My ongoing quest to find great summer patio dining naturally led me to in Creve Coeur Park.
The front of the building has a generic look, but step inside and that sameness falls away as you're greeted with a gorgeous view of the lake.
The real dining room is outside. You can seat yourself at the bar or the four small tables nestled just inside the door. Large parties in search of air-conditioning can find more seating on the opposite end of the bar.
The area near a nice mural of an outdoor boardwalk scene offers a little more privacy. However, the beauty here is the breeze off the lake, the smell of fresh grass and a cold, refreshing beverage in hand while sitting on the patio.
The Lakehouse knows it’s a leisurely place for people enjoying a day at the park. That’s why it has both an indoor and outdoor bar, and the menu offers more appetizers than sandwiches.
You can choose between traditional things such as pretzel bites, chicken nachos and an onion blossom or try some less fatty options such as the hummus and pita. I opted for the rosemary bread topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and garlic aioli.
The bulk of the menu consists of light summer salads. It's suggested you pair them with a cold wine slushie.
The Lakehouse also offers four simple wraps: chicken salad, buffalo chicken, chicken ceasar and fried chicken. All include lettuce, tomato and cheese along with differing dressings. The menu also includes a cheeseburger, a barbecue burger (basically the cheeseburger topped with barbecue sauce and an onion ring) and the Diablo Burger with jalapeños and hot sauce.
The Lakehouse offers a few summer specials including pork barbecue nachos and my personal choice—the strawberry and spinach salad.
Although this is a full-service restaurant, the dining room has a picnic feel. Drinks are served in disposable plastic cups. Napkins are wrapped around plastic cutlery. Sandwiches are served in plastic baskets lined with wax paper.
The rosemary bread appetizer came as eight, thick wedges of rosemary bread, each topped with a generous slice of tomato coated in mozzarella and grilled until the cheese melted into the bread. The warm cheese was then topped with a thick garlic aioli and one tiny chunk of roasted red pepper, provided more for decoration than flavor.
There's a lot to like about this appetizer. Tomatoes and mozzarella are a natural combination. The rosemary in the bread complemented the fresh flavors while the creamy garlic aioli gave it a tangy spike. The bread was toasted just enough to make it a light, crispy golden brown without becoming hard and overly crunchy. This is also a substantial, filling appetizer, which makes it a perfect pairing for those worried a salad might leave them hungry. It's also just carbtastic enough to soak up a couple drinks if you're sharing beverages on the patio.
If you've had a strawberry and spinach summer salad before, there’s nothing surprising about the one served at The Lakehouse. The large, white plastic box that contained the salad was densely packed with an entire grocery store bag worth of baby spinach.
The greens were topped by a good sized handful of fresh strawberry slices and plenty of toasted almond slices for crunch. The Lakehouse gets extra credit from me for slicing fresh strawberries. I'm always disappointed when I'm served limp, soggy frozen berries on a salad.
The homemade poppyseed dressing was a pleasant surprise. Instead of the expected store-bought mix, this was a small tub of oil, vinegar, sugar and poppyseeds.
I vigorously shook the disposable plastic tub to mix it before pouring about half on my salad. A little went a long way. The simple, homemade dressing added a refreshingly natural flavor that won me over. Sometimes, the small details are the most important.
The total for the appetizer, salad, and a constantly refilled iced tea came to $22.55 plus a $4 tip for excellent service.
While I liked the food, the atmosphere and the view, I felt like it was a little overpriced for a plastic cutlery and cups place. Therefore, I give The Lakehouse a B+.
30 Minutes or Less: Barely
Specialty Diets: Vegetarian-friendly salads
Average Entree Price: $11
Kid’s Menu: None