Best Comeback - 2009
Herbie's Vintage 72
When Balaban's went dark at the beginning of 2008, St. Louis didn't lose just another restaurant but a 35-year institution that was the anchor of the Central West End. As the restaurant remained closed for weeks, and then months, its many fans wondered not only if anything ever could replace Balaban's, but if anything even would. Enter Monarch co-owners Aaron Teitelbaum and Jeff Orbin: The duo decided to reopen the property as a homage rather than a photocopy of the original. Herbie's Vintage 72 (a nod to founder Herbie Balaban and the year of Balaban's opening) combines famous Balaban's dishes such as the cucumber bisque and beef Wellington with a more modern bistro aesthetic. The food is excellent (especially the dynamite peppercorn- and coriander-encrusted tuna), the bar is packed, and the chef statue once again stands outside the front door, inviting the Central West End into its home away from home.