by Ian Froeb
This week, I visit two new restaurants along the Olive Boulevard corridor in west county: Kim Cheese (13435 Olive Boulevard, Chesterfield; 314-485-1408) and the first area location of Potbelly Sandwich Shop (11615 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur; 314-991-6800).
KimCheese combines one of the nation's hottest culinary trends with one of my personal restaurant obsessions. The trend is Mexican-Korean fusion: tacos and burritos stuffed with Korean barbecue and garnished, if you like, with pungent kim chi. Los Angeles birthed this trend, but it has proven wildly successful even where it doesn't make a lick of demographic sense. Here in St. Louis, the food truck Seoul Taco draws a crowd wherever it parks, and its owners recently opened a storefront in the Delmar Loop.
My obsession is local, independent restaurants that open in shuttered fast-food joints. I take a mental snapshot whenever I see one: the taqueria inside the familiar curved façade of a Taco Bell; the Indian buffet that took over a Pizza Hut and for a while called itself Tandoori Hut. I admire the business sense, equal parts savvy and scrappy, and I love the implied middle digit waved at corporate chain conformity.
Visit Gut Check tomorrow to read my review and see Jennifer Silverberg's slideshow of Kim Cheese.