Review: The Clover and The Bee in Webster Groves
It’s 12:45 on a Saturday afternoon, and The Clover and The Bee is fit to bust. The line, which takes over half an hour, spills out onto the sidewalk in front of the chic new Webster Groves spot. Exposed brick, marble countertops, plush emerald green banquettes and a hand-painted floral mural collide to create a vibrant and comfortable space buzzing with action. Launched by the owners of the neighboring Olive & Oak, The Clover and The Bee benefits from one of St. Louis’ powerhouse kitchens in a counter-service format. The food is well thought out and executed without pretension. This lunch is worth the wait.
Caprese fans will love this deceptively simple, lemon- and pine nut-infused sandwich. A thick layer of smooth burrata (fancy, creamier mozzarella) is smothered with a broccolini pesto. All are gently clamped in a fresh ciabatta roll with an ideal softness-to-crunch ratio. On the lighter side, this sandwich would make an ideal match for a cup of the beef and farro soup.
This simple, straightforward pastrami on rye is exactly what you want it to be. Long, thick dill pickle slices accompany a generous helping of salty house-made pastrami, light Fonduta and a tangy hit of classic yellow mustard. All this is framed by two perfectly thick, crispy-soft slices of seeded rye toast. It’s a sandwich you never want to end.
Lamb Meatball Plate
Though it may look like an itsy-bitsy starter, the lamb meatball plate eats like a gourmet entree. The tender meatball (yes, just one in the lunch portion) is certainly enjoyable on its own, but underneath the delicate sphere is a gorgeously creamy polenta that steals the spotlight. Soft, charred red cabbage brings a sweet and sour kick, while salsa verde provides a dose of mild heat and acidity. Putting it over the top is a firm, but still perfectly gooey, poached egg that leaks deliciously on each forkful – effectively making this the kind of dish you should share but instead greedily devour.
Beef and Farro Soup
Savory, smooth and intensely satisfying, tender bits of stewed beef and nutty farro swim alongside healthy chunks of carrot, celery and kale in a rich beef broth with gentle hints of garlic, thyme and hoisin. While the meat is succulent and satiating, the real stars are the fresh vegetables and exquisite broth, which cries out to be mopped up with a crusty hunk of bread. The only thing I regret is ordering a cup and not an entire bowl.
Not everything was a hit. I was disappointed by the hand pie – each element was good, but there was too much crust compared to the measly portioned filling. Despite the indulgent Asiago potato salad on the side, I also recommend skipping the smoked flank steak, as the meat suffered from an off-putting metallic taste. However, the only serious drawback to The Clover and The Bee is access to a table. This exceptional new restaurant’s convenient little carryout window will no doubt see a lot of foot traffic this spring and summer.
Matt Berkley is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine.
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