Review: Lascelles Brings Stylish, Upscale Dining to, Yes, Granite City

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Mabel Suen
Sea scallops, the "Farmhouse Burger," tomato bisque, lemon soufflé.
Lascelles Granite City
1324 Niedringhaus Road, Granite City, Illinois; 618-709-7375. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Head east across the McKinley Bridge from St. Louis into Illinois, and the change in scenery is palpable. As the buildings that make up the downtown skyline grow smaller in the rearview mirror and you make your way into Granite City, it's as if you've been transported to another time. But it's not a nostalgic view.


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St. Louis Restaurant Openings and Closings: June 2015

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Photo by Mabel Suen
The Good Pie closed its doors at the end of June.

This was a good month for St. Louis food lovers. We gained a new Nashville-style fried chicken joint, a new barbecue spot, and at least three gyro places. We also got our first-ever Tim Horton's, eh?

See also: Southern Now Serving Hot Chicken and Sandwiches in Midtown

What did we lose? Well, The Good Pie is closing, but owner Mike Randolph plans to reopen with a new concept soon. Don't be gone long, Mike -- we can't live without those glorious Neapolitan pizzas!

Continue for June's openings and closings, and as always, let us know if we've missed anything in the comments. (Psst: Comments not working for you? Our new system requires you to log in via Facebook. If you don't have Facebook -- or your employer blocks it at work -- you won't see a place to log in, much less be able to read other people's comments. Sorry about that.)

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Southern Now Serving Hot Chicken and Sandwiches in Midtown

Categories: First Look

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The hot chicken plates at Southern come in four different styles, including the one pictured here: General Tso's. | Photos by Mabel Suen

At the end of the first week of service at chef Rick Lewis' new fried chicken and deli concept Southern (3108 Olive Street; 314-531-4668), Lewis finishes greeting the last customers of the day so he can instruct his staff to help silence a smoke alarm. "You can tell folks that the food is so hot here, we literally set off the smoke detectors," he says with a laugh.

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Chef Chat: Matt Bessler on Taking Over at The Libertine

Categories: Chef Chat

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The Libertine's executive chef Matt Bessler. | Mabel Suen

"My family used to joke that I couldn't hit a nail straight," Matt Bessler laughs when asked about how he got into cooking. "So they sent me off to help out Mom in the kitchen." The Libertine's (7927 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-862-2999) new executive chef credits his tight-knit family with showing him the importance of food at an early age, making the family dinners he helped prepare a mandatory event. "You got in trouble if you weren't at the dinner table," he recalls.

See Also: Chef Josh Galliano Leaving The Libertine; Matt Bessler Named New Executive Chef (UPDATED)

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Brunch at Corvid's Cafe: A Classic Spread, Plus Dr. Dan the Pancake Man

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Corvid's spread includes frittata, bacon, quinoa soup, salad and fresh fruit. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Where: Corvid's Cafe (5001 Mardel Avenue; 314-481-1522)

When: Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

We Tried: The all-you-can-eat buffet for $14.95 ($8.95 for kids under 12), featuring bottomless coffee, iced tea or iced coffee and custom pancake art by request from Dr. Dan the Pancake Man.

See also: Review: A quintessential neighborhood cafe comes to south city

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A made-to-order pancake from the Dr. Dan the Pancake Man team.

Dubbed a quintessential neighborhood cafe by RFT food critic Cheryl Baehr, Corvid's Cafe has offered brunch as a staple of its cozy corner concept since opening in the North Hampton neighborhood in April 2014. The menu is designed by husband-and-wife duo Johnny and Cindy Panian, who draw on more than a decade of catering experience with the cafe's parent company, Crabcakes Creative.

And now Corvid's also features for its Sunday brunch the Internet-famous pancake art of Dr. Dan and crew -- plus live music.

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At Meshuggah Cafe, a Regular Becomes Owner as Patrick Liberto Says Goodbye

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Photo by Kevin Korinek
Jen Kaslow recently purchased Meshuggah Cafe

Patrick Liberto, who has owned Meshuggah Cafe since 1997, has sold the Delmar Loop mainstay and is moving back to his home state of Louisiana.

But the Loop's loss is a gain for one regular customer: A school teacher named Jen Kaslow decided to purchase the business on a whim. She'll take the reigns on July 17.

Kaslow had been patronizing Meshuggah Cafe (6269 Delmar Blvd., 314-726-5662) with her family for nearly fifteen years, going back to its original location on Melville Avenue. Last month, when Liberto happened to mention that he was selling the business, Kaslow's mind started spinning with the possibilities.

"Normally, I would've asked if everything was OK," she says. "Instead, I had this out-of-body experience and I asked what he was doing with Meshuggah's. He told me he was selling it and I said right there, 'I want to buy it.' And that was it.

"I had no plans to quit my job," she admits. "It wasn't about coffee and I never had a fantasy about being a cafe owner."

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5 Things That May Surprise You About St. Louis' Ranch Dressing-Themed Restaurant, Twisted Ranch

Categories: First Look

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Photo by Sarah Fenske
Loaded fries at Twisted Ranch -- with a side of ranch, natch.

When Jim Hayden and Chad Allen announced in March their plans to open a restaurant in Soulard, the two first-time restaurateurs almost immediately garnered an unheard-of level of national attention. Within a week, and in the months that have followed, everyone from Eater to Deadspin to Food & Wine has covered the launch -- even though Twisted Ranch has yet to serve a single dish or even finalize a menu.

Apparently that's what happens when you decide your restaurant's theme is ranch dressing. America loves the stuff. Food snobs love to hate the stuff. Everybody has an opinion.

Next Tuesday the subject of all that press coverage, Twisted Ranch (1730 South Eighth Street), finally opens its doors. And after getting a sneak peek this week, we can confidently say it's not the apocalypse that food writers have been predicting. It's not going to win a James Beard Award, but it may well prove wildly popular with families looking for a spot to grab a meal before heading to a Cardinals game -- or even just Soulard drinkers trying to sober up with a huge plate of loaded fries, ranch on the side.

Here are the five things that most surprised us about the soon-to-open Soulard eatery.

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Review: At HandleBar, Eastern European Treats Mesh with Comfort Food

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Mabel Suen
Russian flatbread, a "Baltic" banh mi and borscht.
Handlebar
4120 Manchester Avenue; 314-652-2212.
Tues.-Sun. 11-3 a.m. (Closed Mondays).

George W. Bush famously stated that he looked Vladimir Putin in the eyes and could see his soul. Even if the former president famously misjudged Putin's character, I imagine the dinner party that might have precipitated those comments would have been a lot like dining at HandleBar: an odd blend of Russian fare and Southern-inspired comfort food.

Here is borscht as well as pork-belly hash, and Eastern European ground pork and bacon dumplings served alongside pimento cheese. And hummus. And...St. Louis-style pizza? Yes, that too.

- See also: Taco Circus Is an Affordable Tex-Mex Delight

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Taste by Niche to Get a Tiki Takeover This Sunday

Categories: Events

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Laura Ann Miller
A specialty drink at Taste by Niche.

Is it the drinks served in coconuts that get mouths watering? Or the island mentality that has people dropping everything to go to a tiki party?

John Fausz, general manager at Taste by Niche, thinks it's the original, strong cocktails that keep people thirsty for all things tiki, which is why Taste by Niche (4584 Laclede, 314) 361-1200) is hosting the first of three Tiki Takeovers this Sunday, June 28, from 2 to 9 p.m.

"We just wanted to do something different, break out of the mold," Fausz says. "We thought opening early for a tiki party would be just that."

And this tiki party won't be like that one you went to last summer in your neighbor's backyard. For one thing, the drinks won't be a sugary, syrupy mess dripping down your fingers like the victims of a snow cone massacre.

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Taze Mediterranean Street Food Brings a Fast-Casual Option Downtown

Categories: First Look

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Photo by Sarah Fenske
A gyro bowl from Taze, including lamb-and-beef gyro meat on a bed of lettuce with tzatziki sauce, as well as carrot salad, pickles and carmelized onion hummus.

The Mercantile Exchange -- better known as the MX -- is attempting to become a hub of downtown street life in a city that has all too little of it. There's a movie theater. Soon, there will be the National Blues Museum. And there are a whole bunch of restaurants: another outpost of Chris Sommers' growing Pi empire, the second Robust Wine Bar and Cafe (the original is in Webster Groves) and a Snarf's.

And now there is also Taze Mediterranean Street Food, a new concept that's something like the Chipotle of Middle-Eastern food. There is a line with rapid assembly. There are numerous combinations of classic flavors in bowls or pitas. And, like Chipotle, the food at Taze is damn tasty.

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