Photo by Roberto Rodriguez



This restaurant has closed

Gerard Craft closed Niche in June 2016. He will open a new concept, Sardella, in its place this fall. After five previous nominations, Gerard Craft finally won the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Midwest” in 2015. His victory gilded what was already a special year for Niche, which was celebrating its 10th anniversary — a decade that saw it grow from a small Benton Park establishment into a juggernaut with five distinct restaurants and, soon, an expansion into the white-hot Nashville, Tenn., market. So is Craft’s flagship restaurant resting on its laurels? Hardly. My return to Niche after another year of dining at St. Louis restaurants both new and old cemented my belief not only that Niche is our best restaurant, but also that nowhere else is close to knocking it off this perch. With an ace team in place (executive chef Nate Hereford, pastry chef Sarah Osborn and general manager Christopher Kelling), Niche delivers an unrivaled experience. Not even a self-imposed stricture to use local products almost exclusively has dampened its brilliance. Consider the Missouri-caviar taco, a playful, delicious three bites of paddlefish caviar with yogurt, habanero and chicharrones on a wheatberry tortilla, or the unexpectedly exciting rutabaga soup (rutabaga!) spiked with horseradish and cooled with a lovely elderberry granita. And I’m still thinking about Osborn’s beguiling Missouri miso crème caramel. A decade in, Niche is still finding new ways to delight and amaze.

Last year's ranking: 1

Opened: 2005

Must order: Menu changes frequently