Try mild-mannered Half and Half by day and the new Medianoche at night.
When Mike Randolph, owner of The Good Pie, opened the breakfast and lunch spot Half and Half in Clayton last summer, it immediately garnered rave reviews. Now, Randolph is opening his third St. Louis restaurant—without moving an inch. Clayton restaurant space doesn’t come cheap, and Half and Half was sitting idle during the evenings. Randolph considered simply extending the hours of Half and Half, but quickly shelved that idea in favor of transforming it into a spirited Mexican eatery, dubbed Medianoche (Spanish for midnight), after hours.
Adhering to his philosophy of making approachable food that he loves and does well, Randolph says Mexican cuisine was a natural choice. The Good Pie was born of his love for pizza, and his enthusiasm for breakfast and lunch foods led to Half and Half. Now, Medianoche gives him the outlet to serve his unique brand of Mexican cuisine.
For appetizers, Medianoche offers such fare as guacamole (prepared tableside), chilled avocado soup with poached shrimp and a variety of salsas in the $2-$9 range. A selection of tacos, served simply with red onions and cilantro, are $8-$10 for three, with options like fried pork belly, lamb barbacoa and pork carnitas on lightly-crisped homemade tortillas from Cherokee Street. Entrées from $12-$16 feature sweetbreads, chicken leg and thigh confit, pork chops and seared red snapper with mole verde. By using traditional Mexican food and techniques with a touch of his own culinary style, Randolph hopes to change his customers’ perception of Mexican food. Libations include a varied selection of margaritas and a beer list of both American craft brews and traditional Mexican lagers. The cocktail lineup focuses on Southwestern-inspired rum-based drinks, derived from classic cocktails—but with a “south of the border” twist.
The menu isn’t the only thing that takes on a new identity when Half and Half closes its doors each night. The décor transforms as well—enough that Randolph says people can eat there during the day, then come back in the evening and feel like they’re in a different place. Original photographs of Mexico, taken by family friends, hang on the walls with various Mexican-inspired decorations. Candles grace the tables, and low lighting plays a role in recreating the atmosphere for night. There is no new outdoor signage. Instead, Randolph is relying on word of mouth to let people know it’s there. So, read our lips: The sign may still read Half and Half, but after hours, it’s the alter-ego Medianoche you’re dining with.
Half and Half and Medianoche are located at 8135 Maryland Ave. in Clayton. Medianoche is open for dinner Tues.-Thurs., 5-9pm, and on Fri. and Sat., until 10pm.
Half and Half
Photo credit: Lily Liu