Three new STL eateries are going small in size and big on intimacy.
Across the nation, big-name chefs and restaurateurs—both established and first-timers—are moving toward smaller, more intimate dining establishments. The motivation ranges from the desire to indulge a passion project to a simple case of economics— with fewer employees, lower rent and a menu offering only the best-selling dishes.
Customers certainly aren’t complaining. As foodies continue to seek out relationships with small-scale farmers and creators of boutique food items at farmers’ markets, they’re craving the same kind of intimacy in their favorite restaurants. We’ve got our eye on three new St. Louis eateries setting out to prove that size doesn’t matter.
Christy Augustin, instructor at Le Cordon Bleu St. Louis and former pastry chef at Sidney Street Cafe, is embracing the intimate approach for her first venture, Pint Size Bakery in South City. “It’s literally a kitchen with a counter,” Augustin says. Whichever baker has a free moment takes your order, and everything is cooked in small batches with natural ingredients—made from scratch, baked and sold that day. Choose from a rotating menu of items like scones, cupcakes, tea cakes, breads, quiche and seasonal flatbreads. You can also pick up doggie treats, a jumbo cookie or place special orders for events or parties (3825 Watson Road, South City, 314.645.7142).
A Little Brotherhood
Zoe Robinson has taken over the former shoe repair shop located across the street from her popular Clayton restaurant I Fratellini. Bar Les Frères, or “The Brothers Bar” in French (I Fratellini means “little brothers” in Italian), will seat approximately 25 patrons indoors and 25 on the patio. Robinson has coveted the intimate space for years, and says moving into the 84-year-old building required a complete renovation while preserving its antique charm. From its tiny kitchen, the restaurant will serve appetizers and a few full entrées “with a French accent.” Customers can also come in simply to enjoy drinks in an intimate, romantic setting. And, if I Fratellini is any indication, the space’s interior will be like no other. Look for a mid-summer opening (7637 Wydown Blvd., Clayton).
Double the Fun
Ben Poremba, co-owner of Salume Beddu Salumeria, has purchased the former Standard Oil station at Tower Grove and McRee avenues—and the house next door—to convert them into an intimate restaurant and wine bar. The house will become Elaia, seating 30 diners who will enjoy contemporary classic cuisine from the Middle East, Southern Europe and Northern Africa. Olio, in the former gas station, will accommodate 20 patrons, with more potential seating outdoors. In nice weather, the garage doors can be opened to extend the al fresco feel to indoor diners. The Olio menu will include an extensive wine selection, meats from Salume Beddu, artisanal cheeses and other pantry items. Poremba hopes to open Elaia and Olio in late summer or early fall (Tower Grove Ave. and McRee Ave., Tower Grove).
New STL eateries
Photo credit: Christopher Gibbons