Renovated Whittemore House serves local food with international flavors

Historic faculty club now offers breakfast; hosts holiday parties and wine dinners

Whittemore House Chef Jim Huber’s dad was an auto worker by trade, but a farmer in spirit.“Wherever we lived, we had a garden as big as we could grow,” Huber said. “Dad always had strawberries and tomatoes and rhubarb. And Mom made a lot of from-scratch cookies and pies. I grew up eating a lot of great, home-cooked meals.”

Huber brings his love for local ingredients and home cooking to the newly renovated Whittemore House. His menu features trout from Troutdale Farms in Gravois Mills; goat cheese from Heartland Creamery in Newark, Mo.; yogurt from Windcrest Dairy in Trenton, Ill.; and tofu from Mofu Soy, here in St. Louis.

“From the beginning, I’ve always searched for local products and gotten to know the farmers,” Huber said. “The reason why is taste. A local tomato just tastes better.”

Whittemore House Pan-Roasted Missouri Trout with Charred Red Pepper and Local Black Walnut Relish

  • ½ cup black walnut pieces
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Grated rind and juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons diced charred/ peeled red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 boneless trout

– Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F
– Place boneless butterflied trout on a small oiled pan skin side down.
– Season with salt and pepper
– Place desired amount of walnut mixture on trout and place in oven.
– Bake until firm to the touch, about 10 minutes

Note: This relish is great on almost any seafood of your choice.

Huber recently returned to the Whittemore House kitchen after a two-year run as chef and butcher at the Smokehouse Market. Previously, he served as Whittemore House chef for 13 years. During his tenure, he tripled the size of the menu and introduced an array of international flavors.

“The menu reflects diverse tastes of our international audience,” Huber said. “I personally like Asian and Chinese food, so I like to use ginger and lemongrass. I’m always wandering the aisles of Global Foods. If I see something, I’ll build a dish around that.”

Menu highlights include oven-roasted barramundi served with organic Missouri brown basmati rice with coconut cilantro broth; Mediterranean pulled lamb sandwich with yogurt raita, harissa and shaved radicchio; and Moroccan spiced tuna salad with local organic tahini vinaigrette. The average dish costs $10 and takes only a few minutes to prepare.

“A good relish, a good chutney, flavorful seasonings — we’re always devising ways to present complicated food in a quick fashion,” Huber said.

The Whittemore House also has introduced breakfast. The menu includes hearty favorites like biscuits and gravy and a slinger as well continental classics such as Belgian waffles with local maple syrup and scrambled egg tartine with ham, leeks, spinach and Gruyère.

Other events include weekly Wednesday bistro dinners featuring three courses for $16.95; cooking classes; special events such as a Thanksgiving buffet and upcoming Polar Express holiday party; and monthly five-course wine dinners.

All Washington University full-time staff and faculty members are eligible to join the Whittemore House. There is no initiation fee; dues are $6 a month.

“We love listening to our members and trying new things,” said Whittemore House General Manager Art Casolari. “We want this to be a place that people want to be.”

To that end, the Whittemore House has completely redesigned its interior, investing $1.2 million in new furniture, lighting, decor and artwork from the university’s Island Press. The lighter colors brighten what sometimes felt like an oppressively clubby space.

“People are noticing the windows for the first time. They’ve asked, ‘Are these windows larger?’” Casolari said. “The members really seem to like the changes.”

They’re not the only ones. The ghosts who are said to reside in the Whittemore House also approve.“We must have done the right thing,” Casolari said. “They’re going along with it.”