St. Charles Exchange (113 S. 7th Street) is, in a word, LUSH. The interior of this downtown restaurant looks like something straight out of a Baz Luhrmann flick, old world charm with new world swagger. I could write an entire article about their drink menu alone, but since I visited for lunch and I'm too ashamed to admit it when I drink before 5pm, we will save the cocktail hour for another time.
For our appetizer, we tried the cheese plate with rhubarb strawberry preserves, and Elvis on Horseback, the much-lauded dates stuffed with peanut butter, wrapped in bacon and drizzled with banana vinaigrette. The cheese plate was magnificent (we got a full board for $20, and it was absolutely worth it) but the Elvis on Horseback—what a delight. It is so rare that I see a weird combination of flavors, textures and food groups that work together this well. This is the Breakfast Club of appetizers, if you will.
The St. Chuck Burger was served with aged cheddar, curry onions, sweet pea mayo and lamb fat fries. I have eaten more burgers in this town than I would care to admit, being a low carb aficionado and a lover of all things rare and smothered in cheese—so when I tell you this lamb burger was fabulous and fine you must know it comes from a wealth of cheeseburger experience. The Rockefeller salad was crunchy and cool with hot fried oysters as a temperature contrast. Service was fantastic, and the tab was—well the tab was not nearly as bad as you'd think.
St. Charles Exchange has added an outdoor patio with ample space for 60 guests seated or 80 guest reception style. Especially as this hideous heat wave sweeps away, (taking with it the hideous bridge construction traffic, fingers crossed) and the cool fingers of Autumn brush our faces, the outdoor seating will be ideal to enjoy a cocktail and a plate of Elvis on Horseback at St. Charles Exchange.
Photos: Elizabeth Orrick