Since opening in St. Louis in 1993, Companion has taken the reins of the artisan bread wagon and become a favorite of St. Louisans.
Tucked away in the Marketplace at Ladue, Companion Cafe welcomes businesspeople, moms, joggers and anyone else looking for a comfy place to sit and enjoy a delicious egg strata, a delectable pastry, bowl of oatmeal, or steaming cup of coffee.
Companion's owner Josh Allen brought the artisan concept to St. Louis from San Francisco where he went to school and worked for several years.
“The artisan bread movement started in the Bay area in the mid 1980s," he said. “ I was working for a specialty grocery store, then a number of restaurants, and I ended up working in a bakery and fell in love with it. There were certainly plenty of folks doing what we do even then in the early '90s. The industry was just getting ready to take off, and when we opened in 1993, it was still a little bit new.”
He gave props to St. Louis Bread Company for getting people to think about bread in different ways, and when the company began to emphasize retail, Companion stepped in to fill the wholesale void it had created.
“We are expanding our presence regionally in the wholesale business of some of the grocery chains that have expanded., and some of the restaurants that have come in,” Allen said. “We’re also dabbling a little bit in frozen goods regionally to get to Columbia, MO and Springfield, IL."
In 2007, USA Today named Companion Bakery as one of the “Top 10 Artisan Bakeries” in the country. Today, Companion bread is served in more than 100 local restaurants, 30 Schnucks and Dierbergs, and in its area cafés.
In the meantime, the Ladue Companion Cafe bustles with activity in the mornings right through lunchtime, sending customers on their way with happy smiles.
Manager Jodi Allen said the reason for their popularity is because all of their items are made “from scratch."
“Our ingredients are all natural and organic with no preservatives, so the quality is definitely different,” she said. “Everything is done by hand. It’s a 24-hour process. We come in at 2 a.m., take the bread out of the oven by 8 a.m., but it was made the day before. It has to sit 24 hours, so we’re always working a day out.”
The light and fluffy egg strata dishes include egg and rosemary potatoes, cheddar and ham, and cheddar and bacon. A healthy portion comes with a bowl of fruit, and toast or a bagel, all for $5.95. Or, diners can opt for a breakfast sandwich served on a bagel or croissant with egg, cheese and choice ham, bacon or veggies for $6.95.
Jodi said oatmeal is a perennial favorite that can be topped with blueberries, dried apricots, raisins, pecans and brown sugar. Then there are the delicious, flaky pastries such as the cinnamon-sugared Morning Bun ($2.25), or the Best Darn Toast in St. Louis with butter and jam ($1.75).
Not to ignore lunch, Companion has house-made soups and rolls ($4.95), and salads, such as the Greek Goddess with mixed greens, feta, tomato, red onion, Greek olives, cucumbers, and the Companion Greek dressing (whole $9.95; half $4.95). The café also offers classic sandwiches such as French Dip, Catycorner Chicken which is all white meat chicken salad on flaky croissant, or the Fa La La La La consisting of roasted turkey, house-made cranberry sauce, baby Swiss, lettuce and tarragon mayo on ciabatta (whole $7.95, half, $4.95).
For a place to kick back and enjoy wonderful comfortable food, Companion fills the bill, and the stomach.
9781 Clayton Rd.
Ladue, MO 63124
Hours: Sunday-Saturday: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.