mississippi bistro at four seasons hotel st. louis photo by michelle volansky

First Look: Mississippi Bistro at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

Mississippi Bistro is the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis’ pop-up restaurant, filling the gap between the closure of Cinder House in January and the launch of a new concept, which is currently tipped to open in spring 2024.

With the former Cinder House space already closed off for renovation, the hotel has repurposed an eighth floor banquet room to serve as the dining room for Mississippi Bistro. And no, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to dine here. On a sunny day, the space is bathed in natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that run the length of the room. The dining room can seat around 85 guests at any one time, with a semi-private dining area at the rear of the space. There’s more seating in a separate bar area, which offers a bar bites menu from 2 p.m. each day and fills the time between lunch and dinner.

Although Mississippi Bistro is a placeholder for the hotel’s forthcoming new concept (and hotel staff are tight-lipped about the details of the new concept, in case you were wondering), Schmidt and the kitchen team have clearly worked hard to maintain the standard guests would expect, with a number of noteworthy dishes. Schmidt said that while the popup's breakfast, lunch and dinner menus anticipate the cravings for comfort foods guests might be experiencing, there are also dishes here that offer more stimulation and inspiration. “I know that I’m going to be catering to Four Seasons guests, many of which have adopted a lifestyle of very healthy eating, but [they are] also adventurous,” Schmidt said. “So when you go somewhere, you want to be able to either indulge, or stick to your diet – there’s dishes on the menu where you can do both of those things."

The appetizer menu contains a couple of those must-order dishes: The creamy burrata, served with caponata (a Sicilian eggplant-based relish) and sourdough, and the yellow corn grit frites, with a spiced labneh dip. “A lot of the dishes are based on places I’ve been and experiences I’ve had,” Schmidt said. His time on the east coast inspired his calamari dish, where deep-fried calamari are plated on top of a roasted garlic and pickled pepper aioli that recalls Rhode Island-style calamari. For a side, indulge in the blue crab mac ‘n’ cheese.

The entrees lean toward hearty fare like steaks and the popular double smash bistro burger. Chef Schmidt names the fried chicken sandwich as a favorite order of his. The chicken is marinated in buttermilk and chile paste, before it goes into a gluten-free rice flour and corn starch dredge. “It comes with a bacon-onion jam, really great pickles that we make, and a freshly baked potato bun that chef Tiffany [Gilmore] prepares,” Schmidt said.

Pastry chef Tiffany Gilmore’s creative, intricate desserts are among the highlights, balancing sweetness with other flavor elements like floral notes and spices. Just a few examples include a lemon tart, chocolate macaron, espresso panna cotta and apple tatin. Gilmore said the delicately layered espresso panna cotta takes its inspiration from Vietnamese coffee, including a dollop of condensed milk. “It has a layer of Vietnamese coffee panna cotta, then vanilla panna cotta, spiced vanilla, then on the top it has an espresso coffee jelly with caramelized orange ice cream, a macaron,” she said.

For the apple tatin, Gilmore reworks a traditional apple puff pastry. The apple is sliced thin, combined with caramel, then sheeted and rolled up into a dense tart before baking. “It changes the flavor a lot, the caramel gets in between all the layers, and it has a different texture and mouthfeel,” she said. The dessert is topped with the hotel’s vanilla bean ice cream.

For the cocktail menu, bartender Chelsea Pounds makes classic and classic-inspired drinks like Nate’s Black Cadillac (essentially a black Manhattan), a Boulevardier, the Bistro Sidecar and Hemingway’s Lost Convertible. Pounds said that the latter, the bar’s take on a daiquiri, is the most-ordered drink: It’s a mix of Bacardi rum, passionfruit, Luxardo Maraschino, lime and grapefruit. There are also two nonalcoholic cocktails, a number of wines by the glass, as well as a selection of bottled and canned beers. A number of dishes from the lunch and dinner menus, including those grit frites, are also available on the bar bites menu, along with calamari, pimento cheese and the spicy fried chicken sandwich.