The Place: Kayak's Coffee (270 North Skinker Boulevard; 314-862-4447), a locally owned café (and recent addition to the Kaldi's family) located just across the street from Washington University and footsteps away from Forest Park.
The Lunch: The Aspen, with your choice of an apple and chips for $6.95, or $7.95 with the addition of a side salad.
The Verdict: The café's ski-lodge-themed interior momentarily removes you from St. Louis' steaming hot summer days and provides comfortable seating and full-blast air conditioning. Not to mention a menu of more than sixteen signature sandwiches, all named after various skiing towns or mountain cities.
We decided to visit the "Aspen." The sandwich includes all-natural turkey breast, fresh field greens, spicy-brown-ale mustard, tomato and Swiss cheese, all served on Companion's multigrain bread. We chose an apple as the side, because you know what they say about an apple a day...
The sandwich was light and pleasing, the greens were fresh and, well, green (unlike the wimpy lettuce offered at many other lunchtime establishments), and the combination of the turkey,brown-ale mustard and cheese was both gourmet and refreshing -- exactly the typeof lunch you could expect at an upscale ski resort in the mountains.
For less than $10, Kayak's offers generous portions, fresh ingredients and a little bit of the mountain in the middle of the city. Just don't be surprised if you see zombie-like creatures at the next table; even starved grad students and post-docs have the right to a good sandwich.