The Cheshire has been serving food on Clayton Road for more than 80 years. It first opened shop in the late 1920s as Medart's Olde Cheshire, a luncheonette that served burgers out of a log cabin. In 1960, Steven J. Apted bought the restaurant and converted it into the Cheshire Inn, a British-themed restaurant, and four years later, added a hotel, the Cheshire Lodge, to the property. In 2010 it changed hands again when St. Louis-based Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) purchased it. The first order of business for LHM was to remodel the hotel, now simply called the Cheshire. The hotel reopened for business in August 2011 and opened an adjacent pool this past summer.
On Monday, November 5, the Restaurant at the Cheshire (6300 Clayton Road, Clayton; 314-647-7300), a modernized concept that retains the Cheshire's rich history, opens its doors.
General manager Nelson Constant says the new restaurant's interiors and menus retain the property's legacy while also moving forward with contemporary influences. Constant says the building's original wood-work and wood-burning fireplaces have been maintained, and its most popular menu items from years past make a reappearance on the menu.
"We're bringing back some of the staples, the traditional things, prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, farmer's soup -- just an ode to the Cheshire," Constant says. "There are so many fond memories that guests have of this property. People have an attachment to this property. I think that was one of the great things...to see everybody's anticipation and excitement to see this project through."
Executive chef Wilfrin Fernandez came to the Cheshire with a little help from wife Lisa Fernandez-Cruz, the restaurant's executive pastry chef -- and St. Louis native. The couple met while working at 202 inside the Chelsea Market in New York City, and until September, had lived and worked in New York for many years (most recently Fernandez worked at Cookshop in Chelsea and Fernandez-Cruz at Peter Hoffman's Back Forty West and Back Forty in the East Village). After seeing the executive chef position at the Cheshire posted online, she submitted Fernandez's resume. And last month, the couple and their two young sons made the move from New York City to St. Louis.
"We met in a restaurant. It's nice, because working in restaurants separately, we still always came home and talked about the restaurants. About what we were doing," Fernandez-Cruz says. "Now it's fun, because instead, we ask 'Well what are you doing and how can I play off of it?' or 'What I'm doing and how do you want to work off this?' We always motivate each other in menu ideas. And, plus, we see each other. It's really great to be in the same space, working on the same project."
So far Fernandez, a New Yorker by way of the Dominican Republic, is loving living in St. Louis, and the opportunity to share his passion for food with guests of the Cheshire.
"I came here with a lot of expectations," Fernandez says. "My food is simple, honest food. Nothing pretentious, kind of rustic but with finesse, with different ingredients, different types of food. I try to use what's in the area. One reason I took this job was the potential in St. Louis. It's the same thing in New York -- you have all the farmer's markets, great relationships with farmers."
Menu items source ingredients from a wide variety of local farmers, including Rain Crow Ranch, Marcoot Farms, Baetje Farms Goat Cheese, Ben Roberts Heritage Poultry, Ozark Forest Mushrooms, American Pasture Pork.
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