We were finally able to get ourselves over to the much hyped Vicia (vi-see-uh) which opened in March in the Cortex Innovation Community (St. Louis’ 200 acre innovation hub and technology district). When I called upon the trusty ‘ole Google Maps to help us find this place, it was described as a “sleek eatery for local, seasonal cuisine highlighting vegetables & sustainably raised meats.” And, I would agree. The restaurant is aesthetically pleasing with being very modern and monochromatic, yet feeling airy and comfortable- albeit quiet/peaceful/serene (I am used to dining with a 3 year old and it’s never quiet!) And the food was different, a good different. We went for lunch which is offered Monday-Friday 11am – 1:30pm as I had also researched lunch was a more causal counter-style service which is more our speed for a weekday lunch anyway. When we got there we were quickly greeted by a gentleman that handed us a paper menu and pointed us toward the counter/bar to place our orders and that we would be texted once ready to pick up at another counter near the kitchen. We just got waters and they were already poured on the bar so just grabbed them and made our way to an outside table in the enclosed patio next to the awesome looking wood-fired grill.
The menu is ever-changing and concise (the day we went had 5 items) so didn’t take long to decide. They come a la carte, as a pair for $11, or you can choose any three items for $14. The 5 items were labeled as Sandwich, Tartine, Grains, Soup, and Quiche...as I’ve come to observe these categories are pretty standard with some differences based on what’s fresh. E.g. replacing the Grains with a Salad - Anyway, I went with the pick 2 items: Tartine and Grains. The Tartine, French open-faced sandwich, was probably the best thing I’ve eaten in a while. No exaggeration. It had turnip top marmalade, whipped ricotta, and marinated radishes on top of porridge bread. You had me at porridge bread; it was dense, chewy, and held up well to the toppings. The toppings were fresh, flavorful, and the perfect combination of textures. My second item was the Grains, served cold: wheat berries, oyster mushrooms, asparagus, ramps aka onion/garlic goodness, and goat cheese. I was kind of hoping for a salad and something less carb-o-licious (although wheat berries provide some of healthiest unrefined carbs) to go with my tartine so that was on my mind the whole time, but again the grains dish was great. Clayton opted for the pick 2: Sandwich and Soup. The Sandwich was Salume Beddu salami, cheddar, rhubarb mustard, spicy greens on focaccia. I wanted to take a bite but he gobbled it up so fast I didn’t get a chance. Guess it was good. The soup was chilled spring onion and charred vegetable mole. Clayton had a mental and emotional struggle with the cold soup factor so I swapped him my grains dish for the rest of his soup. The soup had incredible flavor so savory and delicious.
So, in the end I did get to try 3 dishes! I left the meal feeling satisfied but not stuffed which is always a good thing. Had I not been trying to keep it relatively light for lunch, I would have tried something from the pastry case; the Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pie looked amazing. And, next time I’d like to try a specialty beverage like the Chocolate Mint Shaken Cold Brew coffee or one of the many interesting sounding teas. Side note: nowadays with a toddler in tow, Clayton and I try to bring together two things we love – family and food – but with Vicia, I’d be nervous to bring a small child because it was so quiet. And, the fact that they do not have a kids menu (or even sides menu) is fine but subtly tells me that it’s maybe not the best fit for little ones. And, that’s okay; I just like the best of both worlds so maybe I’ll stick to it for a quick yet inventive weekday lunch or a date night dinner when it’s full service and can sit back and relax in a beautiful space.