During a late summer trip to St. Louis, we went for breakfast at a place my wife has been wanting to try for quite some time - Soulard Coffee Garden in the historic Soulard neighborhood just south of downtown St. Louis. Actually, we'd been there before to pick up some coffee and espresso with some friends of ours on an earlier trip to St. Louis, but the place was packed as it was a Saturday morning and there would have been a substantial wait to get a table. On this trip, we went early on a weekday morning and no problem getting in this time.
The Soulard Coffee Garden dates back to late 1999 when the father and son team of Ted and James West opened their little coffee shop in what was once a dilapidated gutted building. They had purchase the property about 18 months before and spent the time rehabbing the space into the Soulard Coffee Garden. The West's expanded their restaurant in 2001 by opening a dining garden behind the place.
The restaurant is located on Geyer Ave. between S. 9th and S. 10th in Soulard. (see map) Parking is available on the street. Walking into the place, there's a handful of small tables as well as a counter where you can order coffee and pastries to go. It's a small dining area, but it's cozy and comfortable.
Down a hall from the indoor dining room is the outdoor garden patio. This is where we sat that particular morning. Most of the tables were filled with people who had the same idea as us. It was a beautiful morning with low humidity - a plus any time during the summer months in St. Louis.
One person that I recognized who was having breakfast in the garden patio area was Mike Emerson, the owner of one of my favorite barbecue places in St. Louis - Pappy's Smokehouse. (Click here to see my entry on Pappy's.) It appeared that he was having a business meeting with a couple other gentlemen, one of which also had a restaurant logo on his shirt, but I couldn't make out which place he was from. I thought, "Well, if this place is good enough for Mike Emerson, it's got to be pretty good."
Our server that morning, Lila, came out and dropped off some breakfast menus for us. (Soulard Coffee Garden also has a lunch menu that is served up to their closing time of 3 p.m. on the weekdays and 4 p.m. on the weekend.) While she went off to get a coffee for Cindy and double espresso for me, we took a look at the offerings which included huevos rancheros with a green chile verde sauce, a number of omelets and Eggs Benedict dishes, biscuits and gravy, corn meal/blueberry pancakes, fruit dishes and cereal.
I ended up getting the French toast that they dip in a maple and vanilla batter then grill it to a deep golden brown on a flat griddle then sprinkled with powdered sugar. I got two pieces of French toast (you can get one or three pieces of French toast, as well). I asked Lila if she could add some blueberries. She said, "Do you want some whipped cream, too?" Absolutely! I also got a side of bacon with the French toast.
Cindy got the croissant sandwich with eggs to order (she got scrambled egg whites) and bacon. She noticed on the "Build Your Own Omelet" part of the menu that they had spinach. She's been on a big spinach kick as of late and she asked if she could get some spinach on her croissant. Once again, Lila said it would be no problem. The eggs, bacon and spinach were topped with provolone cheese. The croissant came with a bowl of fresh fruit.
The French toast featured two thick pieces of bread cut in half. The battered bread had a nice outer crunch from the grilling process. With the maple syrup I couldn't get much of an essence of maple flavoring in the batter, but there was definitely a vanilla taste with each bite. The blueberries and whipped cream helped add a little more of a rich taste to the French toast. Along with the semi-crisp thick cut bacon, my breakfast was very, very good.
Cindy's eyes widened when Lila brought out the croissant sandwich. "Oh, geez," she exclaimed. "I don't know if I can eat all of this!" A thick slice of provolone cheese was melted on the chopped spinach and scrambled eggs with pieces of bacon sticking out on the bottom. The croissant was light and airy with a flaky outer shell. Cindy could only eat one of the halves of the sandwich and a couple bites of the other half. She hardly touched her fresh fruit bowl. She said the croissant sandwich was also very good, but very rich and filling.
You probably don't have to wait for warm weather to experience a breakfast at the Soulard Coffee Garden, but sitting in the quaint back patio area was a treat for us. The food was top notch and we had no quibbles with Lila's fine service. Our anticipation level for breakfast at Soulard Coffee Garden was very high and they didn't disappoint us at all.