Subscribe for 99¢

Q • Could I please request the recipe for Small Batch Vegetarian Rigatoni. —Cindy Skosky, Boulevard Heights

A • The rigatoni at Small Batch Whiskey & Fare tastes so meaty it’s hard to believe the recipe is vegetarian. The house-made rigatoni noodles, cooked al dente, deliver a hearty bite while the smoked mushrooms add an earthiness to the dish. The inventive mirepoix of red onion, red peppers, shallots and garlic adds color and flavor, while the vegan Match Meat Italian sausage adds both texture and flavor. It all comes together with a Cajun cream sauce that’s easy to make. The sauce relies on a range of spices for its flavorful finish.

Chef Jerremy Kirby made the vegetarian version of this dish easy to make at home. His creamy sauce relies on the heavy cream reaching 180 degrees and no higher so the egg yolks will incorporate without curdling the sauce. Another little step, smoking the mushrooms, adds a depth of flavor to the rigatoni, plus he’s made it easy if you don’t have a smoker to match the taste with a marinade.

“When people who generally eat meat come to Small Batch and ask about the dishes, I’ll recommend they try the rigatoni,” general manager Nikki Brown says. “It never fails to please.”

There’s also a vegan version of the dish, where coconut milk substitutes for heavy cream. “It doesn’t come across as vegan,” owner Dave Bailey says. “We can make a vegan variation of any dish on our menu."

In fact, many dishes on the menu are already vegan, like the poke bowl, which features red amaranth grain that looks like salmon roe. We can always put together a vegan pad Thai or a stir fry with ingredients on hand,” Bailey says.

The menu features local ingredients, fresh bread, pickles and ferments, fresh pastas, and desserts all handmade at Bailey’s commissary. The restaurant group has a farmer on staff who runs Bailey’s urban farm. Herbs, greens, microgreens, sprouts, tomatoes and seasonal vegetables from the farm appear at all of Bailey’s restaurants.

The creative vegetable focus at Small Batch shines when traditional small plates like rangoon, gyoza and poutine lose the meat or fish and still retain the essence of the dish. A cauliflower sauced with bourbon buffalo sauce isn’t the same as hot wings, but these not-wings taste really good.

The restaurant is located in a former Ford Model T showroom on Locust, which was once known as automobile row. The first floor features a seating area up front, both high and low tables, and its signature whiskey bar. The classy black and white interior, the black wrought iron and the second-floor promenade mezzanine make it a stylish place for a date, dinner before or after an event or as a place to enjoy a good cocktail.

Small Batch Whiskey & Fare

3001 Locust Street

314-380-2040; smallbatchstl.com

Recipes from the top 100 restaurants in St. Louis: