Before heading to dinner in the Washington Avenue Historic District of St. Louis, I stopped by the bookstore of the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, just a few blocks from one of the world’s top five train stations. To my dismay, it had closed 30 minutes prior, but the lady inside opened the store for me, offered me water, and gave some solid recommendations about things to see around town, from the fantastic Bellefontaine Cemetery to a surprisingly interesting tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery (capped by free samples!). It was an exceptionally courteous thing to do, and it marked yet another example of the friendliness of St. Louis I had been experiencing for a week that, unfortunately, often gets buried under piles of bad news about this city.
An astoundingly warm and humid day had given way to a fairly pleasant evening, so when I saw that nearby Lucas Park Grille had outdoor seating, I chose to dine al fresco. I could have opted to stay inside and appreciate the recent renovation of the restaurant’s 8,000 square feet, with its 25-foot ceilings, three fireplaces, and mélange of stone, copper, and brick components. Instead, I took my place at a sidewalk table. As soon as I placed my order, a butterfly landed on my table to rest for a while. A good sign, I imagined. When a FedEx delivery guy spilled his cart all over the sidewalk and said, without a hint of anger, “Wow. This feels like a Monday,” and three people immediately came to his assistance, all felt right with the world. Well, at least this little sliver of St. Louis.
Try This: A spinach salad with candied pecans, red onions, tomatoes, blue cheese, and a raspberry dressing is the perfect antidote for a soupy St. Louis summer day, although the avocado toast with smoked salmon, capers, red onion, and a lemon and arugula garlic vinaigrette sounded just as refreshing. Follow that up with the grilled salmon with a blood orange gastrique, local brown rice, and perfectly crispy asparagus. Not a fish fan? Then select the sugar and spice brined pork chop, with sweet-potato hash, chorizo, gorgonzola, and a truffle honey reduction.