by Mabel Suen
In recent RFT news, writer Diana Benanti provides an update on the soon-to-be drinking, dining and live music mainstay Plush in Midtown. The 40,000 square foot, four-story combo of mid-size music venue, full-service diner and cafe, bar and private event space will open its doors to the public as soon as possible. Gut Check took part in the sneak peek preview with owner Maebelle Reed and executive chef David Zimmerman to see what types of plates and potables it will offer.
"We have this sort of tagline we're developing. It is handmade comfort and it is ultimately a place that people come for a variety of different experiences but can leave feeling like they've been given an experience that came with love and care from a human being," says Reed. "The food is all made from scratch. We're all sort of artistic craftspeople. Hopefully, you can come in here, be comfortable and fraternize with a variety of different people from various socioeconomic backgrounds and viewpoints."
Zimmerman, a St. Louis native and longtime friend of Reed, served as the executive chef at Catering St. Louis for the past decade. While Reed began relaying her artistic vision during construction and installation of found and created pieces about six months ago, Zimmerman started to refine his menu out of a kitchen on the fourth floor.
"I'm excited to give people real from-scratch food. We'll be making our own hamburger buns, grinding our own burgers, making our own bacon, sausage, pickles, ketchup and even some of our own cheese," he says. "That's really the philosophy - scratch-made diner food with interesting, accessible twists - nothing you wouldn't recognize."
Zimmerman whipped up two preview plates: "fried green tomato benny" ($7) with braised arugula and chipotle hollandaise and "mini meatloaf cup cakes" ($7) shaped appropriately and "frosted" with three kinds of whipped potatoes.
Plush's intended hours are 7 a.m. till 1 a.m. with one menu served all day. Some enticing-sounding standouts include a savory smoked tomato and cracked pepper waffle with house cured salmon, tomato caper relish and herb cream cheese ($8), braised short rib sloppy joes topped with frizzled onions ($9), homemade pop tarts with fresh blackberry jam ($5), build-your-own mac'n'cheese baked in a casserole dish, and a veggie wrap featuring edamame hummus, tomatoes, cucumber, tabbouleh, greens and chili lime vinaigrette ($7).
"Part of David's assignment was that if you're here late at night seeing a show, what would you want to eat? He was very good about trying to develop that," says Reed, whose personal favorites from the menu include shepherd's pie, potato skins and biscuits and gravy with homemade chicken sausage. "You can just smother yourself in that and bathe in it," she says with a laugh.
As far as drinks, 20 beers including at least a few handles from local brewers will be available on tap in addition to plenty of spirits, a range of wine suitable for any occasion, and a special Plush coffee blend created by locally-based Chauvin Coffee Company.
"We want to make it so that anyone who comes in will find something...We have room for it all," says Reed.