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Next: The Terrible Twos! 

This week marks the first birthday of Gut Check, the Riverfront Times food blog. Gut Check has evolved considerably over the past twelve months. No longer will you find crappy photos taken with my cell phone's camera — now there are slightly less crappy photos taken with an actual digital camera!

Seriously, though, Gut Check has come a long way. And to usher in its second year of existence, over the next few weeks I'll be introducing a slew of new features. Here's a preview of what you can expect:

Polls: Tired of my opinion? (Don't answer that.) Each week Gut Check will poll your thoughts on food, restaurants or whatever else tickles my fancy. For the inaugural poll, after expounding in last week's review on the Cheez Whiz-doused cheesesteak at 9th Street Deli, I asked which cheese you preferred on your cheesesteak.

(It remains a tight race as I write this: Provolone is edging Cheez Whiz by a few votes, while Provel and American have both received consideration.)

St. Louis Scenes: Yes, I'm paid to write about food. Often, though, a photo captures a certain dish or restaurant in a way that words simply can't. Gut Check will feature these photos as frequently as possible. Already my colleague Nick Lucchesi has put together a slideshow of the four new pizza joints — the joints and their pizzas — that have opened in the past few months, and I've captured the season's first strawberries, from Bivers Farms, at the Maplewood Farmers' Market.

The Dish: A review of a single dish written by me or one of my colleagues. Could be roadside barbecue, could be foie gras. Think of it as an ongoing diary of what we eat and drink, love and despise. In addition, some of these dishes will receive Gut Check's new $6 Gourmet certification, which means the dish is delicious and costs no more than $6 (give or take a few cents).

And, of course, Gut Check will still offer the latest food and restaurant news from St. Louis and around the world (if you hadn't heard, we're experiencing a food crisis at the moment) as well as blog-exclusive restaurant reviews, links to local food blogs, silly stuff and lots, lots more. If you haven't visited Gut Check yet — well, your table is ready.

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

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