The Gardens at Malmaison (3519 St. Albans Road, St. Albans; 636-458-0131) announced this week that its restaurant space is now available for chefs and restaurateurs to use for pop-up projects. Whether it's one night or a few months, the 19th-century building in St. Albans is certainly an interesting spot for the latest in restaurant trends. We talked to owner Datra Herzog about the allure of pop-ups and why the former Malmaison is perfect for that type of event.
The restaurant has just renovated its kitchen and dining room, and Herzog says that partly sparked the idea. "The craze of people flocking to 'underground' restaurants in spaces where there isn't a licensed kitchen, or even a kitchen at all, fascinated me," she tells us. "These have been a huge success in urban areas, and I thought, 'There are so many people in the suburbs that would love to try a new, up-and-coming chef's cuisine but don't want to make the drive into St. Louis, why not do it here?' We have a gorgeous new kitchen and a beautiful restaurant that can serve as the backdrop for these gatherings."
The building was originally a barn built in 1843 and rearranged into a restaurant space in 1928. Malmaison, the excellent French restaurant that later occupied Old Barn Inn in 1988, kept its charm after owners Gilbert and Simone Andujar retired in 2002. Herzog purchased the properties in 2004, including the Gardens and the Studio Inn.
Herzog has been working with Butler's Pantry for holiday events over the past few months, but she says she's very open to collaborations with established or not-so-established chefs.
"I think the right long-term chef/restaurant could be a huge success, but I also think that the ephemeral experience will be a huge part of the appeal," she says. "Also, people who are familiar with the space will look forward to seeing what's coming up next."
Plus, it might be a good way for the right chef to "test the waters," in Herzog's words, in the county. "It is something fresh and new in a specific area. People are looking for a unique experience, and what a better way to do that than a pop-up restaurant?" she says.
Interested parties can contact Herzog at 636-458-0131 for more information.
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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