Squatter’s Café (3524 Washington Avenue) is a new breakfast and lunch concept taking over — squatting
Chef Rob Connoley, a St. Louis native, returned to his hometown last year after running much-lauded restaurant the Curious Kumquat in New Mexico. He has been hosting pop-up dinners over the last year in preparation for the opening of a new restaurant, also focused largely on foraged ingredients, called Bulrush.
Connoley has big plans for that restaurant and is taking his time to do it right. In the meantime, he sought a smaller, simpler concept to keep him and his sous chef, Justin Bell, busy and practicing.
In theory, a breakfast and lunch spot in Grand Center sounds like a basic undertaking. But in Connoley's hands, it proves anything but. The vegetable-forward dishes re-imagine breakfast and lunch flavors with inspired creativity and, yes, whimsy.
A second jarred yogurt features an edible cup filled with espresso, butterscotch mousse and cinnamon crunch toasters.
Every dish on the menu offers a surprise, whether it’s literally tucked away to be discovered during a bite, presented as an unexpected flavor in a dressing or as a unique preparation of a heretofore straightforward vegetable.
Another inventive section of the menu is called simply “dollops” — a collection of sauces that may prove tasty added to whatever dish you wish: pesto, sweet tomato sauce, duck confit, butterscotch or lemon curd and bacon jam.
As at the Curious Kumquat, the Squatter’s Café menu is entirely local, save for a beloved ingredient of Connoley’s, wild rice — found only in the northern Great Lakes region.
Everything is crafted in-house, including the yogurt, pecan milk and pickles (served with honey). The kitchen operates on a no-waste policy; virtually all vegetable scraps are transformed into ingredients for other dishes. All dishware is to-go and compostable, made from sorghum grass.
Beer, wine and cocktails are also available.
The Squatter’s Café is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Scroll down for additional photos of the menu and space.
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