After Monarch closed in early 2012, the restaurant's erstwhile executive chef, Josh Galliano, remained visible on the St. Louis culinary landscape, orchestrating pop-up restaurants through which he could continue dispensing Southern staples.
Now you can find his cooking at a permanent location.
The Libertine (7927 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-2999) features Galliano and executive sous chef Josh Poletti in the kitchen, management/beverage team Nate Weber and fiancée Victoria Mitchell, and proprietors Nick and Audra Luedde at the helm.
One element that immediately stands out is the Libertine's menu, which breaks down into three sections: vegetable, meat and seafood. Galliano's inspiration for the structure comes from Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, and from the French restaurant Roussillon in London, at which Galliano once worked and which closed last year.
"Basically that, combined with what I wanted to do with showcasing more vegetables," the chef explains. "Not necessarily saying that we'd be strictly vegetarian, but just saying that I think vegetables need to be at the forefront instead of in the background, on the side of a steak or chicken.
"The other part of it was the goals," he continues. "I felt like having those sections divided up would allow me to have more fun and put some dishes on there that were more interesting, that might not necessarily fit into your straightforward appetizer-entrée-type format. Not saying that's just for sharing, but it's: 'Hey, look at this.' This is the size it needs to be without defining it in that starter-main format."
The drink menu adapts a similar mentality, with beers and wines curated by Mitchell. The cocktail list features libations with classic roots tweaked by different takes. The "Tom Waits For No Man," for instance, is a manhattan with an edge courtesy of the digestif Fernet-Branca and a sweet vermouth that's on the bitter side.
"They're visually striking and they taste good -- that's the key," Weber says.