On a recent Sunday morning, my family and I visited the cafe, and found easy street parking nearby. When ordering at the front counter, we found a coffee drink menu above the cash register and a nearby tabletop chalkboard that featured one or two egg dish specials of the day. In talking with the staff, we found that several food choices were not posted on these menus, so be sure to ask the staff for additional options.
We found a table outside on the patio and waited just a few minutes for our drinks and food (our order was eventually brought to our table twice, an apparent mix-up in the kitchen). There are also about eight tables located inside Rue Lafayette, but we enjoyed the people- and dog-watching outside. The café au lait ($2.25) had a tasty foam and somewhat light coffee brew. For a bolder taste, try the latte ($3) with its rich flavor and delicious acidic balance. The chocolate croissants ($2.25) flown in from Paris were flaky and warm with slightly bittersweet chocolate. The savory spinach croissant was a little lacking in seasoning, but the decadent butter content made up for it. We tried the vegetable frittata ($9.95) which was filled with fresh mushrooms, zucchini, goat cheese, onions and sweet peppers. This dish was hearty and straightforwardly delectable though not necessarily the most appealing texture for some young children. The ham and swiss cheese quiche ($7.95) had a soulful, buttery crust and a well-executed filling. Overall, the food at Rue Lafayette is uncomplicated and loving -- something your imaginary French Grandma might make for your late lunch or a snack after school.
The wonderful pastries, desserts, friendly staff and patio seating make Rue Lafayette friendly for families with young children. But the limited food and noncoffee drink menu, the focus on egg dishes, the marginally clean restroom, the unclear menu choices, and relatively expensive prices, make the cafe a destination for special treats rather than regular dining. Admittedly, these concerns give Rue Lafayette a great deal of character and authenticity, something you definitely won't find at a chain cafe in your local strip mall.
Rue Lafayette also hosts intimate concerts throughout the year. Two excellent date night possibilities include hearing vintage swing band Wack-A-Doo on June 10 and the inspiring singer/songwriter Kevin Renick on July 30.
Be sure to ask about sailboat rentals. Kids can rent a small boat to float along the two ponds in Lafayette Park. A kite string helps steer the boat and prevent "float-aways."
Rue Lafayette is located at 2026 Lafayette Avenue, Saint Louis Mo., 63104. It's open Tuesday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cafe offers a 5 percent discount for customers that pay with cash.
Jennifer Lin is a nonprofit arts consultant specializing in marketing, public relations, and social media and also writes for CultureMama. She has worked for performing and visual arts organizations including the Sacramento Opera, the Washington Performing Arts Society, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.