minute. Tear or slice into pieces and place in a large bowl. • Peel and trim the carrot, discarding the root and tip. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the carrot into ribbons over the kale. • Add the radishes, peppers, croutons and dressing, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

EVERYTHING CROUTONS ABOUT 1½ CUPS 4 slices hearty, 2- to 3-day-old bread 3 Tbsp. olive oil 1 Tbsp. Everything Spice Blend (recipe precedes) • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. • Cut or tear the bread into 1-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl.

• Drizzle the olive oil over the bread, add the spice blend and stir to coat evenly. • Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature. • Use immediately or store in an airtight container for several weeks.

EVERYTHING BUTTERMILK RANCH 1 CUP You can make your dressing thinner or thicker and more dip-like by using more or less buttermilk and sour cream. ½ cup well-shaken buttermilk 3 Tbsp. sour cream 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise 1 tsp. chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, basil, tarragon, dill or celery leaves) 1 tsp. Everything Spice Blend (recipe precedes) 1 dash hot sauce or fresh lemon juice Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste • Add the buttermilk, sour cream and mayonnaise to a small bowl and whisk to combine. • Add the herbs, spice blend and hot sauce and whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. • Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.

June 2017

EVERYTHING OKRA 4 SERVINGS This recipe can also be made with sweet mini peppers. 4 Tbsp. chopped bacon 1 lb. okra or shishito peppers ½ tsp. kosher salt 1 Tbsp. Everything Spice Blend (recipe precedes) • In a saute pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. • Add the okra to the bacon fat in a single layer. Add the salt and gently stir or toss the pan until the vegetables are charred, 3 to 5 minutes. • Transfer to a serving bowl, add the bacon and spice blend and toss to mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.



June 2017

Buy it

Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend: $2. Trader Joe’s, various locations, I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 37


June 2017


mike johnson, owner of sugarfire smoke house and hi-pointe drive-in June 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 39

A blind dog roots through a damp forest in Alba, Italy. Guided by his nose, he veers to the left and then to the right, his hind legs following a split-second behind. Finally, he stops at a pile of brush and pushes his nose, gone white with age, into the dirt.

mike johnson checks 40 MAGAZINE I in atI SAUCE sugarfire pie

“I swear it’s coming soon,” Mike Johnson said, pointing at the video on his phone, his eyes glued to the screen as if this time it would show the elderly dog uncovering a human skull.

Suddenly, a golf ball-size white truffle appears, and the camera turns to show Johnson’s triumphant smile, which was then mirrored by his in-person smile as he held his phone out to me for a better look.

A man’s head enters the frame and he starts to dig, hands carefully running through the soil like he’s panning for gold.

After truffle hunting that day, Johnson and his friends went to a little pizza joint, and when the waiter brought out the

pizza, he also brought a truffle and a tiny scale. He began to shave the truffle on the pizza, as if it was a block of Parmesan. “We thought this was maybe just some cool thing restaurants in Alba did since the white truffles are so big there,” Johnson said. “So we let him keep shaving and shaving.” When the little $10 pizza

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had a mountain of truffle shavings on top, Johnson finally suggested that the waiter stop. “He then weighed what was remaining of the truffle, and the pizza ended up costing $300!” When Johnson returned home to St. Louis, he carried with him a suitcase filled with thousands of dollars in

truffles, which he used in specials at Sugarfire Smoke House even though he knew it would lose him money. “Who wants truffles on barbecue?” Johnson asked with a laugh. “No one.” But just like that $300 pizza, these days, Johnson can joke about losing a little money. There are currently six locations of Sugarfire Smoke House in and around St. Louis – three of which are franchises – and Johnson has two more in the works, including one in Indianapolis, which will mark Sugarfire’s first move out of state. With Sugarfire’s franchise system, Johnson foresees another four locations opening by the end of the year. “We’ve had calls from Columbia, Missouri to south Florida,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of people interested in owning a Sugarfire right now.”


t 3 p.m. on a Monday, Sugarfire’s Olivette location was filled with people hunched over plates of brisket, pulled pork and baby back ribs. The restaurant doesn’t even have set hours. “It just stays open until it sells out, which can be as early as 2 p.m. and never much later than 6 p.m.,” said Johnson. Taking into account Sugarfire’s reputation and business model, it should be no surprise that potential franchisees are falling over themselves to get their hands on a location. But part of what they get with the deal is Mike Johnson, the intangible tangible, who works very hard at being Mike Johnson. From participating in barbecue festivals around the world – Johnson and his girlfriend and fellow chef, Christina Fitzgerald, who’s also a partner in Sugarfire, just got back from a competition in Perth, Australia – to appearing on TV shows – he has been on Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters,” Food Network’s “Burgers, Brew & Que” and “Beat Bobby Flay,” and has a revenge episode on the latter coming soon – Johnson understands the value of being in the public eye. And when he’s not traveling for competitions and TV spots, he literally

June 2017

doesn’t stop moving. During our interview, Johnson was simultaneously bouncing his 9-month-old son, fielding texts from his 13-year-old daughter, running next door to pick up a coffee he ordered for me by phone and explaining how his franchises work. “I still worry every day,” he said. “If it’s raining, I’m worried no one is going to come in.” (Side note: It was raining. The place was about to run out of food before 4 p.m.). “I look at sales every day. I run social media. I do the specials. I stop in at the restaurants to make sure the quality is there.” Johnson wants nothing more than to see everyone around him succeed because he intimately knows how the other side feels. “I take nothing for granted. I know what it’s like to have a shit restaurant. I’m never going back.”


ohnson’s restaurant history is a bit like that character actor whose name you can’t remember but whose face you always recognize from the three dozen hit movies he’s in. Or according to Johnson, instead of hits, “some good ones, terrible ones and some breakevens.” If you’ve lived in St. Louis at some point in the last 20 years, chances are you’ve frequented a Mike Johnson restaurant without even knowing it. Ownership in more than 11 restaurants is remarkable by itself, but what makes Johnson’s run extraordinary is that not only has each spot been an entirely distinct concept – Spanish, Greek, Creole, Asian, to name a few – but also, several of them have failed, and each time Johnson picked himself up and went on to create something different and new. “Every time I open a restaurant, I think it’s the best idea for months,” he laughed. “Then right before it opens, I think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done.” To be fair, in an industry where the majority of new places fail, most of his restaurants have been hits – BARcelona,

Cyrano’s, Momo’s, Boogaloo – but a couple years before Johnson opened Sugarfire, he experienced a decently big fail with Fu Manchu, an Asian-inspired spot in Maplewood. “I can tell in the first two weeks if a restaurant is going to fail,” Johnson explained. “Every restaurant in St. Louis has a honeymoon. If you’re not killing it in the first two weeks, you have to get out.”


This insight is perhaps why Sugarfire doesn’t usually close until the food is gone for the day. “If you’re not busy every day in this industry, you’re screwed,” Johnson said. “Once you realize you’re not busy Monday through Wednesday, it’s over. Because of that, at Sugarfire, we don’t turn anyone away, ever.” With Fu Manchu, Johnson knew the writing was on the wall practically before the spot even opened. “It was a terrible idea, bad location, bad concept,” he said. And then not too long after Fu Manchu closed, Johnson decided to sell his ownership in Boogaloo. He was beyond burned-out, working double shifts and always worried he wasn’t making enough money to pay back his investors. “I was doing terribly. I was working too much. I hit a wall.” He was so over restaurants that he even contemplated leaving St. Louis all together. “My dad wanted me to be an EMT. But I realized that I don’t like having people tell me what to do. I don’t I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 41

mike johnson at sugarfire smoke house in olivette sugarfire smoke house, various locations, hi-pointe drive-in, 1033 mccausland ave., st. louis, 314.349.2720, 42 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I

June 2017

with little cooking experience. His new boss just happened to be Emeril Lagasse, and Lagasse liked Johnson so much, he brought him over when he opened Emeril’s and then introduced him to Charlie Trotter. Johnson worked for Trotter’s legendary namesake restaurant in Chicago, and then spent some time in France training at Le Buisson Ardent in Paris and then under Belgian master chef Daniel Joly at Mirabelle Restaurant at Beaver Creek in Colorado. His final stop before returning to St. Louis was Napa Valley where he worked under Joachim Splichal of Pinot Blanc.

a hi-pointe drive-in burger

Mike Johnson’s restaurants, past and present Café Mira “It started my growth as a chef and was my real introduction to St. Louis.” BARcelona “Home run – a big home run.” Momo’s “I love Greek food, so that was one of my favorites.” Boogaloo “Another one of my favorites, but I’m glad I’m out.” Figaro “Good sales, but it just didn’t work out.” El Scorcho “It was a lot of fun to set up, and it had a great name!” Cyrano’s “I love it. It’s a classic.” Roxanne “I thought it was good, but it didn’t get a good reception.” Fu Manchu “Probably the worst idea I’ve had.” Sugarfire Smoke House “Best idea ever!” Hi-Pointe Drive-In “It’s looking like my second-best idea ever.” June 2017

like listening to instructions.” Johnson laughed and then paused. “I might be unemployable. Owning restaurants might be all I can do.” While Johnson was trying to figure out what his next restaurant should be, Carolyn Downs, co-owner and pastry chef at Cyrano’s, approached him about partnering on something involving her pies. At the time, Johnson had been playing with a smoker and ended up attending competitive barbecue guru Myron Mixon’s school in Unadilla, Georgia. With pies and barbecue on their minds, the idea for Sugarfire was born. Johnson liked how barbecue was oldschool and hands-on. Best of all, it was nothing like fine dining – something he had 100-percent gotten out of his system. Those who only know Johnson from his St. Louis restaurant streak or Sugarfire fame may not realize it was even in his system to begin with, but before any of that, he had quite the first act.


ohnson’s introduction to the culinary world came about a bit like winning the lottery (though, don’t let that fool you into thinking his success has been anything but hard-won). As the story goes, when Johnson graduated high school, his dad put him in touch with a young chef in New Orleans who could possibly hook him up with a job, so he moved there

When he returned to St. Louis, Johnson’s first spot, Café Mira, was fine dining, as expected from his pedigree. During the 20 years since, his concepts have slowly become more casual, but it wasn’t until Sugarfire that he fully embraced fast-casual. “I like to eat fine dining, but I don’t miss anything about it,” Johnson said. “Barbecue is actually harder than anything in the restaurant business – the volume, controlling the temperature. It’s a lot more work,” Johnson said. “But you get to have a lot more fun.” Another reason Johnson likes barbecue is the lifestyle. The hours are better for having a family – he and Fitzgerald have five kids between them – and the money is better. Plus, there’s less risk. Instead of inventing a new restaurant concept every year, he’s learned that going with what works can prove to be even more fun than the shiny and new. Johnson’s team, to whom he attributes all his success, feels the same. Many have done the fine dining thing and, according to Johnson, could easily be running their own big-name restaurants. Yet, they have chosen to be mostly nameless at Sugarfire. Why? “Many of them have families now and want more time,” explained Fitzgerald. “They still have the ability and talent for fine dining, but they’re burned out. They need more return.” “And we pay them more than anyone else in town,” added Johnson with a smile. “We have the volume to support their incomes. We want to keep the quality of the food, and to do that, we pay for the talent.”

It also helps that Johnson gives his team total freedom. “If they ever miss fine dining, they can order duck, foie gras, whatever they want for specials – we do Wagyu Wednesdays and always lose money, but it’s fun and delicious, so who cares?” Who knows where Sugarfire will be in five years – if Johnson has anything to do with it (and he does), we’ll be eating Sugarfire’s brisket cheesesteak and pork belly hush puppies in Paris and Dubai.


ven though the plan for Sugarfire seemed flawless before its flagship opened in 2012 – Johnson’s barbecue was on-point, Sugarfire wasn’t located near any other barbecue joint and Carolyn and Charlie Downs were well-known and respected restaurateurs – Johnson still had his typical doubts. “Before Sugarfire opened, I told Carolyn, ‘I promise I won’t lose your money,’” Johnson said. “But then the week before it opened, I called her and Charlie and said, ‘We have to think of a way to get out! We’re going to ruin our lives!’” Perhaps that is Johnson’s biggest secret. He’s unwilling to take his foot off the gas while bouncing over speed bumps and potholes and swearing he’s going to die. “No matter how successful we get, I’m still going to worry about my businesses every day. But I’m also not going to let that worry keep me from putting truffles on my menu. And because of that, I know how lucky we are.” “And your hat?” I asked, pointing at his hat with “Hi.” on it. “Oh, that,” Johnson said. He knew what I meant: his new restaurant, Hi-Pointe Drive-In – the burger place that’s going through 2,000 buns and 600 pounds of meat a day since it opened six months ago. Opening a new, highly marketable – even franchisable – fast-casual concept doesn’t seem like the move of a guy content with mixing up the specials at just one empire. Johnson smiled sheepishly. “I couldn’t resist.” I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 43

stuff to do:


Food Truck Fest June 2 – 5 to 8 p.m., Laumeier Sculpture Park, 12580 Rott Road, Sunset Hills, 314.615.5278, St. Louis County Parks and the St. Louis Food Truck Association team up for this free event. Around 15 trucks including Bombay Food Junkies, Gioia’s Deli, My Big Fat Greek Truck and Yo! Salsa make the scene amidst the park’s lush surroundings, and live music from The Steve Ewing Duo rounds out the experience. Beer and wine are also available for purchase from Edg-Clif Farms & Vineyards.

International Horseradish Festival June 2 – 5 to 10 p.m.; June 3 – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; June 4 – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Woodland Park, Pine Lake Road, Collinsville, 618.344.2884, This free festival celebrates Collinsville’s bounty of world-class horseradish. Activities for the weekend include games of skill utilizing the pungent root (root golf anyone?), a 5K run and a fishing derby. Of course, plenty of food and drink featuring horseradish – from pizza to fried pickles to bloody marys – are available for purchase.

Sample Soulard Sunday June 4 – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Soulard, St. Louis, Get a taste of historic Soulard from more than 20 bars and restaurants, including 1860 Saloon, Molly’s in Soulard, Joanie’s Pizzeria and Duke’s. Ticket booklets include six food samples and one drink. A portion of proceeds support Habitat for Humanity and The Humane Society of Missouri. Ticket booklets available online or at participating venues.


Saucy Soirée June 4 – 5 to 10 p.m., St. Louis Union Station, 1820 Market St., St. Louis, 314.772.8004, The best foodie event of the year returns to Union Station – Sauce Magazine’s annual Readers’ Choice grand tasting party! Enjoy unlimited samples from more than 40 of St. Louis’ top restaurants, bars and shops, as well as music from Analog Thief. Then head lakeside for the after-party and rock out with cocktails and The Jeremiah Johnson Band. Tickets available online at the door.

Food Roof Harvest Dinner June 17 – 7 to 9:30 p.m., Urban Harvest STL Food Roof Farm, 1335 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, 314. 810.6770, Join Revel Kitchen chef-owner Simon Lusky as he prepares a multicourse, vegetarian dinner featuring ingredients sourced from the farm. Look for dishes featuring tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and herbs grown just feet from where you’ll dine and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of downtown St. Louis. Tickets available online.

Homebrew Fest June 17 – noon to 5 p.m., Das Bevo Bierhall, 4749 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314.533.2229 x232, Sample some of the top area homebrews, vote for your favorites and check out the revamped Bevo Mill. More than 15 homebrewers compete for top prize in three categories: ales, lagers and specialty. While you sip, fill your belly with Das Bevo’s German fare available for purchase. Proceeds benefit Our Little Haven, which cares for children and families affected by abuse, neglect, and mental and behavioral issues. Tickets available online. denotes a sauce sponsored event

sponsored events Picnic in the Park

June 4 – 4 to 7 p.m., Tower Grove Park, 4256 Magnolia Ave., St. Louis, Join the Friends of Tower Grove Park for an afternoon picnic near the Music Stand Pavilion. Grab food from a dozen trucks like Doughboy’s Wood Fired Pizza and Wayno’s. Sip a pint of Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. while kids enjoy a bubble bus, arts and crafts and live music at this free event.

Food Truck Friday

June 9 – 4 to 8 p.m., Tower Grove Park, 4256 Magnolia Ave., St. Louis, 314.772.8004, Gather your friends, grab a picnic blanket and head to Tower Grove Park for more than 20 food trucks, including Slide Piece by Tommy Lee, K-Bop Food Truck and The Sweet Divine. Sip local pours from Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., 4 Hands Brewing Co. and Noboleis Vineyards while you enjoy live music from Three Fine Lines. This year, save time and skip the line – buy Speed Passes online.

Central West End Cocktail Party

June 10 – 5 to 10 p.m., Euclid Avenue between Maryland and McPherson avenues, Raise your glass to celebrate the 100th anniversary of what many consider the first recorded cocktail party. Area establishments like Bar Italia, Brennan’s and The Preston serve up tasty sips and eats at this free familyfriendly event.

Food Truck Frenzy

June 15 – 5 to 8 p.m., 20 Meadows Circle Drive, The Meadows, Lake St. Louis,

Get your grub on at the Food Truck Frenzy. Enjoy Filipino fare at Guerrilla Street Food, grab a slice at Doughboys Wood Fired Pizza or dress up your dog at Frankly Sausages. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Sarah’s Cake Stop or The Fire & Ice Cream Truck before heading home with a full belly.

Pig & Swig

June 17 – noon to 7 p.m., Ballpark Village, 601 Clark Ave., St. Louis, Dozens of pro and amateur pit masters fire up the grills for an afternoon of smoky, porky goodness. Enjoy tastes from Salt & Smoke, Iron Barley, Doc’s Smokehouse and Beast Craft BBQ, to name a few, then sip on whiskey cocktails. Admission is free; VIP tickets available online.

Spirited Sessions

June 22 – 7 to 10 p.m., The BHive at Brennan’s, 4659 Maryland Ave., St. Louis, Facebook: Spirited Sessions It’s tiki time at Spirited Sessions. Retreat Gastropub’s Tim Wiggins joins STLBarkeep’s Matt Longueville and Sauce Magazine’s Matt Sorrell to teach the technique behind four unique tropical drinks. Tickets available online.

Bikes & BBQ Festival

June 24 – 1 to 6 p.m., Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater, 1 Riverfront Drive, Alton, Rev your engines for the inaugural Bikes & BBQ Festival. Indulge in barbecue from Pappy’s Smokehouse, Southtown Pub, Sugarfire Smoke House and others. While you snack, check out dozens of motorcycles on display and enjoy music from local artist, Joe Dirt. June 2017


logan ely Chef Logan Ely doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s figuring it out. A St. Louis native, Ely moved back in February after stints at James Beard Award-winning restaurants like Blue Hill in New York City and Pass & Provisions in Houston, to name a few. He started his underground dinner series, Square1 Project, while looking for a permanent restaurant space. With a propensity for fermented flavors and radically sustainable ingredients – think weaver ants, not just local produce – he serves unique, 14-course tasting menus prepared with minimal equipment and limited resources. He might just know more than he’s letting on. – Heather Hughes

“Cook i n g i s su c h a h ard t h i n g to do an d dedi cat e you r li fe to. To me, it has to mean something. It’s gotta be important. It’s not enough to just open a restaurant and be like, okay

now I want to get an award or two. … I certainly wouldn’t call myself an activist at all, but I’m in that realm of, ‘Hey, it’s OK to eat insects, and look – I can make this taste really good, and it’s sustainable, and you get to support this woman in Denver that’s really trying to do this thing.’ [Wendy Lu McGill, from Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch] is an activist. She’s out doing speeches and all that stuff. I think that’s where I see this whole project, restaurant, team going.” “I ’ m n ot g oi n g to hand you a bow l of maggots or an y t h i n g. You won’t even probably see the bugs. Right now I have a garum, a fish sauce, going with crickets and a miso that will take 10 weeks with weaver ants. It’s not gross. I wish I had some on me – I’ve been giving people tastes. When the vendors come by I’m like, ‘Here, taste this.’” “I t ’ s n ot li k e a chef comes i n to a kitchen an d w ri t es a menu and t e ac h es a cook how to do i t an d t h at’s it. It’s like, ‘Hey, the fish delivery didn’t show up,’ or, ‘Hey, there’s a gas leak,’ or, ‘This thing caught on fire,’ or, ‘The health inspector is going to shut us down unless this is fixed.’ It’s literally that every single day. It’s the unglamorous part of the gig. It’s what all these Netflix shows don’t show – the chef in the back trying to fix the oven.”

“ [Nor th P ond in Chicago] was the f ir st r estaur ant I wor ked at wher e it was s o har d, I hated ev ery day of it. Nothing was ever right that I did, nothing was ever good enough. I wasn’t fast enough. I wasn’t clean enough. I was terrible. I had stomachaches every day. … And then, a year-and-a-half goes by, and you realize, ‘I’m way better than my first day.’ The chef [Bruce Sherman] pulled me outside and was like, ‘Hey, good job. You did really well. I pushed you really hard and you were there every step of the way and you grew a lot and I’m really proud of you.’ That was huge.” “ Ther e’s always those things you don’t le ar n as a cook. Anything fermented, you don’t get a lot of in kitchens – most health departments or inspectors don’t like to see that shit around. So when we were in New York, me and my buddy decided we should know how to do charcuterie. So we started fermenting meat, and we ended up with like seven refrigerators full in our Brooklyn apartment – it was hilarious. He actually now owns a butcher shop in Brooklyn.” “ I get b or ed v ery e as ily. We’ll put something on the menu, and four weeks later I’m like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so embarrassing. I can’t believe we were actually serving that.’” “At a succes sf ul r estaur ant, the chefs wor k mor e hour s than the cooks. Dan [Barber, chef at Blue Hill] is a good example. Between the two restaurants, writing his book, doing TED Talks and all this stuff. He’s an awesome dude, very smart, but he’s working his ass off. He’s doing so much stuff. I think that’s inspiring, and it keeps you going if you’re having a hard night or a rough week.”


Book your reservation at Square1 Project, Twitter: @Square1_Project, Instagram: @square1_project

“I h ad zer o mon ey. I had a couple friends who I knew would help me and be a part of it, but I had zero vendors. I was like, ‘Oh, shit. How are we going to do this?’ That’s square one: I know I need tables and chairs. I know I need to get a good credit card and max that thing out. I didn’t want help. I wanted to build this up to something … find my voice. I think it’s the same thing with a writer or a painter. You need a venue to write and get better at what you do, and this is what that is for me – and us, I should say. That’s Square1 Project.”


June 2017



June 2017


hit list

4 new places to try this month

the sloppy joe joe at charleville brewing co. & tavern



What happens when you combine a Ste. Genevieve brewhouse with a city-savvy restaurant group? Charleville Brewing Co. & Tavern. The newest partnership between the 14-year-old brewery and Hamilton Hospitality (of Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin de Set, et al.) offers a relaxed eatery with a backyard cookout vibe. Choose from 14 Charleville brews on tap like the Long White Cloud, a New Zealandstyle Pilsner, or the Rye by Night, a black rye IPA collaboration with Heavy Riff Brewing Co., and peruse an extensive menu of bar snacks and creative takes on comforting classics. Don’t miss the Sloppy Joe Joe, a meaty, cheesy mess served open-faced on spent-grain sourdough that requires a knife and fork, or the house-smoked pastrami sandwich cut thick and generously portioned. Share a pile of South City Fried Chicken Livers with all the smooth creaminess you want (and none of the gaminess you fear). If you’ve managed to save room for dessert, order the classic diner-style apple pie domed with a cinnamon-sugar crumb crust and served a la mode with house-made vanilla ice cream.

2101 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.4677, June 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 9

r e a d e r s' choice katie collier, of katie's pizza & pasta osteria, is your chef of the year

S T. L O U I S ’ I N D E P E N D E N T C U L I N A R Y A U T H O R I T Y

Readers’ Choice 2017




Readers’ Choice 2017

Readers’ Choice 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 3



Readers’ Choice 2017

Mixed Green Salad “It’s over grilled, awesome potato bread – that’s a sleeper hit. To call it a potato bread is a shame because its half mashed potatoes-half bread, so it’s dense and thick and gooey.”

Cuban Sweet Potatoes “When you make people happy with vegetables, that’s a real feat. Steak is easy, a fatty burger is easy – vegetables take a little more effort and risk. When people dig on the vegetables, I’m so excited.”

fa vorite ne w restaurant

OLIVE & OAK Blue Crab Gratin “It’s total comfort food. It’s just a cheesy crab dip – spicy and warm and sharable.”

If you could actually snag a standing reservation at the wildly popular Olive & Oak in Webster Groves, you’d find a different menu each time. Executive chef Jesse Mendica tweaks vegetable preparations or swaps a protein in her playful twists on classics nearly every day. “Just trust us,” she said. “I won’t lead you into something you don’t want.” Here, Mendica shared her go-to salad, staff obsessions and the handful of constants on the flexible menu of your Favorite New Restaurant. – Catherine Klene


102 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314.736.1370,

Readers’ Choice 2017

The Dip “It’s roasted leg of lamb with drunken goat cheese and lamb jus. Don’t miss it. We did a veggie dip and a ham dip and a pork dip, but nothing compares to this. I’m head over heels for it.”

O & O Burger “We have to plead with [employees] to eat something other than a burger. We’re worried about you. You’re going to become a burger.” I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 5


Readers’ Choice 2017

y o u r fa v o r i t e spe ci alty food store



Four decades after Bob Mepham got into the fish business, Bob’s Seafood is St. Louis’ preeminent seafood purveyor, and our reader’s Favorite Specialty Food Store. Here’s what it takes to make it to the top of the fish biz, by the numbers. – Matt Sorrell

1 TO 5 daily trips to the airport to pick up fresh fish

20,000 lobsters sold a year Readers’ Choice 2017

156,000 complimentary lemons sent home with your fish in the past 30 years

up to 100 types of seafood sold


oceans of seafood represented fish is stored at

10 minutes cook time suggested per inch of fillet thickness


fingers lost from scaling, boning and butchering fish

34 degrees around 25,000 fish heads sold annually

up to 30,000 customers per year


tons of ice a year to keep fish chilled in the store and during the car ride home I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 7



Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria, 9568 Manchester Road, Rock Hill, 314.942.6555, katiespizzaandpasta. com; Vero Pizza & Pasta,

Readers’ Choice 2017

st. louis’ chef of the year KATIE COLLIER The readers have spoken. Chef of the Year Katie Collier’s restaurant, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria, is one of the hottest spots in to wn. She and her husband/business partner, Ted Collier, are poised to open a second location in To wn & Countr y this summer and their meal kit company, Vero Pizza & Pasta, debuts this month. Here, Collier shared her unconventional childhood, love for Italian and plans for the future. – Matt Sorrell

WHY FOCUS ON ITALIAN FOOD? “When I was 18, my mom worked as a professor at Washington University in the fine arts department. They put her in charge of the study abroad program in Florence, Italy, so she moved there. I dropped out of high school when I was 14 years old. At 18, all of my friends were going to college and doing other

Readers’ Choice 2017

things. I was working at Zoe’s PanAsian Cafe, so I saved up all of my money for a plane ticket to Florence and I flew there to live with my mom. I went every spring. Obviously, food is the epicenter of Italian culture – I became super passionate about Italian culture and cuisine.”

WHAT DID YOUR FOLKS THINK ABOUT YOU DROPPING OUT? “My parents are both eccentrics, and we were kind of raised wild, so no one noticed!”

WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL? “We use travel to discover and explore. We go places and try to get with nature and chill out and calm the brain. Usually I come back with great ideas and inspirations from that silence. Ted is an amazing fisherman, so we go to places that are fishing destinations and we fly-fish for hours and hours and days and days. That’s where I came up with Vero Pasto – walking down a river. We also love to go to cities and eat. We go to California a lot and travel the coast and eat at great restaurants like Osteria Mozza, Juniper & Ivy, République and In-N-Out Burger.

WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE FOOD? “Chinese food, and I’m into

Vietnamese food, too. I have to have it at least once a week.”

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANTS? “We just went to Reeds American Table for the first time and loved it. We also love Olive & Oak. It’s close to the restaurant, so we can go by and get an early dinner. We go to Mai Lee often. Ted’s obsessed with barbecue, and we’re friends with Mike Emerson, so we like Pappy’s. We also like Sugarfire Smoke House.”

IF YOU WEREN’T A CHEF, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? “When I was growing up, my dad worked in North St. Louis, buying fireplace mantles and doors and terra cotta from abandoned buildings. We opened a ‘junk store’ together, next to the original Katie’s Pizza before it opened. No name or phone number, just a big open room filled with architectural antiques and furniture. We’d travel to auctions and find stuff. I was pretty good at that. Whatever it would be, it would have to be something creative.”

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO NEXT? “We really love the brick-and-mortar concept we have. People often ask if we get bored doing the same thing, but if you really focus on Italian food, it can go

in so many great directions. … Our goal – it’s delusional and crazy – but we’d like to have Katie’s Pizza & Pastas and Veros all over the country.”

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS? “Definitely not monetarily. Growing up, my family wasn’t wealthy. There were many times when no one had a car and we all slept on the floor. I can live with very little. Now that I have enough, I’m totally satisfied in that realm. I definitely feel successful right now because I get to work with my family and my husband every day and we’re good at what we do. My definition of success is when you can innovate something and change it and make it better.”

Sound Bites returns this month when Chef of the Year Katie Collier and Favorite New Restaurant owner Mark Hinkle join art director Meera Nagarajan to discuss what it takes to win Readers' Choice. Tune in to St. louis Public Radio KWMU 90.7 to learn more. I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 9

patio at baileys' chocolate bar


You work hard. At the office. At home. At that freaking spin class. It’s about time you indulged at some of St. Louis’ most extravagant favorites. Are you ready to carb load like a marathoner? We’ve got just the place. Want the priciest bottle on the menu? Go ahead, you deserve it. Wish your meat was wrapped in more meat? Of course you do. Don’t apologize and don’t hold back. Today, calories don’t count and money ain’t a thing. That spin class will still be there tomorrow.


Readers’ Choice 2017

When you get the big promotion. Nothing says “massive bump in income” like a big, juicy steak. Filet is the only cut worthy of this decadent achievement, and at Tucker’s Place, you’ve gotta get it wrapped in bacon. Because you can. We’re talking 16 ounces of charredon-the-outside, ruby-red-on-the-inside American dream. Better add the baked potato with the works, piled high with shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped chives and, yes, more bacon. Go ahead and finish the whole thing. You’re kind of a big deal now.

$30. Tucker’s Place, various locations,

When the babysitter can stay late. You’re out! You did it! Now make it count. Put your evening in the incredibly capable hands of James Beard Award-winning chef Kevin Nashan and order the chef ’s tasting menu at Sidney Street Cafe. Course after course will blow your mind with bold flavors, beautiful plating and ingredients you’ve never heard of. Whatever you do, save some of those house-made beignets to sop up the insanely good sauces accompanying almost every course. Fair warning: You may want to wear the stretchy pants.

$75. Sidney Street Cafe, 2000 Sidney St., St. Louis, 314.771.5777, Readers’ Choice 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 11


Readers’ Choice 2017

When the temp dips below 90. Sweat-free summer nights are basically the universe telling you to drop all responsibilities and just do you. Better listen. There’s no finer way to waste a few hours than on the patio at Sasha’s on Shaw. With its wobbly sidewalk tables and wine-all-day attitude, you’re just a pack of cigs and a bad beret away from ol’ Pah-rhee. Go full on Frenchie with the triple crėme crepe, an uberrich combo of melted brie, crisp green apples and mango chutney. Wash it down with a bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé, a perfect summer sipper straight from Champagne, France. Sure, it’ll set you back. But if you can’t spend it on bubbly pink wine, what’s the point of having it at all?

Crepe: $13.50. Wine: $70 per half bottle. Sasha’s on Shaw, 4069 Shaw Ave., St. Louis, 314.771.7274,

When nothing goes right. When we’re in a mood, we crave noodles. Something about slurping endless strands of carby deliciousness can flip the switch from pulling our hair out to giving zero F’s. If you pray to the pasta gods, there’s only one cure for what’s ailing you: a big-ass bowl at Vista Ramen. Squeeze into this tiny Cherokee Street hotspot and sidle up at the bar for the flight of three Japanese whiskeys. And before you forget your middle name, order a bowl of the Vista Ramen, replete with a thick slab of unctuous pork, a tangle of hand-cut noodles and a perfect jammy egg just waiting to ooze into that steamy broth. Slice it, mix it up and slurp your problems away.

Vista Ramen: $13. Whiskey Flight: $25 to $27. Vista Ramen, 2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.797.8250, Readers’ Choice 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 13


Readers’ Choice 2017

When the husbands watch the kids. Bring on the sushi boat. Sushi is the ultimate shareable food, and the Supreme Sashimi at Drunken Fish is the best way to fuel the flurry of any good girls’ night. Catch 18 pieces of sashimi featuring pretty much every creature under the sea: tuna, salmon, yellowtail, red snapper, octopus and shrimp. Dunk in that wasabi-laden soy sauce with abandon – no judgment here. Just don’t leave without the fried green tea ice cream. Can you say deepfried happiness?

Supreme Sashimi: $33. Fried green tea ice cream: $6.50. Drunken Fish, various locations,

When it’s n o t Fr i d a y yet. We’re still gathering signatures for the four-day work week. Until then, you can find us getting a muchneeded break at Planter’s House. Ask for a spot in the Bullock Room upstairs, complete with red leather couches and wallpaper that will make you feel like you’re doing something suitably shady in a downtown speakeasy. Speaking of – order the Planter’s House Manhattan, and get it in a bottle. Why? Because it’s bigger and better than a

Readers’ Choice 2017

measly old glass. Plus, it will give you a chance to spend some quality time with the Planter’s House fries. Get them jalapeno-style and ask for the house-made ketchup and aioli. Dip, baby dip.

Bottled Manhattan: $30 to $60. Planter’s House fries: $7. Planter’s House, 1000 Mississippi Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2603,

When that sweet tooth won’ t quit. We could live off coffee and ice cream at Baileys’ Chocolate Bar. The menu is jam-packed with sweet treats that make it impossible to choose just one … or five. So don’t. Order The Lovers’ Plate and choose every. damn. thing. Take a break from staring into each other’s Snapchat lenses to nibble mini brownie and blondie bites, the Chocolate Inebriation, some Bailey’s Irish Cream and chocolate cheesecake and a slice of German chocolate cake. Did I mention it’s served with salted caramel ice cream, chocolate-dipped bacon brittle, raspberry sorbet, caramelized banana, strawberries, cocoa-dusted pepitas and candied citrus? Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

$22. Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, 1915 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.8100, I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 15

I'LL HAVE WHAT THEY'RE HAVING Ever wonder what servers order for themselves? Here’s the insider intel on what to get at your favorite bars and restaurants right now. – complied by Kevin Korinek



2 4





“The pompano special. It usually takes 25 minutes to prepare, so most people don’t order it, but it’s a light, bonein grilled fish just stuffed with herbs – it’s huge. It’s the first fish I ever ate that I got excited just eating the skin off it. It’s just so delicious, I can’t even describe it. We only make a handful of them a day, but it’s one of the more expensive things on the menu. When customers see this dish, their eyes pop out. Even when we just bring it out, people are stopping me to asking what it is.”

“The top of my list is the Reuben sandwich. Corned beef sliced here with Swiss, Thousand Island dressing and sauerkraut piled on this thick-sliced rye bread from Fazio’s on The Hill. The Reuben is something I can’t do at home, and when I go out, I want a sandwich that’s dressed up and that comes with a little bit of pop and flavor. This thing is big on flavor.”

“My favorite item hands down is the Brie BLT – sourdough bread with melted brie, so you don’t need any sauce. The brie is so creamy, and it has a ton of bacon and becomes this hybrid between a BLT and a grilled cheese. It comes with our house-made creamy potato salad. This thing is my jam.”

– Joe Eisenbraun,


– Ryan Graham, Lona’s Lil Eats

Crown Candy Kitchen

– Tommy Manson, iTap

Sasha’s on Shaw


– Manny Hinkson,

Readers’ Choice 2017

Readers’ Choice 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 17

YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT favorite new restaurant*

OLIVE & OAK 102 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314.736.1370, 2nd: Vista Ramen 3rd: The Muddled Pig Gastropub
 Honorable mentions: Foundry Public House, Kounter Kulture and Grafton Oyster Bar *opened in 2016 favorite restaurant

SUGARFIRE SMOKE HOUSE meet owner mike johnson on p. 39 of the main issue Various locations, 2nd: ClevelandHeath 3rd: Mission Taco Joint Honorable mentions: Beast Craft BBQ, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria and Sidney Street Cafe chef of the year

KATIE COLLIER, KATIE’S PIZZA & PASTA OSTERIA 9568 Manchester Road, Rock Hill, 314.942.6555, 2nd: Mike Johnson, Sugarfire

Smoke House 3rd: Ed Heath, ClevelandHeath Honorable mentions: David Sandusky, Beast Craft BBQ; Gerard Craft, Sardella; and Kevin Nashan, Sidney Street Cafe favorite barbecue

SUGARFIRE SMOKE HOUSE Various locations, 2nd: Pappy’s Smokehouse 3rd: Beast Craft BBQ Honorable mentions: Salt & Smoke, Bogart’s Smokehouse and The Shaved Duck

2nd: Hi-Pointe Drive-In 3rd: O’Connell’s Pub Honorable mentions: 5 Star Burgers, Stacked STL and Carl’s Drive-In

2nd: Wang Gang 3rd: China King Honorable mentions: House of Wong, Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant and Joy Luck Buffet

favorite cajun/creole

favorite deli/sandwich shop



736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314.621.8811, 2nd: Boogaloo 3rd: Gulf Shores Restaurant & Grill Honorable mentions: Evangeline’s Bistro & Music House, The Kitchen Sink and Hwy 61 Roadhouse & Kitchen

2438 McNair Ave., St. Louis, 314.773.8225, 2nd: Gioia’s Deli 3rd: Mom’s Deli Honorable mentions: Fozzie’s Sandwich Emporium, Union Loafers Café and Bread Bakery and The Gramophone favorite diner

favorite brunch


favorite chicken wings

1104 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.241.8118; 3150 S. Grand Ave., St. Louis, 314.772.3447; 2nd: Half & Half 3rd: Brasserie by Niche Honorable mentions: ClevelandHeath, Cafe Osage and Prasino

SYBERG’S AN EATING & DRINKING CO. Various locations, 2nd: Byrd & Barrel 3rd: Three Kings Public House Honorable mentions: Sugarfire Smoke House, Peel Wood Fired Pizza and Culpepper’s Bar & Grill

favorite burger

favorite chinese



920 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.241.8121,

2199 California Ave., St. Louis, 314.925.8938,

buttermilk cornmeal pancakes at southwest diner, your favorite diner

SOUTHWEST DINER 6803 Southwest Ave., St. Louis, 314.260.7244, 2nd: Uncle Bill’s Pancake and Dinner
House 3rd: Benton Park Café Honorable mentions: Courtesy Diner, Chris’ Pancake & Dining and South City Diner favorite doughnut

STRANGE DONUTS 2709 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, 314.932.5851; 107 E. Argonne St., Kirkwood, 314.394.2323; 2nd: World’s Fair Doughnuts 3rd: Vincent Van Doughnut Honorable mentions: Donut Drive-In, Old Town Donuts and The Donut Stop

favorite fine dining

SIDNEY STREET CAFE 2000 Sidney St., St. Louis, 314.771.5777, 2nd: Charlie Gitto’s 3rd: Farmhaus Honorable mentions: Annie Gunn’s, Tony’s and Elaia favorite food truck

SEOUL TACO, Twitter: @seoultaco 2nd: Guerrilla Street Food 3rd: Mission Taco Joint Honorable mentions: Farmtruk, Sarah’s Cake Stop and Vincent Van Doughnut Food Truck favorite fried chicken

SOUTHERN 3108 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.531.4668, 2nd: Hodak’s Restaurant & Bar 3rd: Byrd & Barrel Honorable mentions: Gallagher’s, Sweetie Pie’s The Upper Crust and King Edwards Chicken & Fish favorite frozen dessert

TED DREWES FROZEN CUSTARD 6726 Chippewa St., St. Louis, 314.481.2652; 4224 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.352.7376; 2nd: Ices Plain & Fancy
 3rd: Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery
 Honorable mentions: The Fountain on Locust, Fritz’s Frozen Custard
and Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream favorite indian 8501 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.567.6850, 2nd: Everest Cafe & Bar 3rd: India’s Rasoi Honorable mentions: Himalayan Yeti, India Palace and Mr. Currys India Restaurant


Readers’ Choice 2017



Readers’ Choice 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 19


Readers’ Choice 2017


PASTARIA 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.862.6603, 2nd: Cunetto House of Pasta 3rd: Zia’s Restaurant & Catering Co. Honorable mentions: Charlie Gitto’s, Trattoria Marcella and Anthonino’s Taverna favorite korean

 6665 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.863.1148, 2nd: Oriental Spoon 3rd: Kimcheese
 Honorable mentions: Seoul Garden Korean Restaurant, U-City Grill and K-Bop Food Truck favorite mexican

HACIENDA MEXICAN RESTAURANT 9748 Manchester Road, Rock Hill, 314.962.7100, 2nd: Chava’s Mexican Restaurant 3rd:
Mi Ranchito Honorable mentions: Rosalita’s Cantina, Milagro Modern Mexican and Taqueria El Bronco favorite mediterranean/ middle eastern

AYA SOFIA 6671 Chippewa St., St. Louis, 314.645.9919, 2nd: Cafe Natasha’s 3rd: Olio Honorable mentions: Layla, The Vine Cafe and Ranoush Middle Eastern Cuisine favorite patio


JOHN D. MCGURK’S IRISH PUB & GARDEN 1200 Russell Blvd., St. Louis, 314.776.8309, 2nd: Vin de Set 3rd: Broadway Oyster Bar Honorable mentions: Billy G’s Kirkwood, Molly’s in Soulard and Sasha’s on Shaw favorite pizza

PI PIZZERIA Various locations, Readers’ Choice 2017

2nd: Imo’s Pizza 3rd:
Peel Wood Fired Pizza Honorable mentions: Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria, Black Thorn Pub and Sauce on the Side favorite pub

JOHN D. MCGURK’S IRISH PUB & GARDEN 1200 Russell Blvd., St. Louis, 314.776.8309, 2nd: The Scottish Arms 3rd: Llywelyn’s Pub Honorable mentions: Dressel’s Public House, O’Connell’s Pub and Seamus McDaniel’s favorite ramen

VISTA RAMEN 2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.797.8250, 2nd: Robata 3rd: Oriental Spoon Honorable mentions: Nami Ramen, Hiro Asian Kitchen and Midtown Sushi & Ramen favorite romantic spot

BAILEYS’ CHOCOLATE BAR 1915 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.8100, 2nd: Sidney Street Cafe
 3rd: Eleven Eleven Mississippi Honorable mentions: Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill, Bar Les Frères and Tony’s

ramen from vista ramen, your favorite ramen

favorite soul food/southern

SOUTHERN 3108 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.531.4668, 2nd: Sweetie Pie’s The Upper Crust 3rd: Juniper Honorable mentions: Mom’s Soul Food Kitchen & Catering, Diner’s Delight and Mother’s Fish

favorite sushi


favorite steakhouse

Various locations, 2nd: Wasabi Sushi Bars 3rd: Café Mochi Honorable mentions: Sushi Ai, Tani Sushi Bistro and Sub Zero Vodka Bar


favorite tacos

Various locations, 2nd: Annie Gunn’s 3rd: Citizen Kane’s Steak House Honorable mentions: 1818 Chophouse, Gamlin Whiskey House and Sam’s Steakhouse

MISSION TACO JOINT Various locations, 2nd: Seoul Taco 3rd: Taco Circus Honorable mentions: Hacienda

Mexican Restaurant, Chava’s Mexican Restaurant and Público 
 favorite thai

KING & I THAI RESTAURANT 3155 S. Grand Ave., St. Louis, 314.771.1777, 2nd: Fork & Stix 3rd: Thai Kitchen Honorable mentions: Basil Spice Thai Cuisine, Pad Thai Kitchen and Pearl Café favorite vegetarian/vegan

LULU’S LOCAL EATERY 3201 S. Grand Ave., St. Louis, 314.300.8215,

2nd: Lona’s Lil Eats 3rd: Small Batch Whiskey & Fare Honorable mentions: Confluence Kombucha, Tree House Vegetarian Restaurant and Sacred Grounds Cafe favorite vietnamese

MAI LEE RESTAURANT 8396 Musick Memorial Drive, Brentwood, 314.645.2835, 2nd: Pho Grand Restaurant 3rd: Lemon Grass Restaurant Honorable mentions: Banh Mi So No. 1, Little Saigon Café and Bamboo Bistro I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 21


Readers’ Choice 2017

st. louis' bartenders of the year WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST AWKWARD MOMENT ON THE JOB? Winner







Atomic Cowboy


“I had to cut off two guys who I’ve known for a long time as regulars [on different nights]. One I coaxed into drinking some coffee and eating something, but the other guy didn’t take it well at all. He stood up and got huffy. They decided they were never coming back. I felt bad, but at the end of the day you’re just trying to look out for them. They did eventually come back, though they didn’t mention what happened. Everyone’s on good terms.”

“One of the regulars at a bar I worked at was a call girl, and she met all of her johns at the bar. She’d come and go several times a night. I think she knew that I knew. Making small talk was really hard. You couldn’t really ask her, ‘How’s tricks?’”

“We had a group that came in for a few hours and had a good time. One woman went to the bathroom and came back out, and their server came up to me and said, ‘That woman isn’t wearing any pants.’ I told him she was probably just wearing flesh-colored tights or something. He came back and said, ‘Nope, she’s not wearing any pants.’ Sure enough, she was buck-naked from the waist down. I went to the one woman in the group I knew and told her about it. She pulled her friend aside, and her friend said, ‘Oh my God, who took my pants?’ Thankfully all of the other guests were gone.”


from left, elijah barnes, terry oliver and tony saputo at frazer’s

23 Readers’ Choice 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 23

the scorpion bowl at mission taco joint, your favorite happy hour


Readers’ Choice 2017

YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK bartender of the year

ELIJAH BARNES, CLEVELANDHEATH 106 N. Main St., Edwardsville, 618.307.4830, 2nd: Tony Saputo, Atomic Cowboy 3rd: Terry Oliver, Frazer’s Honorable mentions: Pamela Moore, The Muddled Pig Gastropub; Ted Kilgore, Planter’s House; Brandon Talbert, The Sliced Pint

favorite beer bar

INTERNATIONAL TAP HOUSE (ITAP) Various locations, 2nd: Three Kings Public House 3rd: The Side Project Cellar
 Honorable mentions: Global Brew Tap House, Cicero’s, SOHA Bar & Grill and Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar favorite brewery

4 HANDS BREWING CO. 1220 S. Eighth St., St. Louis, 314.436.1559, 2nd: Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. 3rd: Schlafly Beer Honorable mentions: Civil Life Brewing Co., Side Project Brewing and Perennial Artisan Ales favorite cocktails


PLANTER’S HOUSE 1000 Mississippi Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2603, 2nd: Taste 3rd: ClevelandHeath Honorable mentions: Frazer’s, Retreat Gastropub and The Libertine

Readers’ Choice 2017

favorite happy hour

MISSION TACO JOINT Various locations, 2nd: Three Kings Public House 3rd: 5 Star Burgers Honorable mentions: Basso, ClevelandHeath and The Muddled Pig Gastropub favorite sports bar

SYBERG’S AN EATING & DRINKING CO. Various locations, 2nd: Amsterdam Tavern 3rd: The Post Sports Bar & Grill Honorable mentions: Blueberry Hill, Billy G’s Kirkwood and Friendly’s Sports Bar and Grill favorite wine bar

SASHA’S WINE BARS 706 DeMun Ave., Clayton, 314.863.7274; 4069 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, 314.771.7274; 2nd: Robust Wine Bar 3rd: 33 Wine Shop & Bar Honorable mentions: Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar, Olio and One 19 North Tapas. Wine. Bar. favorite local winery

CHAUMETTE VINEYARDS & WINERY 24345 State Route WW, Ste. Genevieve, 573.747.1000, 2nd: Montelle Winery (tie) 2nd: St. James Winery (tie) 3rd: Augusta Winery Honorable mentions: Cedar Lake Cellars, Wild Sun Winery and Charleville Vineyard & Microbrewery

YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP favorite bottle shop

RANDALL’S WINES & SPIRITS Various locations, 2nd: The Wine & Cheese Place 3rd: Saint Louis Hop Shop Honorable mentions: Bin 51 Wine & Spirits, Intoxicology and Robust Wine Bar favorite bread

UNION LOAFERS CAFÉ AND BREAD BAKERY 1629 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.6111, 2nd: Companion 3rd: 222 Artisan Bakery & Cafe Honorable mentions: Amighetti’s Bakery & Cafe, Missouri Baking Co. and Vitale’s Bakery favorite butcher shop

PROVISIONS 2810 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, 314.647.2567, 2nd: Kenrick’s Meat &
Catering 3rd: G & W Bavarian Style Sausage Honorable mentions: Mannino’s Market, LeGrand’s Market & Catering and Baumann’s Fine Meats favorite cakes/pastries

MCARTHUR’S BAKERY CAFE Various locations, 2nd: Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Cafe 3rd: Pint Size Bakery & Coffee Honorable mentions: La Patisserie Chouquette, Nathaniel Reid Bakery and Missouri Baking Co. favorite chocolate shop

CROWN CANDY KITCHEN 1401 St. Louis Ave., St. Louis, 314.621.9650,

2nd: Kakao Chocolate 3rd: Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier Honorable mentions: Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co., The Fountain on Locust and Merb’s Candies favorite coffee shop

KALDI’S COFFEE ROASTING CO. Various locations, 2nd: Sump Coffee 3rd: The Mud House Coffee & Kitchen Honorable mentions: Park Avenue Coffee, Rise Coffee, Coffee Cartel and Blueprint Coffee favorite farmers market

SOULARD FARMERS MARKET 730 Carroll St., St. Louis, 314.622.4180, 2nd: Tower Grove Farmers’ Market 3rd: Kirkwood Farmers’ Market Honorable mentions: Land of Goshen Community Market, Schlafly Farmers’ Market and Ferguson Farmers’ Market favorite local grocery

DIERBERGS Various locations, 2nd: Schnucks 3rd: Straub’s Honorable mentions: DiGregorio’s Italian Market, Fields Foods and Jay International Food Co. favorite specialty food store

BOB’S SEAFOOD 8660 Olive Blvd., University City, 314.993.4844, 2nd: The Smokehouse Market 3rd:
Larder & Cupboard Honorable mentions: LeGrand’s Market & Catering, Seafood City Supermarket and Olde Town Spice Shoppe I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 25


Readers’ Choice 2017

Readers’ Choice 2017 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 27

June 2017  
June 2017