Dining Discoveries

If variety is the spice of life, this feature is all the seasoning you need to add a little vim and vigor to your dinners out.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

(page 7 of 8)

In just eight short years, Metropolitan Grill’s chef and owner Pat Duran has dreamed up 600 one-of-a-kind items and 27 different menus. “Every time we make a new menu, we step it up—it has to be more impressive than before,” Duran says. He conceptualizes some 40 items each time he’s changing Metropolitan Grill’s menu, then heads to the kitchen to experiment. Anywhere from one dozen to 20 of the items make it to the new menu. When it comes to inventing the food, Duran’s philosophy is simple—think creatively. “My philosophy has always been to create, not copy,” Duran says. Rather than looking at what’s trending in restaurants in New York or L.A., Duran looks to his customers to see what they want, creating dishes that appeal to the palates of 417-landers. “The customers really do mold the menu here,” Duran says. All of his menus include a steak section, where Duran proudly offers all Missouri beef, most of which is cut and wet aged at the restaurant. “Everything we serve is aged a minimum of 45 days,” Duran says. Also, the restaurant partnered with Harter House in early 2013 and now offers ribeye and tri-tip from the grocery store, well-known for its quality meats. “Many restaurants won’t even try to serve tri-tip,” Pat says. “I think that’s why we’ve had success—we’re innovative in the things we will do, and we try stuff no one else will try doing.” 

TRY IT NOW: The Harter House tri-tip. “We blacken it, slice it and then finish it on the grill,” Pat Duran says.

Tea Bar Takes you Overseas 

Tea Bar & Bites Bakery, Café and Catering
621 S. Pickwick Ave., Springfield
417-866-7500, teabarandbites.com

We all know Tea Bar & Bites has great lunches. Hungry for more? It also hosts a special theme dinner on the third Friday of every month. Each event includes a five-course set menu based on a particular region or country, and most come complete with live music or performers to help set the mood. The August 16 dinner is Little Italy–themed and comes with a mouthwatering Italian menu and opera music. Chefs John Ruff and Marty Almaraz are theme dinner chefs, and they’re creating dishes you won’t find on the regular Tea Bar & Bites menu. 

Hot News: Tea Bar & Bites has vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, and serves Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free bread.

 

Sorella’s Serves You an Exclusive Meal 

Sorella’s Table 
322 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield
417-812-0355, sorellastable.com

Sorella’s Table brings an extremely exclusive experience to 417-land diners. The restaurant is only open the first and third weekends every month and offers six artfully crafted gourmet courses, each and every one homemade and fresh. And it’s family-run and is owned and operated by Mary and Doug Guccione. While Doug and his mom do things like make homemade pasta, the couple’s children help expedite and serve. If you want to get in on the elite experience, act quickly—there are only 38 seats per dinner.

 

Aviary Offers Farm-to-Table Fare

Aviary Café and Creperie
400 E. Walnut St. #100, Springfield
417-866-6378, aviarycafe.com

Aviary Café and Creperie often hosts special evening dinners. This month, the restaurant plans to have a Farm to Table Chef’s dinner, celebrating the approaching close of farmers’ market season. Everything on the menu is raised or produced within 30 miles of the restaurant.

Extra-Secret Tip: At press time, Aviary was preparing to release a QR code leading customers to a secret menu of dishes from Aviary’s original menu, such as the beloved sweet cream crepe.

 

Touch Goes Cuban

Touch Restaurant
1620 E. Republic Rd., Springfield
417-823-8383, touch-restaurant.com

Longing to try something new? Head to this month’s Cuban night on August 27 at 4 p.m. There are authentic dishes such as a true Cuban sandwich and plantains, and we hear there will be a mojito bar and a DJ. 

Extra-Secret Tip: Want to host an elaborate dinner party? Chef Jalili can create special coursed dinners for six to eight people. Cuisine ranges from the American-Mediterranean style of Touch to the classic steakhouse-style of Flame or even from Jalili’s mother’s style of cooking.


WHAT IS SARSPARILLA AIR?That lovely foam on top of the short ribs entree is an example of molecular gastronomy. Sous Chef Paul Trout mixes soy lecithin with sarsaparilla, then blends it to create a light foam that holds its consistency. But soy lecithin also has emulsifying properties that promote solidity and give texture.

Old school meets new school at Chateau Grille. With a goal of using nothing but completely sustainable products, Executive Chef Doug Knopp brings old-school techniques to the table, and his Executive Sous Chef Paul Trout adds modern flair to the menu with his touches of molecular gastronomy. “It’s a nice combination of yin and yang,” Knopp says. With sustainability first in line, Knopp searches 417-land and beyond for products from sustainable farms. “Right now, we are able to get all of our chicken and pork, and a portion of our beef, from sustainable farms,” Knopp says. Building from this base, Chef Knopp creates a menu full of masterpieces. For example, he takes a Berkshire pork chop, from Circle B Ranch in Seymour, and features it in an entrée with a tarragon glaze and Asiago cream sauce. Plenty of dishes marry sustainability and molecular gastronomy. “About 20 percent of our dishes include molecular gastronomy,” Knopp says. “It’s a nice backdrop—a frame of our artistic work.” In the Whole Grain Mustard Barbeque Beef Short Ribs entree, Knopp pairs short ribs from a farm in Minnesota with a sweet potato corn hash and sarsaparilla air. And whether he’s creating a new menu, which Knopp does seasonally, or planning a Chef’s Table dinner for groups of anywhere from 2–20 people, Knopp is always creating inventive ways to enjoy food.

What is Molecular Gastronomy?
Often defined as the fusion of food science and culinary arts, molecular gastronomy can be defined as a modern style of cooking that uses scientific properties to change the chemical makeup of food. 

 

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