Contemporary in St. Louis

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    Veterans of Café Balaban and the Sidney Street Café joined forces in East Side suburbia to open a restaurant named for a Nobel Prize-winning poet. Inspired décor and a menu that contains enough subtle twists to keep you reading from start to finish.
    Acclaimed restaurateur Gerard Craft has relocated his flagship restaurant, Niche, from Benton Park to a brand-new, state-of-the-art space in downtown Clayton. The menu from Craft an chef du cuisine Nate Hereford remains true to the ethos that made Niche so beloved among local diners: progressive modern cuisine with an emphasis on local, seasonal produce -- and also with a playful side. Diners can order from the a la carte menu, but the new Niche also features a special chef's table with an more extensive tasting menu. While drop-in diners might find an empty seat at the bar, reservations are strongly recommended.
    The “younger brother” of popular and critical Soulard success Franco eschews its older sibling’s French-bistro leanings for a broader Mediterranean flavor. Dishes range from tapas like fried almonds to housemade pappardelle in an Italian pork ragu to lamb spiked with a fiery North African harissa sauce. The lamb burger, seved with a fried egg on top, is superb. For a pleasant summer evening, grab a seat on the patio, order a “Jack Buck” (gin, Aperol, ginger beer and lemon) and enjoy all the people watching the Delmar Loop has to offer.
    Nosh calls itself a "neighborhood bistro," but the menu hews closer to the casual-café template: soups, salads, sandwiches. That's not a complaint. Within this modest scope, chef and owner Paula Anderson operates with creativity, care and conscience. The soups are excellent, especially a fall offering of butternut squash soup, rich, creamy and a gorgeous orange. The burger, made from locally raised, grass-fed beef and topped with cheddar cheese, caramelized onion and roasted red pepper aioli, is very good, as is a sandwich with ham, Brie and a fantastic chutney of pear and black walnut, made in-house.

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