Best of St. Louis 2012 Preview: Five Years of Best New Restaurants
In a matter of days -- hours, even! -- the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2012 issue ("Creature Comforts" is the theme, and just you wait till you see this!) will hit the Internet and newsstands.
Among the many food- and restaurant-related categories, one of the most eagerly anticipated is always "Best New Restaurant". Before we unveil this year's winner, I thought it would be interesting to look back on the recent history of the award.
Not to toot our own horn -- well, actually, yeah, toot-toot -- but, looking back, we're pretty damn proud of our track record.
2011: Salt (4356 Lindell Boulevard; 314-932-5787)
What We Said Then: Calling Salt a "new" restaurant doesn't feel quite right. In part that's because St. Louis diners got to know owner Wes Johnson's cooking at the Shaved Duck and Eclipse before he opened this, his first restaurant. ... Here, too, is a chef who tackles all the touchstones of American dining circa 2011 (local produce, charcuterie, a menu that lets you cobble together your own meal from plates large and small) but is unafraid of "St. Louis cuisine," having included on his menu both pork steak and, yes, Provel cheese.
Now: It's been a tumultuous year for Salt. The restaurant was the first St. Louis spot to be a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's "Best New Restaurant" and chef Wes Johnson appeared on NBC's Today. In May, however, Johnson left the restaurant. Josh Roland is now in charge of the kitchen.