Cultural Plates in St. Louis

Tuesday October 7, 2014

By Explore St. Louis Guest

Beyond indulging the senses in art, music, exhibitions or a theatrical production, visitors to St. Louis’ cultural institutions often look forward to something else. They look forward to lunch. Lunch or dinner prepared by creative chefs whose menus complement the venue while allowing visitors to savor their cultural surroundings.

bixbys - Missouri History Museum

“Some of my favorite dining experiences and celebrations have been in museum dining rooms,” said Missouri History Museum President Fran Levine, who believes that dining can enhance the visitor’s museum’s experience. “That is certainly true at Bixby’s with its beautiful setting looking out on gorgeous Forest Park. Rick (Richard Nix, Jr. president of Butler’s Pantry, operator of Bixby’s) works hard to tailor menus to complement our exhibitions.”

Bixby’s menus change seasonally, which are also driven by the History Museum’s exhibit schedule. Bixby’s latest exhibit themed menu will reflect foods and drinks of the American prohibition era. So what’s cooking next? According to Levine the Bixby’s will feature foods inspired by the History Museum’s next exhibit, The Louisiana Purchase: Making of St. Louis, Remaking America, which opens October 25,2014.

The St. Louis Art Museum’s Panorama restaurant, housed in the Museum’s new exhibit wing, is known for more than its panoramic view of Art Hill. Thanks to the culinary artistry of Chef Ivy Magruder who fills his menu with flavorful combinations and dishes that has made Panorama a popular place to lunch for both museum patrons and casual walk-in visitors. Chef Ivy, who took Panorama’s helm six months ago defines his menu as elegant yet approachable – one that reflects the culture of the city and the Art Museum.

Panorama - Saint Louis Art Museum

“Dining at Panorama combined with visiting the St. Louis Art Museum will truly be an expectedly new experience in a comfortable familiar setting,” said Chef Ivy.

Art of the Table is a special event series combining the talents of the Panorama culinary with those of another St Louis chef. Art of the Table dinners includes a rare after hour tour of the Museum galleries. The November Art of the Table event will feature Iron Fork Champion Chef John Perkins of Juniper featuring a four-course Charleston Low country feast.

Environmentalists and garden fans know the best way to eat is to eat green. This is especially true while enjoying a meal at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Garden’s Sassafras Café, a four-star certified green restaurant by the St. Louis Green Dining Alliance, fills its bill of fare with seasonal elements with themes from St. Louis neighborhoods and the Garden such as its Climatron Rain Forest Salad, The Hill Sandwich or the teriyaki – marinated shrimp laced Japanese Garden Salad.

Sassafras, located on the top flour of the Ridgeway Visitors Center is operated by Catering St. Louis, which also oversees the Garden’s Sunday Brunch at Café Flora staged at the Spink Pavilion and the Terrance Café at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening.

As Missouri Botanical Public Information Officer Katie O’Sullivan said, “Dining on-site is part of the experience of the Garden. We recognize that visitors might need a light meal or snack while spending time at the Garden. Sassafras Café and our seasonal offerings Café Flora and Terrace Café fill that need while providing delicious and locally sourced products for our visitors.”

Other cultural institutions filling lunch and dinner plates include The Repertory Theatre and the Arch View Café at the foot of The Gateway Arch on the Gateway Riverboat dock. All one has to do is decide which attraction you’re hungry for.

Cultural Plate Dining Venues

Bixby’s at The Missouri History Museum, Forest Park
Lunch: Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Express: 10a.m. –4:30 Wednesday Monday and 10a.m. –6:30 p.m. Tuesday

St Louis Art Museum’s Panorama
Hours: Tuesday - Thursday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Friday: 11a.m. - 2:00 p.m. & 5:00 – 8:30 pm
Sunday Brunch: 10 a.m. –2 p.m.

Missouri Botanical Gardens
Sassafras hours: daily 9 a.m – 4 p.m
Terrace Café Open seasonally until Nov 2
Hours: Weekdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., until 4 p.m. weekends
Café Flora Brunch: Sundays until Nov 2
Information 314-577-0200 or

Café At the Rep - The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Café located on the Webster University main campus in the lobby of the Loretto Hilton
Café menu available during before Main Stage performances
For pre-orders or reservations contact

Arch View Café on the dock of Gateway Arch Riverboats
Fall hours: September- October 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily
Brunch Dinner and special dinner theme cruises available

Guest Blogger Suzanne Corbett contributed to this blog.