St. Louis’s best new restaurants have found a formula for success: Keep it in the family. Two-year-old Terrene, for instance, is owned by John McElwain and his wife, Sunny. Their menu lists the ways their super-eco restaurant stays green: Tabletops are made from recycled paper; kitchen scraps are collected for compost. But their locally sourced food—luscious shellfish stew with pearl pasta; smoked pork ribs with a Schlafly root beer barbecue sauce—is anything but earthy-crunchy.
I found a free barstool at Niche, which Gerard Craft opened in 2005 after moving from Utah to St. Louis on a whim and convincing his restaurant family—pastry chef Mathew Rice and manager Christian Schnurr—to come along. Seated to my left were some Niche staffers dining on their night off. They recommended a few favorites: a "Bacon and Eggs" sandwich of braised pork belly, buttery brioche and an oozing poached egg; crispy sea bass with coriander sauce and a creamy cauliflower puree. Rice delivered my dessert: sublime huckleberry upside-down cake and a petite lime curd–filled cupcake.
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My last stop was Five, where chef Anthony Devoti serves a succinct menu of sophisticated, produce-driven dishes—fried green tomatoes with ancho aioli; a perfect grilled romaine and green bean salad with Stilton vinaigrette—while his proud parents, Joe and Bonnie, oversee the front of the house.
Updated July 2009
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