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Water Street Café Features Vintage Drinks and Unique Menu

The newly opened restaurant on Manchester Road features vintage cocktails and Gorgonzola cheese mousse, minus the high prices.

With so many restaurants in downtown Maplewood, one might wonder if yet another will succeed. Owner Gabe Kveton of the city's brand new Water Street Café doesn't think it will be a problem.

"I think every restaurant here sort of fills its own niche and offers something unique to this whole strip and to Maplewood," Kveton said. "I think there's a place for everybody."

The café for a couple of weeks. It's a family operation headed up by Kveton and his sister Maria, who runs the kitchen as executive chef. And its name belongs to their dad's former publishing company, Water Street Publishing. 

Water Street Café is 100 percent dedicated to its new home. "I really love not only the space, but the neighborhood," Kveton said. "I think Maplewood has such a great community feel to it. Any business that is going to bring more people to Maplewood is going to benefit everybody."

Keveton's goals are clear cut. He said he wants to create the best product they can while keeping things interesting. He said he aims to incorporate more local and organic ingredients soon and continue to keep entrées less than $15.

Should you choose to venture inside (which you should), here's what you can look forward to:

The drinks: Water Street Café excels in specialty and vintage cocktails. Each week, Kveton chooses a unique drink out of his favorite bar book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, an ode to the craft of the trade. Drinks are served in antique cocktail glassware.

One refreshing option is the Honey Bee, made with rum, Missouri honey and lemon. The restaurant also features a homemade punch, Lemon Drop, which is made with champagne, vodka and a lemon balm-infused simple syrup.

Kveton has started crafting his own liquers—making his debut with a limoncello—and garnishes, such as cocktail onions and maraschino cherries.

Beer is offered by the bottle or on tap. Varieties are carefully thought out and include the ever-present Schlafly brand, as well as Chimay Ale and San Smith Organic Ale.

Choose wine by the bottle, half bottle or glass. Kveton is working on expanding the half bottle list. "If you want maybe a glass of Barolo but don't want to commit to a whole bottle, this (the half bottles) will fill that hole," Kveton said.

The menu: Chef Maria Kveton creates so many interesting and original choices on a small menu that you will probably have to try them all. Start your meal with plum/apple coated meatballs, housemade chicken liver pate with pistachios, or cucumber with Gorgonzola cheese mousse and pancetta. 

On the entrée side, stop in frequently for a changing daily flatbread topped with ingredients such as an almond and basil pesto with gruyere and red onion. Or opt for Kveton's favorite, the chicken pot pie, paired with a glass of Giacoto Pinot Grigio.

For dessert, branch out with the strawberry/prosecco sorbet or a berry almond tart, served warm or cold.

The environment: The space is newly rennovated, with beautiful light fixtures, window seating and modern decor with a welcoming air. Mirrors along one wall add to the ambiance of the restaurant by making the space seem larger.

Hours: The café is open 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Wednesday and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Reservations are taken for parties of five or more. Water Street Café is located at 7268 Manchester Rd.

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