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St. Louis Moms Flock To The Nest


Moms and their families have a new hangout in St. Louis, and it’s like no other place in town. It’s called The Nest, which recently opened in Frontenac after much anticipation, preview parties, and fanfare that rivals the grand opening of a designer outlet mall. Described as a “stay and play creative café,” The Nest is getting rave reviews, offering something for EVERY mom with any age children, even moms-to-be and almost empty nesters like me.

people in restaurant

The Nest serves breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner & more!

Whether you grab a vanilla latte or green smoothie to go, bond with your baby in yoga classes, refuel with a bowl of butternut squash risotto on your lunch break, clear your mind in an adult meditation session, or partake in a scrumptious high tea with your book club while your kiddos shake their bootie in the dance studio or they burn off energy in the indoor two-story tree house, The Nest knows what busy moms want and need. Dads aren’t left out either–The Nest offers date night the last Saturday night of the month (January 25), and includes a candlelit three-course meal for grownups, a bottle of wine or champagne,Frank Sinatra music, plus childcare and activities for the kids.

The Nest Chef high tea

Chef Chris Vommund prepares finger sandwiches and pastries for High Tea.

As the brainchild of two creative working moms Christina McHugh and Colleen Carlton, The Nest succeeds at being all things to all people and fills a much-needed niche for families. Both experienced special event planners, this dynamic duo has a serious business plan and they know a thing or two about how to juggle careers, raise children on their own, and pay such meticulous attention to details in décor and dining that even Martha Stewart would be envious.

Christina, Colleen with Naomi, Laura & Ellie

Moms on A Mission: Owner/Founders Christina and Colleen with Listen To Your Mother Directors Naomi, Laura, & Ellie


THe Nest parlor

The formal parlor is peaceful and quiet, a perfect sanctuary for moms.

Step inside the completely transformed 6,000-square-foot oasis, with or without tyke in tow, and you’re in for a real treat. In fact, every hour feels like happy hour around here. Whether you pay as you go or buy a membership and take advantage of the unlimited drop-in childcare or two classes a week (there are 55 classes to choose from), The Nest manages a lot on its plate, mainly an impressive full-service restaurant, chock full of organic, gluten-free choices that are not only great tasting but great for you. Other goodies include a comprehensive schedule of parent/child classes, birthday parties, baby showers, date night with hubby, and a calendar packed with special events, including family-style Sunday brunch (with mimosas) and High Tea every afternoon. The Nest also cares about community and sponsors fundraisers for local charities, such as the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition and Girls In The Know, which featured Marshall the Miracle Dog.

Marshall the Miracle Dog meets new friends at The Nest.

Marshall the Miracle Dog meets new friends at The Nest.

“The Nest is about community and connection,” says McHugh, a former wedding planner and mother of 10-year old son Habi, who she adopted from Ethiopia when he was 2 years old.

“What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘nest’? How about home, cozy, family?” she asks me while I nibble on a lavender coconut scone and relax in the parlor room appointed with a crystal chandelier, Victorian furniture, and dainty antique birdhouses in every corner. “We want to create that homey feeling. That’s why you’ll notice we have only a couple two-top bistro tables, and the rest are large farmhouse tables that encourage people to sit together and mingle. We don’t want anyone to feel alone or isolated,” she adds. “Service is a monologue, and hospitality is a dialogue,” she quotes from her bible Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, a best-seller by famous New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, who was born and raised in St. Louis and is a graduate of John Burroughs School.

THe Nest staff

The Nest staff is here to please.

“Our 35-member staff is made up of interesting, dynamic women, many with an early education background, who are very interactive with our guests. The women handle the business, and the men work in the kitchen, the way it should be,” jokes McHugh, whose many years in the hotel and restaurant business came in handy when she worked on creating an eclectic, child-friendly menu with Head Chef Chris Vommund. McHugh is a foodie with celiac disease, and she loves to experiment with gluten-free recipes that are pleasing to the palette and the eyes, even for a picky preschooler who prefers a peanut butter and banana whole grain toast teddy bear.

Yummy meals for the kiddies.

Yummy meals for the kiddies.

Just feast your eyes on the chalkboard menu that appears over the fresh juice/smoothie/coffee bar. Your mouth will drool over the internationally inspired soups, sandwiches, salads, snacks, and other tasty breakfast, lunch, Sunday brunch, and early supper concoctions that give new meaning to comfort food.

The Nest Dinner

Comfort food at its finest.

Being a Jewish mom, I was curious about their matzo ball soup, of course. This signature dish is an amazing fusion of Jewish and Vietnamese favorites, flavored with ginger, garlic, and lemongrass and served with glass noodles and matzo balls. They even serve lox flatbread with caper creamed cheese, smoked salmon and arugula, drizzled with olive oil.

There are few places in St. Louis that do healthy and delicious well,” says Vommond. “Our goal is above all else to offer a playful approach to food that is healthy, fresh, local, seasonal, and with bold flavors.”

The Nest breakfast hash with chef

Chef Chris prepares sweet potato hash with poached egg.

On a recent morning meeting with friends, we feasted on a quinoa pancake drizzled with pure maple syrup and fresh berries–scrumptious–and I enjoyed a molasses latte, served in a pretty china cup that the owners collected at an estate sale. This house-made speciality coffee drink is rich with Goshen espresso, organic steamed milk, and topped with whipped cream and ginger snap crumbles.

Next, I tried a yummy breakfast salad that combined greens with rosemary red potatoes, grilled asparagus, tomatoes, avocado, and olive oil topped with a farm fresh poached egg. Then we passed around a plate of sweet potato hash with red peppers, red onions, trio color carrots, and poached egg for a boost of protein. Needless to say, I was so full and satisfied, I couldn’t wait to try something new for lunch, maybe the fish taco or tangled Thai salad.

The Nest breakfast salad

Breakfast salad–great way to start your day!


The Nest pasta

Tangled Thai Salad with glass noodles makes a great lunch.

To keep up with the ever changing menu and calendar of events and classes, follow The Nest on Facebook and check out their website at www.theneststl.com.

The Nest class Schedule

Check the website, www.theneststl.com, for a full list of classes for babies through teens and even adults!

Make your reservations now for these upcoming family-friendly events that bridge the generations and are sure to start new traditions:

January 11, 3-6 p.m—Grandparent Princess High Tea Party. Grandparents and grandchildren will enjoy tea service and meet Disney princesses for $25.00 per adult and $15.00 per child.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, The Nest is hosting a Daddy-Daughter Valentines Day Dance and Dinner on February 13, featuring photos and special festivities for $25 per dad/daughter combo with each additional daughter costing $5.

On February 14, a three-course dinner will be served with wine or champagne.  The $100 fee per couple and $10 per child includes childcare, activities, and classes for the young ones.

Reservations for these events can be made by emailing info@theneststl.com or calling (314) 942-5321. 

The Nest collage


See  you at The Nest–I’ll be in the parlor working on my laptop, enjoying a $5 glass of merlot. Happy hour is everyday, 3-6 p.m.