Chef Ma's Chinese Gourmet Now Open in Overland

Photo by Sarah Fenske
Chef Ma's Kung Pao Pork
Ying Jing Ma -- or Chef Ma, as most people seem to call him -- has worked as a chef in hotel restaurants around the world. For approximately two years, he ran the kitchen at Mandarin House, one of the most palatial Chinese banquet halls in the St. Louis area.

His latest project is a bit more down-to-earth: Chef Ma's Chinese Gourmet Restaurant (2336 Woodson Drive, 314-395-8797) is located in an old Taco Bell on a random intersection in Overland. Customers order at the counter and fetch their own drinks, and when the food is delivered, it sometimes arrives in a styrofoam container. The place is definitely not fancy.

But despite being open less than two weeks, the restaurant has already drawn a large following -- with large Chinese families and curious neighbors alike practically filling the dining room on the weeknight we stopped by.

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Clementine's Creamery Opens Tomorrow with a Sneak Peek -- and Free Ice Cream

Photo by Greg Rannells
Clementine's Creamery is about to open in Lafayette Square.
It might be the year's most hotly anticipated opening: Clementine's Naughty and Nice Creamery will open its doors at 1637 S. 18th Street with a special sneak peek tomorrow from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The May 14 preview party will be the city's first official look at Tamara Keefe's Lafayette Square ice cream parlor, which has already earned a flood of positive publicity (including a mention on the RFT's list of the city's best ice cream parlors), even as its doors have remained firmly closed and butcher paper has covered its street-facing window.

But don't chalk up the buzz to mere hype. You can already get Keefe's ice cream at local restaurants, including the Pi chain and Ben Poremba's Elaia, Olio and Old Standard, as well as Whole Foods. Chefs have incorporated Clementine's intensely rich ice cream into their menus for a reason -- and local food lovers are already hooked.

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Gerard Craft Finally Just Won a James Beard Award. So What Took So Long, Anyway?

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
Gerard Craft
Apparently six is Gerard Craft's lucky number.

The acclaimed chef and head of Niche Restaurant Group (whose properties include Niche, Taste, Brasserie and Pastaria) was named Best Chef Midwest by the James Beard Foundation at its annual awards gala tonight in Chicago. This was Craft's sixth nomination and first win.

He has been jokingly referred to as the "Susan Lucci of the James Beard Awards," which gives some idea of just how long the recognition has been in coming. Speak with Craft, and he will say that it's an honor just to be nominated, and that the field is filled with great talent. But there's no question that he was long overdue to win.

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Pie Five Pizza Co. to Open in Chesterfield on Friday

Categories: Restaurant News

Courtesy of Pie Five Pizza
Pie Five's Athenian, on its artisan thin crust.
A new fast-casual pizza restaurant that promises to serve custom-made pies in less than five minutes will open its doors in Chesterfield on Friday.

Pie Five Pizza Co.'s location in the Chesterfield Commons Village, just south of I-64 at 17215 Chesterfield Airport Road, will be the company's first franchise in the St. Louis area. Pie Five began in Dallas in 2011 and has already grown to more than 30 locations, with several hundred new franchises underway. (There's already one in Kansas City.)

The menu shows a variety of options that customers tailor to their preferences a la Chipotle, each costing just $6.99. There are four crust options (one gluten free!), seven sauces, and 29 different toppings.

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The Good Pie Launches New Menu, New Pizza Dough and Crazy New Cocktail List

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
The Good Pie's Margherita pizza is now slightly smaller -- and less expensive, too.
The Good Pie is apparently getting even better.

The Loop's favorite Neapolitan pizza joint is rolling out a new menu today, featuring lighter fare for summer plus five new pizza selections. It's also unveiling a new dough -- one that chef/owner Mike Randolph promises will be "much lighter and airier."

The changes comes in addition to the restaurant's roster of quirky new cocktails, which debuted last week and includes a drink called "Home Depot Dumpster Fire" (more on that in a minute).

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Andre's Ribs Now Open at Hampton and Chippewa

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Sarah Fenske
A lunch portion of Andre's ribs is just $9.99 and comes with two sides.
Three years ago, Andre and Julie Edwards opened a barbecue joint on Kingshighway south of Chippewa. The place was tiny: just 290 square feet. But they quickly earned raves on Yelp and a band of regulars, some coming from as far as Sikeston. Their customers' only gripe? Nowhere to sit -- the shop was take-out only.

So the Edwardses closed the place in January, and on April 17, they quietly reopened in a much bigger spot at 6037 Chippewa, just across from the Target at Hampton and Chippewa. A former tanning salon in the same aging strip mall that holds Barney's Pub, the space is still distinctly no frills -- but there are now five tables inside and a few more out front, plus some stools along a counter. And there are still those ribs -- dear God, those ribs!

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Simone Faure on Competing on Spring Baking Championship

Courtesy of the Food Network
Simone Faure on Spring Baking Championship
Simone Faure wasn't just a fan of the Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship. She was a superfan.

So when she heard that casting agents were in St. Louis interviewing finalists for a spinoff called Spring Baking Championship, she did what any obsessed fan would do: Despite not being on the shortlist, she showed up with her dark chocolate croissant, a.k.a. the Darkness. "Once you embrace the Darkness, all bets are off," she says, laughing.

Faure, of course, isn't just any reality-TV fan. The acclaimed pastry chef behind the La Patisserie Chouquette, the French-inspired shop in the Botanical Heights neighborhood, she also makes the desserts served at Ben Poremba's Old Standard Fried Chicken, Olio and Elaia. (Poremba is also a partner in the patisserie.)

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The Kitchen Sink to Open Downtown Location, Live Music Stage

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Mabel Suen
The Kitchen Sink's crab-cake beanie.
The Kitchen Sink is expanding.

The two-and-a-half-year-old Cajun/Creole restaurant will open a second location in downtown St. Louis this summer, "hopefully by the end of July, early August," says chef/owner Anthony Ellerson Jr. Befitting the location at 555 Washington Avenue across the street from the National Blues Museum, which is currently under construction, the second iteration of The Kitchen Sink will have a bluesy feeling. Live music will be on offer every night of the week, along with an amateur night on Tuesday. There will be a stage to accommodate performers and a small dance floor for people who feel like dancing.

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Kingside Diner Opens (Softly!) in the Central West End

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Sarah Fenske
Kingside Diner will have its grand opening April 27 in the heart of the Central West End, near Maryland and Euclid avenues.
The grand opening isn't until next week -- and you can't get dinner there just yet -- but the newest restaurant in the Central West End quietly opened its doors yesterday for breakfast and lunch service.

Kingside Diner fills the space at 4651 Maryland just east of Euclid, which was previously home to high-end sports bar Lester's. The new restaurant, a diner by day and a neighborhood cafe for grabbing bar snacks and a drink by night, is owned by Aaron Teitelbaum, who is also the chef/owner of Herbie's Vintage 72.

The space has a much different look than Lester's, which closed in November. For one thing, the giant bar that dominated the space has been removed. In its place? A much smaller bar to the side, a walk-up counter for grab-and-go items, and significantly more tables for dining, as well as a few soft brown couches for lounging or maybe a game of chess.

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Weber Grill to Open First St. Louis Restaurant at the Galleria

Categories: Restaurant News

Courtesy of Weber Grill Restaurant
Weber Grill hopes to open its new location at the Galleria, its fifth, by fall.
The new restaurant planning to open at the St. Louis Galleria this fall is going to be huge.

And that's not a commentary on its prospects for popularity. We're talking sheer size: 9,000 square feet, with seating for 330 people if you count the expansive convertible patio. The company behind it plans to hire 100 new employees.

The concept is called Weber Grill Restaurant, and it comes out of Chicago. There are three locations in that area, and one more in Indianapolis. This will be the first in Missouri.

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