A walnut tree’s roots run deep, not unlike those of the Walnut Grill, which was rooted to Pittsburgh before being transplanted in St. Louis three years ago.
“My brother Kurt founded the Walnut Grill in 2000 in suburban Pittsburgh on a street named Walnut, thus the name,” said restaurateur Eric Vogel.
A Johnson & Wales culinary grad, Vogel first came to St. Louis in 2000 to help grow the Charlie Gitto brand.
“At that same time, my brother was growing the Walnut Grill brand. By 2013, I decided to help bring the Walnut Grill to St. Louis, which we did, opening our first location in Ellisville in December 2014.”
Success at the Ellisville location allowed Walnut Grill to take root in the community and expand, opening locations in O’Fallon and Sunset Hills in less than three years. Check the website for details.
Vogel explained that the restaurant’s comfortable surroundings and unique eats are designed to appeal to everyone.
“We have an eclectic menu that can satisfy foodies or traditionalists.”
It’s a menu Vogel described as American style, which he defined as “doing anything you want.” The result is diverse flavors and international fusion, such as Walnut Grill’s popular Thai Pork Mac n’ Cheese, a creative take on the original that’s enhanced with an asparagus relish, smoked Gouda and sweet chili sauce.
“American style is open to a lot of different cuisines,” explained Vogel, who works with the chefs to create flavorful recipes featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients and sourced daily seafood.
“Walnut Grill [is] an upscale, polished concept that delivers thoughtful, chef-driven cuisine and uniqueness to the brand for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Vogel said. “In fact, we just opened for breakfast at all our locations just two months ago. It’s our newest element, which really sets us apart, because there aren’t that many three-meal concept restaurants in the country, or in St. Louis for that matter. That’s why we’re really excited about breakfast because breakfast is a lot of fun and you can do really neat things.”
Fun doesn’t begin to describe the Creme Brulee French Toast with caramelized walnuts or the Stuffed Croissant French Toast filled with strawberry cream cheese, dripping with warm maple syrup.
Foodies will favor the seldom-seen Monte Cristo – the American spin on the classic French croquet-monsieur – a toasted ham and Swiss cheese sandwich with candied bacon, batter-dipped and fried like French toast.
There also are hearty breakfast plates including Walnut Grill’s take on the traditional Kentucky Hot Brown – open-faced turkey over wheat toast topped with a Swiss Alfredo sauce, tomatoes, bacon and poached eggs. It’s a great plate for brunch-lovers or those simply wanting breakfast for lunch, which works because Walnut Grill’s breakfast menu is served until 3 p.m., seven days a week.
Beyond breakfast, Walnut Grill provides a savory mix of appetizers, flatbreads, sandwiches, salads and entrees – both gourmet and comfort fare.
“Our No. 1 seller is Chicken Spiedini; our Cedar Plank Salmon is another favorite,” said Vogel. He hinted at a new seasonal fall/winter menu featuring the ultimate comfort food – lasagna.
Every day of the year, Walnut Grill’s menu features items that help support the community.
“We’re highly engaged in partnering with the community,” said Vogel. “Our charity of choice for St. Louis is Friends of Kids with Cancer. We donate to the charity every time someone orders a designated dish or featured wine.”
‘Tis the season of giving, so consider stopping by Walnut Grill and ordering up some food and drink. You’ll be supporting a great cause and indulging in great cuisine – and that’s a win-win that is sure to spread holiday cheer.