Opening its doors in 1972, the original Balaban’s featured outstanding bistro fare including crepes, roast duckling a l’orange, coq au vin, and beef Wellington in an inspired interpretation of a classic Paris bistro.
Original French art posters covered the exposed brick walls, and an 18th century bar from a Left Bank bistro, set the atmosphere of a relaxed cafe life along the Seine. Oysters from Nova Scotia and Puget Sound, soft shell crabs from the Chesapeake Bay, morel mushrooms from Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, and Maine lobsters served to create meals unrivaled in taste and execution.
An instant dining and social landmark on the St. Louis scene, Balaban’s attracted an array of visiting celebrities from Paul Newman, Richard Gere, Jerry Seinfeld, and the Rolling Stones to the Dalai Lama—all drawn by the sublime cuisine and world class wine list.
Balaban's in the Central West End, 1972
After 37 years in St. Louis’ Central West End, Balaban’s renewed and refined its French bistro style and flair and moved west to Chesterfield.
A winner of the prestigious Wine Spectator Award for 13 consecutive years, Balaban’s has always meticulously sourced the finest wines and the freshest food ingredients, pairing them as perfect complements. Balaban's has been awarded Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence for the fifth straight year. Balaban's is one of only two restaurants in Missouri to have been awarded both the Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence and the World of Fine Wines 3 Star Award for "World's Best Wine Lists".
In the spirit and tradition of the original legendary cafe, Balaban’s today lives as a wine cellar stocked with signature vintages, stock from the original cellar (library wines) and an accessible selection of wines – coupled with its Bistro, offering creations infused with the tastes and aromas of Balaban’s original classic dishes as well as innovative additions. All of this, under the Balaban’s name, brings back good times of yesterday and fosters new ones.
Steve McIntyre, former executive chef and owner of Café Balaban for more than 20 years, and current co-owner Brian Underwood revived the recipes that made the original restaurant an instant favorite among gourmands, including beef Wellington, cucumber bisque, and the famous trout pancakes.
Customers enjoy the flavors of France and Spain, created from the freshest, exclusively sourced ingredients and paired with a classic collection of wines from the original Balaban’s cellar. With a tasting menu pairing specially selected wines to each food course, Balaban’s private wine dinners create the atmosphere of Paris and Provence to entertain family, friends, and clients.
Featuring more than 650 fine wines, the retail store offers wine tasting, wine and food classes, and regular wine-focused events. There are over 200 bottles priced for less than $20, as we strive to offer an accessible quality wine selection. In fact, our restaurant patrons can enjoy any of our wines at the retail cost – with a meager $8 corkage fee – escaping the typical restaurant mark-ups associated with wine. We simply believe in letting the vino flow! It’s no surprise that the RFT awarded us the “best value in wine list” given this unique pricing structure. Over 20 fine wines are offered at less than $20. You won’t find this kind of pricing anywhere else in St. Louis.