rated test kitchen photo courtesy of rated test kitchen

Rated Test Kitchen has opened Rated Cafe in downtown St. Louis

Previously operating for dinner service only, Rated Test Kitchen at 313 N. 11th St. in downtown St. Louis is launching daytime hours in the form of Rated Cafe. After a soft opening phase this week, it will officially debut on Monday, June 10.

By adding a second dimension to his intimate dinner club, chef-owner Juwan Rice is giving the community a new way to experience his food. He is spreading the wealth, in other words; showing us what he can do during daylight hours when the vibe is rather different, and the tab is a little lighter on the wallet. “It’s brighter during the day. Nighttime is moodier,” Rice said.

Rated Test Kitchen opened in spring 2023. Rice described it then as a unique culinary playground where he and his fellow “culinary creatives” could play around to exciting ends with flavors from different parts of the world – South America, Cuba, Asia, et cetera. That approach is in evidence at the cafe as well. Some of this food sounds very exciting indeed: The Fields of Love is one of two “eclectic eclairs” which brings together lemon thyme mascarpone mousse and strawberry moscato jam. Crispy sticky rice is a party of rice, quail egg, scallion jam, garlic aioli, crispy shallots and chicken sausage. 

Rice uses Knead Bakehouse brioche for his French toast, which is a visual heartstopper – a completely divine-looking breakfast, delicately assembled with custard, mascarpone whip and red summer fruits like jewels. Rice said he’s excited about the little “echoes” that may exist between his day and night operations; for example, the crossover of a lovely herby sauce, which may show up at either end of the day.

As for coffee, Rice is importing beans from Mexico and Costa Rica that are then roasted by a company in Arkansas. The blend, as well as pots of Rice’s own line of spices, is available for purchase in the cafe. The beverage menu also lists a dirty miso chai latte with caramel syrup, an ube latte, and an icy refresher with cucumber and lemonade. Pretty soon, a friend will be supplying honey from his own local bees; and Rice said most of his herbs and leafy greens are locally sourced too.

Rice said he always intended to add a cafe to the mix, but wanted to get to know the neighborhood first. The 1,500-square-foot space seats 30, with tables on the sidewalk for six. While the Test Kitchen hosts two seatings of a reservation-only, seven-course dinner Thursday through Sunday, Rated Cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.