Destination: Planter's House

By Molly Rippinger
In Food
Image by Molly Rippinger

Image by Molly Rippinger

The wait is finally over for fans of Ted Kilgore, as he and an all-star staff officially open the doors to Planter’s House today in Lafayette Square. Situated on the corner of Mississippi and Chouteau Avenues, Kilgore’s new craft-cocktail bar has been one of the most highly anticipated restaurant concepts of the year. Though the opening was slightly delayed, patience has paid off for St. Louisans eager to see Kilgore back “behind the stick” at Planter’s with co-owner Ted Charak (previous bar manager at Brasserie) and wife Jamie Kilgore (past bartender of Niche).

Named for the historic Planter’s Hotel first built in 1817 and later reconstructed in 1841 and 1887, Kilgore wanted Planter’s House to pay homage to the hospitality found at the turn of the century in St. Louis. The high ceilings, dark woods and soft lighting of the main dining room immediately welcome guests while also giving a nod to the décor of grand hotel lobbies past. Original exposed brick is the backdrop for the soaring shelves behind the bar filled with both expected and obscure bottles, glasswares and tools.

Off to the right of the main bar is the more intimate Bullock Room (named for “The Ideal Bartender” himself, Tom Bullock), with red Victorian flocked velvet wallpaper and smaller tables for the 30 or so seats. Here, Kilgore caters to the true cocktail aficionados with an emphasis placed on a list of unique libations that extends far past the common collins or dry martini. A good place to start would be with the whiskey punch made from Bullock’s own recipe, which has a healthy dose of Heaven Hill BIB Bourbon and Planter’s own sweet vermouth. Explore the wide variety of boozy concoctions, with everything from swizzles and fizzes to spritzes and aperitifs. The u-shaped bar allows guests to catch every shake, muddle and pour of the expert bartenders decked out in aprons crafted by local tattoo-artist-turned-craftsman-outfitter, Sean Baltzell of Knife & Flag Survival Union.

In the dining room, a diverse menu of house and classic cocktails are listed alongside a dozen craft drafts and an extensive array of wines offered by the bottle or glass. From the resounding spice of Suze and Rittenhouse BIB Rye in the “Manhattanite” to the tropical notes of buttered pineapple in the Pisco sour cleverly named “Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner,” Planter’s has a top-notch cocktail for every palate. Looking at the menu, it is obvious that Kilgore and his staff have been patient–sourcing only the finest ingredients and ensuring every detail of their cocktails celebrate the history of their craft.

While the main focus at Planter’s House is certainly the cocktails, Executive Chef Bradley Hoffmann (of the recently shuttered Salt) has compiled a food menu to perfectly complement the libations. In the dining room, guests can snack on modern riffs of bar classics, such as a meat and cheese board with duck offal pate and Aperol-washed Manchego or the Canadian classic, poutine, with a luscious red wine pork gravy. Larger appetites can be satiated by a seared flatiron steak roulade served with smashed fingerling potatoes, an earthy vegetarian farro pilaf or an open-faced duck burger topped with a fried egg that oozes decadence. Even if you come just for a nightcap, a slice of the gooey butter cake with drunken black currents and orange zest is the perfect reason to indulge.

Planter’s House is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5pm to 12am, Friday through Saturday from 2pm to 1am and Sunday from 2pm to 11pm with the full menu available. Call for dining room reservations.

1000 Mississippi Ave., Lafayette Square, 314.696.6203

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