Lunch and People-Watching at Liluma
Robin Wheeler Salmon BLT and frites at Liluma
The Place: Liluma (236 North Euclid Avenue; 314-361-7771), Jim Fiala's Central West End outpost featuring one of the best patios for people-watching in the St. Louis area.
The Lunch: A salmon BLT with frites, $12
The Verdict: After the brutality of this summer's heat, this is the perfect time to stake a spot on the patio, with a lunch that celebrates the last vestiges of summer. Since Liluma focuses on fresh and local produce and has prime sidewalk seating at the busy corner of Euclid and Maryland, it's hard not to make lunch an all-day affair.
Liluma's lunch menu is small, but offers enough selection to satisfy anyone, with salads, flatbreads, pasta, sandwiches and a fine-looking cheeseburger. We opted for the salmon BLT, which arrives on a house-made bun that's lightly toasted on the outside and tender on the inside. While it's a delicious bread, it's a bit too much in volume for the sandwich.
They're not dumbing down the flavor of the salmon at Liluma. Farm-raising has tamed salmon's flavor, and all too often what remains is buried under layers of seasonings and char. Not this time. The salmon filet is skin-on, lightly seasoned and just barely well-done -- meaning, it tastes like salmon and not some oddly flaky pink poultry. We consider this a perk.
Instead of piling the sandwich with lettuce leaves, slabs of tomatoes and strips of bacon, Liluma's taking a route other restaurants should notice -- they turn the vegetables and bacon into a chopped salad, bound with a simple mayonnaise, and heap it under the salmon filet. The result is an even blend of flavors that doesn't wind up on the front of your shirt. Don't expect limp lettuce and mealy tomatoes, either. The fine strips of romaine retained their crunch, and the tomatoes were bright and juicy.
The frites were fresh and crisp, with a sprinkle of coarse salt and fresh herbs. An aioli for dipping would have been better than the cup of ketchup, but that's just nitpicking, which isn't necessary on a sunny day with a crisp bite in the air while watching people come and go.