Fast Times: Pinewood Café at Hermann Park
Photo by Christina Uticone
When I grabbed a book and headed out to Hermann Park last week, I had no intention of eating, much less of writing a Fast Times review of the new Pinewood Café. My favorite reading spot is near the paddleboat rental, which is right next door to the café and its lovely, dog-friendly patio.
The patio was full of families with their kids -- not my usual scene, to be honest -- but I was instantly hungry as I looked around at the wraps, burgers, and sandwiches on the tables. I wandered inside to place my order and noticed the generous indoor seating area. Note to self: Pinewood Café is good for a rainy-day snack, too.
I was tempted by the list of wraps, which included standard options like Caesar and Club, and the more unusual Bahn Mi and Buffalo. Craving something fresh and green, I opted for the California: house greens, avocado, tomato, sprouts, cucumber, fresh turkey. I chose the spicy cilantro dressing at the recommendation of the woman who took my order; she informed me that all of the café's dressings are made fresh in-house.
After placing my order, I was invited to have a seat: "Enjoy this weather and we'll bring your food right out!" Low prices, fresh food, and table service? Yes, please.
I craved fresh and green, and that is certainly what I got with this California wrap. Given the choice of a spinach or flour wrap, I went with spinach, because face it -- flour tortilla wraps can be pretty boring.
Considering the $5 price tag (with a bottle of water, my order totaled $7 and change), these are generous portion sizes. What really pleased me was the ratio of lunch meat to vegetables. Rather than a wad of meat and a few measly leaves of lettuce, the California wrap is heavy on vegetables, served along with what appears to be a normal portion (4-5 oz.) of turkey. Hallelujah!
My only real problem with the wrap was the decided lack of "spicy cilantro" flavor. I'm actually not the biggest cilantro fan in the world, but I do like spice, which is why I chose this dressing rather than the ranch or balsamic offerings. So while a little cilantro goes a very long way, I couldn't taste it a bit on this wrap; nor could I discern any real spice. The sandwich didn't suffer for lack of condiment, thanks to the avocado, but I think next time I will ask for extra or go for the balsamic vinaigrette.
Pinewood Café is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, and a fresh take on "fast" food.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.