Photo by Laurie Skrivan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch



Gerard Craft, ever restless, has undertaken yet another challenge at his flagship restaurant. The cuisine at Niche now features almost exclusively Missouri-grown and -raised produce. This isn’t limited to the meats or seasonal vegetables. The bread is made with Missouri grain, and until the ocean level rises all the way to the banks of the Mississippi, seafood is limited to trout, sturgeon and other freshwater species. Even with these strictures, Niche still stands above the rest of the St. Louis dining scene. Indeed, the limitations seem to have focused the kitchen’s creativity, and Craft and his team — executive chef Nate Hereford, pastry chef Sarah Osborn and sous chef Brian Lagerstrom, whose work with fermentation and culturing is key to exploiting the potential of Niche’s Missouri larder — are serving some of the best food of Niche’s 10-year run. My dinner there in January 2015 impressed me especially with its deeply flavored vegetable fare (spaghetti squash with oregano, feta and pepitas) and its restrained approach to meat. One half of the lamb duo was simply pulled shoulder meat sauced tableside with its own jus. Essential, just like Niche itself.