KSHE 95 radio personality Favazz happens to be a major foodie and friend of Stone Soup Cottage chef Carl McConnell. Here, he writes about his memorable final visit to the Cottleville restaurant’s original location and his first glimpse of the new space.
Chef Carl McConnell has been churning out some of the area’s best fine dining since opening Stone Soup Cottage in Cottleville in 2009 with his wife Nancy. The food is crazy, off-the-hook delicious in one of the most unique environments you’ll find. The restaurant is so popular that you have to wait months for a reservation.
Before Stone Soup Cottage moved to its new location on the Wiese Farm in Cottleville, the restaurant celebrated last week at its nearby original location by offering the first menu from 2009, and I had to stop by. It was my second trip to the restaurant, and as much as I was looking forward to the meal, I couldn’t wait to talk to chef Carl and ask him about moving his award-winning restaurant down the street.
After finishing the last course, chef Carl sauntered to my table and quietly asked if I’d like to take a drive. While the rest of the guests were finishing their desserts, I jumped up from my table and left with this pony-tailed dude in his SUV cruising into the Cottleville darkness. It was exciting, and I was high with the lingering tastes of black truffles and duck confit.
We drove about a mile and came to the building that now houses the new Stone Soup. It’s a new construction built in the shadow of a craggy old barn surrounded by nature’s beauty. There’s a lake, green houses and fields of farm-to-table vegetation. Carl and I walked into the new space, and it was amazing. Towering brick and stone walls surrounded by wood accents make the new space feel even more cozy and relaxed.
As we finished the tour of his new building, it felt funny going into “interviewer” mode. Carl is just so cool, and we were having a great time talking about how he likes to listen to the Rolling Stones and George Thorogood when he’s having a drink. His first concert was Rush. His favorite concert was Sting. It was great to laugh about how Carl feels that music definitely sets the tone of the restaurant, particularly, in the kitchen. Sometimes he needs something mellow when he needs to be relaxed and focused. At other times, he wants something hard, so he can, “kick some ass,” as he so eloquently put it. And yes, he listens to me on KSHE.
He has been all over the world, having visited 138 countries. Chef Carl has been everywhere from Nepal to Easter Island. He is not what I expected of a chef from Cottleville. After telling me he has circled Mt. Everest in a 757, I thought, “Geez, he does sound like the Dos Equis guy.”
So when I asked how he got here, he said, “I was hooked and seduced by a St. Louis girl and knew I had to move here ‘cause she wasn’t going to move where I was!” Carl was speaking of Nancy. She’s a great cook, and he particularly loves her tacos. Yes, here is the guy who just served me black truffle risotto, telling me how much he likes regular, old hard tacos.
When our conversation draws to a close, we head back to the original restaurant where there is a shot waiting for me made by Nancy. I had intended to close out our tour with the only way I know how to end a great night: a big fat shot. But the conversation had grown long and Nancy had long since gone home. So, I drank both shots. Carl then handed me his cookbook. I’ll never be able to replicate Carl’s dishes, but I graciously accepted the challenge.
As for the new Stone Soup, you’ll be amazed at the beauty of this quaint piece of land and the restaurant that sits in the middle of it. It might be a different building, but the food will be the same: elegantly prepared dishes with ingredients grown right outside the cottage. There’s an empire being built in St. Louis, and the guy with the ponytail who loves Led Zeppelin is the rocking, king of the hill.