Review: Blondie’s Coffee and Wine Bar in St. Louis
Blondie’s Coffee and Wine Bar, 1301 Washington Ave., 314.241.6100, St. Louis, blondiesstl.com
It’s hardly surprising that Washington Avenue, the gentrified mecca of St. Louis’ urban crowd, recently welcomed a female-friendly coffee and wine bar to its ever-evolving fold. What does defy logic, however, is how Blondie’s, with its glamorous girlfriend vibe, so effortlessly succeeds in appealing to the males who might have originally despised any plan that involved even passing by the place. Make no mistake; this den of sweet alcoholic decadence is geared toward the ladies. Still, this chick packs a punch. Here are a few reasons why guys should be thankful to be dragged along.
The Booze: Drinks are supplied well and in generous amounts. A multi-page wine list offers a lineup of unsurprising and reasonably priced California reds, Malbecs, cabernets, chardonnays and sauvignon blancs. A shocker, though, is in the adjacent menu of bottled and draft beer, which boasts more of a solid and well-thought-out collection of IPAs, lambics, ales, stouts, Pilsners and ciders than any pub found on the strip. For something simple to start, throw back a bottle of Scrimshaw, a smooth Pilsner with a clean finish that reminds you why you started drinking in the first place. For something more substantial from the bar, vodka martinis abound. Otherwise, you can heat up a cold winter night with a Spiced Apple Martini – a strong diversion laced with copious amounts of 10 Cane Rum, apple juice and cinnamon. Dessert drinks are similarly well done. A standout with a nice bite is Blondie’s Chocolate Martini. A little less harsh, though overwhelmingly easy to devour, is the Jane Mansfield – a milkshake concoction of chocolate and almond liqueurs, brandy, and a healthy dollop of Serendipity Tahitian Vanilla ice cream. I ordered one for the girlfriend. Then I stole it.
The Food: It’s tough to figure out whether Blondie’s menu lends itself better toward a gaggle of gal pals on a night out or a cozy couple on a first date. Honestly, this type of high-end comfort food works for both occasions. Just one warning: The portions are small. If you’re looking for something substantial, avoid items such as the scallop and shrimp combo, a treat that gives new meaning to the term “small plate.” A better choice is the Margherita flatbread, which, in a fantastic new take, is smothered with savory slices of Calabrese salami (Thank you whoever thought of this one.). Equally enjoyable are the variety of cheese and charcuterie plates. With additional sandwiches such as the Brennan Reece – a combination of roast beef, mild cheddar and horseradish on sourdough – Blondie’s menu makes for some serious and none-too-healthy drunk food. And I haven’t even mentioned the desserts. Order a blondie. You’ll thank me.
The Vibe: Management would like to say that Blondie’s is super laid-back. The whole “living room” theme is evident in the space, which appears as if someone went a little too nuts with his or her Restoration Hardware charge card. As a result, there are certainly a few cushioned spots to lean back and enjoy a faux fire, but it all feels a bit over-the-top. Still, decadence is what this place is all about. And the steady stream of clientele doesn’t seem to mind. Late on a Saturday night, while nearby hotspots are spilling out, Blondie’s still retains a strong crowd: mainly older, 30-something girlfriends and groups of couples. Needless to say, this is a winner for the first, second or whatever number date you might be on.
The Verdict: OK, here it is. I never thought I’d admit to something like this: I really want to go back to that chick bar down on Washington. Sorry, the place is good.