Chef and owner Raj left his native Punjab in 1994 to earn his culinary stripes working as a cook in New York City. After a year of training and practice, he relocated to St. Louis, where his expertise in the art of Indian cooking quickly won praise in the Riverfront Times, which dubbed his eatery the city’s best vegetarian restaurant.
Laden with meat-free options, the menu entices taste buds with spiced and nutritious ingredients such as saag paneer’s spinach and fresh cheese, aloo gobi’s cauliflower and potatoes, and chana masala’s tender garbanzo beans. Chefs also throw dairy to the wayside in many dishes, including the vegan mirchi bhajia—deep-fried anaheim peppers stuffed with potatoes and spices hot enough to peel the wallpaper off a doll’s house. A catering menu provides spreads for large groups and flash mobs that rent the on-premises banquet hall.
At Black Bear Bakery, every batch of Lickhalter sourdough-rye bread, sweet pastries, and crunchy granola is made with the care of a shop owner. That’s because each staff member serves as a partial owner of the communal shop. This makes each staff member feel a personal responsibility for creating a shop they’d like their family to come to, encouraging them to use eco-friendly processes and locally sourced, organic ingredients. Along with whole-grain recipes filled with specialty ingredients such as kalamata olives and rosemary, bakers use century-old recipes passed down from the owners of Lickhalter Bakery. These recipes create hearty sourdough-rye loaves sprinkled with caraway seeds or twisted together with pumpernickel dough.
While breads are their specialty, bakers fill their ovens with more than just bread loaves. They craft handmade, boiled bagels that come sans holes, as well as cookies, baked granola, pizza crusts, and a variety of buns. On the weekends, they welcome the community for a vegetarian and vegan brunch, which features staples such as pancakes, quiche, potatoes, and bread pudding made from their loaves. These dishes can be washed down with pours of fair trade coffee, juice, tea, or pastry filling.
We offer seasonal, naturally raised food, deliciously prepared and artfully presented. At least 50% of our ingredients come from within 150 miles of St. Louis, thereby reducing your event's carbon footprint, and guaranteeing the freshest food available.
The product of an artistically inclined married couple with a passion for all-natural foods, SweetArt boasts a menu of organic and homemade cookies, cupcakes, cakes, sandwiches, and wraps, with an all-vegetarian lunch menu that features a bounty of vegan options. Co-founder Cbabi's colorful paintings cover the neighborhood bakeshop and art studio's sun-kissed, bright walls, making it a lovely locale to bust out your idea journal over a vegan Sweet burger ($7.25) paired with a spicy cup of flad ($3.95), Sweet Art's house-made, vegan, three-bean chili loaded with chunky sweet potatoes. The grilled Klemm ($5.95) is served stuffed with cheese, fresh broccoli, and roasted garlic, while the vegan Botanical ($6.85) swaddles baked tofu, black sesame seeds, cilantro, spicy peanut sauce, and veggies.
In 1910, fourth-generation German immigrant Alvin O. Eckert set up a small produce stand on a roadside in Belleville, Illinois. More than 100 years later, that roadside stand has flourished into the expansive Belleville plot of Eckert's Farm: a pastoral acreage where orchards surround a country-style restaurant, bakery, and handmade-custard shop. The Eckert family's sixth and seventh generations ensure this farm remains a true family affair. Sixth-generation member Jim Eckert is the chief horticulturist, and his cousin-once-removed, Chris, oversees retail operations and the sale of the farm's homegrown produce and spare scarecrow parts. Chris's sister Jill helms the food program, and his wife Angie oversees the Country Store and colorful Garden Center.
Throughout the year, visitors arrive on the Belleville farm's grounds for a range of seasonal activities, including peach-, apple-, and pumpkin-picking. During the summer, a concert series features live outdoor music on Friday and Saturday nights, and in the fall, staff lead bonfires and evening hayrides through the orchards. Inside the farm building, instructors teach cooking classes for adults and children, as well as a wine-pairing class.
Family-friendly activities also abound at the Eckert family's other two farms. The Grafton farm, where public apple-picking began in 1964, offers daily animal feeding and miniature golf. The seasonal Millstadt farm is home to a workshop, haunted hayrides, and an array of warm-weather children's attractions—including a 70-foot underground slide.
Purple and gold have long been the colors of royalty. At Taj Indian Cuisine, they serve as a mere backdrop to vibrant, aromatic dishes composed of fresh vegetables, meats, and spices. Crispy samosa shells crack open to reveal spicy ground meet or potatoes and peas, while prawns simmer amidst Indian spices inside a clay oven heated by state-of-the art coals. Lamb pieces mingle in spices and basmati rice with a curd mixture to compose flavorful biryani, and fresh, Indian cheese simmers on plates of saag paneer. Indian beers and mango lassi cool palates down after spicy bites.