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How many strikes before you call a restaurant out? 

In my review of Tower Tacos ("Tortilla Road," September 4, 2008), I discussed some of the challenges that new restaurants face — especially when those restaurants open in less-than-ideal locations. After relating an experience I'd recently had at a new restaurant plagued by logistical problems (like the cook not knowing whether it was open for lunch, after she'd seated me and given me a menu), I wrote, "I decided to suspend my review and return in a few months. That is a luxury I have. The average diner probably wouldn't give this place another chance."

I was curious, though. How many chances does the average diner give a new restaurant? So I posted a poll on the Gut Check blog ( The poll was utterly unscientific, of course, but the result was fairly definitive: A vast majority of respondents are willing to give a new restaurant two chances. A few respondents offered an important caveat, however: If a new restaurant is expensive, the chances of forgiving a poor first impression might decrease.

Openings: The Wedge is slated to open next month at 442 Bates Street in south city, near Iron Barley. The restaurant and bar is owned by Luke Reynolds and Sam Berger, who also operate Molly's in Soulard. Well-known local chef Blake Brokaw (Tangerine) is consulting on the Wedge's menu, which will feature pizza and calzones.

Meanwhile, Bistro Toi is opening at 3257 Ivanhoe Avenue in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood. This is the space last occupied by KoKo. Bistro Toi is scheduled to have its grand opening on Friday, September 26, at 5 p.m., according to the signs posted in its windows. These signs describe Bistro Toi as "where east meets west," which I presume means Asian fusion.

In case you didn't catch the item in this week's Night & Day section, this Saturday is the third annual GroveFest, celebrating Forest Park Southeast's resurgent commercial stretch with live music and food. The Grove is home to many interesting restaurants, several of which have opened only in the past twelve months. If you haven't tried any of them, this would be a good opportunity to sample their fare.

I mentioned the annual Taste of St. Louis event in last week's column, but since I won't be writing a column next week — it's our annual "Best of St. Louis" issue! — I'll remind you again that this year's event will be held from Friday, September 26, to Sunday, September 28, at 12th and Market streets downtown, with food from numerous St. Louis restaurants, music, arts and crafts and an Iron Chef-style competition.

Are you opening a new restaurant? Know of a place that has closed? Something else for Ian to chew on? E-mail

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