For Kirk Syberg, what started as a normal trip up to his farm in northern Missouri ended with a new business partner and a new restaurant – Twisted Tree in Sunset Hills.
Syberg, whose family owns St. Louis institutions Syberg’s and Helen Fitzgerald’s, met Mike Abbadessa at his family's legendary fine-dining restaurant, the Pear Tree, in rural Bevier, Missouri. They quickly forged a friendship.
In July, the two families opened Twisted Tree (10701 Watson Road, Sunset Hills; 314-394-3366)
–- taking the name from the Pear Tree, which burned down in 2012, and “twisting” the two families together. The restaurant is connected to the Holiday Inn at Watson and Lindbergh, in the space that formerly held Mile 277.
With a spacious footprint that seats 220 people, management knew that they'd have to divide things up. Patrons can now rent a private room, or choose to sit in either the dining room, cocktail area, or at the bar to enjoy a wide range of signature cocktails, appetizer, salads, sandwiches, steaks, seafood (try the "Battered Dipped Lobster Tail") and desserts.
“[Abbadessa's] salad dressings are unbelievable. Everything is in-house made: all the dressings are house-made, the crab rangoon, homemade desserts and ice cream,” Syberg explains. “But the battered-dipped lobster is something that [Abadessa] is famous for, too. He takes a six-ounce lobster tail and batter-dips it. It’s deep-fried, really.”
The two families wanted to combine the laid-back style of Syberg’s with the delectable food from the Pear Tree. They estimate that 80 to 90 percent of the Twisted Tree menu comes from the Pear Tree, which many still mourn. It's so loved, in fact, that you can buy Abbadessa's salad dressings at Schnucks and Dierbergs, where they're sold under the Pear Tree label.
The aspect that sets Twisted Tree apart from other steakhouses: the aging of the beef. Most steakhouses will age their beef for around 30 to 45 days, but at Twisted Tree, the tenderloin is aged for 70 days. For the New York strip, it's 119, and a staggering 135 days for the rib eye.
“Right now, we’re eating beef that hit the beef house in January,” explains COO Jim Schuette. “It’s a lot more tender and a lot more juicy. You can really taste it.”
The owners didn’t miss any details when they redesigned the space. One private room was almost completely furnished by furniture from Reclaim Renew, which repurposes wood from old Missouri barns. In the main dining room, reclaimed wood from St. Bridget of Erin, which was razed in February, has become a wall and wooden rafters. Multiple Falstaff Beer signs hang on the walls, as well as an antique 905 Liquor store sign. “Our theme is Americana,” says Schuette.
The owners also brought in several veteran chefs to make sure the food is always top-notch. Brenda Nanneman and Angie Bailey come from the Pear Tree, but on staff are also kitchen pros with experience at Kemoll’s, as well as Syberg’s and Helen Fitzgerald’s.
“With our experience, we feed off each other. That’s why I go back to the 'twisted,' it’s really twisted. They’ve learned a lot from us, we learn a lot from them,” says Syberg. “It’s easy to make good food. You just got to care about it.”
Syberg hopes that the restaurant will soon be serving beef from the cattle he’s raising at his ranch near Macon, Missouri. In the mean time, though, the steaks are certainly well-aged and ready for serving, Twisted Tree is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
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