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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Critic's Notebook: The Purple Martin Revamps Menu to Focus on American Classics

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge The bar at the Purple Martin. | Corey Woodruff
  • The bar at the Purple Martin. | Corey Woodruff

Yesterday morning the Purple Martin (2800 Shenandoah Avenue; 314-898-0011) announced via its website some big changes in store for the fledgling restaurant -- a new menu and a slight shake-up in the kitchen.

"I see us as a community amenity," owner Brooke Roseberry explains. "The neighborhood is full of people like us. We get home from work and don't want to cook, so we want to go out somewhere."

See also: The Purple Martin holds great promise in Fox Park

Here's part of the announcement:

"Since we've opened, we've had so much support from the neighbors - such good will and devotion and I'm so grateful. And we've also been asked to make the menu easier - easier for busy parents who don't want to cook after long days at work, but who have picky children and the last thing they want to add to their day's exertions is deciphering what the kids will eat when out; easier for people who don't want to have to decide what to eat, they just want to sit somewhere pleasant and friendly; easier for people who may be happy to try new things, but their friends don't and having to cajole friends to try new things is not easy....

So, we listened to the neighbors and we're rolling out a new menu incorporating what folks have requested. Chef Chase will be offering his Southern spin on mac 'n cheese and shrimp and grits; his slow smoked pulled pork in bourbon apricot sauce will be a recurring special, and additional family-favorites will be both on the daily menu as well as specials."

Roseberry says that she envisions the Purple Martin as a place people can go to meet these needs of the area's families, but "a lot of families got here and didn't know what to eat. It doesn't help when the kids look at the menu with scrunched faces and say that they don't see anything they like."

The menu changes -- a transition from North African-influenced fare to classic American comfort food -- also represent a change in the kitchen. Roseberry's partner, Tony Lagouranis, served as the Purple Martin's original executive chef ("He wanted a falafel stand, and I wanted somewhere to drink my wine and play cards," Roseberry laughs), but Chase Overaker has been serving in that role for a while now. The new concept represents a formal transfer of operations to Overaker. "[North African food] is not Chase's background," says Roseberry. "Chase is from the South, so he wants to serve food that is more in line with his own background -- things like pulled pork with apricot bourbon sauce. We want to give him license to do what he does best."

As for the some of the dishes -- the scrumptious skordalia garlic dip in particular -- Roseberry assures us that they will remain on the menu. "But we'll probably call it garlic dip," she laughs. "It just more approachable that way."

Read the entire announcement here and my review of the Purple Martin here.

Follow Cheryl Baehr on Twitter at @CherylABaehr. E-mail the author at

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