There is one exception to the lunch and dinner menu's soup/salad/sandwich focus: a crab "cake." This is not the bane of this Baltimorean's existence, the feeble local attempt at an authentic crab cake, but a small tart. A mixture of blue crab meat (the best crab meat, and if you disagree with me, you're wrong), cream cheese and herbs is baked inside a short-dough crust and then served with a spicy rémoulade alongside mixed greens dressed with that same rémoulade. The flavor pairs the savory sweetness of crab with the mellow tang of cream cheese, with just a hint of heat from the spiced-up mayo. The highlight of the menu, though too small to make a satisfying meal.

From the breakfast board, I tried a panino with scrambled egg, sliced roast turkey, wedges of avocado and pepper jack cheese on honey-wheat bread. (The choice of bread is yours.) The scrambled eggs, though underseasoned, completed a tricky balancing act: neither too dry nor, so that the sandwich wouldn't collapse, too runny. It was an example of what impressed me most about the food at Café Ventana: By design, the menu isn't "exciting." But what the menu does offer is presented, from conception to execution, with focus.

Sweet escape: Dr. Gurpreet Padda and Ami M. Grimes, owners of Cafe Ventana.
Jennifer Silverberg
Sweet escape: Dr. Gurpreet Padda and Ami M. Grimes, owners of Cafe Ventana.

Location Info

Map

Cafe Ventana

3919 W Pine Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63108

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - Midtown

Details

Café Ventana
Beignets (three)...$3.75
Lobster bisque...$4.95
Crab "cake"...$7.95
3919 West Pine Boulevard; 314-531-7500.
Hours: Breakfast 7-11 a.m. daily Lunch/Dinner 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily (café open 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.-Wed., 6:30 a.m.-1:30 a.m. Thu.-Sat.)

You don't need to be especially attuned to the eggs in your sandwich or whatever you're eating to notice that focus. You can be lost in the doldrums of another crappy day, wondering how difficult it would be to move permanently to, say, Mexico's Mayan Riviera, when a single beignet, hot, sweet and fresh, reminds you that the simple pleasures might not outnumber all the daily instances of B.S., but they sure can outweigh them.

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