Gut Check: Going Tapas

Gut Check: Going Tapas

Several openings to tell you about this week: Sanctuaria is now open at 4198 Manchester Avenue in Forest Park Southeast's Grove neighborhood (the former Agave location). Heading the kitchen is chef Christopher Lee, who might be the new busiest man in the St. Louis restaurant biz, thanks to his work at Café Ventana and the new Chuy Arzola's. The restaurant refers to its cuisine as "wild tapas." Sanctuaria is open for dinner 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The bar is open 4 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday, 5 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Saturday and 5-10 p.m. Sunday.

In the Central West End, Gerard Craft of Niche and the still shiny-and-new Taste by Niche has opened Brasserie by Niche at 4580 Laclede Avenue (the former Chez Leon space). As its name implies, Brasserie serves classic French brasserie cuisine, with chef Perry Hendrix — most recently of North Carolina, he worked with Craft in Salt Lake City — in charge of the kitchen. Buzz from last week's invitation-only soft opening has been pretty strong, so don't be surprised to encounter a crowd. Brasserie opens for dinner at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

At West County Center, the old J. Buck's location is now Hanley's Grille & Tap. This is actually the second transformation of a J. Buck's into Hanley's; the first opened in Fairview Heights, Illinois, earlier this year. Chef Jeff Constance features a menu of American comfort food with contemporary touches, like grilled meatloaf with chipotle gravy. (You can read more about Constance on Gut Check the blog, where he was the subject of a "Chef's Choice" profile by contributor Robin Wheeler.)

The Delmar Restaurant & Lounge (6235 Delmar Boulevard) certainly isn't new, but it has undergone a rather striking menu transformation, with new head chef Randy Wilson drawing upon the flavors of soul food and South Carolina. The new menu includes such entrées as crawfish and andouille sausage with bell peppers, garlic, white wine and butter over cheddar-cheese grits; bone-in, buttermilk-fried chicken breast with butterbeans, mashed potatoes and black-pepper gravy; and Carolina-style pulled pork with mashed potatoes, cole slaw and barbecue sauce.

Finally, one closing to report: St. Louis Pizza Haus, in the Delmar Loop, has closed.

Are you opening a new restaurant? Know of a place that has closed? Something else for Ian to chew on? E-mail [email protected] And check out this column's virtual doppelganger here.

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