I had lunch with my friend, Jane, who grew up in St. Louis, but now lives in Malibu.
“Where shall we go to eat?” I asked, when she visited recently.
She paused thoughtfully and said, “I’ve not been to The Zodiac for years,” referring to the restaurant in Neiman-Marcus at Frontenac Shopping Center.
“Me neither,” I chimed in. “Let’s go.”
Off to Frontenac
To enter Zodiac, you go to the second-level of Neiman-Marcus and walk through the shoe boutique. This is hard to do without stopping to see what capricious designers want to put on our feet this spring. I’m at the age where I just smile and shake my head at foot fashion, but it’s still fun to view.
Turning from the sales floor, we stepped into what felt like a charming tea room. Tall ceilings, mirrors, and lighting cause you to forget the space at Zodiac is windowless.
Best to Make Reservations
At noon the place was a-buzz mainly with women (though a few men were scattered about). Without reservations, we luckily got one of the few remaining tables.
Zodiac tantalizes their lunch patrons with a complimentary popover the size of a softball served with a ramekin of Strawberry-Butter. A demitasse of flavorful, hot bouillon comes alongside. Splendid touch!
It was a difficult choice, but upon chatting with our affable server, I went with the Asian Chicken Salad and Jane got the Crab Cake Salad. Both were stunning and ample.
Zodiac is open only four hours each day: 11a-3p (noon to 3p for Sunday brunch). If the name seems familiar, it’s because Zodiac is the name on all 43 of the N-M restaurants countrywide. From what I read recently, that won’t be true much longer.
It appears that N-M wants to keep the name exclusive to just two of their stores, one in New York and the other in Dallas. According to the article, the remaining stores will get re-branded, perhaps with something yawn-worthy such as N-M Cafe. I noticed the front of our menu was already absent a defining name.
Whatever the cafe is called, I hope the classic American fare will remain the same. Fans have their longtime favorites: Mandarin Orange Souffle, Crab Cake Salad, The Zodiac Medley (soup/half sandwich/fruit), Mushroom Ravioli, Zucchini Fries, Lobster Bisque Soup, and Salmon Salad.
By any name, this charming lunch venue is perfect for a favorite aunt’s birthday, a mother-daughter lunch, the visit of an old friend, a business meetup, or a relaxing stop for shoppers. There’s even underground parking, which was great for our rainy day outing.
Keep this one on your list.
Zodiac Cafe. 1701 S. Lindbergh Blvd, Neiman-Marcus, 2nd floor, Frontenac Shopping Center. Hours: Mon -Sat 11a-3p. Sunday Brunch noon-3pm.