A bumper crop of long-awaited restaurants opened in St. Louis this month (Shake Shack, Louie, L’Acadiane, The Clover and the Bee), not the least of which is Billie-Jean, restaurateur Zoë Robinson’s tribute to her parents, Billie (her mother) and Jean (her father, now deceased).
It took Robinson (SLM‘s 2017 Restaurateur of the Year) the better part of a year to transform the bright-as-the-sun Yo My Goodness yogurt shop into an almost-invisible storefront with black casement windows, front door, and awning. Passersby will easily overlook the subtle Billie | Jean written high above. It’s almost as if, like the ’40s-era New York City supper club that it was meant to evoke, there’s no signage at all.
Like a stellar black hole, you’re drawn inside…to more black. The floor, ceiling, walls, banquette, even the kitchen equipment (hood, pizza oven, cabinetry) are varying shades of black. It’s the same monochrome at the bar (save the 10 perfectly contoured walnut seats), where old-school pressed-paper coasters and cups of black-and-white dice are strategically placed.
“People don’t quite know what to do with the dice,” says general manager Will Brawley of the diversion. “I’m joking when I tell them to come back for Yahtzee Mondays.”
The only pops of color are the simple fronds of green on the white clothed tables. Robert Motherwell prints, emblazoned by pin spots, line the 22 seats along the dominant wall at tables of two and four. There are no tables for six. “It’s not that we couldn’t [push tables together to] do it,” Robinson explains. “With the bar, kitchen, and service area practically in the same footprint, it’s impossible to do it—properly, anyway.”
At Billie-Jean, Robinson’s inexhaustible executive chef Ny Vongsaly has created a 16-item menu with Asian, American, and Mediterranean influences, from Robinson restaurant classics like mahogany glazed spare ribs (pictured above) and tuna lettuce wraps mussels with green curry to new classics, such as a whole roasted snapper with lime leaf, cilantro salsa, and sticky rice.
Beer and wine choices are limited due to the ship galley-sized bar, but little-known labels still manage to appear. On the cocktail front, the icy White Cosmo—with vodka, elderflower liqueur, triple sec, and lime—will likely be the drink of choice.
While the fine napery might indicate that Billie-Jean is a special-occasion place, Robinson dressed it down—literally—by enlisting famed designer Todd Thomas to create uniforms incorporating the “lover, not my lover” theme from the Michael Jackson song “Billie Jean.”
A chef wears a knit hat with “LOVER” emblazoned in the side; Vongsaly sports a billed cap that says “not my lover.” A server’s shirt reads “Billie Jean” on the
front, and “lover” on the back. Chef coats and cardigans are similarly adorned, as are the Dickies-style gas station jump suits. Adidas and Vans sneakers are the chosen footwear.
From the connotative name to the playful uniforms to the music (which meanders from the Pretenders to Pitbull as the evening progresses), Robinson and her staff are clearly having fun. Elegant, chic, yet unpretentious, Billie-Jean takes its food and drink seriously, but that’s as far as it goes.
Reblogged from here
The Parkmoor was founded by William L. McGinley in 1931. In the early 1920s, McGinley invented an aluminum tray that attach to car doors. The viability of McKinley’s TraCo tray was dependent on the viability of the fledgling curb service business. So McKinley and his wife Ellen, with a few belongings and a trunk full of dreams, set out from their Texas home and traveled the country by car, determined to sell his trays and the idea of drive-in restaurants.
Since 2009, Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh has been serving fast-casual, healthful Mediterranean-inspired food to the people of Denver. Now, the growing brand is branching out of the Mile High City, and St. Louis is one of its first stops.
Garbanzo follows the customizable model of dining, popularized by Chipotle, wherein diners choose a style of entree, protein, and accoutrements. It’s speedy, affordable and personalized, but Handler is quick to point out that the restaurant does not take any shortcuts. “We call ourselves restaurants and not stores for a reason,” he explains. “We make everything in-house — we knead, we bake, we sauté — and every ingredient we use is something your grandmother would recognize.”
Guests can also choose to have their meal served as a salad, a plate, a “Med burrito” or a flatbread. Entrees can be dressed with everything from tabouleh to hummus to cilantro sauce, and diners are encouraged to add as many things as they’d like. And if they get carried away and end up creating a concoction that doesn’t work, guests are welcome to return their items and give it another go. “It’s the Garbanzo Guarantee,” says Handler. “We want this to be accessible adventure and allow our diners to take risks and try new things without having to worry about ruining their lunch.”
Handler sees the sky as the limit for Garbanzo, and if the positive response and lines out the door during lunchtime in its first few days are any indication, this will be the first of many Garbanzo outlets in the region. “Our goal is for our guests to have a truly remarkable experience,” Handler says. “We want you to taste how delicious nutritious can be.”
Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh (8143 Maryland Avenue, Clayton; 314-224-5222) is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 9 .m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Clayton club-goers might remember 16 South Bemiston for the dramatic entrance offered by the previous tenant, Area 14 – a late-night club extension of Tani Sushi. But the sushi spot has moved to Forsyth, Area 14 is done, and the space is now home to Extra Brut, a unique Champagne and oyster concept that will open its doors on Friday, August 4. The bar will be open on Friday and Saturday nights only from 6 p.m. to 1 p.m.
The bar, the first of its kind for St. Louis, champions the exploration of Champagne. A hefty selection of nearly fifty bottles of various sparkling wines will be available (ranging in price from $42 to $600 a bottle), with a rotating selection by the glass each night as well. Extra Brut is the brainchild of Whitney Vinzant, also the owner of Louie’s Wine Dive next door. Continue reading “Extra Brut | St. Louis’ First Champagne Only Lounge | CLAYTON STYLE”
Last night I enjoyed 801 Fish as a part of Clayton Restaurant Week, it was my first time at this restaurant (though I blogged about it opening a few months ago and had been eager to try it.) 801 Fish is the sister restaurant of 801 Chophouse across the street. Both of these restaurants are owned by the 801 Restaurant Group, based out of Des Moines, Iowa. The space is sophisticated and unique, with plenty of open space. It is the perfect place to celebrate special occasions, business entertainment, or a night out with friends to enjoy fresh fish.
Did you know that all the fish and seafood is brought in daily. When the fish reaches your plate just know that it was in the water a mere 36 hours ago. I enjoyed the oysters- both grilled and raw as well as a red snapper entree that was served Creole style with grits and shrimp. It. Was. DELICIOUS.
Clayton Restaurant Week is going on through January 29th.
Open for Business!
This past week I had lunch at Herbies in Clayton. I am sad that Herbie’s moved from the Central West End, though happy that it is in walking distance from my office now. The food was yummy and I can’t wait to try it for dinner! I would recommend that you make a reservation for lunch or dinner since it seems to be very popular!
Sophisticated New Restaurant
My oldest son was in town for the weekend and I took him to Parigi for dinner. The restaurant design is sharp and sophisticated. We did not have a reservation, though were able to sit at the bar. I can’t wait to go back and try more of the menu!
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
My assistant Claudia and I checked out the newest Asian restaurant in downtown Clayton at the Southeast corner of Maryland and Central…where House of Wong used to be! We had a fabulous meal and can’t wait to go back!
Nami Ramen is locally owned & provides for a great atmosphere and even better cuisine!
For more information, check out Nami Ramen’s website
Out with the old, in with the new!
The owner of The Restaurant at the Cheshire just announced this week that the establishment will close after business on New Year’s Eve to begin a renovation of its interior. Not only is the interior going to be overhauled, but the concept of the restaurant is getting a facelift as well! The new space, set to open early next year, is now going to feature small plates, a raw bar, and craft cocktails. A new name for the restaurant has not been disclosed.
Steve O’Loughlin, president of Lodging Hospitality Management who owns the restaurant, points to the hotel’s Italian gastropub Basso as the direction he is going as far as the energy in the space. O’Loughlin’s goal is to make the atmosphere more approachable. Among those assisting O’Loughlin in the renovation and rebranding will be Concentrics Restaurants, an Atlanta based firm, as well as Restaurant at the Cheshire executive chef Rex Hale.
Renovation work begins January 3rd and Lodging Hospitality Management aims to reopen by Valentines Day.