Solo diners aren't uncommon near college campuses. It's easy to blend in among students engrossed in their studies, swilling cups of bottomless coffee. Trouble is, the joints kids tend to frequent are uninspiringly similar, in both menu and décor, to the dorms in which they live. But not Café Ventana, an elegant throwback to New Orleans' past, located on the northwest edge of Saint Louis University. Tables and bars are scattered throughout the large dining room, lit by chandeliers and the sunlight streaming through the glass ceiling. A cubby of leather club chairs surrounds a fireplace. The menu's a far cry from dorm food, featuring chef Christopher Lee's fresh salads, sandwiches and handmade beignets. The restaurant blends students, professionals, groups and solos — it's casual elegance without that sneering "Just one?"
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