A prominent Granite City family opened Lascelles last year on Valentine’s Day to provide an alternative to fast food and casual dining.
Customers were impressed by the restaurant’s gourmet menu and cool atmosphere in a renovated bank building.
“The problem was, people began to think of it as a special-occasion place,” said Brenda Whitaker, 53, of Granite City, interim general manager since July. She also is a city councilwoman and owner of Garden Gate Tea Room.
Brenda and her staff at Lascelles recently unveiled a new menu with more choices, including appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, entrees, pasta and flatbread.
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“We have morphed into what the restaurant should be,” she said. “There’s something for everyone. If you want a magnificent Steak au Poivre, you can get that. But if you’re in the mood for a great, all-American burger and a craft beer, we have that, too.”
The restaurant is owned by attorney Lance Callis, father of attorney Ann Callis, former Third Judicial District chief judge and former Congressional candidate. “Lascelles” is a family name.
Lance bought the brick, wedge-shaped building in downtown Granite City several years ago. It was erected in the 1920s by city fathers Frederick and William Niedringhaus.
“I was trying to do something to help bring back the downtown area,” said Lance, 80, who has lived in the city since childhood.
All of our steaks are cut to order. So when you want a Steak au Poivre, I pull out a whole strip loin, cut a nice 10-ounce portion and trim it. It’s as fresh as you can get.
Nolan Logan on Lascelles steaks
Today, the space has high ceilings, giant windows and the bank’s original marble floor. Sage and Merlot walls are decorated with vintage posters. Customers sit at regular or high-top, cherry wood tables.
Lance isn’t involved in management, but he eats at the restaurant about twice a week. His favorite menu item is Shrimp and Grits.
“It’s a New Orleans dish,” Lance said. “It’s very good.” The shrimp is served with creamy smoked Gouda, Creole barbecue sauce and black-bean corn salsa ($8).
On a recent weekday, Nolan Logan and Zackary Carnes, who prefer to be called “culinarians” instead of “chefs,” were cooking for the lunch crowd.
“This is a collaborative kitchen,” said Nolan, 22, of East Alton, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of St. Louis. “Everyone is cross-trained, so they can pick up where somebody else leaves off to make sure everything is taken care of.”
The new menu includes old favorites, such as the Farmhouse Burger with two seared-beef patties, hickory smoked bacon, a fried egg and smoked Gouda on an English muffin ($10 with a side).
Zackary, 22, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in St. Louis, ordered the burger on his first visit to the restaurant and promptly applied for a job.
“Our Tomato Bisque is also phenomenal,” Nolan said. “I’m not a big soup eater, but I could live on that for days.”
“Our dishwasher actually does,” Zackary chimed in. “I know what it is. It’s the tomatoes. They’re whole plum tomatoes from Italy. I’d say one out of three people who come in here order the Tomato Bisque.”
Lascelles entrees range from Chicken and Waffles to Pork Chops, Chipotle Salmon to Steak and Fries ($11 to $24).
“All of our steaks are cut to order,” Nolan said. “So when you want a Steak au Poivre, I pull out a whole strip loin, cut a nice 10-ounce portion and trim it. It’s as fresh as you can get.”
On a recent weekday, five people from Amsted Rail’s local office gathered for lunch at Lascelles. Two ordered Chopped Cobb Salads, and two ordered Caesar Salads.
Joe Heller went with his old standby, the Memphis Burger. It’s two seared-beef patties topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, Cheddar cheese, onion rings and cole slaw ($12 with a side).
“This is one of the few places you can get a hamburger topped with pork,” said Joe, 51, of South St. Louis County, who has eaten at the restaurant several times.
“It’s convenient, and it has a delicious menu. And they also have an excellent tap selection for after hours.”
Lascelles is part of a downtown Granite City revitalization that also includes Kool Beanz Cafe, Aiello’s Pizzeria, Granite City Cinema and Alfresco Art Center.
Front of the House Manager Michalene Millas, 38, of Granite City, has enjoyed seeing the restaurant succeed despite low expectations.
“When it first opened, people were like, ‘It’s never going to make it because it’s in Granite City,’” she said. “It’s been neat watching it grow.”
At a glance
- What: Lascelles
- Where: 1324 Niedringhaus Ave. in Granite City
- Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays
- Seating: 70
- Handicap-accessible: Yes
- Carryouts: Yes
- Party room: Yes (semi-private)
- Information: Call 618-709-7375 or visit www.lascellesgc.com or the Facebook page
On the menu
- Shrimp Po-Boy — Breaded and fried Cajun shrimp sandwich with remoulade sauce, shredded lettuce and tomato slices, $9 with housemade chips, slaw or fries
- Farmhouse Burger — Two seared-beef patties, hickory smoked bacon, a fried egg and smoked Gouda on an English muffin, $10 with housemade chips, slaw or fries
- Steak au Poivre — Cracked-pepper-encrusted, pan-seared 10-ounce New York strip with cognac peppercorn cream sauce, served with asparagus and three-cheese potato gratin, $26
- Barbecue Chicken Flatbread — Grilled chicken, barbecue sauce, Cheddar cheese, banana peppers and jalapenos on flatbread, $9
- Shrimp and Grits — Appetizer with New Orleans-style creamy smoked Gouda grits, Creole barbecue sauce and black-bean corn salsa, $8