|Balaban's bistro room, circa 2007.|
This week I visit Herbie's Vintage 72
, the reinvention of St. Louis institution Café Balaban.
No doubt there are cursed restaurant spaces, locations that -- no matter how ingenious the concept, no matter how talented the chef -- inexorably draw occupants down, down, down into a black hole of failure. Longtime St. Louisans can probably name a half-dozen of these spots, easy.
Much less common is the restaurant space that demands to be occupied. This is the spot that, by virtue of its location, design and history, fulfills our storybook notions of what a restaurant should look and feel like. Whether its food is any good isn't irrelevant, but it's definitely a secondary concern. When it closes -- and then remains closed, days to weeks, weeks to months -- we can't quite believe it. We double-check the locked door; we peek inside. Surely there will be new owners. They must just be behind on their paperwork....
Check back here late tomorrow to see what I think.