A veteran of the St. Louis restaurant scene recently put down roots in Godfrey, Illinois.

Chef-owner Rex Hale – who previously ran four restaurants including Boundary and 360 St. Louis under Lodging Hospitality Management – debuted Bakers & Hale on Aug. 6, a fresh, farm-to-table concept with longtime employee, friend and Illinois resident Kelsi Baker Walden.

“I think the most exciting thing is that we can cook with the seasons,” Hale says. “We can actually grow things on the property, serve things out of the garden and have an opportunity to share our love for food with people in this area.”

As reported by Feast in April, the harvest-driven menu at the casual family eatery features comfort food highlighted by locally procured ingredients. In addition to produce grown in the on-site garden, Hale and Walden work with a variety of area purveyors including EarthDance Farms, Rain Crow Ranch and Such and Such Farm to source the components for their ever-evolving offerings.

The property, which the Baker family now owns, features spacious seating areas, with around 60 seats available in the dining room, 75 seats in the inside bar and another 110 at the outside bar. The rustic farmhouse feel of the space is highlighted with personal touches such as a vegetable-themed mural by local artists Eric and Crystal Stevens, tabletops painted by students from the nearby Montessori school and Baker family photos.

The dining room menu features traditional meal options such as starters, entrées and desserts, while the bar menu offers more communally focused dining options such as shareable plates, tacos, sandwiches and pizzas.

Highlights from the debut set of offerings include small plates such as heirloom tomatoes with Marcoot Jersey Creamery mozzarella, herbs and white-wine vinaigrette. Entrées include smoked beef brisket with a pickled beet and goat cheese salad as well as swordfish with garden peach-tomato sauce, wilted rainbow chard and blue fingerling potatoes. For dessert, choose from options including cheesecake with caramel and local fruit such as figs.

“We really wanted to serve good food with good local ingredients that express what the food is, and keep true to what the ingredients are without getting pretentious with it,” Hale says. “We’’re making the food approachable, but at exciting at the same time.”

From the bar, choose from around eight different local craft beers on tap – such as Old Bakery Beer Co. brews – as well as a variety of canned and bottled options. The wine list features all local or organic, biodynamic picks. Cocktails often feature locally made spirits include highlights such as the Apple Blossom with local Fuji apple juice, honey, citrus and your choice of vodka.

“The cocktail program here is really in line with the vision for food,” says head bartender Rory Morse. “We’ll have fresh juices paired with local honey, local maple syrup and herbs from our garden. It’s really meant to be as fresh as humanly possible.”

Bakers and Hale is open Monday through Saturday from 11am to 10pm.

Bakers & Hale, 7120 Montclair Ave., Godfrey, Illinois, 618.433.9748, bakershale.com

Mabel Suen is the St. Louis contributing editor for Feast.

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