I met my friend Deb for lunch at SqWires this week. It’s a bit of a ramble from my condo to Lafayette Square, but the weather was springy and it’s always fun to walk around the historic neighborhood. When I arrived the restaurant was already abuzz with lunch traffic. I scanned the menu. This is one of those places where you can’t go wrong. Just close your eyes and point to any entrée, soup, sandwich, salad, or dessert on the menu, sit back and enjoy.
I ordered the half sandwich and half soup option—the chicken salad on whole wheat and the field greens. My friend went with the quinoa and chicken vegetable soup special.
As always, the service was splendid, the food prompt, well-prepared and attractively plated. The old wire factory with the exposed brick and beams offered pleasant surroundings for a catch-up visit with my friend.
Park Avenue Coffee
After lunch, we had only a short while to walk about Lafayette Square. We stopped at Park Avenue Coffee and split a slice of their legendary gooey butter cake. (I would have taken pictures, but it was eaten too quickly and gooey butter cake is about as photogenic as black bean hummus.)
The St. Louis delicacy comes in 76 flavors and is made from all natural ingredients, including fresh eggs, butter, cream cheese and fruits. The overstuffed furniture and tables in the window area are a perfect spot for a chat with a friend or some alone time with your laptop.
You can get a slice or a 9″square of gooey butter cake. If you want to make a cake at home, a box mix is available. The five favorite cakes are Mom’s Traditional; Red Velvet; Turtle; Triple Chocolate, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. You can wash that down with a latte, cappuccino, espresso, decaf, macchiato, frappuccino, tea, smoothie, hot chocolate, Italian soda, juice, or bottled water, all in a variety of flavors.
My friend had to be back to work, but we took a few moments to wander through the Looking Glass Gift Shop. The open doorway and warm welcome inside the cozy shop reminds you more of the main street of Mayberry than a business district in a metropolitan city. It’s one of those places where something is bound to catch your eye. Need a gift? There are hundreds to choose from, including a variety of tasteful accessories, homemade jewelry, linens, cosmetic bags and totes, baby items, local art and serving items.
I spotted several other shops I wanted to visit. Next time I must stay long enough to view the historic homes and enjoy the 30-acre Victorian park—one of the oldest west of the Mississippi. The pet and pedestrian friendly area would make for a great weekend walkabout.
SqWires: 1415 S. 18th, Lafayette Square. Open: Lunch, Tue.-Fri. 11a; Dinner, Tue.-Sat. 5p; a la carte Brunch, Sat. & Sun. 8a. Closed: Sun. evening and Monday.
Park Avenue Coffee, 3 locations. Lafayette Sq. 1919 Park Ave; Downtown, 417 10th St.; The Hill, 5105 Columbia. Hours for different locations here.
Looking Glass Gift Shop: 1917 Park Ave. Open: Mon. 10a-5p; Tue.-Thu. 10a-7p; Fri-Sat. 10a-8p; Sun. 11a-5p.