from left, prisca popp, riley laboyteaux, danielle leiran and chris meyer photo by carmen troesser

2021 Best New Restaurants // No. 3 Songbird

St. Louis has long needed more places like Songbird, a metropolitan but farm-to-table-leaning spot where people can stop through for top-notch coffee (in this case, Sump) and a killer meal that satisfies on every level. Owners Chris Meyer and Mike Miller have traveled a long path to this moment, from carryout restaurant Kounter Kulture and pop-up Kitchen Kulture to a full year of operating Songbird as takeout only before finally opening its dining room in November. Their journey has resulted in a magnificent, full-service restaurant that feels like the perfect blend of everything they’ve put forth to date.

The sprouted grain English muffin sandwich with turkey sausage, egg, microgreens and brown butter aioli plays like a seriously high-quality, artisanal Egg McMuffin – it’s rugged, hearty and decadent. Try it with Songbird’s fermented hot sauce if you want to light up your palate in the best way. The sesame seed bialy (with lox and the works, if you’re in that kind of mood) is chewy and satisfying; the spinach frittata, somehow fluffy and dense at the same time, puts delicious spinach, Ozark Forest shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions in the spotlight. (In the spring, the frittata is replaced by a Spanish-style tortilla that includes potatoes.) One bite of the Sump coffee crème brûlée, topped with candied nuts and whipped cream, makes you feel like you’re surfing an ethereal cloud of espresso, cream and torched sugar.

the sprouted grain english muffin // photo by carmen troesser

Luscious farm toast (Songbird’s take on a French toast that features buttered coffee, seasonal fruit and whipped mascarpone – a savory option with shaved ham is also available) and an always-excellent, seasonal salad bring a polished hominess. And between the tasty almond flour pound cake with whipped coconut cream, the aforementioned crème brûlée and the wonderful flavored lattes, you’re all but assured a sweet ending. The seasonal Sumpkin latte demonstrates why pumpkin spice drinks can actually be amazing, while the espresso tonics bring levity and fresh, herbal notes to Sump’s rich, flavorful beans.

And then there’s the item that started it all: the combo breakfast sandwich. Originally available only at the Saturday Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, where Meyer and Miller ran Kitchen Kulture, “the sandwich” (as those in the know referred to it) was like a secret handshake for foodies, industry members and Tower Grove locals. Featuring toasted sourdough, aged white cheddar, bacon and a fried farm egg, topped with sea salt and honey, it’s a master class in texture and flavor – salty, sweet, crunchy, silky and savory all at once. If the sandwich isn’t part of your order, you’ve made a critical error.

Songbird, 4476 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110,