Springfield, IL Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Moving to Central West End
St. Louis, MO/July 26, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – They say you can’t go home again, but scores of St. Louis-born chefs and restaurateurs have proven that maxim is completely untrue. Think Michael Gallina (Vicia), Patrick Connolly (Basso), Brian Moxey (Pasteria), Justin Haifley (The Tavern), Rex Hale (Boundary), Marshall Morris (Balance Coffee & Tea), and dozens of others over the years. Now, another local son is bringing his culinary craft home. Chef Ryan Lewis is moving his popular Driftwood Eatery & Cocktail to St. Louis. The Springfield, Illinois restaurant closed Saturday, July 22, ahead of the move. Lewis’ new location in the Central West End will be called Pig & Pickle Eatery. It will feature Driftwood’s seasonal take on farm-to-fork New American fare, but shift the focus somewhat to small plates.
For the past three years, Lewis has operated his Springfield restaurant under the philosophy of pairing high quality, locally-sourced ingredients with expert technique. The restaurant’s operating principle is found in the James Beard quote posted on their website: “There is absolutely no substitute for the best. Good food cannot be made of inferior ingredients masked with high flavor. It is true thrift to use the best ingredients available and to waste nothing.” That philosophy led Lewis to create a farm-to-table menu that drew on fresh ingredients sourced from local farms. Some of those Central Illinois farms (including Garden Gate Farms which produces non-GMO cornmeal, grits, and vegetables) will continue to provide fresh ingredients for his new kitchen in St. Louis.
While in Springfield, Lewis is credited with leading the farm-to-table movement in that city’s restaurant industry. While in Springfield, Lewis has worked closely with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a local farm-to-table sustainable food system advocacy group. Alliance spokesperson Molly Gleason called Lewis “key” to getting diners and restaurant owners in the state capitol thinking out local sourcing. She told the State Journal-Register, “Ryan has done things to move the movement forward and get people thinking why it’s important to support local farmers.” The Bethalto native called his move “bitter-sweet,” but said it was time for him to become part of St. Louis’ vibrant culinary scene and to be closer to home. Most of his Driftwood management staff is moving with him to St. Louis.
The new restaurant will offer the same fresh ingredient-based, farm-to-table New American fare Driftwood Eatery & Cocktails was known for. It will also offer a menu of craft cocktails, pared down somewhat from the 70+ varieties on the Driftwood Menu. Initially, Pig & Pickle will be open for dinner Tuesday – Saturday. They’ll also do brunch Saturdays and Sundays. Lewis expects to open his St. Louis restaurant sometime this fall, but the specific location in the Central West End has not yet been announced.