Ted Kilgore branches out with Planter’s House
Local foodies and cocktail aficionados have been waiting patiently since mixologist extraordinaire Ted Kilgore announced late last year that he was leaving his long-standing post as bar manager of Taste to open his own place with partner Ted Charak, who most recently served as bar manager at Brasserie by Niche. Thankfully, the wait is just about over. Planter’s House officially opens its doors next month at the corner of Mississippi and Chouteau avenues in Lafayette Square. Kilgore is overseeing the beverage program, while Charak handles GM duties. Kilgore’s wife, Jamie Kilgore—an expert mixologist in her own right—is assistant GM, and all three will be behind the bar at various times.
The eatery takes its name from the many incarnations of the Planter’s Hotel, which were all located Downtown from the early 1800s through the Prohibition era. Kilgore says the venture aims to pay homage to St. Louis’ rich hospitality and bar history, which is embodied by the original hotel’s classic food and drink service.
The food menu is inspired by the Planter’s Hotel that reigned at the turn of the last century. Kilgore describes the cuisine as modern takes on rustic American fare—simple, but with the best ingredients, including game dishes such as quail and rabbit. Diners can also expect full-sized entrees, as opposed to the small-plate offerings at Taste.
Keeping with its roots, Kilgore describes the Planter’s House decor as “hotel-esque,” with soaring ceilings, vintage light fixtures and other elegant touches. There are two distinct spaces: the main dining room and the Bullock Room, named after famed local bartender Tom Bullock, who worked at St. Louis Country Club in the first years of the 20th century. (He was also the first African-American to write a cocktail tome, “The Ideal Bartender.”)
“They’re two completely different experiences as far as atmosphere,” Kilgore says. The main room, which has about 60 seats, will have a relatively low-key cocktail menu of 12 or so libations, plus a champagne-heavy wine selection and 12 beers on tap, most of which are local brews. There’s also an extensive selection of more than 350 spirits across all categories, including plenty of Kilgore’s favorite: American whiskeys.
The Bullock Room will only sport 30 or so seats, limited to two-tops and four-tops for a more intimate vibe, along with a small dedicated bar where cocktail fans can go to geek out on classics and custom creations from a drink list roughly twice the size of the one at the main bar. Here, the food menu is scaled down to appetizers, snacks and desserts.
Photo credit: Christopher Gibbons