Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Celeb Chef Keller to Open Burger Bar, Sleek

IN THE NEWS: visits Niche (1831 Sidney St., 314-773-7755, and reports that celebrity chef Hubert Keller is opening a branch of his upscale burger joint Burger Bar at Pinnacle’s new casino development Lumiere Place, as well as a steakhouse called Sleek. ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B- grade to CoCo Bongos Tropical Cafe (619 East Broadway, Alton, IL 618-463-2233), while Betha Whitlow considers Senegalese spot Tam Tam restaurant in north St. Louis County and Gordon McKnight visits Maya Cafe (2726 Sutton Avenue, Maplewood, 314-781-4774). ... Riverfront Times's Ian Froeb reviews the new barbecue, Tex-Mex, and taqueria spot El Scorcho (7356 Manchester Rd, Maplewood; 314-644-5566).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Robust, Red Open; Pestalozzi Place Closes

IN THE NEWS: The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B+ to Sage (1031 Lynch Street, Soulard, 314-256-1203, and notes the openings of: Robust, a wine bar and cafe with a retail shop attached at 227 West Lockwood Avenue in Webster Groves (314-963-0033,; Red, an Eastern European-influenced restaurant at 1130 Washington Avenue downtown; and India’s Rasoi, which has had several locations around the area, in its new home in the old Forest Park Hotel building at Euclid Avenue and West Pine Boulevard. ... Bonwich also notes the closing of Pestalozzi Place, 2900 Virginia Avenue in the Tower Grove East neighborhood. ... Betha Whitlow reviews Garduno’s Mexican Food (2727 Cherokee Street, 314-776-2315), while Gordon McKnight visits Erio's Restaurant (4434 Woodson Road, Woodson Terrace, 314-423-1555). ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb reviews Indian eatery Ruchi (12513 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur; 314-576-7272). ... visits Jilly's Cupcake Bar.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Aqua Vin Closes, While Spiro's Reopens

IN THE NEWS: The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B+ to Ruchi (12513 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur, 314-576-7272) and reports that Spiro's at 1054 North Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield has finally reopened after reconstruction following last year's fire. ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb reviews Bistro Alexander (7927 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-725-9999). ... Froeb notes the closing of Chesterfield's Aqua Vin and the openings of Miso spinoff Araka (131 Carondelet Plaza in the new Crescent development, 314-707-5882, Sept. 29), King Edward's Chicken and Fish (8958 Watson Road), Cardinals baseball star Jim Edmonds' steakhouse-lounge Fifteen (1900 Locust Street, Sept. 21), and Lush (3037 Olive Street). ... Sauce magazine reviews El Scorcho (7356 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.644.5566).
Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Robust, Red, Pappy's Smokehouse To Open

IN THE NEWS: Sauce magazine notes the opening of wine bar/cafe Robust (227 W. Lockwood Ave.). ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb reviews Bissinger's: A Chocolate Experience (32 Maryland Avenue; 314-367-7750) and La Salsa (12536 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur, 314-275-7257) and notes the scheduled Sept. 15 opening of Red and the mid-October opening of Pappy's Smokehouse BBQ (3106 Olive Street). ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich reviews Mexican restaurant El Scorcho (7356 Manchester Boulevard, Maplewood, 314-644-5566), while Betha Whitlow considers Billie's Fine Foods (1802 South Broadway, 314-621-0848). ... In its September 2007 issue, St. Louis magazine's Dave Lowry reviews Five (4317 Manchester, 314-535-5553,

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Southern Illinois BBQ Joint Tops Ribs

Brooklyn's Peter Luger Steak House and New Orleans' Willie Mae's Scotch House were among the winners in Bon Appetit magazine's recent Food Network special. Winning restaurants were selected from each of three semifinalists for the best versions of six quintessential American classics: pizza, steak, tacos, hamburgers, fried chicken, and ribs. The winners were announced on the Good Eats with Alton Brown show on the Food Network.

Here are the winners and runners-up:
PIZZA: Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (WINNER); DiFara Pizza, Brooklyn, NY; Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
STEAK: Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn (WINNER); Cut, Los Angeles; Doe's Eat Place, Greenville, Miss.
TACOS: Taco Taco Cafe, San Antonio (WINNER); Taqueria del Sol, Atlanta; South Beach Bar & Grill, Ocean Beach, Calif.
Hamburgers: Bobcate Bite, Santa Fe, NM (WINNER); Taylor's Automatic Refresher, St. Helena, Calif; The Meers Store and Restaurant, Lawton, Okla.
FRIED CHICKEN: Willie Mae's Scotch House, New Orleans (WINNER); Price's Chicken Coop, Charlotte, NC; Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
RIBS: 17th Street Bar & Grill, Murphysboro, Ill (WINNER); Charles Vergos Rendezvous, Memphis; Jaspers, Plano, Texas.

IN THE NEWS: Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb reviews Oceano Bistro (44 North Brentwood Boulevard, Clayton; 314-721-9400) and notes the closings of Red Moon at 1500 St. Charles St. (on Aug. 21) and Jade Garden in Olivette. ... reports that Crossings Taverne and Grille, the Webster Groves restaurant and bar that has featured live jazz music several nights a week for the last few years, is closing. An item in Sauce magazine ( - scroll down to the entries for August 3 - says the establishment's landlords want to raise the rent when the current lease expires on August 20, and reports that Crossings' operators were disinclined to renew at the new rate. ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B- in reviewing La Gra (1227 Tamm Avenue, Dogtown, 314-645-3972), while Betha Whitlow considers Bissinger's: A Chocolate Experience (32 Maryland Plaza, 314-367-7750, ... Bonwich also reports that Charlotte's Rib (15467 Clayton Road in Ballwin, 636-394-3332) has been rated "as good as we've ever had" by Vince Staten and Greg Johnson in the newly updated version of Real Barbecue: The Classic Barbecue Guide (Globe Pequot). Also cited in the book are the ribs and unusual black pepper-flecked sauce at C&K Barbecue (4390 Jennings Station Road in Pine Lawn, 314-385-8100).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Paulo's At The Mansion Opens Doors

IN THE NEWS: Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb reviews Original SoupMan (612 North 11th Street). ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B+ grade to Farmer's Inn and Prairie Kitchen (7157 State Route 158, Millstadt) and notes the opening of Paulo's at the Mansion, with Johnson & Wales product Paulo Pacheco at the stove and David Kappert as a co-owner (1680 Mansion Way), while Betha Whitlow considers Banh Mi So #1 Saigon Gourmet (4071 South Grand Boulevard). ... The paper also reports that Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has opened a store in Chesterfield, its first freestanding restaurant in the area. It now has four stores within 25 miles of St. Louis, including locations at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Des Peres' West County Center and the St. Clair Square mall in Fairview Heights.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Downtown Restaurant Week Kicks Off

IN THE NEWS: previews the third annual Downtown Restaurant Week, set for Aug. 13-18. For more info, ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb reviews Bacana Brasil (16123 Chesterfield Parkway West, Chesterfield). ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B grade to Athena's (15662 Manchester Road, Ellisville) and reports, "The old Lynch Street Bistro space at 1031 Lynch Street in Soulard has been reborn as Sage, with Jack MacMurray — formerly of Wild Horse Grill and Seasons restaurant at Old Hickory Golf Club — as executive chef and general manager."

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Jerseyville Classic Still Eyes St. Louis

IN THE NEWS: Yomi Martin, co-founder of Vokal Clothing, is teaming with the owners of Canyon Cafe and a handful of professional athletes to open a restaurant in suburban Dallas, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Akin Ayodele, a linebacker with the Dallas Cowboys, and three members of the Dallas Mavericks, whom Martin said he will name later, are starting Jerseyville Classic, a restaurant and grill to be based in The Shops at Willow Bend mall in Plano, Texas. The move comes two years after Martin helped develop the Jerseyville concept, which he originally planned to launch in St. Louis' Central West End. Martin said he's been unable to secure a site locally but is still planning a Jerseyville restaurant in St. Louis, most likely in west St. Louis County. Potential local sites include part of the Westfield's West County Center space that used to be occupied by Lord & Taylor. The partners for the Dallas-area restaurant are investing $2.4 million, Martin said, and Jerseyville is schedule to open Sept. 9. ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich reviews Simply Fondue (1629 Locust Street, Downtown West,, while Stefanie Ellis considers Carmen's Cafe (2718 Gravois Avenue). ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb reviews the new Nicaraguan eatery Fritanga (2208 South Jefferson Avenue). ... Froeb also reports, "The folks behind Miso on Meramec are planning to open Akara, a restaurant and wine bar, in Clayton this October. The executive chef is Mark Curran, formerly of the Larkspur Restaurant in Vail, Colorado." ... St. Louis magazine's August 2007 issue reviews Aya Sofia (6671 Chippewa, ...

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chesterfield's Aqua Vin Fights Eviction

IN THE NEWS: reports that A popular Chesterfield, Mo., restaurant has fallen out of favor with its landlord and is fighting eviction. The general manager of Aqua Vin said he believes the property's owner, Chesterfield-based Sachs Properties, has found a more lucrative tenant. ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B- grade to Lucas School House (1220 Allen Avenue, Soulard,, while Ellen Futterman visits Corwin's Bar & Grill. ... Sauce magazine's reviews Kopperman's Specialty Food & Delicatessen (386 N. Euclid Ave., and notes 30-year-old plus local restaurants Duff's (392 N. Euclid Ave.), Balaban's (405 N. Euclid Ave.), and Soulard's Restaurant (1731 S. Seventh St.). ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb reviews La Gra Italian Tapas (1227 Tamm Avenue).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

'Wine Spectator' Upgrades Monarch

IN THE NEWS: Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb visits the Kabob House, Jasminka Homemade Cakes, and Lily's. ... Froeb notes that Sage was scheduled to open its doors at 1031 Lynch Street (the former Lynch Street Bistro space) on July 23 and also blogs about the new Wine Spectator 2007 awards in the August issue, "This year's awards honor 21 St. Louis restaurants. Of those, the magazine has designated four as "new winners" (i.e. they weren't on last year's list): Harvest, Lucas Park Grille, Savor and Vin de Set. The biggest news for St. Louis restaurants might be the upgrade of Monarch from an Award of Excellence to a Best of Award of Excellence, a nice feather in the cap of the restaurant's former sommelier, Chris Hoel. Truffles and Annie Gunn's are the only other area restaurants with Best of Awards of Excellence. Also, congrats to Columbia's Wine Cellar & Bistro, which I reviewed earlier this year, for its Award of Excellence." ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B- to The Vine (325 South Main Street, St. Charles), while Gordon McKnight visits Luvy Duvy's Cafe (2321 Arsenal Street). ... Bonwich notes the openings of Union Station's Shed Patio Bar and Grill, operated by the Hyatt Regency St. Louis, and Old Rock House, a bar and music venue at 1200 South Seventh Street, while noting the scheduled Aug. 27 debut of Agave Mexican Table & Tequileria at 4198 Manchester Avenue in the Grove.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Construction Keys King Louie's Closing

IN THE NEWS: The Post-Dispatch's Joe Wittington reports King Louie's Restaurant, which would have been open 13 years this fall, has closed and will not reopen. Owner Matt McGuire, son of former Post-Dispatch reporter John McGuire, blamed the loss of business on construction on the Chouteau Avenue Bridge off Vandeventer Avenue. ... Joe Bonwich gives a B+ to Bistro Alexander (7927 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton) and notes the opening of CoCo Bongos (619 East Broadway in Alton, Ill.), featuring a full menu of Cuban and other tropical specialties and a $5.99 lunch buffet. ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb reviews La Vallesana (2812 Cherokee Street and 2801 Cherokee Street), and reports: Richmond Heights wine shop and gourmet market Starrs (1135 South Big Bend Boulevard) is now serving dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 5:30 p.m.; Booster's Cafe has opened at 567 Melville Avenue in the Delmar Loop.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Duff's Celebrates 35th Anniversary

IN THE NEWS: The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich reports on the 35th anniversary July 7 of Karen Duffy's eatery Duff's (392 North Euclid Avenue in the Central West End). ... Bonwich gives a B- in his review of the Ethiopian restaurant Selam (549 Rosedale Avenue, Delmar Loop), while Stefanie Ellis rates Govinda's. ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb review Lester's Sports Bar & Grill (9906 Clayton Road, Ladue) and reports, "Kudos to the Webster-Kirkwood Times for breaking this story July 6: Cafe Brasil (2811 South McKnight Road) lost its liquor license after police notified Rock Hill's Board of Aldermen of an alleged incident of rape and underage drinking at the restaurant."

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

SanSai Japanese Grill Location Opens

IN THE NEWS: Dan Burns, who hit it big with the Godfather's Pizza and Old Country Buffet chains, is finding that lightning can strike three times, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Burns, who lives in Ladue and Laguna Beach, Calif., opened his fifth fast-casual SanSai Japanese Grill in St. Louis recently at 822 Olive St. That's in addition to 25 SanSai locations in California, where he opened the first in 2002. ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B- in his review of Kitaro Bistro of Japan (4551 Highway K, O'Fallon), while Stefanie Ellis considers Mangia Italiano (3145 South Grand Boulevard). ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb samples a Slider at the Gateway Grizzlies stadium (2301 Grizzlie Bear Boulevard, Sauget, Illinois) and blogs about the June 30 opening of Local Harvest Grocery (3148 Morganford, near the Tin Can Tavern). ... St. Louis magazine's Dave Lowry reviews 609 (609 Eastgate,, while the mag takes a first look at Meskerem (3210 S. Grand) and announces its A List 2007 Best of St. Louis winners.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

J. Buck's Opens First Downtown Location

IN THE NEWS: J. Buck's Restaurant opened its first downtown St. Louis location June 19 at 1000 Clark St., in the renovated Cupples Station building, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The new 8,836-square-foot facility includes two private dining rooms that open to one large room, a bar, dining area to seat 150, patio, and a roof deck that provides views into Busch Stadium. This is the sixth location for J. Buck's Restaurants, which operates restaurants in Clayton, Des Peres, O'Fallon and Springfield, Mo., and Fairview Heights, Ill. J. Buck's was established in 1999 and named after Jack, Joe, and Julie Buck, the legendary broadcasting family. ... The Journal also reports that nine-story The Crescent, a $73 million development at 155 Carondelet Plaza across from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, will open to residents and retailers in September. Restaurateur Brad Beracha, who owns and operates Miso in Clayton, will open an expansive Southern European restaurant and wine lounge, called Araka, on the ground floor of The Crescent. It will have 8,300 square feet of space, including a patio with 70 seats facing the Ritz -- making Araka one of the largest outdoor dining options in Clayton. The restaurant will have more than 250 seats in the main dining area and private dining rooms. Araka has hired Mark Curran as executive chef. Curran served as executive chef at the Larkspur restaurant in Vail, Colo. Beracha's partner on Araka is Frank Romano, co-owner of Jazz at the Bistro, the paper reports. ... St. Louis-based Panera Bread Co. says it has bought 32 franchise-operated bakery-cafes and area development rights for certain markets in Illinois and Minnesota for about $36 million, the Journal also reports. Panera Bread Co. owns and franchises bakery-cafes under the St. Louis Bread Co. and Panera Bread names. ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives an A- in his review of Oceano Bistro (44 North Brentwood Boulevard, Clayton;, while Stefanie Ellis considers Bombay Grill (20 Crossroads Plaza, O'Fallon). ... Bonwich also notes the openings of Mark Lucas' and Mike Johnson's new Tex-Mex and barbecue restaurant El Scorcho (7356 Manchester Road in Maplewood), and Simply Fondue (1629 Locust Street downtown). ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb takes a road trip to Gentelin's on Broadway in Alton, Ill. and notes the openings of El Scorcho, Hung's Asian Bistro (3447 South Grand Boulevard), and Reggie's Backstage (522 North Grand Boulevard).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Earl of Sandwich Chain Eyes St. Louis

IN THE NEWS: A Florida-based restaurant chain is putting out feelers that it wants to greatly expand its reach, the Denver Business Journal reports. Earl of Sandwich, founded in 2004 and based in Orlando, says it's looking for franchisees around the United States, including St. Louis. ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B in his review of the Brazilian steakhouse Bacana Brasil (16123 Chesterfield Parkway West, Chesterfield) and rounds up outdoor dining possibilities, while Stefanie Ellis visits The St. Louis Tea Room (4001 Utah Street) and Gordon McKnight stops by Four Seasons (3348 South Grand Boulevard). ... Bonwich also reports, "It turns out that rumors of the reprise of the Seventh Inn — at least on the former site of Harry’s West, 15415 Clayton Road — have been greatly exaggerated. Turns out, that site is being redone as offices by Cutter and Co., a financial-services firm." ... RFT's Ian Froeb reviews Chef Kevin Willmann's Erato in Edwardsville, Ill. ... Froeb also reports the opening of Simply Fondue (1629 Locust Avenue) and gives a progress report on Cardinals star Jim Edmonds' impending restaurant and lounge Fifteeen (1900 Locust Avenue), which may open by summer's end.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Monday, June 11, 2007

Local Trio Take Best Wine List Honors

IN THE NEWS: reports, "The Restaurant Hospitality magazine's annual "Best Wine Lists in America" contest has just ended, and the winners of all three categories? Yeah, those would be St. Louis spots: Truffles in the International category (though it's humorously identified as being in "La Due, MO"), Annie Gunn's in the U.S. category and Ricardo's Italian Café in the Small Wine Lists category." ... Riverfront Times' Ian Froeb visits 17th Street Bar & Grill (1711 West Highway 50, O'Fallon, Ill.), home to the multi-award-winning barbecue of Mike Mills. ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich reviews Oscar's Cafe (7520 Natural Bridge Road, Normandy), while Stefanie Ellis stops by Fritanga (2208 South Jefferson Avenue), and the Take Out column visits Concetta's Italian Restaurant (600 South Fifth Street, St. Charles).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Chuck-A-Burger To Close in St. John

IN THE NEWS: The Post-Dispatch's D. Paul Harris reports, "The Chuck-A-Burger, the St. John restaurant that looks like it could double as a set in American Graffiti, is closing at the end of the year. The restaurant, which opened at 9025 St. Charles Rock Road in 1957, will lose its lease Dec. 31. Owner Ron Stille opened another Chuck-A-Burger two years ago in St. Charles, and he said he can't afford to buy the property (in St. John)." ... Critic Joe Bonwich gives a B to Café Eau (The Chase Park-Plaza, 212 North Kingshighway), while Stefanie Ellis visits Apollonia (6836 Gravois Avenue). ... Bonwich also notes, "Richard Perry, whose 37-year career locally dates to the much-loved Jefferson Avenue Boarding House, is taking over the Farmer's Inn, 7157 Illinois Highway 158 in Millstadt, with a tentative reopening date of June 14. Perry says the dining-room menu will include family style meals with several entree choices and at least two vegetables, with a lighter bar menu featuring "Midwestern flavors." There will also be a "farm breakfast" on Saturdays and Sunday ... It was a pretty quick changeover for the former Limoncello space at 7927 Forsyth Boulevard in Clayton: It's already reopened as Bistro Alexander, featuring, not surprisingly, a bistro menu for lunch and dinner." ... The Daily Sauce writes about the creative use of fresh strawberries at Riddle's Penultimate Café and Wine Bar (6307 Delmar Blvd., University City). ... RFT's Ian Froeb reviews Acero (7266 Manchester Road, Maplewood). ... St. Louis magazine's Dave Lowry looks at "Destinations for a Day's-Drive Dinner", including Shapiro's Deli (808 S. Meridian, Indianapolis) and Arthur Bryant's barbecue (1727 Brooklyn, Kansas City, Mo). ... Lowry reviews Franco (1535 S. Eighth), while George Mahe takes a first look at Lester’s Sports Bar & Grill, and Rose Martelli considers Thurman Grill & Provisions. ... Blogger reports, "Though the downtown stalwart Harry's shows no signs of retreat, word is that the venerable institution's suburban sister has shuttered. One less option for Highway 40-averse West County diners." ... The blog Forks and Needles raves about the spring rolls at Banh Mi So #1 - Saigon Gourmet. ... The blog for magazine 52nd City reports, "Rumor has it that the former Zito’s (and current eyesore) at the corner of Columbia and Hampton may soon become Hillside Bistro and Market. The owners of Nick’s Pub have the financing and are looking into developing the location into a small restaurant that might also sell packaged wine and imported beer. They presented their plan to the Clifton Heights Neighborhood Association (May 29) and it was met with overall optimism and enthusiasm—until Alderman Waterhouse informed residents of the moratorium on liquor licenses in the 24th ward. Apparently the moratorium was put in place in an effort to keep QuickTrip from moving into the space. So it seems things are somewhat up in the air and this point and we’ll all have to hang tight and write letters of support if we want to see it happen. Residents (including me) have been jonesing for a decent restaurant or coffee shop to go into that space. ... Other news of the area—Bartolino’s will be relocating to the new Drury Inn going in at Hampton and 44. Nice that a local restaurant is going in the space rather than a chain. No news yet on what will happen to Bartolino’s old space."

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Goody Goody On Top 10 Diners List

Bon Appetit magazine's June 2007 issue runs Roadfood authors Jane and Michael Stern's list of America's top 10 diners. Writes the Sterns, "Diners used to be thought of as greasy spoons with dubious night-owl clientele — a reputation earned a hundred years ago when the first ones were established in decommissioned trolley cars in rough urban areas of the Northeast. But when indoor plumbing was introduced in the 1930s, they cleaned up their act and became known as a source of good square meals. As American as apple pie, the diner is one of our country's unique contributions to the world's culinary culture. Here is our honor roll of 10 primo diners where the food is good, prices are low, and the atmosphere is blue-plate bliss: Avalon Diner, Houston; Becky's Diner, Portland, ME; Blue Benn Diner, Bennington, VT; Connelly's Goody Goody Diner, St. Louis; Dutch Kitchen, Frackville, PA; JoJo's, Pittsburgh; Mickey's Dining Car, St. Paul; O'Rourke's, Middletown, CT; Summerton Diner, Summerton, SC; Wasp's Snack Bar, Woodstock, VT.

IN THE NEWS: The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B in his review of T. Arcobasso's (1057 Wolfrum Road, Weldon Spring), while Stefanie Ellis stops by Nadoz Euro Bakery & Cafe (3701 Lindell Blvd.) Bonwich also reports, "Nicaraguan food returns to St. Louis with the opening of Fritanga at 2208 South Jefferson, in the space that was formerly Streetcart Express barbecue. ... Also newly opened, at 1220 Allen Avenue in Soulard, is a courtyard restaurant attached to the Lucas School House entertainment venue. ... And over in the Grove — the strip of Manchester Avenue in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood west of Vandeventer Avenue — work seems to have accelerated on Agave, a new Mexican restaurant and tequila bar from the owners of Chuy Arzola's. Look for a summer opening at the corner of Manchester and South Boyle avenues." ... RFT's Ian Froeb reviews the eatery Indian Food (8629 Olive Boulevard, University City).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Monday, May 21, 2007

John D. McGurk's on Esquire Best Bars List

Esquire magazine's second annual Best Bars of America list is out in the June 2007 issue. They include:

Lou's Pub & Package, Birmingham, Ala.; J Lounge, Golden Gopher, The Edison, The Broadway Bar, La Cita, Bordello, Redwood, and Bar 107, Los Angeles; Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood, Calif.; The Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills; Beach Ball, Newport Beach, Calif.; Brennan's Pub, Marina Del Ray, Calif.; Bourbon & Branch, The Owl Tree, Vesuvio, and Zeitgeist, San Francisco; The Sportsman, Sonora, Calif.; Cruise Room, and El Chapultepec, Denver; Jimbo's, and Churchill's Pub, Miami; The Clermont Lounge, Atlanta; Lewers Lounge at the Halekulani Hotel, and La Mariana Sailing Club, Honolulu; The California Clipper, The Red Lion Pub, Bungalow, The Matchbox, Hideout, and Chipp Inn, Chicago; The Red Key, and Nicky Blaine's, Indianapolis; The Old Seelbach Bar, Louisville; The Chart Room, The Bar at Tujague's, Fritzel's European Jazz Pub, and Napoleon House, New Orleans; The Brewer's Art, and Shamrock Inn, Baltimore; B-Side Lounge, Cambridge, Mass.; No. 9 Park, Boston; Doyle's Cafe, Jamaica Plain, Mass.; The Bar at Seldom Blues, Detroit; Miller's Bar, Dearborn, Mich.; Bulldog NE, and Nye's Polonaise Room, Minneapolis; Half Time Rec, St. Paul; John D. McGurk's, St. Louis; Any bar on the Strip, Double Down Saloon, and Petrossian Bar, Las Vegas; Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel, Little Branch, The Bar at Keens Steakhouse, Minetta Tavern, Jimmy's Corner, The Angel's Share, The Brooklyn Inn, The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Flatiron Lounge, The Saloon, San Domenico Restaurant, Spuyten Duyvil, 21 Club, Grassroots Tavern, Bill's Gay 90s, Julius', and Pegu Club, New York City; Freddy's Bar & Backroom, Brooklyn; Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Queens; Thomas Street Tavern, Charlotte, NC; Andyman's Treehouse, Columbus, Ohio; The Library Bar & Grill, Norman, Okla.; Friendly Lounge, The Grey Lodge, and Southwark, Philadelphia; Dee's Cafe, Pittsburgh; Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, and Robert's Western World, Nashville; La Tuna, San Antonio; Donn's Depot, Austin; The Inwood Lounge, Dallas; Shooting Star Saloon, Huntsville, Utah; Sambar, Zig Zag Cafe, and Fu Kun Wu, Seattle; Hawk 'n' Dove, and The Tune Inn, Washington, DC; Holler House, Milwaukee.

IN THE NEWS: The St. Louis Business Journal reports about the rapid influx of eateries in suburban Chesterfield, "When Jim Valenta launched Wild Horse Grill in Chesterfield Valley seven years ago, there were only five other restaurants in the community. Today there are more than 50 sit-down restaurants -- and 150 overall -- in the Valley, an area with a radius of only 3 miles. Nearly all of them are operated by regional or national chains. The exceptions include Annie Gunn's, Villa Farotto and Wild Horse Grill, which are family owned. The national chain stores in Chesterfield include Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, California Pizza Kitchen, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Houlihan's, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Cheesecake Factory, The Old Spaghetti Factory and Olive Garden. The Pasta House Co. Pronto, Crazy Bowls & Wraps, Emperor's Palace, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Qdoba Mexican Grill and Yia Yia's Eurocafe are among the regional chain stores there." ... reports that Slow Food St. Louis is once again hosting Lambstravaganza, on Sunday, June 10, at Prairie Grass Farms in New Florence, Mo. ... The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich reviews Lester Miller's fine sports bar Lester's (9906 Clayton Road in Ladue), while Stefanie Ellis stops by Berix Coffeehouse & Deli (5053 Gravois Avenue). ... Bonwich also notes the openings of O'Fallon's Kitaro Bistro of Japan and Oceano Bistro in Clayton as well as the closings of Keith's after more than a decade in an outbuilding on the Chesterfield Mall property, and Lagniappe's at Ninth and Victor streets in Soulard, open since 1999. ... Riverfront Times critic Ian Froeb reassesses Harvest (1059 South Big Bend Boulevard, Richmond).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Monday, May 14, 2007

America's Best Restaurant Cities

"Today ... most major cities in the U.S. have the kind of gastronomic diversity and regionality that is rich in every department, and even if you’ve visited recently, you can be sure that next time you go, there’ll be more new and enticing restaurants than you could possibly visit," writes Donald Burnam in a recent piece, "America's Best Restaurant Cities." "It’s getting hard not to have a great meal anywhere in the U.S.." Burnam continues.

Forbes' Top 10 Restaurant Cities:
1. New York City
2. Chicago
3. San Francisco
4. Los Angeles
5. New Orleans
6. Houston
7. Washington, D.C.
8. Atlanta
9. Boston
10. Las Vegas

Rankings were based on: Overall number of restaurants above the fast food level; Number of fine dining restaurants with national and international standing; Solid representation of regional American food; A wide segment of second-tier restaurants that would include seafood, steakhouses, and independently chef-owned restaurants; Breadth and depth of ethnic restaurants, especially if the city has neighborhood such as a Chinatown; A significant number of neigborhood restaurants where the locals tend to eat out regularly; A well-traveled clientele that regards eating out in that city one of the real pleasures of going there.

Ted Drewes on Top Ice Cream List
Just in time for summer, Mark DeCarlo, host of Travel Channel's Taste of America, lists his favorite 10 ice cream and frozen confections joints in USA Today ( Pinkberry, Los Angeles; Angelo Brocato's, New Orleans,; Graeter's, Cincinnati (with other locations in Dayton, Columbus, Louisville and Lexington, Ky.),; Leon's Frozen Custard, Milwaukee,; Ghirardelli, San Francisco (for the hot fudge sundaes),; Otto, New York; Ted Drewes, St. Louis,; Bobtail Ice Cream Co., Chicago,; Valentino's, Las Vegas,; Waiola Shave Ice, Honolulu.

IN THE NEWS: From Jake Wagman of the Post-Dispatch on May 14, "Attention, dog owners: If you enjoy dining out with your pet, you could be guilty of aiding and abetting a health code violation. Though little known and rarely enforced, a provision of the state health code prohibits all animals except service dogs from entering the premises of a restaurant, including outdoor patios and sidewalk cafes. That could change, in St. Louis anyway, if Alderman Lyda Krewson has her way. She has proposed legislation that would allow diners to enjoy the company of their canine companion while eating outside. And, because few political issues move faster than ones with four legs, the city action might spur the state to change its rules, too. Krewson introduced her dog-dining bill earlier this month after hearing from the operator of the Boathouse in Forest Park. Located between the Muny and the Zoo, the Boathouse restaurant is a favorite rendezvous for dog lovers looking to enjoy a mimosa or lemonade while on a weekend walk. Or, at least, it was until the Boathouse landed in the city Health Department's doghouse for flouting the rule against animals on restaurant property." ... Post-Dispatch critic Joe Bonwich raves about the double-decker pizza at the new JJ Twig's in Valley Park. Other reviews include Imogene's Tea Room (16635 Chesterfield Airport Road) and Bristol Seafood Grill (11801 Olive Boulevard in Creve Coeur). ... Riverfront Times critic Ian Froeb reviews Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant (3210 South Grand Blvd.) and Grand Mediterranean Kabob Café (4101 South Grand Blvd.) ... From The Daily Sauce Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant now boasts a St. Louis location, with the chef and other family members from Meskerem restaurants in New York and Charlotte, N.C. Address is 3210 S. Grand Blvd., in the space formerly occupied by the restaurants Jasoom and Le Petite Paris.
Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

James Beard Awards Announced

Chicago's Frontera Grill won Outstanding Restaurant of the Year and Michel Richard of Michel Richard Citronelle in Washington, D.C. was named Outstanding Chef at the 2007 James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony. Hosted by CBS Early Show anchor Hannah Storm, the Beard Awards were held May 7 at Avery Fisher Hall in New York's Lincoln Center. More than 60 awards were presented by the country's pre-eminent nonprofit culinary organization, in its 20th anniversary celebration, and more than 1,600 industry leaders attended the ceremony. Other top awards went to: New York's L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, named Best New Restaurant; Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Yountville, Ca.) received the award for Outstanding Restaurateur; and David Chang (Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York) received the Rising Star Chef of the Year award. Celebrity and culinary superstar attendees included Stephanie March, Ted Allen, Katie Lee Joel, Martha Stewart, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Thomas Keller, Jose Andres, Tom Colicchio, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Padma Lakshmi, and Marcus Samuelsson. The Foundation's Media Awards took place at a separate event at the Hudson Theatre at Millennium Broadway Hotel on May 6. All Award winners received a bronze medallion etched with the image of the late James Beard, the esteemed chef, cookbook author, and food journalist. There are no cash awards. Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards recognizes outstanding achievement within the fine food and beverage industry in North America. For full awards results, please visit

Beard Award highlights are:

AMERICA'S CLASSICS: Primanti Brothers, Demetrios Patrinos, Pittsburgh, Pa.; The Pickwick, Christopher Wisocki, Duluth, Minn.; Doe's Eat Place, The Signa Family, Greenville, Miss.; Aunt Carrie's, Elsie Foy, Narragansett, R.I.; I

Brookville Hotel, Mark and Connie Martin, Abilene, Kan.; Weaver D's, Dexter Weaver, Athens, Ga.

BEST CHEF, GREAT LAKES: Grant Achatz, Alinea, Chicago

BEST CHEF, MID-ATLANTIC: R.J. Cooper, III, Vidalia, Washington, DC

BEST CHEF, MIDWEST: Celina Tio, The American Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo.

BEST CHEF, NEW YORK CITY: David Waltuck, Chanterelle, New York, NY

BEST CHEF, NORTHEAST: Frank McClelland, L'Espalier, Boston

BEST CHEF, NORTHWEST: John Sundstrom, Lark, Seattle

BEST CHEF, PACIFIC: Traci Des Jardins, Jardinière, San Francisco

BEST CHEF, SOUTH: Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans

BEST CHEF, SOUTHEAST: Scott Peacock, Watershed, Decatur, Ga.

BEST CHEF, SOUTHWEST: Nobuo Fukuda, Sea Saw, Scottsdale, Ariz.

BEST NEW RESTAURANT: L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Chef-Owner: Joël Robuchon, New York, NY

OUTSTANDING CHEF: Michel Richard, Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, DC

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF: Michael Laskonis, Le Bernardin, New York, NY

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT: Frontera Grill, chef-owner: Rick and Deann Bayless, Chicago

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR: Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.

OUTSTANDING SERVICE: Rick Tramonto, Gale Gand, and Richard Melman, Tru, Chicago

OUTSTANDING WINE AND SPIRITS PROFESSIONAL: Paul Draper, Ridge Vineyards, Cupertino, Calif.

OUTSTANDING WINE SERVICE: Mark Slater, Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, DC

RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR: David Chang, Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York, NY

IN THE NEWS: The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich gives a B in his review of the German restaurant Roemer Topf in Mascoutah, Ill., while the Takeout column reviews The Original Soup Man ... RFT critic Ian Froeb reviews the venerable Balaban's, 405 N. Euclid, now under the ownership of Brendan Marsden and Harlee Sorkin and with Andy White (formerly of Harvest) in the kitchen. ... Meanwhile, RFT's Randall Roberts visits World's Fair Doughnuts, 1904 S. Vandeventer Ave. ... Sauce magazine reports, "To simplify your life, The Westin in St. Louis has introduced Unwind: A Westin Evening Ritual, which involves converting the lobby into party-central each weekday after work. Downtown professionals and hotel guests mingle together on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as the Clark Street Grill's culinary team shares appetizer recipes and samples. for more info.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Sunday, April 29, 2007

James Beard Awards Await

Roughly the dining out equivalent of The Academy Awards, The James Beard Foundation annual awards ceremony takes place Monday, May 7, at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. Go to for the complete list, but here's a partial list of national nominees:

-- Outstanding Restaurant: Boulevard, San Francisco; Frontera Grill, Chicago; Magnolia Grill, Durham, N.C., Picholine, New York; Spiaggia, Chicago.
-- Best New Restaurant: A Voce, New York City; Chochon, New Orleans; Cut, Beverly Hill, Calif; L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, New York City; Momofuku Ssam Bar, New York City; Restaurant Guy Savoy, Las Vegas.
-- Outstanding Restaurateur: Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif; Keith McNally, Balthazar, New York City; Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (R.J. Grunts, Wildfire, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!), Chicago; Drew Nieporent, Myriad Restaurant Group (Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Rubicon), New York City; Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean Georges restaurant, New York City.
-- Outstanding Chef: Tom Colicchio, Craft, New York City; Lee Hefter, Spago, Beverly Hills, Calif.; Jean Joho, Everest, Chicago; Paul Kahan, Blackbird, Chicago; Michel Richard, Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, D.C.
-- Rising Star Chef: Nate Appleman, A16, San Francisco; Graham Elliot Bowles, Avenues at The Peninsula Hotel, Philadelphia; David Chang, Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York; Patrick Connelly, Radius, Boston; Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York City.

Restaurant magazine just released its list of the world's top 100 restaurants. ( Here are the U.S. entries:

The French Laundry, Yountville, Ca. (No. 4)
Per Se, New York City (No. 9)
Jean Georges, New York City (No. 18)
Le Bernardin, New York City (No. 26)
Charlie Trotter's, Chicago (No. 30)
Daniel, New York City (No. 32)
Alinea, Chicago (No. 36)
Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Ca. (No. 40)
Masa, New York City (No. 56)
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the Four Seasons, New York City (No. 64)
Peter Lugar, Brooklyn, NY (No. 69)
Nobu New York, New York City (No. 89)
Gramercy Tavern, New York city (No. 90)
WD-50, New York City (No. 91)
Zuni Café, San Francisco (No. 98)
Alex at Wynn, Las Vegas (No. 100)

IN THE NEWS: The Post-Dispatch's Joe Bonwich reviews sushi joint Sapporo, 15th Ave. East in Capitol Hill, while Stefanie Ellis takes on Guido's Pizzeria & Tapas, 5046 Shaw Ave. Crusoe's Restaurant and Bar, 3152 Osceola St. in St Louis, is featured in Gordon McKnight's Takeout column. Bonwich also reports on the openings of: Oscar's Cafe, 7520 Natural Bridge Road in Normandy; and Pickles Deli, scheduled to open in June in the former Great Frame Up space at 22 North Euclid Ave. ... RFT's Ian Froeb reviews Trattoria Toscana, 9416 Gravois Road, Affton. The paper's blog raves about Vietnamese favorite Banh Mi So #1-Saigon Gourmet, 4071 South Grand Blvd. ... From St. Louis magazine's April issue, the area's seven must-have burgers: 7. O’Connell’s Pub; 6. The Royale; 5. Trainwreck Saloon; 4. Busch’s Grove; 3. Michael’s Bar & Grill; 2. Cardwell’s; 1. Annie Gunn’s. ... Speaking of burgers, national chain Hardee's spent. $1.2 million to build out its latest area restaurant, which opened April 1 in the former Wendy's location at Chestnut and Sixth streets, the St. Louis Business Journal reports.