Located in an unassuming strip mall in Cottleville is a hidden gem – The Rack House Kitchen Wine Whiskey®.
Owned by John and Bridgette Hamilton, the restaurant began its life in 2014 as a winery, but 18 months ago it evolved into something much, much more – a full-on restaurant focusing on made-from-scratch food using local produce, plus a Cigar Lounge with humidors to rent, and wine and whiskey clubs that offer their own unique benefits.
Still, Hamilton said, “Our food is our biggest draw. Chef Philip Day does an amazing job, so we pretty much just turn him loose in the kitchen. Then, our sommelier, Josh French, brings in whatever wines he thinks are the best nationally and internationally. We’ve got about 80 to 90 labels on our wine list,” Hamilton said. In the kitchen, Day’s goal is to elevate comfort food with a little twist.
“One of our taglines is ‘Something different. Something for everyone.’”
Everyone includes families with kids.
“We do get a lot of people who bring their kids in here. In fact, we have to keep buying more highchairs,” Hamilton said, laughing. Many families come in for brunch on Sunday mornings though The Rack House offers a kids’ menu every day.
“We actually won No. 2 in the Post-Dispatch readership awards for best brunch,” Hamilton said. Brunch on Sundays is served from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
“Technically, we run lunch all day on Sunday; then from 3 p.m.-8 p.m., we do a Sunday night supper. There’s always Fried Chicken on the menu and there will be features like Meatloaf or Frog Legs or something that’s a little bit more of a country-style meal.
“It’s a little different menu than we have the rest of the week.”
The Rack House introduces a new menu “about every six weeks or so,” capitalizing on the fresh ingredients, sourced within a 50-mile radius of the restaurant.
“Our regular customers really enjoy the discovery aspect of having a changing menu.”
Regulars also enjoy the depth of customer service The Rack House provides – for instance, having access to French.
“If you come in here regularly and Josh gets to know your palate, he often will keep an eye out for wines you’d really like, even when meeting with distributors,” Hamilton said.
That’s the type of extreme personal service for which Hamilton and his staff want The Rack House to be known – that and giving its patrons a unique dining experience. Having a Cigar Lounge on-site helps with the latter.
The Cigar Lounge comfortably holds about 20 people. Special ventilation keeps the main dining room free of cigar smells and smoke.
“What often happens is that guys go into the lounge for a bourbon and cigar, while the ladies stay in the dining room and have some wine and dessert,” Hamilton said.
As for dessert, Hamilton said the restaurant’s most popular is its Bourbon Bacon Brownie with caramel ice cream. “It hits all the right notes. It’s the dessert we give away when someone comes in to celebrate a special occasion with us,” Hamilton said.
If that special occasion means gathering more than a few friends together, The Rack House is happy to accommodate with banquet space that is available rent-free but with a moderate minimum. The room is available for booking anytime the restaurant is open.