The front patio at Liluma in the Central West End makes for a fine spot for lunch in the spring and fall, but as we turn to the heat of summer, make for a sunny spot in the front dining room, facing the windows to people watch. The location offers a constantly changing view worthy of putting your phone down for the duration of your lunch, placing work demands on hold for a simple yet satisfying meal.
Simplicity starts with the baby spinach salad, topped with cashews, julienned pears and a light-as-air vinaigrette. The dressing offers just a hint of poppy seed and hit of acid that is as home on greens as it is being sopped up with a slice of fresh baked bread.
A flight of pastas anchors Liluma’s lunch menu, but a favorite is the orecchiette. Loosely translated to “little ears” in Italian, the circular pasta with a dimple in the middle may remind some of the outlines of an ear while others might be quick to associate it with the shape of the classic Edmund Scientific jumping disk from their youth. The pasta is beautiful; the concave shape is made for capturing a bit of rich olive oil, Parmesan cheese - and if you are lucky - a section of salty pancetta or roasted seasonal vegetable with each bite. Much like the salad, the dish is simple, rustic and delicious - hallmarks of a Jim Fiala restaurant and the makings of an excellent early-summer lunch.
Liluma, 236 North Euclid Ave., Central West End, 314.361.7771, fialafood.com
Tired of reheating last night's dinner for lunch? Every Monday, food writer Andrew Mark Veety guides you to some of the best midday meals in the St. Louis region, with great places to bring clients or enjoy an outing with your co-workers. Missed one of his columns? Check them out here.