Seriously! How lucky are the residents of the Central West End (CWE)!?! Gerard Craft opened Brasserie by Niche in the former Chez Leon space. With Perry Hendrix at the helm of the stove, the CWE folks have just gotten themselves one heck of a neighborhood hotspot! Focusing on classic French bistro fare, you’ll never eat onion soup anywhere else. Cassoulet, moules frites, French cheeses, country pate….and an amazing croque monsieur…coq au vin…you’ll feel like you are sitting in a Parisian bistro! With a nice beer and wine selection…Brasserie By Niche is one of my new favorite places to go. Lucky for me it’s a stone’s throw from the hospital…and after a long day caring for the masses…Brasserie is a welcome respite!
Next up: Pi!! Pi is close to opening its doors in their new CWE locale! That makes the third space opened by Chris Sommers! With the crazy success of his spot in the Delmar Loop..and the cult-like obsession cultivated at the Kirkwood spot he is about to dish out some of that crazy good cornmeal crust deep dish on the corner of Euclid and McPherson! And to make it even better Mathew Rice is going to be doing his ingenious desserts at the new CWE locale! His milkshake bar at the Kirkwood locale is a favorite already. I suggest a Purple Cow or a chocolate malted milkshake if you make it out Kirkwood! The CWE spot is geared toward adults with a gorgeous reclaimed eco-friendly bar manned by Chad George!
So…no more complaining about the CWE not having anything new….get over to Brasserie (open NOW!) and Pi (slated to open to the public on Tuesday 12/ 15/09!)
you should go there. the drinks are amazing…the food spectacular. Ted Kilgore is a mad scientist and booze genius…pair with Gerard Crafts inventive and satisfying food….it’s a win-win. they also stay open late…where else can you get a great cheese plate at midnight, hmm? need i say more?
it is really, really good…and fun…and just all around a nice place to sit for an hour or so……plus the music didn’t suck.
Master mixologist Ted Kilgore will be moving from Monarch Restaurant to Niche Taste Bar, which is slated to open next month. “While I was not looking to make a move, the project is right up my alley,” Kilgore said. Details to follow. P
That’s right folks….what once was a bright bubbly bakeshop during the day will now transform into a sleek new lounge featuring cocktails and a menu of small plates . Wine tastings may be in the future as well.
As sad as I am to see Veruca Bakeshop go dark, I am excited for the new concept to take form! Mathew Rice and Gerard Craft do amazing things together and I’m sure I’ll fall in love with Niche Taste Bar the minute I take my first bite.
Don’t fret though….Mathew will still be doing his famous wedding cakes, confections and cakes. They will need to be pre-ordered through Niche! I am very excited to see the new desserts that come from Mathew in the months to come! Here’s a little scoop: one of Mathew’s fabulous wedding cakes will be shown in a summer issue of Martha Stewart Weddings!!
Mathew will also be piloting a new bread program for the restaurant. Now, all the breads will be made in house! I can’t wait to get my chubby little fingers on some of that!
Recieved an email this evening from a reader who picked up a copy of Inc.com Magazine October issue in his MD office’s waiting room…and what do you know!?!…..Gerard Craft was touted as Cool, Determined and Under 30!
Current Venture: Niche, a St. Louis restaurant that will gross $2.6 million this year
Why He’s One to Watch: Craft’s penchant for experimentation can be seen in the menu, which features fried pig’s head and lamb with white chocolate hummus. “He’s a pioneer in terms of both food and location,” says Dana Cowin, editor of Food & Wine magazine. “Niche has a minimal, modern feel, which might have been a risk in a historic St. Louis neighborhood. Its success is a tribute to how good the food is.”
The Backstory: Craft dropped out of culinary school (“I never did well in the classroom — I got bored”) to work at a car wash and a pool hall. He eventually returned to the kitchen, first working a series of restaurant jobs and then raising Niche’s seed money from his brother and parents.
What’s Next: Craft, 29, recently opened Veruca, a café and bakeshop, as a creative outlet for his pastry chef. He hopes to expand the business further: “I would love to see a brand of Niche with talented chefs that put out good food and make fine dining more approachable.”
A Confession: “I’m dying to be on Iron Chef.”
I know I would love to see Gerard and Mathew go against an Iron Chef!
Gerard Craft, Niche (St. Louis, MO)
The chef and owner of Niche and the adjoining Veruca Bakeshop & Café, Gerard Craft, 28, began his career washing dishes in a pool hall in Salt Lake City. His love of cooking led him to take a job at Bistro Toujours, one of the city’s top restaurants, under Bryan Moscatello (a Best New Chef 2005). Craft held positions at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles under Mohammad Islam and the Metropolitan in Salt Lake City under Perry Hendrix. He moved to St. Louis in 2005 to open Niche, which is in a converted warehouse in the Benton Park area. Menu standouts are a “Bacon and Eggs” sandwich of braised pork belly, buttery brioche and an oozing poached egg.