Consider this cure for a blustery winter evening in St. Louis: a dry martini and a steaming bowl of soup. Not a conventional combination, but when enjoyed at Pomme Café (Pomme Restaurant's laid-back li'l sister), it can make the difference in beating the winter blues. There's usually one standard — French onion gratinée in colder months; gazpacho in summer — and a soup du jour. The soup du jour is often a velvety purée of vegetable: a sweet, cinnamony carrot, say; or creamy butternut squash; or earthy, aromatic mushroom. The standbys, too, never fail to delight. The French onion is sweet and savory, built on a scaffolding of buttery croutons and draped in a blanket of cheese. (Somehow the croutons submerged in the broth stay crisp — it defies logic.) What with all the warm exposed brick and soft candlelight, it's tough when the spoon hits the bottom of the bowl not to want to linger, and to ask, please sir, for some more.
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