Located inside of the new Angad Arts Hotel in St. Louis’ Grand Center Arts District, surrounded by some of the city’s most renowned arts venues such as the Fox Theatre and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, sits Grand Tavern by David Burke.
Since opening the restaurant in November 2018, Chef Burke has wowed guests with famous dishes like Clothesline Bacon and Emotional Lobster Dumplings, as well as his patent-pending Himalayan Salt Brick dry-aged steaks. The restaurant’s best kept secret, however, is its theatrical desserts.
Pastry Chef Saul Juarez is the mastermind behind these show-stopping desserts. Hailing from a small town in Mexico, Juarez grew up with a passion for baking. He nabbed his first job in a bakery when he was just six years old before he could even reach the counters.
“It does sound pretty unbelievable when I think back to it,” says Juarez. “My cousin owned a bakery, and my mom asked if he would give me a summer job. I could only help with basic tasks like oiling sheet pans and pulling bread from the oven to cool, but I fell in love with baking from the moment that I stepped into the kitchen.”
After graduating culinary school and making a name of himself in California and then in St. Louis, Juarez was hand-selected by Chef Burke for an opportunity to lead the pastry program at Grand Tavern. The new challenge allows him to showcase his style for elevated, yet fun desserts.
Chef Burke has given Juarez the green light to express his creativity across the dessert menu. His theatrical desserts feature nods to the building and St. Louis’ history, twists on the classics, seasonal ingredients, and even CBD-infused desserts.
Signature desserts at Grand Tavern include the Dark Chocolate Mousse “Radio City Rockette” style. The dark chocolate-mousse is filled with an orange crème center and covered with peanut crunch, served with a pair of cookie dancer’s legs that acknowledge the building’s history as the birthplace of the troupe that later became famous in New York City as the Rockettes. In collaboration with Chef Burke, another favorite at Grand Tavern is the Gooey Butter Donuts, a whimsical take on the signature St. Louis dessert. The dessert includes brioche donut-holes filled with a gooey butter custard and topped with cotton candy. The donuts are finished tableside, topped with a gooey butter custard sauce.
Juarez also showcases unconventional versions of classics. For example, the Baked Alaska is a take on the traditional offering, comprised of pistachio, chocolate, and vanilla gelato, a liquor-soaked blueberry cake, and topped with meringue and fresh blueberries. The dessert is finished tableside with a finale of fire that perfectly toasts the meringue with cranberry sauce on top.
He has also been exploring emerging baking trends, such as CBD-infused desserts. On the 13th-floor rooftop terrace of the Angad Arts Hotel (A.R.T.), operated by Grand Tavern by David Burke, guests can try CBD-infused cocktails, starters, and desserts, such as the CBD Chocolate Cheesecake Lollipops.
This fall, theatre season picks up at Grand Tavern’s historic neighboring venue, The Fabulous Fox Theatre, and the restaurant will unveil a new themed dinner menu to accompany each show. The four-course dining experience is finished with a perfectly paired theatrical dessert, such as the Opera Torte with coffee glaze and Gianduja gelato on the Hamilton menu, or the Blueberry Tart with lemon curd and Chantilly crème offered for Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.