Local Harvest Café in the Tower Grove neighborhood of St. Louis offers diners fresh and globally sustainable meals at reasonable prices. The café is situated at the edge of Tower Grove Park and the Missouri Botanical Gardens, two of the premier green spaces in the city. It originated in the Local Harvest Grocery store, but outgrew its surroundings and moved across the street in 2008. The award-winning specialty store prides itself on buying at least 50% of it products within 150 miles of St. Louis, and this locally sourced theme has transferred to the restaurant. Produce at the café is often sourced at the local farmers’ market and quality products from food artisans such as Volpi meats, a St. Louis institution for the past one hundred years, and Goshen’s locally roasted, organic and fair trade coffee are served at the cafe. Chef Clara Moore’s staff also house smokes a variety of local free-range and grass fed meats that are quite popular with the clientele.
The café is housed in a quaint turn of the 19th century storefront. The decorative wood trim, preserved molded plaster ceiling, and open eating space give the feeling of a modernized old-world café. Everything is crisp and clean with local art adorning the exposed brick walls blending the old architectural feel of St. Louis with the vibrant energy of the modern Tower Grove neighborhood and the green technologies utilized in the building’s restoration. Open for breakfast, lunch, and a full service dinner, the café has quickly become a local favorite. Lunchtime on a Friday afternoon was busy, but the quick turnover meant that the lines to order remained short.
Vegetarian options abound, but the locally cured and house smoked meats are a particular treat. Prices are reasonable, especially given the quality and quantity of food. A muffaletta sandwich made with Volpi salami and capicola and a house made olive salad with a homemade mint iced tea cost a little over $9.00, while the house-smoked free-range chicken salad sandwich cost only a dollar more. The brisket and pulled pork, both popular choices, were already sold-out by the time we arrived. The muffaletta, served with local chips, and a slice of watermelon, was excellent. The tanginess of the olive salad combined nicely with the richness of the St. Louis-cured meats. The chicken salad sandwich was big enough for two people. Served on seasonal greens on a semolina roll, the smokiness combined with the natural sweetness of the chicken and a perfect blend of spices. I found myself picking at my friend’s leftovers because it was so irresistible.
Local Harvest also features local and craft beverages with a small but well selected beer and wine menu. Saturday evenings feature a specially crafted four or five course meal based on the fresh ingredients Chef Moore selects at the farmers’ market in Tower Grove as well as the regular dinner fare. The Local Harvest Café is a wonderful place to enjoy a fresh meal that won’t stretch the wallet or the waistline. It’s a true gem for St. Louis that I look forward to visiting again. (Ethan R. Bennett 8/6/10) [Local Harvest Cafe, 3137 Morgan Ford Road, St. Louis, MO, 314.772.8815, Breakfast & Lunch: Mon 7:00AM-2:00PM, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner: Tues-Fri 7:00AM-9:00PM, Sat 8:00AM-9:00AM, Sun 9:00AM-9:00PM]
EDITORS NOTE: As of June 2014, Local Harvest Cafe is serving only breakfast and lunch.