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STL: Seeking lunch spot for mom's 70th

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I haven't lived in St. Louis for a long time, but my family still lives there. Am trying to find a good (not stodgy but not uber hip) restaurant that will host lunch for a 70th birthday luncheon for my mother and a group of her food savvy friends. Mom lives in West County (Creve Coeur), and a lot of her friends live in Ladue, Clayton, or U. City.

My sister thought of Harvest but at $50/head, it's more than I can stomach. We're also looking at 1111. I ate there with her once. It was solid but not standout.

Thanks,
Wendy in Oakland

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  1. How many people? What day of the week? What is your approximate budget? Wine, full bar, or just ice tea and soft drinks?

    In Clayton, Araka opened to positive reviews for both the food and the room about a year or so ago, and Oceano Bistro some time before that. Cafe Napoli (or Napoli Cafe?) is nice and light at lunch with good Italian. Cardwell's has been around forever.

    4 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      We're likely looking at a party of 8-10 on a Friday. We're hoping to spend about $25-$30 per person. Probably people will just be drinking ice tea/soft drinks.

      1. re: wendyedel

        You might consider the Clayton Cardwell's. It has some nice, small private rooms.

        1. re: wendyedel

          Check out the online lunch menus for both araka and oceano.

          araka.com and oceanobistro.com.

          Both have options for soups, salads, and starters for about $10 or less, paninis and flatbreads, and then pastas or entrees for mostly about $12 or low teens. Obviously when you add a few shared desserts, beverages, tax and tip, you are going to be at or slightly above your price point. But these are both good, modern restaurants in the heart of Clayton.

          If you need to go less expensive, I'd change the theme from nice dining to more of a celebratory, informal, the company makes the occasion type of event. Go to Blueberry Hill and have a great time eating big burgers and good bar food, then take the party to Ted Drewe's for dessert. Or maybe do the whole thing at Crown Candy Kitchen. Or go ethnic and hit a Chinese place on Olive or Thai or Vietnamese. Or if it is more your family's style, that Ladue lunch place next to a boutique that serves their signature chopped salad as well as soups and sandwiches.

          1. re: nosh

            I really don't think Araka would be a place a 70 yo woman would enjoy, to be honest. I work less than a block away and have been there a few times and just don't see it as a classic type of place an older lady would enjoy (didn't like it myself and I am under 40!)

            How about:

            Off the Vine on Hampton (great food and nice place)

            Not sure what they call it now but the Barn at Lucerne (out west on Clayton Road) would be a lovely lunch/tea that I bet a mom would really enjoy (awfully "girly" but hey, it's her BD!)

            Monarch (not sure if they are open for lunch though)

            I Fratellini in Clayton

            If weather is nice, how about the Boathouse in Forest Park and then you can alll take a nice boat ride?

            I also second Cardwell's. Very nice for a mom.

            Another place you might consider is Cuisine D'Art which is mainly a catering place but also has a very very nice set up. I can vouch for the food from using them at business events for many years and the owner, Beth, would really put a nice spread on for you all. They are on N. New Ballas right up near Olive. Definitely a place any mom would love.

      2. You might want to try Cardwell's at Plaza Frontenac. Not only does it have private rooms, but the your mom and her friends can get in on some high-style window shopping at Plaza Frontenac.
        Lorenzo's on The Hill (upscale Italian) also has a nice private room that can seat about 10-12.
        Very good food and very comfortable dining experience at both restaurants.

        1. I made my suggestions for Araka or Oceano on the poster's specifications that she was looking for a "not stodgy but not uber hip" restaurant for her mom and her "food savvy" friends. I am also taking into account that they reside in the Ladue/Clayton/Creve Coeur areas so a drive downtown with Highway 40 repairs in flux will not be ideal.

          OK, one more suggestion, which more than fits the price point and has some elegance and is located in Clayton on Forsyth -- The Crossing. Really good food and service, starters in the single digits and lunch entrees barely over $10, good desserts. The only issue is whether they could seat 8 to 10 together or whether you'd have to split adjacent tables or booths. Hard to find their website -- it is combined with a couple of sister restaurants -- but it has an up-to-date lunch sample menu with prices.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nosh

            Sorry Nosh, you are right. I am just not an Araka fan at all, can you tell?

            I think the Crossing is also a good suggestion! See not crabby ALL the time :>

          2. How about Annie Gunn's? We just had a very nice lunch there. $50 for two. All the food was fresh and well prepared. And huge portions. They have semi-private tables off the main dining area and a covered outdoor area. The service was also very attentive. The staff really hustles.

            1. you know, you might use some of your mom's friends as a resource. Honestly, some of the best chefs in St. Louis are the private clubs. The demographic sounds like they might be club members and if so, could get you access to some other places that would be really appropriate for a lunch time party for a 70th birthday. A quiet secret in STL is that most clubs will let non members in for parties if they think that the event is appropriate for their venue. Even clubs need money.

              If not that, some of her friends might have good ideas of where they would like to go. They would probably enjoy being asked.