810 North New Ballas Court
Creve Coeur, MO.
On the web.
Yeah, 'Zoup!'. Sounds like. . . and that's what it is. If I had to compare it to a place you've heard of, I'd say it has a menu similar to Panera/St. Louis Bread Company, with not as much bread.
Yes, you can get a bread bowl for your zoup!, if that is what you are into. I didn't since it sounded like a soup sandwich and my head spun from the mental image of that.
I don't usually go to lunch with the folks at work, I've mentioned that before. My weekday lunch regimen is a bit non-conventional. Fruits and nuts. That's all, fruits and nuts and not really a lot of that.
I eat just enough in the morning to sustain me through lunchtime. Then the fruit and nuts not only kick me into a higher gear, they fill me up. This odd diet allows me to easily avoid whatever temptations might be available, cakes, bagels, leftover pizza, a vending machine full of salty and sweet snacks.
Thursday morning though, the lite breakfast wasn't doing its normal job. By ten my tummy was growling, I was actually looking forward to the chimpanzee meal around noon.
One of my co-workers, one whose name I will not reveal (OWNIWNR) stopped by my desk-kingdom and asked if I'd like to try a new place he'd found. "A little soup and sandwich place I see on my way to work." He'd never been there, neither had another co-worker, who I'll refer to, once again, as 'Tim'.
I heard my tummy gurgle again and surprised myself a little by saying "Sure."
We rode over in OWNIWNR's relatively new car, outfitted with more on-board computers and displays than could be found at NASA during the Apollo program.
I worried a little about what I might order, but decided the worst case scenario would only mean one minor, reversible, backslide for the week.
The drive to Zoup! was not long, seven or eight minutes. During the run I distracted OWNIWNR by mentioning the Cleveland Indians heading to the World Series. He likes sports, he claims his family bleeds Cardinals Red. Indeed he once showed me a paving brick at Busch Stadium with his name on it. At the time I offered to take him to the downtown bus station where, for reasons I cannot at all explain, he could see my name and phone number on a wall. (no one ever seems to call though).
I'd heard about the Indians earlier on my drive in to work. It was about the only sports news presented on NPR, between the sad and increasingly pathetic fund raising pleas on this the last day of the autumn drive.
I remembered it because I'd not heard anything about the Cleveland Indians since the movie 'Major League' came out on DVD. In fact, all I really know about that team is from that movie. "Is Charlie Sheen still pitching?" I asked him.
Zoup! is on one side of a busy shopping center. Which one, I don't recall. I don't really explore much
around the workplace, the traffic is thick and restless in that area during the day.
We walked in timidly, like the first-timers we were. The serving line was in the back. The front had window counter seating allowing patrons (Zoupers!?) the intoxicating vistas of a shopping center parking lot. Between the window and the line were nice, but fairly standard tables and chairs.
The place seemed clean and well tended.
There was a line, but not an insurmountable one. That's a nice aspect of limited menu places. Since they only offer so many things, the line moves quickly.
We stepped up.
The menu was on the wall behind the line. Wow, lots of zoups! The place boasts a rotating zoup! menu, which means not the same choices everyday. I like that idea. I could see the big vats steaming. There were about three that I figured I could be happy with. A turkey chili, a zoup! called chicken Potpie and a 'Seafood Chowder'
I would have preferred a bit more specificity than 'Seafood'. That could mean a lot of things. I like some, shrimp, scallops, crab, lobster, but don't want anything to do with oysters or clams. (snotfish)
But no worries first-timers, they offer free samples!
Just about everyone in line was asking for a sample or two. It gave me a chance to check out the seafood. Tim was tasting the Potato Cheddar, I'd ask him about it later. This is the same guy that recommended One19 last week so I sort of trust his food judgement a little.
I couldn't hear what OWNIWNR ordered, it turned out to be zoup! and a sandwich.
The zoup! comes in various sizes. 'Side', cup and bowl. After evaluating a sample, I decided that the seafood chowder was the way to go.
Apparently a chunk of bread comes with the zoup! order, I declined. Just the soup and a small drink please.
The serving line was filled with perfectly friendly and helpful people. Even the checkout lady didn't yell at me.
The price knocked me back a step. Ten bucks and change for a bowl of soup and a small drink, period. Not that I can't afford that, but it did seem a bit pricey for a small lunch. Heck, my own version of lunch costs me about seventy five cents per day.
It occurred to me why I was hungrier than usual. During the week, dinner, or supper, is my largest meal of the day. Even that is not really all that big. I usually pile on the whole meal in one of the smaller plates in a set. If you eat the right things you don't need as much. Also, my job doesn't exactly burn off a lot of calories, that's why I have to limit and regulate myself so closely if I want to maintain my girlish, but strikingly handsome figure.
However the evening prior to the gurgling tummy, I'd only had a thin lunch meat sandwich and a tennis ball-sized apple. Nothing else the whole evening.
Hopefully the chowder would do the trick.
We were rung up and handed receipts, mine was #97.
It doesn't take a long time to prepare an order at a soup place, so I had barely enough time to sit down and take a sip of the surprisingly fresh tea when they screamed out my order number.
A tray, a paper bowl and a plastic spoon. Sort of Spartan, but the bowl actually looked to me like way too much.
The sample I'd had didn't seem to contain any of the detestable snotfish I'd feared. Stirring around the semi-thick, creamy and buttery chowder I spied chopped shrimp, crab and fish. If it had snotfish in it, it was ground to a pulp and was undetectable.
It was not so thick that it would hold a spoon upright, but definitely thicker than Campbell's Cream of Celery, which is my go-to soup base at home.
The tastes were fantastic. I could indeed taste the crab and the shrimp. It was not nearly as heavy as some chowders I've had, which was a good thing.
The conversation was sporadic, we'd exhausted my sports knowledge with the bit about the Indians and OWNIWNR knew that Tim and I don't really follow sports. Tim enjoys playing with science fiction action figures and reading and collecting Archie comics, if I remember correctly. He's also teaching his young twin offspring how to play vintage Dungeons and Dragons. Yeah, he's one of those, I think.
So we talked about pension plans, IRA's and limited retirement options. Had the lunch lasted longer we would surely have started swirling into talking about aging issues, diseases and surgeries and the like. It always happens when you hang for long with a few gents of a certain age range.
As a meal, it was very tasty, quite satisfying and held up nicely throughout the afternoon. I did have to take a 2 P.M. anti-snooze walk, but that's not uncommon.
A nice little place, convenient to work, quick enough to feed you with a little time to spare to get back to the cubes before managers start yelling. The staff was very pleasant, I saw no service infractions, no back-ups or mishaps. The price was a bit higher than I had assumed, but be advised, not all the zoups! are priced the same. Seafood was about the priciest on the list. OWNIWNR's two-fer, Potpie zoup! and Chicken Toscana sandwich, ended up costing him over fourteen dollars since he'd up-sized from a 'side' zoup! to a bowl. But it was "Very good" and certainly worth going back for. He added "With a few minor tweaks it would bee a serious contender with Panera." The zoup! was, all around the table, very good. Tim's potato cheddar was according to him, "Awesome." Yeah, he talks like that.
Though higher priced than I'd expected, that would only be a real problem if I ate there frequently. But alas, I'll mostly stick to my own berries, twigs and seeds most of the time.
So if you're looking for a quick, great quality meal and you are in the general area, be sure to give it a shot!