The Veggielante has had it up to here with people bitching that St. Louis restaurants are vegetarian unfriendly. Sure, we'd like to see more restaurants offering more meatless dishes, but there are excellent choices out there if you take the trouble to look for them. We're not here to proselytize about greening up your diet. Our only motive is to spread the word about places where you can order good grub that ain't got no meat. To enhance your reading experience, we've settled on a handful of criteria we'll use to suss out a restaurant's vegetarian friendliness.
Destination: Murdoch Perk (5400 Murdoch Avenue; 314-752-9126)
Neighborhood: South Hampton
Overview: Murdoch Perk is the type of coffee shop that just sneaks up on you. One minute you're driving through residential housing in the South Hampton neighborhood of south city and the next you've stumbled upon a delightful coffee shop and café. Gut Check greatly covets the houses within walking distance of this neighborhood treasure, but if we lived near enough to mosey on over any time, we'd be guzzling coffee and scarfing down sandwiches multiple times a day.
The food menu has items for omnivores and herbivores alike, but Murdoch Perk does not insult vegetarians with lame salads and plain cheese sandwiches. The breakfast menu (which is served all day) includes several sweet and savory treats that are totally meat-free. If you're looking for something sweet, you might be interested in the banana-pecan waffles or perhaps the healthier, but equally delicious, fruit-and-yogurt parfait. If savory, protein-packed breakfasts are more your style, try the "T.E.S.S" -- that's tomato, egg, spinach and Swiss cheese -- all served on a flaky croissant.
For lunch you can start out with some hot spinach-and-artichoke dip, made with three cheeses and topped with freshly diced tomatoes. It would make a great appetizer for the quiche of the day or the tomato-basil pita.
The tomato-basil pita includes grilled, marinated Roma tomatoes, grilled onions, fresh basil leaves and mozzarella served on grilled pita. If you're anything like Gut Check, you're already drooling just from reading the description. When the plate arrived, we could hardly convince ourselves to snap a photo before devouring every last morsel. The juicy tomatoes were exploding with flavor, and the fresh basil meshed perfectly with the melted mozzarella. Grilling the pita really made all the difference, as it gave the sandwich just the slightest crunch and, perhaps more importantly, the strength to hold all the tasty ingredients together.
No coffee shop would be complete without smooth cups of brew. Murdoch Perk offers an impressive variety of blends and specialty drinks. There are always close to three brews to choose from for the in-house bottomless cup. If you're taking your coffee to go, or are looking for something special, you can try the turtle, Aztec hot chocolate, chai latte or plenty of other options.
Gut Check was thoroughly pleased by the gourmet vegetarian fare offered at Murdoch Perk, not to mention the incredibly friendly service and relaxed atmosphere. This is definitely a recommend stop for a drink, dessert or tasty vegetarian meal.