by Nancy Stiles
Mike McLaughlin has opened his second restaurant in Maplewood: Blind Tiger Pizza, Whiskey and Ribs (7376 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-646-8822). After a weekend of family and friends events and parties, plus dinner service on Sunday night, the artisanal pizza restaurant and whiskey bar will be open for business on Tuesday, December 10, at 5 p.m.
"We're just starting slow this week -- Tuesday night we'll probably open the phones, too, for carry out and just see how it goes," McLaughlin tells Gut Check. "We're not doing a big push, just social media and word of mouth so we can ease into it."
As we reported earlier this year, the Blind Tiger will reunite McLaughlin with chef Jaxon Noon for the first time since the pair ran the Bleeding Deacon. The space at the corner of Manchester and Sutton in downtown Maplewood was almost completely redesigned.
"We kind of inherited a really gaudy nightmare, so we toned that down quite a bit. We had all this art deco stuff in there, and we kept a few of those accents -- made it a lot cleaner and warmer feeling," McLaughlin says. "It has this modern vibe to it at the same time. It's way nicer than anything I expected that we could do."
As planned, the menu features two different types of pizza -- a New York-style, housemade crust and a gluten-free St. Louis-style crust, both with a choice of three sauces. The ribs are braised in the housemade bourbon marinara pizza sauce. For a twist on the classic, Blind Tiger's chicken wings are cooked in their own fat. To begin with, Blind Tiger has about 30 to 35 whiskeys, bourbons and scotches, mostly craft or small batch -- "what I call kind of fancy stuff," McLaughlin says.
"I always say Jaxon's food is amazing, and I believe it," he says. "It's turned out really, really pretty amazing, especially considering we're doing all this stuff in-house. It's come together organically and really works."