James Beard award winner Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group (Brasserie by Niche, Pastaria, Taste by Niche, and Porano Pasta) shared a glimpse at the menu for his latest concept, Sardella (7734 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton, Missouri, 63105). After a summer of successful pop-up dinners around St. Louis, the culinary team has finalized the dishes for the seasonal restaurant with “a nod to Italy.” Sardella will open for breakfast and dinner in the coming weeks. Lunch will then be introduced in the weeks following.
Sardella is an old ancient fish sauce, and guests will see the exploration to make the old, new again throughout the menu. Husband-wife team Nick Blue and Sarah Osborn lead the kitchen as executive chef and executive pastry chef, respectively, while The Restaurant at Meadowood alum Chris Kelling serves as general manager and beverage director.
Sardella’s design echoes the same notion as the menu– inviting, bright, and fun. Antiqued, oak wood floors and white painted plank ceiling with large wood joists set this tone for the space. While marigold banquette seating, Mediterranean blue and white tile on the walls, antique brass mirrors, and a colorful mosaic-like installation of sardine cans (Sardella means sardine in Italian) above the open kitchen add drama and excitement, a marble and wood bar along the entire length of the restaurant creates a warm and welcoming environment.
A Look at the Dinner Menu
While the menu offerings will change seasonally, guests are encouraged to explore the following selections in Sardella’s relaxed environment. Opening menu highlights include:
The shareable plates to start include new takes on approachable dishes like the Pistachio & White Bean “Hummus” with charred bread; Baby Kale salad with shaved fennel and a chili-lime vinaigrette; and Chef Craft’s take on garlic bread with Housemade Warm Dinner Rolls, served with a black garlic butter. Other starters showcase the team’s creative, yet approachable use of seasonal vegetables like the Charred Romano Beans with roasted garlic custard, Calabrian chili vinaigrette and basil or the Caramelized Carrot Soup with granola and buttermilk sorbet. Craft’s shares Sardella’s “nod to Italy” in dishes like the Gnocco Fritto, airy dough pockets filled with crème fraiche, and topped with house-cured gravlax, bone marrow, citrus and tarragon. The gravlax and bone marrow melt over the hot fried dough for an amazingly rich, savory bite.
The seafood dishes offer raw crudos to larger fish offerings. For example, Fluke Tartare with lime, walnut oil, chive and watercress is served in contrast to the Barramundi with mussels, sorrel butter and greens.
The pastas showcase the intersect of Chef Craft’s understanding of modern flavors with traditional, classic techniques. Pasta is a passion for him, which is reflected in dishes such as the Uni Carbonara, served with spaghetti, guanciale and Parmesan–an approachable riff on a “back in the day” Niche dish, Chef Craft’s former flagship restaurant. Additional pastas such as the Potato Gnocchi with sungold tomatoes, mint and white wine and the Miso-Ricotta Ravioli with orange, pepitas, brown butter and tarragon highlight simple ingredients in the best way possible.
For meat offerings, comfort is key with dishes like the Spice Roasted Chicken with charred broccoli and preserved lemon; Stout-Braised Lamb Neck served with fresh Italian tortillas, or piadinas; and a Bavette Steak with miso butter and herb salad.
Executive Pastry Chef Sarah Osborn elevates simple ingredients and approachable flavors to elegant interpretations of familiar desserts such as this Pistachio White Chocolate Panna Cotta with candied pistachio, cookie crumble and blueberries. Other offerings will include an Olive Oil Cake with sweet ricotta and cantaloupe jam, Chocolate Cremeaux with peanut butter and grape, and other sweet surprises.
A Look at Breakfast
Sardella will also offer breakfast and lunch service, the first three-meal restaurant for the group. With an extensive coffee program from St. Louis roaster, Sump Coffee, Sardella will offer creative breakfast sandwiches and toasts, grain and yogurt bowls, pastries, fresh juices and smoothies, and more. With both sit-down and grab-and-go dining options, guests can order from the bar’s pastry counter or sit down to enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Highlights include: Coconut “Yogurt,” a non-dairy offering made from the pulp and milk of young coconuts with granola, berries and dates, a Smoked Salmon English Muffin, Avocado Toast with Aleppo pepper, and Sardella’s Grain Bowl with farro, kimchi, kale, swiss chard and fried egg, and more.
Sardella’s dishes will range in price from $10 to $30. Hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 7 to 11 a.m. for breakfast and lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner service will be seven days a week from 5 to 10 p.m. (Monday-Thursday), 5 to 11 p.m. (Friday and Saturday), and 5 to 9 p.m. (Sunday).
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