Niche and Pastaria Will Bring Local Ingredients to Clayton

Gerard Craft, an innovative chef and businessman, is bringing his restaurant Niche to Centene Plaza in Clayton.

While some St. Louis city residents might feel a sense of abandonment—Niche is leaving its original location at 1831 Sidney St. in Benton Park—Craft remains the owner of the building in Benton Park and has no plans to sell: His parents own a condominium above the restaurant space. Niche will remain in operation at its original location until it opens in the spring of 2012 in Clayton.

Craft is a multifaceted person who pushes his limits and in turn receives great rewards for his efforts. His Craft Restaurants Ltd. owns Niche, Brasserie by Niche and Taste. Craft’s newest concept, Pastaria by Niche, is set to open in Centene Plaza next to Niche. They will operate separately with distinct concepts, decor, dining rooms and kitchens.

Pastaria will offer a rustic, family friendly atmosphere with a lower price point than Niche. The open kitchen will allow diners to watch fresh and dried artisanal pastas being made. Small plates, grilled meats and some wood fired pizzas will be on the menu. The focus will be on pasta and, as at Niche, the menu will constantly change.

Craft’s cooking philosophy is “to maintain the true flavor of the ingredients,” the Niche website states. Craft is a regular at farmers markets. He sources local ingredients whenever possible.

Craft discussed his relationship with Claverach Farms in Eureka, MO, in a recent Sauce Magazine article. Joanna Duley and Sam Hilmer of Claverach Farms wash the produce by hand, sort and size it. Ultimately it is the flavor of their produce, grown in rich soil, that captures Craft, the article states.

Like Craft, the menu at Niche is evolving. Current offerings that exemplify Craft’s style include:

  • barbecue trotters with alium, preserved lemon and blood sausage
  • french dip made from pig head (one of Craft’s favorites), quince, aioli, mustard seed, cherbourg and anchovy
  • roasted local chicken with parsnip, picholine, foie, granola and sherry jus

Craft plans to create a warm and cozy background with a modern feel in Niche.

He will be moving to a building that has received numerous awards. Centene Plaza was awarded Best New Building by the Riverfront Times last year. Craft has received various accolades, Niche’s website states. They include:

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