Tag - st louis restaurants

St. Louis’ Top Restaurants from a Summer of Top 10s

St. Louis’ Top Restaurants from a Summer of Top 10s

The Best of St. Louis’ Favorite Restaurants this Summer

St. Louis, MO/September 10, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Following the trends in St. Louis’ restaurant industry is what we do.  We track the tastes of St. Louis diners too.  Each week we examined thousands of customer reviews to bring you a list of the Top 10 restaurants in any number of categories.  This summer was no exception. Over twelve weeks of summer we have spotlighted St. Louis diners’ favorite restaurants in twelve delicious categories.

So, this week, instead of bringing you a new Top 10 list, we thought we’d take a moment to highlight the restaurants that took top honors on our restaurant top 10 lists all summer.  These restaurants are the very best at what they do.  They’re each ranked #1 on the top ten list for their niche.  These rankings, like the top 10 lists we publish regularly, are based on customer reviews, making them the favorites of St. Louis diners.  So, here are the number one restaurants in their respective Top 10 categories for summer 2017:

Cocktails

Narwhal’s Crafted Urban Ice (4.71 stars/62 reviews) Central West End, 3906 Laclede Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63108, (314) 696-8388.  This slushy bar for grown-ups opened in October 2016 near St. Louis University.  Unlike the sugar-laden, artificially colored slushies of childhood, this nautically themed bar offers frozen alcoholic beverages flavored with infusions and purees scratch-made from real fruit and herbs.  These frozen drinks drawn from slushy machines were St. Louis favorite way to enjoy cocktails this summer.

Tapas & Small Plates

Taste Bar (4.76 stars/469 reviews) Central West End, 4584 Laclede Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63108, (314) 361-1200.  This Central West End hangout offers New American tapas and highly acclaimed signature cocktails.  The small plates are full flavored bites that blend local produce with global flavors.  Everything on the menu is thoughtfully prepared and served with care, making Taste St. Louis’ favorite place for small plates.

Coffee

Maeva’s Coffee (4.74 stars/73 reviews) Alton, 1320 Milton Road, Alton, IL 62002, (618) 581-7510.  Alton’s only independent coffee shop, Maeva’s Coffee, is a 100% crowd-sourced and independently funded community project.  Maeva’s features fair-trade coffee and a signature espresso blend created especially for them by Goshen Coffee in Edwardsville.  They’re also well-loved for their internationally inspired quiche menu, and their seasonal beverage menu.

Thai

Thai House (4.70 stars/149 reviews) Monroe County, 109 South Main Street, Columbia, IL 62236, (618) 281-2777.  This authentic Thai restaurant has a spiced-to-order menu.  Customers can choose their heat on a 1–5 scale.  The restaurant also offers a warm, hospitable environment, and they have a kid’s menu, making this a great place to introduce young palates to the balanced flavors of Thai cuisine.

Greek

The Greek Kitchen (4.87 stars/82 reviews) Ellisville, 15939 Manchester Road, Ellisville, MO 63021, (636) 686-7200.  This bright, cheerful, casual restaurant specializes in Greek classics that are prepared fresh in the semi-open kitchen.  Here you will find traditional dishes like stuffed grape leaves and fried cheese, as well as excellent gyros and souvlaki (chicken kebabs), fresh hummus, falafel, and tzatziki.  There’s also a nice variety of Greek pastries, including baklava.

Cheesecake

Kruta Bakery (4.75 stars/169 reviews) Collinsville, 300 Saint Louis Road, Collinsville, IL 62234, (618) 344-1115.  This fourth-generation family-owned bakery has been making delicious baked goods since 1919.  This is a full-service traditional bakery, offering everything from bread and rolls to custom cakes, pastries, seasonal treats, and old-fashioned cheesecake.  The neighborhood vibe goes well with the friendly, efficient service.

Pizza

Melo’s Pizzeria (4.84 stars/61 reviews) Benton Park, 2438 McNair Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63104, (314) 833-4489.  This is the little pizzeria that Blues City Deli owner Vince Valenza and his son Joey Valenza built into the garage behind the sandwich shop.  The Valenzas create their own special interpretations of classic Neapolitan-style pizza in a beautiful wood-fired oven they had custom built and imported from Naples.  In summer, dine on the patio.  When it gets colder, Melo’s is more of a take-out joint, since they have almost no indoor dining space.

Bonus: Topping our list of the best chain pizzerias (establishments with three or more locations) is Papa Vito’s (4.51 stars/176 reviews) Belleville, 318 East Washington, Belleville, IL 62220, (618) 277-6200.  This small, family-owned chain of pizzerias uses fresh ingredients and family recipes to create delicious pizza, apps, salads, and sandwiches.  They’re known for great food and warm hospitality.

Whiskey Bars

Fox & Hounds Tavern (4.74 stars/209 reviews) Hi-Pointe, 6300 Clayton Road, Saint Louis, MO 63117, (314) 647-7300.  Stepping into this cozy tavern at the Cheshire Inn is like stepping into a different world.  It’s modeled after an English stag parlor, with plush leather chairs, lots of dark wood, and a big stone fireplace.  They offer dozens of varieties of Irish, Scotch, and American whiskey along with a nice small plate menu. Friday and Saturday nights add live music to the mix, making the Fox & Hound Tavern a terrific destination for a night out.

Diners

Spencer’s Grill (4.42 stars/156 reviews) Kirkwood, 223 South Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, MO 63122, (314) 821-2601.  This old-fashioned diner has been serving comfort food to locals since 1947.  Spencer’s is especially well-loved for their breakfasts—fresh omelets, waffles, French toast, buttery pancakes with crispy edges, and scrapple.  In classic diner fashion, this is the kind of place where you can go for a whole meal, or just a slice of pie with a side of neighborhood gossip.  It’s the kind of place where they dish out comfort food and company.

Vietnamese

Asian Cafe Bar & Grill (4.31 stars/122 reviews) O’Fallon, 1260 Bryan Rd (Hillman Farm Plaza), O’Fallon, MO 63366, (636) 272-4429.  Open since 2010, the Asian Cafe Bar & Grill offers authentic Vietnamese and Chinese food, spiced to order.  Their menu goes way beyond pho and bánh mì, although they offer a variety of delicious takes on both.  They also have a full bar, which gives them an edge over many of the other Vietnamese restaurants in the St. Louis area.

Cheap Happy Hours

Tick Tock Tavern (4.61 star/80 reviews) Tower Grove East, 3459 Magnolia Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63118. This cash-only neighborhood bar offers kitschy decor (owls, clocks, bric-a-brac), plenty of draft and canned craft brews, and sometimes free live performances.  This late 20th century watering hole had closed for a few decades before new owners reopened it in 2014.  The old corner bar still offers the comfortable vibe of a neighborhood bar, but now instead of two-taps offering Busch beer, they have a rotating set of taps offering a host of locally made beers, ciders, and meads, along with a full bar.

Iced Coffee

Coma Coffee Roasters (4.70 stars/56 reviews) Richmond Heights, 1034 South Brentwood Blvd, Richmond Heights, MO 63117, (314) 250-1042.  The cafe inside the University Club Tower draws in caffeine-craving customers who rave about all of the coffee and espresso drinks, but most especially, their cold brews.  Coma Coffee is serious about cold brew, winning national accolades for their efforts.  This is extremely good iced coffee, and a nice spot to chill.

___

By Susan Smith-Harmon – published on STLRestaurant.News by St. Louis Media, LLC

The Sweet Divine Bakery Boutique & Coffee Bar Reopens

The Sweet Divine Bakery Boutique & Coffee Bar Reopens

Renovated Soulard Bake Shop is Sweeter than Ever

St. Louis, MO/August 12, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – There’s good news for lovers of fresh baked goods (and fans of comeback stories).  Ten months after an electrical fire gutted the Sweet Divine Bakery Boutique & Coffee Bar, the Soulard-based bakery at 1801 South 9th Street is back in business!  The bake shop, most known for their cupcakes, reopened on August 3rd, and business has never been better.

The local favorite went up in flames last October due to a malfunctioning compressor under a refrigerator.  Determined not to let the tragedy kill their local business, owners Jenna and Jason Siebert, temporarily relocated after they were forced to close the shop following the fire.  Luckily, the Sieberts were welcomed with open arms into McArthur’s Bakery Café, utilizing their bakery as a temporary work space and base for The Sweet Divine while they got back on their feet.  The couple also worked out of their food truck, Georgie, using social media to announce their daily locations to the public.  Over the past ten months, the team took advantage of the fresh start by remodeling their original location to their liking—now it’s time for all that hard work to pay off.

Designed by Jenna and Jason, The Sweet Divine’s new storefront has an extensive white brick interior that includes ample natural lighting and a new public restroom (upstairs).  The new space offers a more open concept, inviting customers to be a part of the Sweet Divine experience.  The new layout offers a view of the bakers working in the back and frosting in the front—as soon as you step through the shop’s door, your eyes are drawn to the delectable creations being made there.  The new space comfortably seats about 21 guests, with storefront seating options including high-top seating and bar seats by the decorating table.  There is also a large (and very comfy looking), vintage style pink couch in the corner underneath the shop’s Instagram-worthy, decorative light-up letters which spell “CAKE” hanging from the white exposed brick wall.

Along with the new design, The Sweet Divine is also revamping their menu.  The bake shop is adding items: bringing back croissants, even more cupcake selections, and special treats like chocolate truffles.  Lead pastry chef Tim Kutterer is also working on gluten-free donuts and blueberry muffins.  Coffee drinks from Park Avenue Coffee are also now available to pair with the pastries.  The store is also selling fresh flowers, so customers who buy cakes to-go can have something special to accompany them.  What could be more romantic than greeting your sweetie with scrumptious cupcakes for two and a blossoming bouquet?

The Sieberts hope to draw in breakfast fans with the shop’s new early morning hours.  The Sweet Divine is now open Tuesday – Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday – Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The shop is closed on Mondays.

The Sweet Divine Bakery Boutique & Coffee Bar has really risen from the ashes as what may be the new ultimate cupcake and chill location.  The Soulard bakery is back in business offering sweet relief for your sweet tooth—after all, they do make luscious cupcakes.

Contact Information:

The Sweet Divine Boutique Bakery & Coffee Bar

Owner: Jenna and Jason Siebert

Soulard

1801 South 9th Street

St. Louis, MO 63104

Phone: (314) 942-2900

___

By Katie Smith

Phatso’s Takes Over Super Smokers BBQ

Phatso’s Takes Over Super Smokers BBQ - STLRestaurant.News

Super Smokers’ Founder Says World BBQ Champ in Good Hands

Eureka, MO/July 26, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – St. Louis is known as a barbecue town—nowadays that is.  It wasn’t always so.  The city has a long and storied culinary history, but our rise to barbecue fame is relatively new.  One of the first great barbecue joints in St. Louis, Super Smokers BBQ (601 Stockell Drive, Eureka), helped pave the way for all the others.  It’s founder, pitmaster Terry Black is known as “the Godfather” of St. Louis barbecue, and for good reason.  In 2000, Super Smokers became the very first restaurant team from St. Louis to win the International World BBQ Championship in Memphis—taking 1st Place in the challenging “Whole Hog” category.  Some of today’s best pitmasters trace their histories back to Terry Black: Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse is a former Super Smokers employee, and Bogart’s Skip Steele is a former partner.  Terry Black has decided it’s time for him to step away from the the pit, so another of his disciples, Jeff Fitter of Phatso’s BBQ Catering is taking over Super Smokers, with plans to keep the award-winning BBQ tradition going.

Fitter has spent more than a decade cooking alongside the Super Smokers team.  He and Black met in early 2001, at a BBQ class at the Kitchen Conservatory (8021 Clayton Road, Clayton).  The two struck up a friendship, with Fitter even helping out at the 2001 Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Competition.  Fitter says he was just there to watch and learn mostly, when he had a Cinderella moment.  Super Smokers, the reigning “Whole Hog” champion, was defending that title when their overnight pit guy had to cancel at the last minute.  Barbecuing a whole hog is a 24-hour undertaking and the pit temperature has to be maintained during the entire process.  Fitter stepped in to mind the smoker all night.  He didn’t know at the time that he was volunteering to keep the temperature on target during a night of severe thunderstorms.  Still, Fitter manned his post, and the team finished seventh, maintaining their top 10 status for another year.

Fitter says Black took him under his wing and mentored him as he developed his own barbecue techniques.  In 2002, Fitter and a couple of his barbecue-loving neighbors formed their own competitive team, Big Subpoenas BBQ.  The competition team eventually grew into Phatso’s BBQ, catering Memphis style, slow-smoked barbecue.  Fitter and his friends joke that they started Phatso’s to support their “smoking habit.”  Over the years, Fitter and Black remained friends and continued to cook together, even opening a Super Smokers in St. Peters in 2009.  They operated the restaurant for about 10 months before selling it.

Advancing to his own full-time, brick-and-mortar restaurant was the natural next step for Fitter.  So when Terry Black decided it was time to take a step back after more than 20 years making and selling world class barbecue, it was another Cinderella moment for Fitter.  Jeff Fitter was ready for his own place, and Black says he has absolute confidence in his protoge.  “I couldn’t be more excited to have someone who has been an important part of our team, who gets excited about BBQ, and who is committed to excellence carrying on the Super Smokers tradition of making World Championship BBQ,” Black said. Fitter officially took the reigns on June 30, 2017.

Jeff Fitter’s Super Smokers BBQ is a lot like Terry Black’s. Customers will find the perfectly smoked ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken, and turkey they’ve long associated with Super Smokers.  Fitter says his cooking process is based on the Super Smokers method, but he likes to slow it down a bit for maximum flavor.  Fitter says everything, from the barbecued meats to the sides, will be cooked fresh daily.  That includes his already popular macaroni and cheese, a Phatso’s favorite that’s new to the Super Smokers menu.  But wait, there’s more!  He’s also added brisket mac and cheese—his creamy, cheesy baked mac with chunks of smoked beef brisket throughout.  Fitter says he’s freshened up and spiced up the sides a bit, and added some chicken wing specials.  He’s also hoping to eventually add some new smoked offerings, like sausages.

Super Smokers is open for lunch, dinner, and carryout Sunday – Thursday from 10:45 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. or when the barbecue is sold out, Friday – Saturday from 10:45 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. or so.  They stay open an extra hour during spring and summer, when Six Flags is open.  Fitter has folded his Phatso’s BBQ Catering into Super Smokers, so catering is still available.

Fitter says he couldn’t have taken this next step in his barbecue career without the help and full support of his wife Michelle and the rest of his family.  Fitter is justifiably proud and extremely appreciative of their support.  In fact, Fitter says their Super Smokers is a family-owned business, and everyone in the family is pitching in to make the restaurant the warm, inviting, family-friendly place he envisioned.  His daughters, 21-year-old C.J. and 22-year-old Brittni, are both working there.  Even Fitter’s father (Ben) helps out, doing whatever’s needed, including washing the dishes.

Fitter says his family also wants to focus on increasing Super Smokers involvement in the local community.  He says it’s important for his business to be committed to the community, and to participate in events like the annual Eureka Scarecrow Festival.  Super Smokers has been a fixture in the community for years, and Fitter says he wants to grow that connection.  Fitter says he and his family are honored to be entrusted to carry on the legacy that Super Smokers has built in St. Louis BBQ, and in Eureka area.

Contact Information:

Super Smokers BBQ
Owners: Jeff and Michelle Fitter
601 Stockell Drive
Eureka, MO 63025
Phone: (636) 938-9742

Metro-east Chef Coming Home with CWE Pig & Pickle

Metro-east Chef Coming Home with CWE Pig & Pickle

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.

The Top 10 Greek Restaurants in St. Louis

The Top 10 Greek Restaurants in St. Louis - STLRestaurant.News

The Best Greek Goes Way Beyond Gyros

St. Louis, MO/July 23, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – When we think of Greek food, many of us zero in on that famous Greek sandwich, gyros, or that famous Greek dessert, baklava.  Both are classically Greek cuisine, relying on quality ingredients precisely layered together to form a unique and delicious treat.  But Greek cooking goes way beyond these two familiar dishes, and St. Louis is fortunate to have a robust Greek-American community, meaning scores of terrific Greek restaurants and delis offering classic dishes and contemporary cooking too.  Greek cuisine is one of the classic Mediterranean cuisines—think olives, wine, fish, vegetables, grains, and meat (including lamb, poultry, and pork, as well as rabbit and beef).

We wanted to know where to get the best Greek food in St. Louis. So, we turned to customer reviews to find out which restaurants are rated the highest by the people who matter most, diners!  What we found was a delicious variety of Greek restaurants all across the metro area.  There were chef-driven Greek-Mediterranean restaurants, mom-and-pop gyro stands, and loads of comfortable, casual dining options in between.  Topping the list is The Greek Kitchen at 15939 Manchester Road in Ellisville.  It just opened last November (in the former Café Kebab space), and has quickly become a local favorite.

The Greek Kitchen has a bright, cheerful, casual dining space that seats about 30 inside, and another dozen or so on the small patio out front.  It offers Greek classics that are prepared fresh in the semi-open kitchen.  Here you will find traditional dishes like dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves filled with beef and rice), Spanakopita (flaky spinach and cheese pie), and one of my personal favorites, Saganaki (fried Greek cheese).  At The Greek Kitchen, it’s prepared tableside.  They coat Kasseri (a semi-hard, salty, sharp cheese) with brandy, light it on fire, and then douse the flames with a squeeze of lemon juice.  It is a truly special dish.  On select nights, they also offer Moussakas (layered with potatoes, eggplant, and meat sauce, then topped with creamy béchamel).  And yes, they make excellent gyros and souvlaki (chicken kebabs), as well as fresh hummus, falafel, and tzatziki.  The one menu surprise is Buffalo-style chicken wings, which aren’t Greek, but are spicy and delicious.  Don’t skip the display case near the register.  There you’ll find a variety of Greek pastries, including baklava.  Owners Chef Lisa Nicholas and Joe Kandel previously sold these pastries wholesale under the name Sinful Creations.  They still offer catering under the Sinful Creations name.

As we said, there is great Greek food to be found all over the metro area.  Here are the top 10 Greek restaurants in St. Louis:

1. The Greek Kitchen (4.87 stars/82 reviews) Ellisville, 15939 Manchester Road, Ellisville, MO 63021, (636) 686-7200.
2. Spiro’s Restaurant (4.77 stars/143 reviews) St Charles, 2275 Bluestone Drive, Saint Charles, MO 63303, (636) 916-1454.
3. Vinnie’s Italian Beef and Gyros (4.60 stars/161 reviews) Lindenwood Park, 3208 Ivanhoe Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63139, (314) 644-7007.
4. Cafe Nova (4.59 stars/128 reviews) Princeton Heights, 5611 South Kingshighway Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63109, (314) 351-7443.
5. The Little Greek Corner (4.47 stars/70 reviews) Fenton, 1914 Bowles Ave, Fenton, MO 63026, (636) 600-0603.
6. Lilly’s Gyros (4.43 stars/110 reviews) Metro East, 10600 Lincoln Trail, Fairview Heights, IL 62208, (618) 398-5455
7. Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar (4.40 stars/52 reviews) Affton, 9416 Gravois Road, Affton, MO 63123, (314) 631-1375.
8. Spiro’s Restaurant (4.37 stars/71 reviews) Lindenwood Park, 3122 Watson Road, Saint Louis, MO 63139, (314) 645-8383.
9. Anthonino’s Taverna (4.37 stars/980 reviews) The Hill, 2225 Macklind Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63110, (314) 773-4455.
10. Tazé Mediterranean Street Food (4.32 stars/192 reviews) Downtown, 626 Washington Ave, Ste. 103, Saint Louis, MO 63101, (314) 254-7953.

Honorable Mentions are our way of sending a shout out to some terrific restaurants, sometimes personal favorites, sometimes up-and-comers who didn’t have enough reviews (minimum 50) to make the top 10 list.  These dining options are worth your attention if you’re looking for great Greek food. So, Honorable Mentions go to:

Assumption Greek Orthodox Church Luncheons (4.28 stars/29 reviews) Town and Country, 1755 Des Peres Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131, (314) 966-6720.  Every Friday they do an authentic Greek lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The menu varies week to week, but it’s always homemade, high quality, and sells out quickly. Hint: The gym/dining hall entrance is around back. You can place a carryout order if you call ahead.

Apollo Cafe (4.89 stars/9 reviews) Concord, 5450 Southfield Center, Saint Louis, MO 63123, (314) 270-4001.  Fast, casual, friendly cafe serving Greek and Mediterranean fare.  Gyros, hummus, falafel, salads.  This place just opened in June, and already diners are raving about the great service and deliciously fresh food.

Dado’s Cafe (4.26 stars/66 reviews) St. Louis Hills, 5425 Hampton Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63109, (314) 224-5588.  Dado’s combines classic Greek fare with casual American cuisine in a comfortable space.  The menu offers a nice mix: Greek meatballs, saganaki, gyros, burgers, fresh hummus, gourmet pizza, pastitchio, salt cod, prime rib, even toasted ravioli—you get the idea, a little something for everyone.  They also have a full bar and they do brunch on Sundays.

The Dark Room at The Grandel Names New Chef/ General Manager

The Dark Room at The Grandel Names New Chef/General Manager

New Chef/ General Manager at the Dark Room inside the Historic Grandel Theatre

ST. LOUIS, MO/July 23, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) There’s a welcome addition to The Dark Room, which recently relocated to its new home inside the renovated historic Grandel Theatre located at 3610 Grandel Square. The Dark Room was created to “help bring life” to the Grand Center and north of Washington Avenue during slow seasons and has been very successful at that.

This popular hangout that resides in the heart of the popular Grand Center Arts District now has a new General Manager.

Local chef and marketing veteran, Brett Singleton, slips into the new role. Singleton has been working with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation for many years in a marketing capacity, responsible for helping to communicate and further the Foundation’s main mission which is to provide opportunity and infrastructure to St. Louis artists.

“We are very excited to have Brett on board in this new capacity,” said Chris Hansen, Executive Director of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. “He has been deeply engaged in all aspects of the Foundation and truly understands how The Dark Room enhances the arts patron experience and engagement through offering exceptional food, beverage and hospitality.”

Singleton also spent much of his time in The Dark Room’s kitchen preparing food for the restaurants fresh and exceedingly popular Sunday Brunch, as well as, performing as a chef in catering with Hanon Management Group Culinary. Before that, Singleton served as Director of Marketing for Ballpark Village and had a 17-year career covering multiple field and corporate marketing and sales positions at Anheuser-Busch.

When The Dark Room recently relocated to its new home inside the Grandel Theatre it enlarged its space, hours and menus. The restaurant operates under the umbrella of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, which is known for looking out for the neighborhood. Every dollar spent goes directly back into the local arts community.

Operating Wednesday through Sunday, The Dark Room offers a “petite lunch” menu from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a full dinner menu from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and a limited late-night menu from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. They also offer fun daily happy hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. During operational hours, you will find The Dark Room photo gallery and live music stage open and electrified. Don’t miss out on the Sunday live music brunch program, “Dark Room Brunch Sessions.” It’s presented every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features gospel, soul, jazz and Americana acts. Dinner is available from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays as well.

The Dark Room at The Grandel

3610 Grandel Square

St. Louis, MO 63108

Phone: (314) 776-9550

For more information and continued updates, visit:

www.thedarkroomstl.com
www.facebook.com/thedarkroomstl
Twitter: @TheDarkRoomSTL
Instagram: @TheDarkRoomSTL

Experience the French Quarter Vibe at Café Ventana

Cafe Ventana

Café Ventana

ST. LOUIS, MO/July 23, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you’ll never forget the city’s historic charm and cuisine.  Thanks to the owners of Café Ventana, you can savor the taste of the Big Easy right here in the Lou with a delicious selection of Louisiana inspired brunch entrées, specialty cocktails, fresh baked bread, made from scratch pastries and their signature beignets (traditional or filled with chocolate or the Chef’s creation).  For those who ride their bike to the restaurant, they get a free beignet.

Café Ventana’s menu choices are celebrated for their fresh ingredients that come directly from their on site gardens and offer options for all diets with a paleo, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan friendly fare.  Breakfast is served all day and includes New Orleans Biscuits & Gravy, Smoked Salmon Bagel, Paleo Breakfast, Granola, Breakfast Burritos (steak, chicken, or black bean), and Omelettes (veggie, Greek, meats (ham, bacon, turkey or paleo pork sausage) and more.  Sandwiches include BLT, Turkey Avocado, and the Cuban Wrap (black forest ham, carnitas, Swiss cheese, dill pickle, mustard in a tomato wrap) to name a few.  Their fabulous Lobster Bisque, Beignet sliders and house made chips are especially popular.

Vegetarian options feature Spinach Salad, Greek Salad, House Made Hummus (served with toasties & crudités) and sandwiches such as Apple Brie (roasted apples, brie, walnuts, honey on toasted wheat bread), Portabella Mushroom (portabella mushrooms, spinach, havarti cheese, basil pesto aioli on toasted sourdough) and the Caprese (tomato, mozzarella, basil pesto aioli on toasted sourdough).

On Saturdays & Sundays from 8 AM – 2 PM is their famous Nawlin’s Style Brunch featuring Tasso Biscuits & Gravy and Grillades & Grits.  Plus Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and live music from noon-2 pm!

The Bar boasts Good Libations such as a Hurricane, French 75 (gin, lemon juice, prosecco) Absinthe Ritual (Absinthe, sugar cube, cold water, classic French preparation), wines, rare whiskeys, Cathedral Square Beers and non-alcoholic favorites and smoothies.  For those needing a caffeine fix or a perk-me-up for work or studying, there’s House Lattes, Espresso’s and Freshly Brewed Coffee, plus additional flavors to customize your perky brew (rosemary, sage, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, clove mocha, vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, white chocolate, pumpkin spice, mint, lavender or almond).

Café Ventana’s atmosphere is a relaxed bohemian bistro setting with inspired lighting that fills the room with natural light through the tall windows and massive skylight ceiling.  Around the castle-like curved stone fireplace are comfy chairs.  There are multiple bistro table areas throughout including one accented by a tall fountain and stoned pillars that give you the feeling you are in the French Quarter.  The venue also has designated quiet areas for serious studying.  The covered outdoor patio offers plenty of seating.  The adjacent Café Ventana Annex offers private Think Tank rooms, meeting and event spaces with secure Wifi and Skype for rent.

Café Ventana is located in the Central West End near St. Louis University on West Pine Boulevard just West of Vandeventer, South of Lindell and North of Forest Park Parkway.

Café Ventana

3919 W Pine Blvd

St. Louis, MO 63108

Phone: (314) 531-7500

Hours of Operation:

7 AM – 8 PM

The Top 10 Thai Restaurants in St. Louis

The Top 10 Thai Restaurants in St. Louis

St. Louis’ Favorite Spots for the Best Thai Food

St. Louis, MO/July 15, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Thai food is all about balance and detail.  Thai cuisine is as diverse as the landscape of Thailand.  Regional flavor profiles abound, as in most nations, but there are a few key elements that seem to draw Thai food into one cuisine—primarily the use of strong aromatic components, multi-layered, complex flavor profiles, fresh ingredients, and light preparation methods.  Thai food strikes a delicate, artful balance of the senses, with dishes that are simultaneously salty, sweet, sour, and spicy.  One of the more appealing aspects of Thai cooking is that the spiciness can be adjusted to suit the diner’s preferences.

That ability to name your spice level is a key component on the menu of our #1 restaurant this week.  Customers love the 1–5 spice rating system at Thai House in Columbia, Illinois.  This local favorite is worth the drive over the river and through the cornfields.  Thai House offers spiced-to-order authentic Thai dishes in a warm, hospitable environment, and according to customer reviews, they are the best Thai restaurant in the St. Louis metro area.

Customers rave about the Gyoza (fried dumplings similar to potstickers) and the Khanom Jeep (steamed pork dumplings) at Thai House, along with the comfortable dining room and friendly service.  Other popular menu items at Thai House include the Larb Gai (spicy chopped chicken salad flavored with red and green onions, cilantro, lime, and chilis) and the Holy Chicken (sautéed with garlic, onions, sweet basil, bell peppers, green beans, and mushrooms).  They have an extensive menu that includes five different curries (green, panang, pineapple, red, and yellow), several dishes using Jasmine Rice, and of course, Phad Thai (stir-fried rice noodle with egg and bean sprouts, served with a side of fresh red cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, and topped with ground peanuts and chopped green onion).  In general, if you visit a good Thai restaurant, the Phad Thai will be outstanding.  In this Thai House doesn’t disappoint.  Customers love their Phad Thai, along with their Prig-Khing, their Yum Woon Sen, and their Tasty Duck. Bonus: They have a kid’s menu, making this a great place to introduce young palates to the balanced flavors of Thai cuisine.

St. Louis diners are enjoying Thai food all over the metro area—north, south, east, and west—there’s great Thai food right around the corner from just about everywhere.  Here are the Top 10 Thai restaurants in St. Louis according to customer reviews:

1. Thai House (4.70 stars/149 reviews) Monroe County, 109 South Main Street, Columbia, IL 62236, (618) 281-2777.
2. Pad Thai (4.53 stars/209 reviews) South County, 12676 Lamplighter Square, Saint Louis, MO 63128, (314) 843-0999.
3. Pearl Cafe (4.39 stars/305 reviews) Florissant, 8416 North Lindbergh Blvd, Florissant, MO 63031, (314) 831-3701.
4. Rice Thai Bistro (4.39 stars/111 reviews) West County, 14536 Manchester Road, Winchester, MO 63011, (636) 220-1777.
5. Sunisa’s Thai Restaurant (4.38 stars/110 reviews) Cottleville, 6057 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, Saint Peters, MO 63304, (636) 922-4888.
6. Simply Thai Restaurant (4.37 stars/90 reviews) Florissant, 2470 North Hwy 67, Florissant, MO 63033, (314) 921-2179.
7. THAI Gourmet (4.35 stars/55 reviews) Weldon Spring, 4267 Keaton Crossing Blvd, O’Fallon, MO 63368, (636) 329-8200.
8. Zen Thai & Japanese Cuisine (4.25 stars/210 reviews) Crestwood, 9250 Watson Road, Saint Louis, MO 63126, (314) 842-0307.
9. Tong Phoon Thai Restaurant (4.19 stars/93 reviews) Metro East, 5900 North Illinois Street, Fairview Heights, IL 62208, (618) 632-1210.
10. Zapp Thai Noodle & Market (4.13 stars/98 reviews) Metro East, 1407 West US 50, O’Fallon, IL 62269, (618) 628-9276.

There were literally dozens of really good Thai restaurants that didn’t make our top 10 list.  So we wanted to share a few of the “almost made it” restaurants that are worth noting.  These restaurants each offer a little something special that makes them worthy of Honorable Mentions:

Fork & Stix (4.09 stars/270 reviews) The Loop, 549 Rosedale Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63112, (314) 863-5572.  This is cozy restaurant with a chill vibe that serves traditional Northern Thai cuisine (think beefy khao soi and porky hung lay curry), rich with the flavors of palm sugar, tamarind, and galangal.  The emphasis here is on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Viet Thai (4.64 stars/22 reviews) Florissant, 8458 North Lindbergh Blvd, Florissant, MO 63031, (314) 801-8818.  As the name suggests, this is a Vietnamese-Thai fusion restaurant with beautifully prepared, ultra-fresh food.  The veg spring rolls are heavenly,

Sushi Thai by Samran (4.51 stars/43 reviews) Belleville, 229 North Illinois Street, Belleville, IL 62220, (618) 355-9693.  Another fusion restaurant, this one offers great sushi and authentic Thai dishes with lots of terrific vegetarian options.  The restaurant doesn’t look like much on the outside, but it’s worth checking out, and the service is outstanding.

Vicia to Introduce Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu

Vicia to Introduce Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu

Optional Chef’s Choice Dinner Menu Coming to Vicia

St. Louis, MO/July 13, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – One of the hottest, new restaurant projects in St. Louis is offering something special for customers.  Vicia, the hit restaurant in the Central West End’s Cortex Innovation Community (4260 Forest Park Ave.), is now offering a special chef’s choice tasting menu as an optional experience on their dinner menu.  Co-owned by Blue Hill at Stone Barns alums Michael and Tara Gallina, Vicia opened to great fanfare back in March after much anticipation and business has been booming ever since.

With vegetable-focused cuisine that does not exclude meat, but rather uses it as a complementary flavor for the veggie-based dishes on the menu, Vicia has already brought a unique experience to the St. Louis dining scene.  But the restaurant’s new tasting menu will add a new variety of innovative, fun, and fresh flavors to the mix.  In a similar fashion to the restaurant’s a la carte menu, the chef’s choice tasting menu will not be a set menu.  The options will vary as available ingredients in the kitchen change.  That dynamic and seasonal approach will ensure diners will experience the best meal the chef can create at any given moment.  In some instances, patrons who choose to partake in the tasting menu will get a special sneak peek of new ingredients and menu items, as some dishes might eventually appear on the restaurant’s a la carte menu.

Chef Michael says he’s excited about the creative nature of the new concept.  “I liken the tasting menu to people just letting us cook for them,” said Michael.  “It really is ‘chef’s choice’ and each meal will be different depending what we have available at the very moment, what guests are excited to experience, and of course, what we, in the kitchen, think would make for an amazing feast.”

The tasting menu will consist of six to seven courses and costs $85 per person.  Diners can choose between two wine pairing experiences as a part of the meal.  At $45, diners can enjoy wines made with less familiar varietals.  At $65, their dinners will be paired with organic and sustainable wines made with familiar grape varieties.  According to Vicia, guest food allergies and dietary needs will be taken into account when chef’s choice tasting menu meals are being prepared.  In order to provide a unique experience for each table, the tasting menu will be available for the entire party only.  Guests are encouraged to indicate they wish to enjoy the chef’s choice tasting menu when making their reservations.

Vicia is probably not the restaurant you frequent on a weekly basis—because they are a bit pricy in this writer’s humble opinion—but this new chef’s choice tasting menu excites me nonetheless.  And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll keep Vicia’s Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu in mind when the next special occasion comes around.  It’s a chance to experience a completely fresh culinary opportunity.

Contact Information:

Vicia Restaurant
Owners: Tara and Michael Gallina
Cortex – Central West End
4260 Forest Park Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63108
Phone: (314) 533-9239

Dunkin’ Brands Honors National DCP With the Company’s Partner of the Year Award

Dunkin' Brands Honors National DCP With the Company's Partner of the Year Award

Dunkin’ Brands Honors National DCP with the company’s partner of the year award

ATLANTA, GA/July 12, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Dunkin’ Brands, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, named National DCP (NDCP) as the 2016 Partner of the Year at the 11th annual Dunkin’ Brands Franchisee & Enterprise Awards Ceremony held recently in Boston. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, National DCP is the $2 billion supply chain management company that provides strategic sourcing, distribution and business services to Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees.

“National DCP has been an outstanding partner to Dunkin’ Brands since its inception as a national entity in 2012,” said David Gill, Vice President, U.S. & Canada Supply Chain, Dunkin’ Brands. “From driving down the cost of goods, improving perfect order metrics and providing excellent support of Dunkin’s promotional activities, NDCP played a key role in 2016 being a transformative year for our organization.”

National DCP’s partnership with Dunkin’ Brands Supply Chain generated more than $25 million in cost savings to the Dunkin’ Donuts system last year. These savings, along with active commodity management and operational savings, drove the lowest food cost since Dunkin’ began reporting. Service levels have continued to improve year-over-year, with new systems being implemented and new distribution centers coming online. NDCP was also able to generate close to $3 million in contributions from suppliers for the Joy in Childhood Foundation (formerly The Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation).

“We are deeply honored to win Dunkin’ Brands’ Partner of the Year Award,” said Scott Carter, Chief Executive Officer of National DCP. “Strong collaboration with Dunkin’ Brands is critical in delivering value to our cooperative’s membership, which is comprised of Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees. Our team members have worked tirelessly to deliver the best possible service at the lowest sustainable costs.”

About National DCP, LLC

National DCP, LLC (NDCP) is a $2 billion supply chain management company serving the franchisees of Dunkin’ Donuts. They provide comprehensive business solutions including food, beverages, supplies, packaging, technology and healthcare to more than 8,900 Dunkin’ locations in the U.S. and customers in 51 countries. Each year, NDCP purchases more than 100 million pounds of coffee, 112 million pounds of sugar and 24 million gallons of milk, and drives 30 million miles delivering approximately 75 million cases of product to Dunkin’ stores. The organization was formed as a membership cooperative following the successful merger of five different operating companies in 2012 to support Dunkin’ Brands’ growth and expansion plans. NDCP’s innovative practices have been recognized with the 2015 Supply Chain Pioneer Award from Partnership Gwinnett, the 2016 InformationWeek Elite 100 List and the 2017 Food Logistics Rock Stars of the Supply Chain designations.

About Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc.

With more than 20,000 points of distribution in more than 60 countries worldwide, Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. is one of the world’s leading franchisors of quick service restaurants (QSR) serving hot and cold coffee and baked goods, as well as hard-serve ice cream. At the end of the first quarter 2017, Dunkin’ Brands’ 100 percent franchised business model included more than 12,200 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants and more than 7,800 Baskin-Robbins restaurants. Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. is headquartered in Canton, Mass.

___

Source: News provided by National DCP, LLC – distributed by PR Newswire – published by STLRestaurant.News