Cheesecake. That’s all I knew about Vin de Set in St. Louis before going there for the first time: it has really good cheesecake. Actually no, not “really good” cheesecake. Vin de Set has the best cheesecake I’ve ever had in my 22 years of existence. How did I know the cheesecake was good? I tried it at an event Sauce Magazine, the publication I interned for over the summer, put on. The sample of maple mascarpone cheesecake was so good, I swiped another plate of it. So naturally when my friend Natalie and I were talking about a good place to have lunch and catch up, I recommended Vin de Set.
It’s strange that I never ate there while I was working at Sauce because it’s literally down the street. Like, I could I have walked to Vin de Set from the newsroom. But I didn’t. Even though I knew it had the greatest cheesecake. The power of social anxiety, my friends.
Anyway, Natalie and I showed up at the building and went up to Vin de Set on the third floor, awing at how cute the the place is with its exposed brick and old-school French murals. We were seated in a cozy room with white plates and black cloth napkins and a fireplace in the back. Being that it was 16 degrees today, this was a welcoming sight.
After pondering the menu for a hot second and choosing between the two dishes I had it narrowed down to (it’s always between two for me), I decided on the French classic, beef bourguignon. Now, I wanted to be a chef from the time I was ten until I was 15. Since then, I’ve wanted to be a food writer. My life revolves around food, and yet I’d never had this dish before. And that was my mistake because it was so delicious. Vin de Set’s beef bourguignon is like the French version of a pot roast, with beef tips, carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms, mashed potatoes, a deep rich gravy sauce that everything is swimming in and crusty bread for sopping it all up with, which I did, quite happily. What made this dish so good was that the meat and veggies were so tender and the gravy was so hearty and had this savory, umami factor to it, and I love that. The onions even tasted buttery. I’ve never had an onion that tasted buttery before, and now I don’t ever want to have an onion another way.
But Natalie and I didn’t just order entrees and go home (Natalie ordered the French onion soup, in case you were wondering). Nope, we are two ladies who love our dessert. So I ordered the Cheesecake, of course, and Natalie ordered a $14-dollar chocolate sampler. This included chocolate soufflé roulade (which means it looks like a Swiss roll), a Nutella crepe (I mean, how can you go wrong here) and profiteroles in the flavors pistachio, mocha and vanilla with caramel and chocolate sauces. I didn’t try the profiteroles, though Natalie seemed very happy with them. The Nutella crepe was nothing surprising, just a good olé crepe with some Nutella slathered inside and some candied pecans and chocolate sauce on top for good measure. The chocolate soufflé roulade was interesting, though, because it was rich and chocolatey, but it wasn’t sugary sweet. The chocolate was deep and almost fruity, and the Grand Marnier Chantilly cream was airy and light with just a hint of sweetness, making it a nice complement to the chocolate cake.
As for the cheesecake, it was just as good as I remember it. Velvety, creamy and just slightly flavored with maple. The cheesecake comes with caramel sauce, caramel-poached apples and maple cream. Whoever decided to poach apples in caramel is a beautiful human. The thin slices of what seemed to be Granny Smith apples became sweet and chewy like candy. It’s the perfect texture for a crustless cheesecake. That’s right, this cheesecake is all filling, no crust. It’s the perfect dessert for people who cut the crust off PB&J sandwiches or feed the edges of a pizza to the dog.
After demolishing our desserts, I was almost sad at the premise that we would have to leave soon. Vin de Set is the kind of place you just want to hole up in on a cold day. The décor is rustic and cozy, the food hearty and comforting and the service friendly and attentive. So if you find yourself looking for a not-so-obvious lunch spot, I would highly recommend giving Vin de Set a try.