Lona's Lil Eats' New Storefront Serves "Asian Soul Food" in Fox Park

Categories: First Look

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Lona's grilled chicken wrap. | Photos by Mabel Suen
Frequenters of the Soulard Farmers' Market already know Lona's, the busy little stall in the Southeast wing of the market that serves up kebobs, spring rolls and other hand-held victuals on Saturdays. Last week the pan-Asian restaurant opened the doors at its new brick-and-mortar storefront in Fox Park. Contrary to its name, Lona's Lil Eats (2199 California Avenue) serves big flavors out of its kitchen, featuring an expanded variation on its unique pan-Asian market menu.

As reported by Gut Check in July, husband-and-wife team Pierce Powers and Lona Luo met in Luo's southwest China hometown. Her hill tribe's cooking blends a crossover of cuisines and techniques that Powers refers to as "Asian soul food": a little Japanese, a little Thai and a vibrant flavor profile that includes sweetness, spice, salt and smoke.

See also: Lona's Lil Eats Gets a Storefront in Fox Park

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Mary Ann's Tea Room, A Posh New Lunch Spot in the Central West End

Categories: First Look

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Mary Ann's Tea Room. | Photos by Mabel Suen
While searching for a new home for her Des Peres boutique, business owner Karen Halper heard the story of a courageous woman named Mary Ann (Kovac) Allison. Allison, an area antique dealer with a heart of gold, died in 2009 while rushing into her home to save her beloved pets --- six cats, five dogs, three birds and a fox. Halper purchased the Central West End structure from Allison's son, transforming its greenhouse into Mary Ann's Tea Room (4732 McPherson Avenue; 314-361-5303). The posh tea room opened in conjunction with Enchanting Embellishments, an interior design and goods specialty shop, on August 29.

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A Look Inside United Provisions' New Restaurant, the Dining District

Categories: First Look

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Korean-style pulled short rib sandwich. | Photos by Mabel Suen
In early August Gut Check got a sneak peek at United Provisions (6241 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-833-5699), the international-grocery store from the family behind Jay's International Food Company and Global Food Market. A month later the hybrid grocer and prepared-foods vendor has its shelves fully stocked and kitchens running full-steam to serve area-college students and incoming visitors.

Gut Check stopped in to sample the lunch and dinner options available at the in-store restaurant, the Dining District, with a menu developed by chef Ben Poremba of Elaia and Olio. The concept coincides a sushi bar headed up by chef Naomi Hamamura, formerly of Sansui.

See also: Sneak Peek Inside United Provisions, Delmar Loop's New Grocery and Dining Complex

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Whitebox Eatery's New Breakfast, Lunch and Brunch Restaurant in Clayton

Categories: First Look

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"Smoked Salmon Tartine" with house-smoked salmon spread, caramelized onion, fried capers, arugula and herb aioli on English muffin bread. | Photos by Mabel Suen
Brunch lovers have a new go-to spot in Clayton with the opening of Whitebox Eatery (176 Carondelet Plaza; 314-862-2802). As reported by Gut Check in July, the concept comes from Modesto Tapas' co-owner Brendan Marsden along with chef John Hoffman (formerly of Oceano), and Jamie Hardesty of Vincent Van Doughnut.

See also: Whitebox Eatery Nears Opening in Clayton

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Yaqui's on Cherokee's New Corner Bar Offers Wine and Wood-Fired Pizzas

Categories: First Look

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Yaqui's "Bianca" pizza with mozzarella, herb-infused oil and the addition of prosciutto and peppers. | Photos by Mabel Suen
Yaqui's on Cherokee (2728 Cherokee Street; 314-400-7712) opened its bar just in time for the neighborhood's Cinco de Mayo celebration, but it wasn't until mid-July that it started serving up the main inspiration behind its concept: owner Francis Rodriguez's take on the Neapolitan pizza, cooked to-order in a hand-built, wood-fired oven.

See also: Yaqui's on Cherokee Eyes Opening After Extensive Construction

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A Look Inside Mission Taco Joint's New Second Location in Soulard

Categories: First Look

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The dining room at Mission Taco Joint's Soulard location. | Photos by Mabel Suen
On August 12 Mission Taco Joint (908 Lafayette Avenue) opened in Soulard. Located adjacent to the Soulard Farmers Market, this location of Mission fills a niche in the neighborhood and provides an alternative to the flagship restaurant in the Delmar Loop.

The West Coast-inspired concept comes from brothers Adam and Jason Tilford, who also own and operate Milagro Modern Mexican, Tortillaria and Barrister's. Since establishing its University City location in February 2013, Mission Taco Joint has been named best Mexican restaurant in the RFT's Best of St. Louis 2013, also garnering favorable reviews for its food and innovative cocktail list.

See also: St. Louis Restaurant Openings & Closings: August 2014

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A Look Inside Sauce on the Side's New Second Location in Clayton

Categories: First Look

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"Five-O" with pancetta, pineapple, red peppers, smoked cheddar, mozzarella, mascarpone, ricotta, smoked chile oil and barbecue sauce. | Photos by Mabel Suen
Sauce on the Side (7810 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-833-5426), the homegrown fast-casual calzone shop that former RFT food critic Ian Froeb predicted would someday expand into a chain, opened its second location in Clayton last month. Since establishing its original location downtown two years ago, the restaurant has received favorable reviews and was also named best fast-casual restaurant in RFT's 2013 Best of St. Louis.

See also: Sauce on the Side Announces Second Location

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Unkle Munkey's Coin Club, New "Beercade" in Edwardsville

Categories: First Look

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The welcome mat at Unkle Munkey's. | Photos by Mabel Suen
Edwardsville, Illinois, might seem like a bit of a trek for St. Louisans, but it's one that has proven worth the wade across the river thanks to destinations including Cleveland-Heath and Brevan's Patisserie. Now those willing to make the drive can add Unkle Munkey's Coin Club (1027 Century Drive; Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-692-5152), a self-proclaimed "beercade" that opened in mid-July, to that Edwardsville bucket list.

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Tick Tock Tavern and Steve's Hot Dogs' New Partnership Debuts in South City

Categories: First Look

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Tick Tock Tavern and Steve's Hot Dogs shared a busy debut. | Photos by Mabel Suen
Last night hot-dog fanatics of all ages rejoiced for the anticipated opening of the second location of Steve's Hot Dogs (3457 Magnolia Avenue). The restaurant, owned by local musician Steve Ewing, made its debut with partners and adjoining neighbors Tick Tock Tavern (3459 Magnolia Avenue), a bar that opened its doors for the first time in twenty years under new ownership. As Gut Check reported in May, Tick Tock Tavern's revival comes from its new co-owners Thomas Crone, Fred Hessel and Steve Smith (of the Royale).

See also: Tick Tock Tavern to Reopen After 20 Years with Steve's Hot Dogs

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Ices Plain & Fancy's New Liquid Nitrogen Fueled Ice Cream Shop

Categories: First Look

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Peach chai ice cream. | Photos by Mabel Suen
In late July a corner shop of the Shaw neighborhood decked out in a fresh coat of regal pink and blue paint opened its doors to the public. And with it, St. Louis gained a brand new concept utilizing a sweet treat technique developed in the early 19th century: Ices Plain and Fancy (2256 South 39th Street; 314-601-3604). Inside, sweet surprises await -- luscious ice creams made completely to order using liquid nitrogen as well as vanilla soft serve infused and flecked with cold-pressed Sump Coffee (3700 Jefferson Avenue; 917-412-5670).

See also: Ices Plain & Fancy to Cool Down Shaw Neighborhood

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