It's safe to say Andrew Cisneros has a lot on his plate: Just last year, he launched St. Louis' first cevicheria, Jalea, and a food counter at Perennial Artisan Ales, Sanguchitos. That's not to mention his rotisserie chicken pop-up, Brasas, which he's been working on for years. And now, Cisneros is the executive chef and partner at The Tavern Kitchen & Bar in Valley Park, Missouri, making this the fourth restaurant concept in his portfolio. Here, we talk with Cisneros one-on-one about his vision for The Tavern's menu, how he got involved and why this was the right move for him.
How are things going with your restaurants?
Everything is great. All my places are staffed up, including The Tavern. To me, that was a headache right after the pandemic – finding staff. Taking on this new project, being able to keep my staff has just been, I wouldn't say easy, but I haven't had to put a job posting out for any of my places in the year that I've been open.
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How did you get involved with The Tavern?
I got involved with The Tavern through Derek Deaver from Three Kings and Tres Reyes. That was my consulting gig for about a year ... Once my contract was up, Derek and I still remained good friends and he referred me to his really good friend Brant Baldanza that owns The Shack, The Corner Pub and Grill and The Tavern. We started the conversation about coming on as a consultant and changing the menu throughout the years, kind of by season. I started working there [in] January or early February. We were clicking, we were talking about potentially partnering with other concepts. Then, the conversation came up about him wanting to bring on a chef to run The Tavern but also revamp the menu. We agreed on a position that would also give me some freedom to also work on my restaurants and and manage them while managing The Tavern. We decided to partner up and I would be taking care of the kitchen and everything back-of-house related and then I would also help out with a little bit of the front-of-house. Wherever was needed.
Why was this the next step for you?
When I came in, I fell in love with the restaurant, the dining room, everything. Everything reminded me of the fine dining restaurants that I've worked at. The open kitchen – I really fell in love with having a view of the dining room. And then, they had a chef's counter. I saw it had a lot of potential to push tasting menus. That's also part of the plan, as well as to introduce like a 10-course tasting menu. Believe it or not, they were probably one of the first restaurants to have a chef's counter in St Louis. It's just no one really knew about it, and they never had a tasting menu for it.
What can people expect from the new menu?
We'll just call it, as a whole, a more à la carte-style menu. Composed dishes for the seafood side, and then I want to have an à la carte section for the steaks, where we'll be bringing in cuts like elk chops, lamb loins, straight rib-eye tenderloin and surf and turf options. And then you'll have a choice of these classical sauces that I trained on in my early years, such as Béarnaise, Madeira jus and all these classical French sauces. Every steak will be served with a veg preparation and then our sides were also include a lot of potato preparations. So one side of the menu will be like you're having a heavenly meat and potato section where you can pick your preparation like a Boursin potato purée or, or or a pommes dauphine, which is like a potato puff. Then the seafood side will be a little bit more composed. You could see a Peruvian paella ... I don't want to give too much away.
Cisneros' new menu at The Tavern will debut the week of April 17. For more information, visit The Tavern's website or follow it on Facebook.
The Tavern, 2961 Dougherty Ferry Road, Suite 101, Valley Park, Missouri, 636-825-0600, tavernstl.com