The Taco & Ice Cream Joint

The Taco & Ice Cream Joint

You can probably guess what kind of food they serve at The Taco & Ice Cream Joint. This new spot on Cherokee St. has amazing authentic Mexican tacos along with an enormous selection of desserts.

The space they are in is very large. If you count your steps on a fitness tracker, this place will help. Most of the walk from the entrance to the counter takes you past their amazing display of ice cream, popsicles and other tempting treats. The taco menu has several different meat choices with a salsa bar that allows you customize your taco to your liking.

On this trip was Jon, myself and our summer intern, Alex. We all did work on some tacos. They have other items on their food menu but we felt obligated to get tacos. Between the eight tacos that were ordered, we had some shrimp, chorizo, carnitas and something I can't remember or pronounce that was recommended by the gentleman at the counter. The one he recommended was my favorite. They were all good. I tried to experiment with a couple different salsas and was happy with everything I tried. This place has delicious authentic tacos plus the prices are reasonable. Dangerous and amazing combination.

Now to the ice cream side of the trip. We were all pretty stuffed but I talked everyone in to getting a popsicle. Jon got a mango popsicle with a hot spice on it. Alex got watermelon. I went with arroz con leche. Possibly the best life decision I've ever made. SAVE ROOM FOR ICE CREAM!

We all plan to visit again really soon. I saw they had some great looking corn and churros I didn't get to try. They also have a few thousand desserts I need save room for next time. If you like authentic tacos and delicious desserts, go here now.

Vicia

Vicia

We were finally able to get ourselves over to the much hyped Vicia (vi-see-uh) which opened in March in the Cortex Innovation Community (St. Louis’ 200 acre innovation hub and technology district). When I called upon the trusty ‘ole Google Maps to help us find this place, it was described as a “sleek eatery for local, seasonal cuisine highlighting vegetables & sustainably raised meats.” And, I would agree. The restaurant is aesthetically pleasing with being very modern and monochromatic, yet feeling airy and comfortable- albeit quiet/peaceful/serene (I am used to dining with a 3 year old and it’s never quiet!) And the food was different, a good different. We went for lunch which is offered Monday-Friday 11am – 1:30pm as I had also researched lunch was a more causal counter-style service which is more our speed for a weekday lunch anyway. When we got there we were quickly greeted by a gentleman that handed us a paper menu and pointed us toward the counter/bar to place our orders and that we would be texted once ready to pick up at another counter near the kitchen. We just got waters and they were already poured on the bar so just grabbed them and made our way to an outside table in the enclosed patio next to the awesome looking wood-fired grill.

The menu is ever-changing and concise (the day we went had 5 items) so didn’t take long to decide. They come a la carte, as a pair for $11, or you can choose any three items for $14. The 5 items were labeled as Sandwich, Tartine, Grains, Soup, and Quiche...as I’ve come to observe these categories are pretty standard with some differences based on what’s fresh. E.g. replacing the Grains with a Salad - Anyway, I went with the pick 2 items: Tartine and Grains. The Tartine, French open-faced sandwich, was probably the best thing I’ve eaten in a while. No exaggeration. It had turnip top marmalade, whipped ricotta, and marinated radishes on top of porridge bread. You had me at porridge bread; it was dense, chewy, and held up well to the toppings. The toppings were fresh, flavorful, and the perfect combination of textures. My second item was the Grains, served cold: wheat berries, oyster mushrooms, asparagus, ramps aka onion/garlic goodness, and goat cheese. I was kind of hoping for a salad and something less carb-o-licious (although wheat berries provide some of healthiest unrefined carbs) to go with my tartine so that was on my mind the whole time, but again the grains dish was great. Clayton opted for the pick 2: Sandwich and Soup. The Sandwich was Salume Beddu salami, cheddar, rhubarb mustard, spicy greens on focaccia. I wanted to take a bite but he gobbled it up so fast I didn’t get a chance. Guess it was good. The soup was chilled spring onion and charred vegetable mole. Clayton had a mental and emotional struggle with the cold soup factor so I swapped him my grains dish for the rest of his soup. The soup had incredible flavor so savory and delicious.

So, in the end I did get to try 3 dishes! I left the meal feeling satisfied but not stuffed which is always a good thing. Had I not been trying to keep it relatively light for lunch, I would have tried something from the pastry case; the Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pie looked amazing. And, next time I’d like to try a specialty beverage like the Chocolate Mint Shaken Cold Brew coffee or one of the many interesting sounding teas. Side note: nowadays with a toddler in tow, Clayton and I try to bring together two things we love – family and food – but with Vicia, I’d be nervous to bring a small child because it was so quiet. And, the fact that they do not have a kids menu (or even sides menu) is fine but subtly tells me that it’s maybe not the best fit for little ones. And, that’s okay; I just like the best of both worlds so maybe I’ll stick to it for a quick yet inventive weekday lunch or a date night dinner when it’s full service and can sit back and relax in a beautiful space.

-Courtney

Pizza Head

Pizza Head

If you're a pizza lover living in St. Louis, now is a great time to be alive. We made our third stop to a new pizza place, this one serving up New York style pizza with attitude. Pizza Head is located on South Grand and serves pizza by the slice along with full pies. One interesting fact about this restaurant, they don't have meat. They have meatless pepperoni and sausage along with a cashew cheese pizza for vegan diets. We didn't realize this until we walked in and asked about the menu. We will dive in to the ingredients a little later.

We had so much fun bringing our friend/client Nancy from Clothes Mentor South County along a couple months ago, we invited her back. We all walked in to find a classic punk music setting with some punk music playing, a jukebox in the back and concert flyers on the tables. Since we were oblivious to their meatless menu, it took us a while to figure out our order. With a little help from the staff, we finally got some pizza.

Nancy, Jon and myself split a 20 inch pizza with half pepperoni and green peppers with the other half onions and green peppers. Let's just get right to the meatless pepperoni. It was fantastic. We all three started there and quickly wished we would have ordered pepperoni on the entire pizza. Now I really want to go back and try their meatless sausage. 

As for the New York style side of things, they nailed it. It was all of the things you love about New York pizza slices on the perfect crust. I mean seriously, the crust is perfect. The sauce is great too which is pretty important in a pizza. They are a great combo of fun atmosphere, unique ingredients and great taste. 

Each of us ate two slices and felt full. We had a couple slices leftover that are going to be great for lunch tomorrow. The great thing about the three new pizza places we've visited, they all have been very different and great in their own rights.

Humble Pie

Humble Pie

It’s been awhile since the Big Rush crew went to check out a new place, but we’re back at at it today with Humble Pie. This is the new pizza joint from the mind of Mark Lucas, the dude who runs what I (Jon) would argue is the best sandwich shop in St. Louis: Fozzie’s Sandwich Emporium.

This place opened three days ago, and is hidden away in a strip mall in bustling but sterile downtown Ladue. Located literally in an alley between Smoothie King and Companion Bread, Humble Pie is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Fortunately when you find it, the food has a lot of personality.

humble pie

The customer-accessible area of the restaurant is maybe 30-40 square feet. There’s a counter to order your pizza and a cooler with assorted beverages… and that’s about it. On nice days, there is outside seating on the patio, either in front of Companion or around the corner (hang a few lefts when you exit the restaurant) to another patio area that looks like it’s the entrance to the restaurant but isn’t at all. Does this sound confusing? It’s a little confusing. Don’t plan on eating here though unless the weather is good enough for eating outside.

The menus, located below the ordering counter, are a single two-sided piece of paper. The front side features things that aren’t pizza and the back side features pizza. Both Clayton and I skipped the front side all together so we can’t tell you about that. We will both tell you about the different pizza options we went with below.

Clayton: BBQ Cauliflower on Thin Crust

As a huge fan off barbecue inspired pizzas, I had to try their house-made sauce. I’m also a thin crust kind of guy. Makes me believe that I am eating a little healthier. So I ordered the BBQ Cauliflower Pizza on thin crust.

Let’s start with the crust. It was like a light, flaky cracker. Crispy but not too crispy. I don’t like thin crusts that break in to crumbs when you bite it and they definitely perfected the texture of a very thin crust. Add on top of that some maple barbecue sauce and smoked mozzarella and you’ve got yourself a pretty tasty pie. The roasted cauliflower added a fun texture to the pizza and the peppers were great. Overall a big 👍.

They have a lot of signature pizzas that sound amazing so I want to go back and try a few more or make my own with more of that barbecue sauce. I should see if they sell that stuff.

As someone who worked at an Italian restaurant for a little while, I love giving props to great staff. Everyone we interacted with was a delight. We got a little lost more than once and the staff was wonderful. Mad props to the Humble Pie team!

humble pie bbq cauliflower pizza

Jon: Jambalaya Pie on Sicilian Crust

I went with the thicker Sicilian crust pizza, mainly because Clayton went the route of the thin crust. I also went with one of their signature pizzas: The Jambalaya pie. Spicy food of pretty much any variety is my go-to, and this seemed like an interesting and somewhat spicy option.

“Andouille sausage, roasted chicken, onions, peppers, celery with a creole red sauce & smoked mozzarella” the menu read. “What’s a Jambalaya without shrimp?” Is a question that both you and I are probably wondering, but after eating this pizza I found it full of flavor anyway.

The crust that they describe as “Sicilian” is probably more commonly referred to here in the USA as a pan pizza. This variation was kind of airy and bubbly like focaccia bread. It gets a nice crispy char around the edges of the pan. If you’ve ever had the pizza at Porano, it’s similar to that. I love this style of pizza.

Anyway, the pizza was tasty but definitely less spicy than I expected. The andouille was very flavorful but didn’t have the burn that some sausages in that style do. The chicken was delicious and not dry which can be a rare find on pizza. The creole vegetable mix of “the holy trinity” (onions, peppers and celery) was a good addition, with the celery providing a good amount more flavor and depth than I usually associate with the vegetable.

This pizza was really good, and I’d get it again but first I want to check out some other options on the menu: the thin crust pizza, and several spicier options all look like they might be calling my name. They also have a coconut-mango Sriracha sauce that I’m very curious about.

This place is not convenient for me, but the food is good and I hope to be back soon!
 

humble pie jambalaya pie

'Zza Pizza + Salad

'Zza Pizza + Salad

If you’re a St. Louisian, you’ve probably heard of Pi Pizza. Pi is primarily known for their take on Chicago Style pizza, and they are renowned for their work. They do Chicago pizza so well that Chicago native (and former president of the United States) Barack Obama took a great liking to Pi and there is now even a Washington D.C. location.

‘Zza Pizza + Salad is the newest venture from Chris Sommers, the founder of Pi Pizza. It’s a pick-your-toppings-order-at-the-counter type place in a similar style to Mod Pizza, Pie Five or Crushed Red. All pizzas & salads are $9 no matter what you put on them.

'Zza opened on March 3 at 11:00 AM and Big Rush’s own Clayton Clark was the first one at the door, arriving around 10:50 and spearheading a line of 5-10 people.

I showed up right around 11:00 and we were joined by our friend Nancy! Between the three of us, we ordered three pizzas and a salad. You can pick your own toppings but ‘Zza also provides a good list of 7 salads and 9 pizzas to choose from. All of us picked an item from the menu:

I got the STL Summer (Provel, onion, jalapeño, spicy sausage, parsley), Clayton got the Postrio (Smoked gouda, mozzarella, red onion, bbq chicken with sweet baby ray’s sauce, cilantro) and Nancy got the Margarita (basil, fresh mozzarella, flake salt). Nancy and Clayton also split the So Very Berry salad (mixed greens, strawberries, smoked blue cheese, sunflower seeds, fresh basil, berry vinaigrette).

First, the Salad, which I didn’t eat any of: The salad is served in a bowl and looks pretty moderate in size. Upon unpacking though, it turned out to have a TON of stuff in it. These salads are huge and are definitely deserving of the $9 price tag. They could be a meal. Clayton and Nancy both loved the salad, and the smoked blue cheese was particularly remarked upon as adding a great element.

On the pizza end of things, all the pizzas were very good. The oblong crusts were all crispy and delicious, and all the toppings were of high quality. I particularly loved the sausage & jalapeños on my pizza.

Overall, this was a great lunch experience and I’d choose to go to ‘Zza over the numerous competitors in the area. There are several more pizzas on the menu I can’t wait to try and the prices are very reasonable. ‘Zza is located on Skinker (282 N. Skinker) in the same hard-to-find-parking building as Kayak Coffee & Bobo Noodle House.

Blue Duck Maplewood

Blue Duck Maplewood

We kind of missed this one. Blue Duck Maplewood was on our radar but they opened on Valentine's Day so we missed the Grand Opening. We went for lunch a week later. There is a Blue Duck location already in Washington, MO but we felt his counted as a new place to try. Don't judge.

Jon ordered the Blue Cheese Burger and I went with the special for the day. It was a short rib pastrami sandwich on green chile cheese brioche with root vegetable slaw, sweet BBQ sauce, avocado, and Swiss cheese. Jon and I both were thinking about it but I got to order first so he had to find something else. 

The special was incredible. Their short rib pastrami was so flavorful and they piled it on. Jon was very excited eating his burger. It was topped with fried pickled red onions and sautéed mushrooms that were given high praise by Jon. Both of us got really quiet once the food came. If you know Jon and I, being quiet is not the norm. You get a side with your order and I went with Billy Goat chips. Their a slam dunk all day. Jon went with the mac n cheese. 

Maplewood has a good number of tasty places and this is another winner. It's a sit down restaurant for lunch and dinner. Our waiter was great. Another amazing experience trying new restaurants in St. Louis and it's still early in 2017.

Courtney's Take on Sardella

Courtney's Take on Sardella

I am really feeling the fresh approach to Niche Food Group’s newest venture, Sardella, from the food to the décor. I was so captivated by the space that I even snapped some photos of the vibrant blue tiles and wall of sardine tins. The food, now the food, it’s delicious and different. Or what they call “rethinking breakfast, lunch, and dinner”. If you go for breakfast, do not go seeking traditional options. I had the bowl which according to their menu is root vegetables, quinoa, barley, kale, swiss chard, fried egg ($10). The version I tried on opening day definitely had kimchi in the mix so I’m not sure if that was a typo online. If kimchi is still part of this bowl, I would definitely add avocado for an additional $2 to complement the spiciness. (As you may know- since kimchi is fermented, it has good bacteria and numerous other health benefits – happy gut, anyone?). Portion-wise, the bowl was perfect for me especially since I also had a sweet treat and coffee.

My husband Clayton didn’t recall exactly what he ordered, it was a ‘burrito-thing’, but I stalk everyone’s food experiences and remembered that he ordered the Slow Roasted Porchetta (pork) wrapped in Piadina (Italian tortilla). But, alas, it is not on the current menu! Further investigation, to understand if Sardella’s menu will be rotating and if so, how often… Anyway, as Clayton mentioned earlier, he said this wrap was delectable. I would’ve needed something to cut the richness like one of their light sounding fresh juices to accompany. Clayton and Jon also tried the Mini Rice Griddlers which are filled with bacon, egg, queso fresco, cheddar, chive, salsa – wrapped in that same Piadina and pressed to look like a flat taco. Clayton and I ended on a sweet note with the cinnamon roll and blueberry muffin – both very solid choices, but I am intrigued to try something different like their Matcha Tea Rice Krispies! It should also be noted that they serve Sump Coffee which doesn’t disappoint.

I’ll be back, hopefully to try lunch or dinner. Though for lunch I am more drawn to the fast-cast approach versus the full-service which they just moved to. Side note: I am not creepily obsessed with Gerard Craft, owner and head chef of Niche Food Group; I just think he is a nice guy! Though, I do admit to awkwardly introducing myself to him at the grand opening of Porano. I follow him on IG and like that he posts often of his family and is a cycling enthusiast. Anyone who loves food and especially their family is A-Okay in my book.

Boardwalk Waffles & Ice Cream

Boardwalk Waffles & Ice Cream

Waffles...good. Ice cream...good. Waffles AND ice cream...AMAZING! We hit up Boardwalk Waffles & Ice Cream in Maplewood 2 days after they opened(Grand Opening was on a Saturday). They take St. Louis made Serendipity Ice Cream and sandwich it between fresh made waffles. We love the coastal theme of the shop since we go with a similar vibe with our look. It's a small place so keep your eyes peeled driving down Manchester. 

I ordered a half sandwich which is one whole waffle cut in half with 2 scoops of ice cream. You can also get 2 waffles with 4 scoops in the middle(whole sandwich) or half of a waffle cut in half with one scoop(quarter sandwich). I got a scoop of gooey butter and salty caramel swirl in my half sandwich. The fresh warm waffle with the cold ice cream in the middle is a pretty sweet combo. The waffle is really good. I do wish the ice cream scoops were a little bigger but it's probably for the best.

The staff was delightful. We talked to the owner for a few seconds. He is planning to make seasonal waffle flavors in the near future. I think that would be a nice touch. Adding some waffle variety could make building your treat even more fun. There is not much seating inside so don't take a large group hoping to stay there for a while. All in all, we will eat there again. It is a unique treat for St. Louis and we love having more to do, see and taste in our community. I am hoping they do well enough to have a few more locations around town so they are accessible from more of my favorite lunch and dinner spots. 

Hi Pointe Drive In

Hi Pointe Drive In

Our first official Grand Opening taste test of 2017 was Hi Pointe Drive In. This fast casual burger joint is owned by BBQ master Mike Johnson who also owns Sugar Fire Barbecue. There was quite a bit of hype surrounding this place. Once again, my wife Courtney tagged along with Jon and I. 

We planned to get there right at 11am thinking that is when they would open. At 10:30am we noticed on Facebook that people were already eating there. We later discovered the hours are 10am-10pm. We still beat the crowd getting there a little before 11am. 

It is hard to really wow someone with a burger these days but...WOW! All three of us were blown away. They have quite a few fun things on the menu but we all thought ordering a burger was the right thing to do for the Grand Opening. The burger was incredible. The bun was great. The barbecue seasoning on the fries made me forget that I also ordered their homemade chips. By 11:30am the line was heading out the door on a day with ice and snow on the roads.

The service was speedy and the staff was great. They have the soda fountain right when you walk in the door as part of the line to order. So if you have a little wait, you can sip some delicious Excel sodas. Getting refills usually requires nudging through a few people. Their shake menu is wild. They partner with other great local restaurants for special items like their taco burger with Mission Taco and a gooey butter shake with Strange Donuts

All three of us went back multiple times within a month and still dream about a Hi Pointe burger on a daily basis. We are obsessed. Courtney and I have tried the Salmon sandwich and it's another winner. We did notice that recently the fries seem to have a little less of the barbecue seasoning than they did on the Grand Opening. We asked a guy who looked like a manager and he said you can request more seasoning when you order. I'm guessing people started asking for less seasoning so they scaled it back to appeal the masses. We all recommend asking for extra seasoning when you order fries. They also have specials everyday that get pretty crazy. We don't necessarily agree with the philosophy on a lot of their burger specials. We have seen a lot of things wrapped in bacon and topped with Imo's Pizza. I do enjoy Imo's but their burgers are sooooo good that I feel like they are messing with a good thing a little too much. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm hoping they scale down the cholesterol wow factor on their specials and focus more on quality. 

This place is incredible for a great burger. My mouth has been watering the entire time writing this. Jon doesn't seemed phased based on his frequent visits. One time Courtney and I went to Hi Pointe after church and Jon came strolling in. I guess we should note that we do not do any work for this business or any of the businesses we have featured. We just love food.

Sardella

Sardella

Our first team outing to a restaurant opening was late in 2016 to Sardella. This restaurant is owned by the main man of food in St. Louis, Gerard Craft. His company, Niche Food Group, owns some of the best eateries in the area. The latest venture by Craft has a casual setting with unique flavors that mix old school Italian and new school St. Louis.

Jon, myself and my wife Courtney arrived early in the morning on the first day of breakfast being served at Sardella. Courtney is a huge Gerard Craft fan. Almost to a creepy level. He is a bald business owner so maybe that's her type. We tried to order a little variety of items off the menu. Courtney and I both ordered something savory and something sweet. It was a walk up to the counter and order situation. The morning was surprisingly quiet in the restaurant but they were not publicizing too much. There was still a little construction happening in the building but that didn't disrupt a great meal. I am writing this a few months after the meal so I can't remember exactly what I ordered but I remember struggling to pronounce it and struggling to put it down once I tasted it. In the above picture, mine is the burrito looking object that was nothing like a breakfast burrito. I had never heard of some of the ingredients and they were all amazing. Everything was incredibly flavorful.

The service, like at every Craft owned restaurant, was first class. The portions were smaller than you might expect but we all felt very satisfied when we finished. Sardella serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. I would bet it gets crowded for lunch on weekdays with the Clayton, MO business crowd. Knowing how the Niche Food Group works, you can trust that the ingredients are the best of the best. I always recommend branching out of your comfort zone a little at a Gerard Craft establishment. His team doesn't miss. 

It was this fun experience that sparked the idea that our company should do outings anytime a new restaurant opens in St. Louis. We love food and trying new things. 2017 is going to be a delicious year at Big Rush.

Introduction

Does the internet need another marketing blog? No, it probably doesn't. There are already a lot of really great people writing a lot of great things about marketing. Chances are with a little bit of Googling, you can find the answer to the question you're looking for.

So... what is this, you might be asking? The Tide is our new blog. When we talk about marketing, we'll try to stick to items we think are really interesting, or new features that we see rolling out on Facebook that aren't getting a lot of coverage.

The rest of the time, we'll be writing about things that interest us. So think about this as a better way to get to know the Big Rush team. One shared interest that Clayton and I have is checking out new restaurants. One of our stated goals of 2017 was to check out as many restaurant openings as possible. We started the year off with a bang on January 5, dining at the incredible Hi-Pointe Drive In. And people seem to like this content on our Facebook page, so we figured why not write about it?

So, is this a food blog on a marketing website? Kind of, I guess. Hope you enjoy reading!

- Jon