Tag - South City

Resurrected Lemmons Restaurant Opens in South City

Resurrected Lemmons Restaurant Opens in South City

Old Southside Eatery is New Again as Lemmons by Grbic

St. Louis, MO/May 29, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) Lemmons Restaurant – Some local restaurants come and go, disappearing completely in the fog of urban progress.  Others are more like cats with nine lives, born and reborn again and again.  Lemmons at 5800 Gravois Ave. in the Bevo neighborhood of South St. Louis is like the latter.  This nightspot first opened as a fine dining establishment in the 1940s.  In those days it was a nice, full-service restaurant that featured linen tablecloths, well-mannered waiters, steak, seafood, and its famous fried chicken.  Back in the day, Lemmons was a great dining choice for important business dinners, special date night meals, and family gatherings.  It was stylish, without being pretentious.  Like much of the Bevo neighborhood surrounding it, Lemmons faded over time, changing hands and menus, until closing finally in 2014.  Thanks to an already successful St. Louis restaurant family, Lemmons is getting new life.  Lemmons by Grbic opened May 24th promising something new for St. Louis diners.

The Grbic family owns and operates the popular Bosnian restaurant Grbic at 4071 Keokuk Street in the Dutchtown neighborhood.  They bought the shuttered Lemmon’s (then a pizzeria, bar, and concert venue) in 2014 with the intention of leasing the restaurant space, or perhaps creating a sports bar on the site.  But the building and fixtures weren’t exactly turnkey, so they spent the next three years renovating the iconic Southside restaurant.  This restaurant family already had practice repurposing historic St. Louis buildings.  In 2002, the Grbics transformed the old Bailey Farm Dairy into a comfortable, elegant restaurant and event venue.  So, it’s not surprising that the transformation of Lemmons is so complete and well done.  The changes include pretty much everything except the iconic Lemmons signs—two neon masterpieces that date back to the first half of the 20th century.

The new dining room at Lemmons is bright and inviting, with an upscale, casual vibe thanks to the exposed brick walls and European-style furniture (including tables imported from Sarajevo).  Polished wood and pops of yellow play well together in the subtly lemon themed decor.  There’s a brand-new kitchen and a sparkling new bar that draws beer from a special basement freezer which keeps the beer chilled to 27-degrees and feeds directly into the taps upstairs.  There’s also space in the basement for a meat curing and processing area that will serve both Grbic family restaurants.  Even the apartment upstairs has been renovated and leased as law offices.

Parents Ermina and Sulejman Grbic, who were born in Bosnia, are the driving force behind Grbic Restaurant.  Their children, Erna, Ermin, and Senada Grbic—all born in the U.S.— are the impetus behind Lemmons by Grbic.  That combined American-Bosnian identity is reflected in the style and flavor of this new endeavor.  Erna Grbic is the event coordination and marketing pro for both restaurants.  Ermin Grbic handles front-of-house at Lemmons. Senada Grbic is sous chef of Grbic and executive chef at Lemmons.

The menu Chef Senada Grbic has created for the new restaurant would best be described as American-Balkan fusion with dishes that draw on the Grbic family’s traditions and Lemmons’ own history.  For instance, diners who remember the terrific Black Thorn pizzas from Lemmon’s days gone by will appreciate the many fresh flatbreads on the restaurant’s new menu.  One twist that’s sure to be a hit is Babo’s flatbread, which features the grilled chicken her father serves at Grbic, and ajvar spread (roasted red peppers with garlic, eggplant and chili peppers called ajvar spread).  Diners will also find burgers (including one that blends ground beef with beef bacon) served on Bosnian-style buns from Sana Bakery.  They’ll also find smoked chicken wings with a sweet and spicy glaze, crispy crab cakes, spiral-cut potatoes that are fried into chip-kabobs and served with an assortment of savory dips, and pillowy, deep-fried ustipke (like doughnuts) served with sweet dipping sauces.  In a nod to Lemmons’ history, Chef Senada has created her own version of crispy buttermilk-brined fried chicken that she pairs with buttery mashed carrots.  There’s also a crazy, creamy drink called the Freak Shake.  It starts as a vanilla milkshake, but then they crowd it with Nutella, Balkan-style cookies and candies, and Rumchata whipped cream.  It’s over-the-top delicious.

The new Lemmons by Grbic is open for dinner Tuesday – Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday – Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  This restaurant rebirth is a welcome development for the Bevo neighborhood of South St. Louis and should be a go-to destination for first and second generation Bosnian diners looking for classic Balkan flavors, as well as other St. Louis area diners who want a great meal that offers familiar American dishes with a definite European flair.

Contact Information:

Lemmons by Grbic
5800 Gravois Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63116
Phone: (314) 899-9898

South City’s Vine Café Dishes Out Mediterranean Food and Culture

South City’s Vine Café Dishes Out Mediterranean Food and Culture

Fresh Pita, Shawarma, and Hookah at The Vine Café on South Grand

St. Louis, MO/May 17, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Everyone who knows anything about where to eat in St. Louis knows about the amazing mix of ethnic cuisines offered along South Grand Blvd. in the city’s Tower Grove South neighborhood.  The bustling strip has always been a hub of local commerce.  “Back in the day” there were dry cleaners, butcher shops, banks, barbers, apothecaries, bookstores, repair shops, and doctors’ offices.  Now, it’s a hub of international cuisine.  One of the more noteworthy establishments along the current South Grand Blvd between Arsenal and Utah Streets is the Vine Mediterranean Café & Market at 3171 South Grand.

This bright, inviting café specializes in Middle Eastern fare—mainly Lebanese—served in a traditional Arabian setting.  The aromas of fresh baked pita and shawarma (a marinated lamb and beef, slow roasted on a vertical spit) entice passersby along the sidewalk.  But one step inside the Vine is like a step into another, more exotic world.  The heady smell of spices, pita, meat, and hookah conjure images of faraway places.

The menu at the Vine invites diners to sample the wares of traditional Mediterranean kitchens.  At the Vine, everything is made fresh every day and every dish on the menu is halal.  Among the apps are hummus and pitas, of course, but also stuffed grape leaves, baba ganoush, falafel, makdous (cured baby eggplant stuffed with walnuts and garlic, topped with pomegranate sauce and olive oil), Labneh (creamy yogurt topped with olive oil and za’atar spice), and Kibbeh (a bulgur wheat and beef shell, stuffed with beef and onions)—plus za’atar spiced wings, chicken tenders with a zesty garlic sauce, and Lebanese Nachos (pita chips topped with hummus, fresh vegetables and labneh).

The shawarma, available in beef and lamb, or chicken, is the star of the menu.  It’s sliced from a vertical spit, similarly to gyro, and served over rice with pita bread.  Unlike the Greek gyro with it’s cool, creamy tzatziki sauce, shawarma is served with tahini sauce, a traditional Middle Eastern blend of sesame paste, lemon juice, and garlic.  The tahini sauce at the Vine is a tangy accompaniment to their rich, savory, and oh-so-tender shaved meat.  Have wrapped in pita and toasted panini-style or served over rice with salad or soup.

Other popular dishes include kebabs (beef, lamb, chicken, shrimp), lamb chops, and chicken shatta (charbroiled chicken breast topped with tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic, and a mix of herbs and spices, sautéed in olive oil).  There’s also a nice selection of vegetarian and vegan options, including a falafel dinner, and Batata Harra (cubed potato, cilantro, garlic, and hot spices sautéed in olive oil).

Besides the usual soft drinks (Coke and Pepsi products), beverage options include fresh juices (orange, apple, mango, and carrot) that can be ordered pure, or blended, or mixed with lemonade.  There are also some traditional drinks: Jallab, made with date juice, almonds and raisins; hot tea with mint, cardamom, or lemon; and strong Lebanese Coffee (with or without cardamom).  There are smoothies too—traditional flavors like banana or mango, but also some less familiar combinations like carrot (blended with banana and honey) and the refreshing mint lemonade smoothie.

There’s a fresh selection of fresh bakery items (like namura and baklava) in the bakery case each day.  Their signature chocolate baklava is worth the trip itself.  If you’re too full to eat dessert after your meal, be sure to get some to go.  Be sure to peruse the Mediterranean market shelves too.  They’re stocked with olives, oils, chickpeas, and rice, along with those exotic Mediterranean spices and some packaged food goodies you won’t find at your local supermarket.  They also offer a large selection of fresh halal meats.  As if that wasn’t enough, there’s an adjacent hookah lounge.

When the weather permits, their outdoor dining area is a great place to enjoy a great meal, strong coffee, and lavish tea while people-watching along the vibrant South Grand Blvd.  If you need to get some work done, bring your laptop because they have free Wi-Fi too.  They also offer catering for small groups and large gatherings.

The Vine Café is open Sunday – Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Friday – Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (kitchen closes 9:30 pm).  The market at the Vine is open Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Monday – Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  For a sample of their delicious Lebanese cuisine, stop by during the 9th Annual South Grand International Dine Out on May 18th.  The Vine’s coconut dates, pistachio baklava, and namura are among the featured items.

Contact information:

The Vine Mediterranean Café & Market
Manager: Ali Moshen
3171 S. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63118
St. Louis – South City
Phone: (314) 776-0991