Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pick a Cardwell's, Any Cardwell's

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pick a Cardwell's, Any Cardwell's

Article excerpt

For executive chef Dave Owens, Cardwell's at the Plaza is a vision come true.

"I was on my way back to the restaurant one Friday night, and there it was, filled with people," he said. "It looked just like the artist's rendering."

Seven years after they opened Cardwell's in Clayton, Bill Cardwell and Rich Gorczyca have expanded to Plaza Frontenac.

They are joined by two more partners, Owens and general manager Pedro Beltranena. "If we were going to add another restaurant, we needed to have working partners, so Bill and I would not neglect the mother ship in Clayton," Gorczyca said.

Beltranena is the man in the double-breasted suit who asks diners quietly, with a slight Spanish accent, "Is everything all right?"

Less visible because he is in the kitchen is Owens, a six-year Cardwell veteran.

The new restaurant has a market area that extends into the hall of Plaza Frontenac, where there is ample room to park a baby stroller next to a table. Prepared Cardwell's specialties are sold here, along with wines and Companion Bakery's breads.

On the east side of the restaurant is the cafe, where small dining rooms open off the main room. The horseshoe-shaped bar, set with white linens at lunch, is in the center.

With a few exceptions, anything on the menu, from soups to sweets, can be ordered any time of the day or evening. "It had to be an all-day menu for people shopping in the plaza," Gorczyca said.

Some favorites on the eclectic menu are roasted onions and wild mushrooms; smoked spareribs; spit-roasted chicken; pasta with chicken-basil sausage; smoked duck drumsticks; sweet tobacco-cut fried onions; macaroni baked with white Cheddar cheese; steak salad and grilled steak; and warm fruit buckle with sour cream-poppy seed ice cream. The back of the menu features wines by bottle, glass or 2-ounce sampler, with suggestions on wine and food pairings.

Cardwell calls the fare "good, honest food."

"We serve fresh seasonal foods cooked well with creative ingredients," he said. "It was our philosophy when we opened Clayton, and it remains so today."

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BAKED MACARONI AND WHITE CHEDDAR CHEESE CASSEROLE

Cardwell's

Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray

6 cups cooked macaroni

3/4 cup whipping cream (do not substitute milk)

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

3/4 teaspoon whole celery seed

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 pound sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs

Lightly oil a 21/2-quart casserole dish that can go into microwave oven and under the broiler. …

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