This Week's Dish: Sanctuaria, Brasserie By Niche Get National Props And Grand River Spirits To Release New Products

 In Food
Brasserie by Niche was included in Travel + Leisure Magazine's list of Best French Restaurants in the U.S.

Image courtesy of Brasserie By Niche.

Last week we reported that Niche and Olio and Elaia landed nominations for Bon Appetit’s Best Restaurants in America, and this week brings more national recognition for our local gems. Sanctuaria was recently named one of America’s 55 Best Bourbon Bars in The Bourbon Review, a bourbon industry publication. The magazine has partnered with Four Roses Bourbon for a nationwide “toast” to each of the 55 establishments on Aug. 28, when the winning bourbon bars’ toast will be highlighted on social media. And Brasserie by Niche was included in Travel + Leisure Magazine’s list of Best French Restaurants in the U.S. The write-up cited among its best features Brasserie’s quaint décor, buzzing outdoor terrace and a handful of dishes—onion soup, country pâté, cassoulet and duck confit—as well as owner and chef Gerard Craft’s penchant for using ingredients from local farms.

Steve Caravelli recently left his position as executive chef with Euclid Hospitality Group (Pi Pizzeria and Gringo) to become chef de cuisine at Tavern Kitchen & Bar in Valley Park. He will work with chef Justin Haifley on the restaurant’s new fall menu and will collaborate with Tavern owners on developing the modern Italian menu for the forthcoming Cucina Pazzo, in the former Duff’s location. Taking Caravelli’s place with Euclid Hospitality Group is Cary McDowell, who has churned out crave-worthy dishes at Winslow’s Home for the past four years. He’s slated to step into his new role by September. We’re excited to see what McDowell will bring to the plate at Pi and Gringo. We just hope they make room on one of those menus for his famed brisket sandwich.

Some of STL’s top bartenders are headed to Kansas City’s Paris of the Plains cocktail festival this week to represent our city’s mixology moxie. This annual bartending blast is the largest of its kind in the Midwest and a must-attend for most mixologists. Local bartenders will participate in two competitions this week: Midwest Melee on Aug. 22, and the Paris of the Plains finale competition on Aug. 25. Justin Cardwell of BC’s Kitchen, Matt Obermark of The Agrarian, Jayne Pellegrino of Blood and Sand and Kyle Mathis of Taste will compete together in Midwest Melee, a team competition where bartenders from STL, Kansas City, Denver and Chicago face off for who can make the best drinks the quickest. And on Sunday, Kyle Mathis of Taste and Mandi Kowalski of Sanctuaria will face other competing bartenders in the finale competition, and individual test of the best mixer in the Midwest.

Rock Bridge Brewing Company in Columbia, Mo., has announced plans to expand their facility and add canned beer to their offerings. The brewery has been producing beer in a 1,500-square-foot facility with a 350-barrel yearly capacity. The expansion will move their operations to an 18,000-square-foot building that will produce approximately 4,500 barrels a year. The new brewing facility will include a 30-barrel brewhouse along with 30 and 60-barrel fermenters and a canning line that will produce 36 to 40 cans per minute. The brewery has three year-round beers including a Sif’s Blonde Ale, Saison and Occident Coast IPA. Upcoming seasonal beers including Tailgate Brown, Obligatory Pumpkin Ale and Farion’s Belt Baltic Porter.

Grand River Spirits, the Carbondale, Ill., distillery known for its Red Eye Moonshine, will release a number of new products in the coming months. September will see the addition of two flavored moonshines, one apple pie and one hot cinnamon. To follow are Grand River Baby Bourbon, made from 100 percent corn, and Grand River Baby Whiskey, distilled from corn and barley. Both whiskeys are aged four to six months in 15- and 30-gallon barrels. Grand River Spirits products are currently sold in southern Illinois liquor stores, and it hopes to add St. Louis distributors by the end of the year.

Missouri cheesemakers raked in the awards at the American Cheese Society competition earlier this month in Madison, Wisc. Baetje Farms took home five medals, including first-place for its Coeur de la Creme Herb de Provence, second place awards for its Coeur du Clos and Bloomsdale and third-place honors for its marinated feta and Coeur de la Creme Garlic and Chive. Green Dirt Farm received four medals, including first-place for Dirt Lover, a sheep’s milk cheese aged for 31 to 60 days, as well as for its fresh, rindless, sheep’s milk cheese. Heartland Creamery received top honors for its fine herb Muenster, and Homestead Creamery was recognized for its Flory’s Truckle.

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