“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Yogi Berra may or may not have said that, and if he did, he was talking about Ruggeri’s, an iconic Italian restaurant on The Hill in St. Louis. But Yogi might as well have been talking about The House of Marigold, a stylish new restaurant out Shelbyville Road. This breakfast-and-lunch spot opened late in March and got so popular, so fast, that it took me until now to find a way to beat the crowds and get in.
Stymied by a no-reservations policy, two-hour waits and an overflowing parking lot on several early attempts, I finally resorted to calling to ask about the best way to get in.
The gist of management’s advice: Don’t try it on a weekend, and don’t wait until after 11 a.m. That seemed fair, so we rolled in at 10:30 a.m. on a Friday, got a table right away, enjoyed great service and a fine meal, and watched the tables fill up around us as the noise level grew. Located in a freestanding building that previously housed a short-lived branch of Royals Hot Chicken, House of Marigold has been through a serious remodel. It’s spacious and airy, with walls of windows, rows of hanging lights, and classic casual decor in whites, greens, golds and natural wood.
The co-owners, the husband and wife team of Chef Kristopher and host Adrienne Cole, parlayed a history in the local eats business and a successful catering company with popular mobile bar carts into powerful word-of-mouth publicity.
The restaurant claims a commitment to local produce and meat suppliers (including Kentucky beef from poet Wendell Berry’s Our Home Place local farms initiative). The menu incorporates breakfast, brunch, and lunch options throughout its 8 a.m.-3 p.m. daily operations. (The dining room is available to rent after those hours for special events and private dinners.)
Cole’s seasonal menu offers breakfast items (billed as “I’m not ready for lunch”), “biscuit things,” shareable dishes, salads, sandwiches, and entrees (“whole lotta lunch”). Most items range in price from $10 to $18, with entrees a bit more spendy at $22 (for vegetable pad Thai) to $27 (for seared salmon); add more protein to any dish for $7 (for chicken breast) to $12 (for steak, salmon, or shrimp).
A drinks menu offers a dozen cocktails from $9 to $11, plus a mimosa trio at $26; there’s a short, modestly priced wine and beer list and a couple of $7 mocktails. I was intrigued by social media posts about Marigold’s “build your own” deviled eggs ($12). Naturally I had to try it! This appetizer is served on a long, purpose-built white ceramic dish with a dozen spaces to hold six egg halves filled with creamy whipped yolks seasoned with black pepper piped in pretty floral shapes. Alternate spaces were loaded with six toppings to apply as you like them: crumbled bacon bits, yellow cheese shreds, pickled green-tomato chow chow, chopped green onion, “everything” bagel topping mix, and microgreens. It was fun to try flavor combinations, but be aware, this is an eat-with-your-hands dish that will put your attractive cotton napkin to the test.
Beets are a divisive veggie. I love them, although I had to laugh when a social-media friend recently described their flavor as “bitter mold and sadness.” More for me! I was impressed with Marigold’s farmhouse beet salad ($13). Attractively plated, a treat for the eyes and the palate, it was a meal-size plate filled with separate mounds of diced, tender cooked purple and yellow beats flanked on one side by citrus ricotta drizzled with olive oil, on the other by rich beet sumac puree drizzled with champagne herb vinaigrette. This mountain of color and flavor was finished with garnishes of grilled lemon, microgreens, pea tendrils, and edible flowers.
A large biscuit ($2) ordered alongside the salad because biscuits, was very buttery, delicious, and big enough for two to share.
Noise Level: Undraped tables and hard surfaces bounce around the sound of a happy crowd, making conversation difficult. Noise levels averaged a 79.7 roar to an ear-shattering 92.2dB peak
Accessibility: The dining room and restrooms appear fully accessible to wheelchair users.