Photo by Sid Hastings



After tracking and reviewing Ben Poremba’s busy, mixed-result 2014 — his partnership to open the restaurant inside the new United Provisions grocery store in the Delmar Loop faltered after only a few months, while his own new venture, Old Standard Fried Chicken, was a success — I found my most recent dinner at his flagship Elaia a bracing reminder of how talented a chef he is. Poremba and his exceptionally talented young chef de cuisine, Josh Charles, serve gorgeous, Instagram-ready dishes that also possess serious soul. Poremba draws on his Mediterranean-spanning background to deliver flavors that are brilliant and new yet also uncannily familiar, from his take on the traditional Moroccan street food pastilla (served here with luscious Mangalitsa-breed pork) to an elegant lamb tartare with a cracked-olive salad and black garlic. At a time when few St. Louis chefs are challenging diners, we’re fortunate to have Poremba and his team pushing forward.