Vintage Balaban's

Chef Dan Joyce could rest on Balaban's laurels -- but he'd rather take St. Louis on some delicious adventures

One facet of the Café Balaban operation that it seems shall never change — and three cheers for that — is the décor, a darkened, cozy-yet-classy interior that does a spot-on impression of a timeless French bistro. It's the kind of place that makes you feel more attractive the moment you pass through its doors. The café up front comprises the white-tableclothed dining tables in both the barroom and the narrow, glassed-in vestibule that runs along the length of the restaurant's Euclid Avenue façade. The northern end of the space progresses as a series of dining rooms, a little more formally appointed (white linen napkins are arranged fanlike on tabletops) and a lot more kooky-French-aunt's-attic, every inch and nook of exposed-brick wall and corner shelving crammed with framed French prints, replicas of famous sculptures, and other Francophilic bric-a-brac. (The kooky French aunt is also apparently too fou to notice that the bathrooms need a good scrubbing. You'll excuse me if I don't go into the unappetizing details.)

Like me, Joyce is happy with Café Balaban now, but he's not fully satisfied. Though the restaurant is a bit slow on the uptake on this one, he wants to start focusing his energies on changing the menu seasonally, not just every year or two. "Changing our menu is a huge project for us because we actually have more than one: a.m. café, p.m. café, p.m. dining room, Sunday brunch," he notes. (The main distinction between the café and dining-room menus is the option of casual fare on the former, along the lines of burgers and pizza.) "But we've got ideas already going for the springtime, and we're going to be bringing back our morel pastas, which are usually our biggest sellers for the whole year. People call months ahead for that, and we go through about ten pounds of morels a week."

Chef Dan Joyce: Like a fine wine, Café Balaban is aging nicely.
Jennifer Silverberg
Chef Dan Joyce: Like a fine wine, Café Balaban is aging nicely.

Location Info

Map

Cafe Balaban

405 N. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63108-1601

Category: Restaurant > Brunch

Region: St. Louis - Central West End

Details

Café Balaban
405 North Euclid Avenue; 314-361-8085. Hours: Lunch Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner 6-10:30 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 5:30-11:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 5 -10:30 p.m. Sun. Brunch 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sun.

Barramundi $23.95
Veal Oscar $26.95
Coriander tuna $10.95
Cucumber bisque $5.95

Doubtless Café Balaban will hit more rough patches along the line. Right now, though, let's just savor the moment, and eat.

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