Debbie and I were going to be in St. Louis for a family event. We knew from our neighbors, Jamie and Bob, that their son Gerard Ford Craft had opened four acclaimed restaurants in St. Louis and environs, so we asked them for a suggestion.
Based on where we were going to be earlier in the day, they suggested Brasserie by niche and kindly made a reservation for 8:30 p.m.
We left the party, which was part of the family event, with Carly, Seth and Tyler at 8:00 p.m. In ordinary circumstances this would get us to the restaurant in plenty of time. We had reserved an SUV and a driver since we had no idea where we were going. That turned out to be very lucky.
This was the night that hail, rain and windstorms were working their way across the mid-west. About halfway to the restaurant the storm hit the highway we were on with more force than anything we had seen for a long time. The hail stones were bouncing off the car windows. Cars were pulling off the highway to wait for the storm to pass. I told our driver he should feel free to do the same. He took a convenient off ramp and stopped at the top.
In a few minutes the hail stopped, the wind died down and we continued to the restaurant.
One of the restaurant employees was waiting outside with an umbrella.
There is an outdoor dining area with a partially covered top that was not in use that night. As you enter the restaurant, the dining room is to the right.
We were seated at a round table for five at the front of the restaurant. On the right side of the restaurant there is a banquette that extends the length of the restaurant. There is also a banquette on the other side of the restaurant that is more broken up.
There are 2 and 4 tops along the banquettes. There are additional rounds of 5 and other 4 tops through the center of the restaurant.
The restaurant seats about 100 people plus whatever number can sit in the outdoor area, weather permitting.
Our server was Gina who had been at the restaurant for 5 years and enjoys working there.
Even before we ordered Gina delivered several items to the table: gougeres cheese puffs; cervelle de canut, fresh cheese & herbs, and a goat cheese tart, fennel salad.
For our Hors d’oeuvres, Tyler selected cream of garlic soup, croutons, garlic oil, chives. Debbie, Carly and Seth shared two orders of wild burgundy escargot, herbs, garlic, butter, as well as the frisée salad, brioche croutons bacon lardons, poached egg. I picked French onion soup, croutons, comte cheese, chives. The cheese topping of the bowl was particularly tasty.
For our main courses Debbie had pan roasted trout, with asparagus, bacon, hazelnuts, brown butter. Carly selected mussels, with white wine, garlic, shallot, crème fraiche, herbs. Seth opted for roasted chicken, with shiitake mushrooms, bread, au jus. Tyler picked the brasserie burger, American cheese, dijonnaise, dill pickle, onion and pommes frites, which were shared. I went with Coq au Vin, red wine braised chicken legs, bacon lardons, pearl onions mushrooms, egg noodles.
After some discussion about how full we were, for dessert we chose strawberry pot d’amour, puff pastry, strawberry jam fresh strawberry, vanilla pastry cream, strawberry shortcake ice cream and 5 spoons.
It was soon delivered along with floating island, a chocolate mousse with brown sugar cocoa nib tuile and a black & white crème brulée, vanilla crème brulée, chocolate ganache, black & white cookie. The 5 spoons were put to good use.
The service was excellent.
There are two gender neutral restrooms at the back of the restaurant. In one corner there is a white ceramic commode. To the right of the commode there is a square white ceramic wash basin.
To the left of the wash basin is a small off-white decorated wooden table a bit less than 3 feet tall. To the right of the washbasin there is a basket that is literally a waste basket.
In the far corner is a short, dark wooden table with a tray on top. There are metal grab bars along all the walls a few feet off the floor. Up to shoulder height, the walls are covered in white ceramic rectangular bricks and brown paint above the bricks. The floor is covered with small white and brown rectangular tiles.
The Brasserie is definitely worth a visit when you are in St. Louis.
Brasserie by niche
4580 Laclede Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63108