The phrase "everything but the kitchen sink" can imply a whole lot. At the Kitchen Sink (280 DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-261-4455), new from-scratch diner just footsteps away from the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Metrolink stop, chef-owner Anthony Ellerson Jr. offers as many of his favorites as he can fit onto the restaurant's chalkboard menu.
When asked if he's a St. Louis native, Ellerson points out the window directly down the street.
"I've been living right across the street since 1985," he says. "A lot of people asked me why I picked this spot. It's because it's my neighborhood....It was a totally different place before, and I get to make it my own."
Besides a logo painted on the building's brick facade, there's not much indicating that the diner even exists at the busy intersection that straddles several neighborhoods. Once inside, however, it's easily a diamond in the rough.
All idioms aside, the Kitchen Sink might be small, with only a handful of red booths and art picked out by Ellerson's mother providing bright accents among monochrome walls and counter seats, but it offers up a big menu that easily overcomes standard greasy spoon options.
The list includes made-to-order specialty burgers, sandwiches, Cajun-inspired entrees, salads, wings and sides such as hand-cut sweet potato fries ($1 for a small order; $2.50 for large), cooked until crispy with a sprinkling of sugar to make the natural flavors pop. The Kitchen Sink sources many of its ingredients locally, such as produce from Long Acres Farm and bread from Fazio's Bakery. The menu notes that all meats are "fresh and never frozen."
Ellerson credits Norton's Cafe, where he worked as a cook, for influencing him not only in Cajun cuisine but also wholesome, from-the-heart cooking that's open to creative interpretation. Besides Norton's, he also worked in the kitchens at Rigazzi's and Market Pub House.
To note, Ellerson mentions the the "Al'Key Burger" ($7), a beer-battered burger with beer-battered bacon and beer cheese sauce; the "Doc Holliday" ($8) sandwich featuring coffee-rubbed ribeye with sauteed portabella mushroom and onions on a French baguette; and the "Bayou Billy" ($7) sandwich with andouille hot link, sauteed shrimp and jambalaya-like sauce. Bottles of Sriracha dot tables for an extra dose of hot.
For flavors from the South, look for the likes of muffulettas ($8 for half and $13 for a whole) and po' boys ($8) -- or go for the "4 Horsemen" ($12) combo featuring a sampler of SBR (sausage, beans and rice), jambalaya, étouffée and gumbo. The namesake "the Kitchen Sink" ($9) is labeled "the ultimate shrimp and grits."
The Kitchen Sink is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m and Saturday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, though Ellerson notes these hours might change soon to begin offering delivery in the neighborhood.