My day job is in Clayton, referred to by some as the “second downtown” (even though it is not technically part of St. Louis). In defense of the parlance, Clayton certainly has a lot going on for it. Skyscrapers, major foot traffic, and many, many fine places to eat and drink. The joke around town is that all these fancy restaurants just exist for Clayton’s legions of litigious lawyers to impress their clients.
Admittedly, some of the places do go overboard with projecting a ruling-class vibe, which is one reason I am very happy I can walk from work to either enjoy a nice simple lunch or an after-work happy-hour at Coastal.
The interior of Coastal is very inviting and open with a rustic touch of class. Bright, warm colors, wooden plank tables, and chalk boards highlighting the current specials are a sharp contrast to the overly dark and brooding look of some of the places around the corner. Everything about the place is meant to project comfort and welcoming.
The food itself ranges from hearty coastal cuisine and creole comfort-food to much lighter fare for those who want to be able to still get some work done after their meal. You’ll see people of all walks of life coming to Coastal, not just the well-moneyed or high-cultured.
The menu changes quite a bit from lunch to dinner, the latter featuring items like Lobster Mac n’ Cheese and Chilean Sea Bass. It also changes quite a bit from season to season. They also have a daily specials for lunch and dinner that are always something different. The Green Tomato and Watermelon Salad was a wonderful dish they had as a special during the summer that was a great variant of a Caprese salad.
On the lighter side of the regular menu, they have a delightful Tilapia Stir Fry which is a great item to have for lunch when you don’t want to get weighed down by a heavy meal. Lots of subtle flavors and these perfectly cooked veggies as well.
And also these amazing fish tacos. These are seriously good and actually not that bad for you. It’s a perfect item to have for lunch. The tortillas are soft and have a great flavor, and the pico pairs perfectly with the lime crema. Just delicious.
Sometimes I’ll pair the tacos up with the Clam Chowder to get something heavy and something light. It’s got the perfect texture and lots of huge chunks of delicious clam and veggies, plus bacon sprinkled on top for extra flavor.
On the heartier side of the scale, their New Orleans Style Shrimp and Grits is another lunchtime favorite of mine. It’s got the right amount of heat and the shrimp are sizable and delightfully flavored. The onion rings are a nice additional touch, though the dish is rich and heavy enough already without them. I usually end up eating a late, light dinner after having this dish, but it is worth it.
Since I usually go to Coastal for lunch I do not have too many pictures of their dinner items or cocktails, but they are amazing. The Pan Seared Chicken Breast with Sweet Potato Dumplings is one nicely put together dish. The chicken is tender and juicy and the sweet potato dumplings, which are really gnocchi but are called “dumplings” to be a little more Southern, are soft and flavorful and soak up the incredible sauce perfectly.
Coastal really does have a diverse menu, including fresh oysters shipped in every day, salmon tartar and a wonderful Salmon Nicoise (one of my favorite lunch items), and plus some really excellent cocktails. I will have to take some pictures of their night-time fare and libations and post them soon so you can see them, or even better you can visit Coastal Bistro yourself and see what this touch of southern charm in Clayton has to offer.
- Pros: Great flavors, great atmosphere, and a lot of variety of dishes.
- Cons: Some items too heavy, but there are plenty of awesome light items as well.
- Charlie’s Favorites: Fish Tacos, Clam Chowder, Salmon Nicoise
- Christine’s Favorites: Fish Tacos, Biscuits, Green Tomato & Watermelon Salad (Special)