Nothing tastes, or smells, better than a warm loaf of bread fresh from the oven. But too often home bakers don’t have the time or the temperament to fiddle with flour and yeast. Over my cooking lifetime, I’ve tried everything from biscuits to croissants and even salt-rising bread (failed with that one), so I’ve come to appreciate the art form, if not having come to master it.
Lunch at Loafers
That’s why I was attracted to Union Loafer, the corner cafe and bakery that sits amid Ben Poremba’s culinary kingdom in the Botanical Heights neighborhood. Cyndy and I stopped for lunch recently during a busy noontime. It was a bit snug wiggling into the wall seats next to other diners, but they were friendly. I almost asked if I could photography their food, but I didn’t want to embarass Cyndy.
Servers were prompt and numerous: a lovely young lady greeted and seated us; another put finishing touches on the table setting; a guy took our order; someone from the kitchen delivered it; and girl #1 returned from time to time. I’ve not had such fussy service since the last time I ate at Tony’s!
Sandwich, Soup, Salad
Cyndy and I split our order: a half chicken salad sandwich each and the Apple-Blue Cheese salad. We went with the recommended chicken-rice soup—though the Kale and Garbanzo soup with carrots and fennel at the next table was quite appealing and within spoon reach. I’m tellin’ ya, that salad is a keeper and the soup. . . well, you might want to order that the next time you’re feeling poorly and need the comfort that only a good chicken soup can bring.
The chicken salad hit all the right notes, too, tucked liberally between slices of rustic bread, that was soft in the middle with a chewy crust. I noticed a ciabatti on the sandwich next to me and more being sold by the loaf at the counter.
With no desserts on the menu, it’s easy to feel virtuous. But if you need a sweet bite, hike across the street to La Patisserie Chouquette. That’s what we did. I’ll reveal more about our sweet shop stop in my next post.
Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery. 1629 Tower Grove Avenue in the Botanical Heights neighborhood. Lunch: Tue-Sun 11a-3p; Pizza served Wed-Sat 5:30p-9:30p. Bread available: Tue-Sun 11a-4p. Closed Monday.