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Review: Winslow's Home

Because sometimes you need a great meal and a mesh strainer.

Photograph by Kevin A. Roberts

7213 Delmar
University City
Breakfast, lunch, dinner Tue–Sat;
breakfast and lunch only Sun

Average Main Course: $10
Dress: It might look like a general store, but don’t dress that way.
Reservations: They’re accepted only for dinner, not at breakfast or lunch.
Chef: Cary McDowell

There aren’t many odder restaurants in town. Not odd/weird. Odd/unusual. It’s like Hooterville’s general store—though Sam Drucker didn’t stock a 500-bottle wine room. It has a pressed-tin ceiling and windowed meat cases from the Coolidge administration; the space has the charm of another era. And it’s stocked, well, imaginatively: groceries, wooden spoons, and notions, from sewing thread to fountain pens, kite string to locking dog leashes. It’s latte lib meets Restoration Hardware nostalgi-chic.

And oh yeah, Winslow’s Home is a restaurant.

We make that point because it isn’t immediately obvious. The menu’s scrawled above the counter where one orders. (Study it online before you go; scattered on three different signboards, it’s tough to read.) You then browse the store shelves, find a seat, and your meal’s delivered. Again, odd/unusual.

Winslow’s has achieved deserved attention for its breakfasts and brunch. A thick slab of chewy ciabatta is sliced and grilled, then mortared with fluffy scrambled eggs, caramel ribbons of bacon, and a scatter of spinach. Little in life is worth hauling yourself out of bed before the Today show ends; if you must, this is a splendid way to reward yourself. Also worthwhile is a breakfast “burrito”—a flour tortilla swaddled around scrambled eggs, spinach, crème fraîche, and a credible emerald-green sauce that’s chunky with piquant tomatillos.

The weekend brunch is even more extravagant. A circle of brioche makes for a superb French toast, topped with sliced bananas and crumbles of bacon. Frittatas are fine; blueberry-speckled pancakes are even better. A glass of orange juice is imperative: You need the vitamin C, and you’ll be transfixed by the whirring contortions of the Zumex juicer.

Appetite temporarily satisfied, you have some time to poke around while waiting for your next meal. Check out the Belgian linen dish towels, stamp-sized music boxes, fresh garlic. We found a grommet repair kit that we really didn’t need, but come on—a buck? Fully supplied, grommetically speaking, it’s time to consider lunch or dinner.

One of the most talked-about sandwiches of last year was Winslow’s brisket. Ever see what an overnight cooking does to a brisket? It’s beautiful. The meat’s reduced to the luxuriant texture and moist flakiness of pulled pork. Winslow’s adds what tastes like a subtle barbecue sauce and a caraway seed–studded rye bun. But what makes it special is a mild horseradish mayo.

The grilled cheese is constructed around soft white cheeses: layered mozzarella, cheddar, and creamy fontina, with a sprinkle of thyme. If the turkey sandwich is on the menu, try it. The same advice applies to the grass-fed beef burger.

Let’s pause to note that someone here knows their way around a crust. It’s buttery, flaky, light, and layered, and everything we tried underneath or inside one (and trust us, we tried a lot) benefited considerably from this bit of egg-brushed, pastry prestidigitation. A torta rustica, for example, is packed with spinach, sliced mushrooms, and roasted red peppers. The filling is delicious; the crust is perfect. It’s pressed into equally tasty service in a plump, single serving of potpie dense with chicken, carrots, parsnips, leeks, and a substantial gravy.

Specials appear almost constantly: roasted chicken; trout steamed en papillote, with potatoes and scented with fennel; sheepshead—a fish that sadly appears too rarely around here—prepared the same way, along with green beans, cooked until the sugars caramelize. The intent seems to be that diners will want to become regulars, just to see what might appear next on the menu. Soups—like a butternut squash, a scarlet tomato-spiked basil, or one of garlicky asparagus—also regularly change, often with an eye toward the seasonal.

Desserts are a must. Turtle brownies are an unalloyed delight. So too, shortbread cookies with lime icing. Now, sugar cookies iced with goat cheese? That’s not odd/unusual. That’s odd/weird. With-meal wines can be purchased, too, the selection small but decent. Otherwise, you pull your drink from a cold case, like at 7-Eleven.

Dining space is limited, with maybe 30 seats. The natural confusion (Is this a store or an eatery? How do I order? Where are the rolls of garden hose?) is compounded by a staff that seems unconcerned. When we mentioned that we were visiting Winslow’s, a friend’s first comment was that it didn’t have highchairs—a strange approach to a place that seems eager to be a neighborhood favorite. And for an eatery named after the owner’s enthusiasm for the artist, not even a single Homer in sight?

These distractions aside, Winslow’s Home is likely to be a favorite for many St. Louisans. We are, after all, a people who can appreciate a place where, in one spot, we can get a spectacular brisket sandwich and that handy grommet repair kit.

The Bottom Line: Seasonal offerings combined into lively, rewarding meals—in the middle of a general store.

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Feb 2, 2012 04:59 pm
 Posted by  Sarah King

Winslow's Home is honestly my favorite place in St. Louis when I need to escape for a refreshing atmosphere with delicious nibbles to nosh, and oodles and oodles of odds and ends to discover. I'm constantly spreading the word to friends, family, clients, colleagues and my followers.

Keep up the great work, and most of all thank you for bringing something so special to St. Louis!

Sarah King
Owner, BLUSH Boutique

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