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Located for years in the Vandora Theater building along Cherokee Street, just west of Jefferson Avenue, Black Bear Bakery has been baking organic, whole-grain breads and bagels, cookies and cakes, and pies and pastries since 1998. The worker-owned and -operated shop also serves a neighborhood brunch on Saturdays featuring an assortment of morning and midday favorites such as buckwheat pancakes, eggs, quiches and various vegetarian and vegan items. Their café hours change on occasion, so it is not a bad idea to call ahead before heading out to eat. Lunch items include vegetarian entrées, such as a tempeh Rueben with swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing, and a vegetarian muffaletta with vegetarian sausage, veggies and flavored cream cheese on a muffaletta roll.
BrickTop’s is a small Nashville-based chain specializing in slam-dunk high-end crowd pleasers: lobster bisque and beef carpaccio; crab cakes and meat loaf and steak frites; seared ahi tuna (as a steak, a sandwich or the main ingredient in a salad). The ambiance is Anywheresville, USA, and the cuisine isn’t ground-breaking, but the kitchen does a good job with most of it, and there’s a lot to be said for spot-on execution. Seafood dishes in particular stand out, especially the crab cakes and a skillfully grilled trout. Your server will undoubtedly ask if you’ve saved room for dessert. If you have, the key-lime pie with a macadamia-nut crust is the direction to take.
Here you can have a light lunch of excellent hot grilled sandwiches, sip a cappuccino while you study for the LSAT or even blot out a bad day with real-deal absinthe. Located on the edge of Central West End and midtown, the cafe adds a touch of artsy French style to an otherwise industrial stretch. Thanks to the patio and annex, there are always plenty of tables and comfy chairs to occupy everyone from neighborhood SLU students and businesspeople to casual passerby. The friendly staffers take their coffee seriously, but that's just the beginning. Sure, you can caffeinate at Cafe Ventana, but you can also brunch, booze and stave off boredom with trivia, movie nights and live music. On any given night, tables get pushed aside for everything from punk to indie rock -- just a couple of the flavors offered at Cafe Ventana after hours.
This homey south-city spot packs 'em in on weekend mornings, and with good reason: The breakfast items are out of this world. Fluffy three-egg omelets come stuffed with the usual suspects (ham, Cheddar cheese) and more exceptional ingredients (salsiccia, artichokes); heavenly pancakes (buttermilk or buckwheat) fairly flop over the sides of the plate. Come lunchtime Chris' offers a nice selection of sandwiches. This is good food served by good folks.
In France crêpes are street food, but in Clayton they get the upper-crust treatment at this cute, bustling breakfast-and-lunch spot. The crêperie is particularly popular with female baby-boomer townsfolk in search of a quick, relatively cheap bite. And who can blame them? Nearly twenty varieties of sweet and savory crêpes (ultra-thin, ultra-light pancakes with an eggy-sweet flavor) come stuffed with endless, gourmet-quality combinations of roasted vegetables, Havarti cheese, mesquite-grilled chicken, creamed spinach, pineapple, smoked salmon, jams, bananas or classic Nutella. Soups, salads, sandwiches, quiches and Belgian waffles are available, but you don't go to Ted Drewes for frozen yogurt, do you?
How do the folks at Companion possess the time or patience to turn out such lovely breakfast and lunch items at their Clayton eatery? Haven't they enough to do, turning out some 13,000 pounds of breads and pastries daily for dozens of St. Louis restaurants? Yet here's a scrumptious "Jive Turkey" sandwich (that's turkey, prosciutto, white Cheddar, roasted yellow onion and chili mayo on country white bread), there's a gorgeous slice of veggie pizza -- and let's not forget the eggs and French toast at breakfast. And you'll likely want to take home a treat: The bakery case boasts beautiful cakes, and a loaf of bread (in styles like rye batard, ciabatta, pumpkin-cranberry, or rosemary-olive oil) goes for about five bucks.
Best reason to fish for loose change in your car's seat cushions: You only need about 47 cents to buy yourself a cakey piece of heaven from this little white building where they make doughnuts, doughnuts and nothing else (well, except coffee, the good ol' American diesel-fuel kind) the old-school way. That cakey quality is key: Chocolate glazed, custard-filled, cruller or plain, you get a doughnut with much more heft than the glaze-air-and-lard creations you find elsewhere. So what are you still doing reading this?
High ceilings and exposed brick are the setting for this boho hangout. Though many dishes shine, get the inside scoop from your deft and diplomatic server when ordering. Sunday brunch is worth the wait (especially with mimosa in hand). Sidewalk seating provides primo people-watching at Euclid and McPherson, ever the hub of CWE society.
See listing under "Central County."
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