I always enjoy an adventure to downtown St. Louis. The city sounds and scenes remind me of similar jaunts I made as a kid, shopping with my mother along F Street NW in DC. My most recent soiree onto Washington Avenue was to lunch at Robust Wine Bar Downtown at the MX (MX stands for Metropolitan Exchange). I’ve eaten a few times at their outpost in Webster, but not downtown. The award-winning café, wine bar and wine shop offers a dynamic lunch menu, including artisan cheeses, charcuterie, flat breads, sandwiches, soups, and salads.
I wanted to eat outdoors to further absorb the hustle and bustle of the city, but it was 94 degrees. Instead, my friend and I eased into the comfortable chairs inside the café and before long our attentive server, Brian, was at our command.
Because of my affinity for BLTs this time of year, I went straight for their BBLT. The Bacon, Brie, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich also included tomato jam, arugula, basil aioli on toasted sourdough ($12). Did I want fries, salad or soup with that, Brian inquired. As you can see from the photo above, I was judicious.
Admittedly, I was tempted by the Figgy Piggy Apple Flatbread, a wood-fired pizza with bacon, figs and Gorgonzola. My friend opted for a different flatbread—the smoked chicken with apricot BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, grapes, fingerling potatoes and mozzarella, ($14). I had a taste. Like the BBLT it, too, was a great combo of contrasting flavors and textures.
I’m a Tomato Jam Enthusiast
I was delighted to see that my BBLT came with tomato jam. I’m really into a good tomato jam, but it’s a hard commodity to find. Occasionally, I come upon the delicacy in a specialty shop or tourist hangout. I’ve even considered making my own; it’s not all that hard. I asked our server, Brian, if the chef made his own jam or if he knew where it could be purchased.
Brian returned with the message: the chef makes the tomato jam in house, but they didn’t have it for sale. Our discussion concluded that Trader Joe’s might be the place to look.
Minutes later, when Brian brought our check, he had another piece of paper in hand. The chef had copied his recipe for tomato jam for me, without knowing that I was a food blogger. I was shocked!
Will I remember this place? You betcha! Not only for the fine food and good service, but for a busy chef who took time during a busy lunch hour for a random act of kindness.
Robust Wine Bar Downtown at the MX. 635 Washington Ave. Open: Mon-Thu 11a-midnight; Fri-Sat: 11a to 1a; Sun: 11a to 10p.