Nestled between the small shops on Maryland Avenue in Clayton is a new hot spot for breakfast, lunch and, more importantly, an amazing cup of coffee. What is this mecca called? you ask. It's Half and Half, located at 8135 Maryland Ave.
If you were not looking for it, you might miss it. But owner and chef Mike Randolph said business has been steady since Half and Half opened.
Randolph created a menu based on what he enjoys having for breakfast. The most popular dishes are:
- The basic half and half, which is composed of two eggs, potatoes and toast
- The sinfully delicious fried-egg sandwich, which is stacked with bacon and cheddar on a brioche bun and served with potatoes
- And the blueberry pancakes, which are served with blueberry butter (a tempered butter with real blueberries) and maple syrup.
Regular Half and Half diners sitting next to me at the butcher block bar said it is the best place in St. Louis to get a cup of coffee.
I was not disappointed. Mike Marquard, front-of-the-house manager and coffee connoisseur, makes an incomparable cappuccino complete with latte foam art.
Marquard, a self-proclaimed scientist, learned the basics and intricacies of coffee roasting and brewing at Kaldi's Coffee. Eventually rising to customer service manager and educator in that organization.
The decor is simple, shabby chic (more chic than shabby), minimalist, clean, airy and fresh with French country accents. The relaxed atmosphere gives way to conversation and the slow sipping of individually brewed coffees.
Marquard, though modest and unassuming, has well-defined beliefs about how coffee should be prepared and served.
"It is customer abuse when people pay $5 for mostly sugar," Marquard whispered. Although reluctant to admit it, Marquard is a purist who believes in the individual flavor of the bean and growing region. He believes it so much that, in addition to serving coffees from one farm, estate or co-op, sweeteners are only provided upon request.
Half and Half offers a rotating coffee menu featuring two types of seasonal coffee beans brewed in a variety of styles. Marquard explains that if the coffee is allowed to sit for a moment, the flavors bloom, allowing the individual coffee-bean flavor to come through as opposed to sugar and cream.
The coffee beans being served are Guatemala San Pedro La Laguna, which releases flavors of caramel squares, cocoa and berries, as well as Burundi Kinyovu, which releases flavors reminiscent of concord grape and lemon-lime citrus.
The friendly waitresses, relaxed atmosphere and the coffee make this restaurant special.