Oasis Shisha Lounge: An Obscure Hookah Restaurant with Afghan Family Recipes

Categories: Hidden Gem

Welcome to Hidden Gem, Gut Check's short love letter to restaurants, coffee shops and bars that lie off the beaten path. These places soldier on in relative anonymity, beloved by their regulars, but largely overlooked by the greater populace. Hidden Gem will attempt to rectify these terrible oversights. Have a Hidden Gem of your own to share? Tell us in the comments.

Flaky samosas stuffed with veggies and served with tzatziki. | Photos by Mabel Suen
Twenty-one-year-old Mohammad Noori originally dreamed up the plans for Oasis Shisha Lounge (6417 Hampton Avenue; 314-481-1993) with his younger brother, Qais, while they were teenagers growing up in south city. However, tragedy struck before they could complete them together. A car accident took Qais' life, and it wasn't until last November that Noori came across his brother's business portfolio and decided to continue with what they started.

In late February, Oasis opened quietly in St. Louis Hills, featuring a menu that's prepared entirely by their mother using family recipes. The purposely word-of-mouth concept has already attracted a regular crowd and combines the siblings' love for authentic Afghan food and hookah.

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Churches on the Streets Utilizes Food Truck to Feed the Homeless

Categories: Food Trucks

Handing out Fortel's pizza at the food truck. | Churches on the Street

Last year, the health department shut down an organization that was giving out hot meals to homeless people. A lot has changed for Churches on the Streets since then. It has recieved nonprofit certification, is awaiting a health permit and is serving the hungry and homeless out of a food truck.

See also: Group Can't Serve Hot Food To Homeless Without Permit, Says STL Health Dept.

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Wild Flower Taking Over the Majestic for Barbecue Restaurant

Categories: Restaurant News

The Wild Thing pizza at Wild Flower. | Tara Mahadevan

Despite protests to the contrary, the Majestic (4900 Laclede Avenue) closed last week after more than 50 years in the Central West End. Its neighbor Wild Flower (4590 Laclede Avenue; 314-367-9888) has bought the space and will spend the next few months transforming it into a barbecue joint called BBQ Saloon. We talked to co-owner Tracy Czarnec about her plans and why she and husband Phil love the CWE.

See also: Majestic Restaurant Confirms Closing; Readers Remember 50-Year Legacy

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The Best Easter Brunches in St. Louis: 2014

You should probably pick up some chocolate bunnies at Kakao aftewards. | Crystal Rolfe

Easter Sunday is the mack daddy of all brunches. When we were kids, it was all about the Easter egg hunt. Now it's waffles, bacon and lots of mimosas. It's also a time for many to get together with family, and brunch is an after-church tradition. There are lots of choices for your holiday brunch, but we've rounded up the ones we're dying to try.

See also: Atomic Cowboy Adds Latin American-Influenced Brunch Service

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Melt's "Violet Beauregarde," A Blueberry Buttermilk Waffle with the Works

Categories: Sugar High

Welcome to Sugar High, a series devoted solely to spotlighting the best ways to sate a sweet tooth in St. Louis. We'll sample the best the city has to offer at restaurants, bakeries and holes-in-the-wall, and provide some insight on how these confections are made along the way.

Melt's "Violet Beauregarde" waffle. | Photos by Mabel Suen
"Violet! You're turning violet, Violet!"

We all know the scene from the classic Roald Dahl novel-based film filled with oompa loompas and tantalizing sweets: bubblegum addict Violet Beauregarde gets a hold of a multi-course flavored chewing-gum prototype and proceeds to consume it against eccentric Willy Wonka's wishes. The final flavor, blueberry pie, causes the character to go blue in the face, inflating her body into a bloated, oversized blueberry.

The silly story is the inspiration for Melt's "Violet Beauregarde," one of Melt's (2712 Cherokee Street; 314-771-6358) signature buttermilk waffles topped with blueberry coulis, fresh blueberries and a dollop of whipped cream. The base for Melt's waffle evolved from a recipe developed by Carondelet Bakery but over time became customized into the golden brown baked treat now offered on Cherokee Street.

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Schlafly Celebrates the Repeal of Prohibition with Cadre of Washington State Brews

Categories: Beer

All dressed up and somewhere to go. | Jon Gitchoff

Local beer fans converged on the Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; 314-241-2337) last Saturday to enjoy good beer and gorgeous weather at the brewery's annual Repeal of Prohibition Festival. Each year, Schlafly commemorates the enactment of the Cullen-Harrison Act on April 7, 1933. The act raised the definition of prohibited "intoxicating liquors" from 0.5 to 3.2 percent alcohol by weight, and set the stage for eventual full-on repeal of Prohibition in December of that year.

Besides offering a large selection of its own, Schlafly picks another state's beers to highlight -- usually one that has a limited presence in the St. Louis area. This year's festival highlighted the beers of Washington State with No-Li Brewhouse (Spokane), Elysian Brewing (Seattle), Epic Ales (Seattle) and Bale Breaker Brewing Company (Yakima).

See also: The Wildest Sights and Brews of 4 Hands Brewing Company's Lupulin Carnival

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Chef Liz Schuster on Turning Films into Menus and Her Mad Bow Hunting Skills

Categories: Chef Chat

Chef Liz Schuster and the Tenacious Eats team | Nancy Stiles

I first met Liz Schuster when she was a line cook at a country club, still working her way through culinary school. I was leaving town for graduate school, and as a going away present, she gave me a copy of the film Eat Drink Man Woman. Schuster had very specific instructions: "You'll be living out of boxes for a while, so you'll want to order some really greasy Chinese takeout. Pop in this movie, open a nice bottle of wine, and eat on the floor -- use your moving boxes as a table."

Five years later, Schuster has turned her knack for mixing food, film and scene into Tenacious Eats (314-605-3684), her pop-up restaurant located in the Meyers Grove theater. Schuster took a break from her next food and film pairing (the word is that it's Wes Anderson's the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), to chat with us about her thoughts on the St. Louis dining scene and her mad bow hunting skills.

See Also: How Chef Liz Schuster Interprets Mean Girls as a Five-Course Menu for Tenacious Eats

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Your Pick for St. Louis' Best Fish Fry Is...

Categories: Fish Fry Frenzy

You can get this year round at our winning parish. | 5chw4r7z

There's only one more fish fry Friday left this year, and we'll be using it to check out the readers' pick. Last week you voted on four very different celebrations; there were strong write-in candidates as well. So, where should we meet you this Friday?

See also: St. Mary Magdalen Has a Drive-Through Fish Fry

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Guess Where I'm Eating This Pulled Pork and Win Ice Cream for Two at the Fountain on Locust

Pulled pork sandwich topped with slaw. | Nancy Stiles

St. Louis is experiencing a barbecue boom. We already have more than a few top-notch joints, and last week saw several announcements of more to come. This pulled pork sandwich is from a place that isn't super established, but it sure is delicious. Think you know where we got it? Take a guess and win some free food.

See also: UPDATED: Guess Where I'm Eating This Salmon BLT and Win $25 to De Palm Tree

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Tom Colicchio On Tatyana Telnikova's Decision to Change Craft Art Bar Name: "Wise"

Categories: Food Fights

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio at a charity event. | DC Central Kitchen

Consider these two very different restaurateurs. The first is Tatyana Telnikova, small-business owner, proprietress of the quirky and beloved HandleBar in the Grove, Russian immigrant. The other is Tom Colicchio, star of TV's Top Chef, pioneer of the New York restaurant scene, and owner of the wildly successful Craft Restaurant family, which includes twenty locations of the sandwich shop 'Whichcraft, CraftBar, CraftSteak, and his flagship establishment in Manhattan, called simply Craft.

Last week, Telnikova changed the name of her highly anticipated new Cherokee Street venture from "Craft Art Bar" to just "Art Bar." She did so after realizing that Colicchio has a history of defending his trademark on the word "craft" -- in the past he has sent cease-and-desist letters to restaurants in California, Wisconsin and even to nearby Edwardsville, Illinois. They've all backed down and changed their names.

"For lack of a better word, the guy's just being a bully and throwing his weight around," she says. "In no way would 'Craft Art Bar' hurt his business."

We wondered what Colicchio himself would say to that, so we called Craft in New York. And by gum, he called us back.

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