A Look Inside Hot Box Cookies' New Central West End Storefront

Categories: First Look

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An assortment of Hot Box Cookies' sweets. | Photos by Mabel Suen

As reported by Gut Check, Hot Box Cookies (3 North Euclid Avenue; 314-899-0909) opened in the Central West End on February 27. The late-night cookie bakery and delivery service originated in 2008 with its flagship in Columbia, later adding a location in Lawrence, Kansas. This is its first St. Louis store, and five more are planned for the St. Louis area in the coming year in spots including the Delmar Loop and downtown.

See also: Hot Box Cookies Now Open in the Central West End

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A Look Inside the Little Dipper, a New Sandwich Shop on Cherokee Street

Categories: First Look

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"The Little Dipper" sandwich: Italian beef with giardiniera. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Jason Paul wanted to open a food truck but settled for something a little different, albeit roughly the same size. His new brick-and-mortar sandwich shop, the Little Dipper, (2619 1/2 Cherokee Street; 314-625-3530) opened in south city on February 20 in the 300-square-foot space previously filled by Smalls Tea & Coffee. The menu features made-to-order dishes geared primarily for carryout -- Italian beef, salads and more.

"The inspiration was borderline healthy food. There's a little decadence in there, but we're sticking to real ingredients," Paul says. "All our stuff is humble and simple. We make most everything we serve here, including the sauces and dressings."

See also: First Look: Gooseberries

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The Gramophone's New Concept Rebrands the Bar As A Tavern, Deli and Bottle Shop

Categories: First Look

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The Gramophone's "Bloody Island" ($12.50): a bloody mary with olives, bacon, salami and a roast-beef sandwich. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Last November, longtime Grove-area concert venue the Gramophone (4243 Manchester Avenue; 314-531-5700) announced that it would close its doors for remodeling on January 1. On February 13, the business reopened with updated hours, an expanded menu, and a new focus on beer and alcohol rather than entertainment.

"The neighborhood is changing, and we think we did a very good job with live music for seven years," says operating partner Scott Swanston. "We just decided to try something else."

See also: The Gramophone Will Close In January, Reopen As Bar

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A Look Inside the Old Bakery Beer Company, Alton's First Craft Brewery

Categories: First Look

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The pub at the Old Bakery Beer Company. | Photos by Mabel Suen

As reported by Gut Check, the Old Bakery Beer Company (400 Landmarks Boulevard, Alton, Illinois) opened on January 23 in the former Colonial Bakery building in downtown Alton, Illinois. The concept comes from husband-and-wife team and Urban Chestnut alums Lauren Pattan and James Rogalsky. The couple aims to offer sustainable, handcrafted beers with organically grown American hops and malts, featuring four year-round beers paired with rotating seasonal and guest taps.

See also: Old Bakery Beer Opens to Overwhelming Response in Alton

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Norton's Cajun Corner: A New Home For An Old Soulard Mainstay

Categories: First Look

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A Cajun bloody mary from Norton's Cajun Corner, lined with Norton's Cajun spice. | Photos by Mabel Suen

"I'm just excited to be back here cooking again," says Pat Norton, clad in a green apron and matching Mardi Gras beads. The self-taught chef owned and operated Norton's Cafe in Soulard from 1985 until its closure in 2009. Last January, the flavors of the old restaurant returned under a new guise: Norton's Cajun Corner (730 Carroll Street; 314-546-8382) inside the Soulard Farmers' Market. The stand fills the space previously occupied by Schmitz's Concessions and offers grab-and-go gumbo, jambalaya, bloody marys and more.

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Spring Center Gourmet's New Storefront Offers Grab-and-Go Grub in Soulard

Categories: First Look

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Smoked shrimp, chicken skewers, salami and more. | Photos by Mabel Suen
The sandwich board labeled "Now Open" at Spring Center Gourmet (1862 South Tenth Street; 314-899-9707) says it all: "Don't feel like making dinner? No problem! Come in and pick up one of our prepared gourmet entrees or in-house smoked meats!"

Co-owners and chefs Patrick McGinnis and Jeff Dexheimer hope to provide reasonably priced, ready-to-go meals at their new concept, which they describe as a cross between Annie Gunn's Smokehouse and Gourmet to Go. The Soulard storefront, which formerly housed Ferraro's Pizza, opened quietly in early January and prepares nearly all of its items on site utilizing from-scratch glazes, brines, stocks and more.

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Juniper's Revised Menu From New Head Chef Cassy Vires

Categories: First Look

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Juniper's "Country Captain": curry-glazed quail, Carolina-gold rice, currant stew and pistachio granola. | Photos by Mabel Suen

In December, chef-owner John Perkins of Juniper (360 North Boyle Avenue; 314-329-7696) announced that renowned local chef Cassy Vires of the recently shuttered Home Wine Kitchen (7322 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-802-7676) would join the award-winning restaurant's culinary team as head chef. Last week, Vires rolled out her first new menu at the Southern-food eatery, featuring a few brand new main attractions, revised sides and more.

See also: Happy Hour at Juniper


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A Look At the Korean Barbecue of Seoul Q and Seoul Taco in the Delmar Loop

Categories: First Look

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Marinated pork shoulder and belly barbecue at Seoul Q. | Photos by Mabel Suen
Restaurateur David Choi offers patrons two distinctively different dining experiences at his latest venture, a large-scale restaurant in the Delmar Loop that houses two concepts: the recently opened Seoul Q (6665 Delmar Boulevard; 314-925-8452) as well as a new home for the already established Seoul Taco (6665 Delmar Boulevard; 314-863-1148). The former focuses on traditional tabletop-grilled Korean barbecue while the latter fuses it with Mexican-style fare in a fast-casual setting.

See also: Seoul Taco Moving into Former Ginger Bistro Space on Delmar

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St. Louis Taco & Pita Grill: Greek, Mexican and American Food Under One Roof

Categories: First Look

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A chicken-kebab platter from St. Louis Taco & Pita Grill. | Photos by Mabel Suen
A typical ticket in the kitchen at St. Louis Taco & Pita Grill (15493 Manchester; 314-332-0486) can include a gyro, tacos, a kebab platter and a burger. The new fast-casual eatery opened on December 8 in Ballwin and features more than 130 menu items featuring Greek, Mexican and American cuisine.

The colorful interior contains remnants from the building's former life as a KFC and features some seemingly random goods up for grabs: French macarons from La Bonne Bouchee, home-crafted candles, and tchotchkes laden with mini clocks. Look past the eclectic assortment that begets the first glance, however, for some one-of-a-kind dishes.

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Miss Leon's Fried Chicken and Comfort Food at Bomber's Hideaway in the Grove

Categories: First Look

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"Miss Leon's Fried Chicken." | Photos by Mabel Suen

Bad Dog Bar & Grill (3960 Chouteau Avenue) closed its doors on January 1, but the popular Grove spot didn't stay vacant for long. Business owners Chad Fox and Jim Weckmann of Rehab Bar & Grill quietly re-opened the bar as Bomber's Hideaway on January 5 with an entirely new concept coming out of the kitchen: Miss Leon's fried chicken and comfort food.

The humble cook behind it is none other than Dieta Pepsi, an accomplished area drag queen and LGBT-community activist whose culinary experience includes moonlighting at Rehab as well as CJ's on the Hill.

"I'm offering stick-to-your-ribs comfort food -- food that your grandma cooked when you were little, food people eat on Sunday after they come from church. It's not fancy. It's not upscale. It's just some down-home country cooking," chef Leon Augustus Braxton Jr. says.

See also: Happy Hour at Atomic Cowboy: A Small Taste of Fresh Mex in the Grove

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