Flavors of fall: Our recommendations for fun and festive feasts with friends

Two rows of desserts behind signs reading "Cookie Dough Cupcake" and "Oreo Cheesecake Slice."

Cherry Tree on the South 40 offers a selection of seasonal desserts. (Photo by Elle Su/Student Life)

Just in time for the first real cold snap of the year, Scene staff writers compiled a list of quintessentially fall things to do — and mostly, to eat — for the remainder of Pumpkin Spice Season.

A (few) apples a day keep the midterms away

While definitely a journey out of the WashU bubble, Eckert’s Belleville Farm in Illinois is worth the trip. My visit was made possible through tickets and transportation provided by the First Year Center, but normally tickets are $2.20 for weekdays and $5.50 for weekends. The Belleville location is about a 35 minute drive, so this would make a great day trip if you know someone with a car. 

Upon arrival, tractors will take you away from the Eckert market and into the orchard where you are handed a bag and set free. Time flies as you wander through rows of Fuji and Suncrisp apples. I was able to fully fill a bag with fresh apples, so don’t be deterred by rows that look empty or overripe. To make sure there is still a good fruit supply, check Eckert’s website for crop updates. 

If you want to bring some home with you, apples cost $1.99 per pound and pumpkins are $0.69 per pound, but you don’t have to pay for the apples you eat along the way! Crunching your way from tree to tree is the best way to embrace the midwest’s abrupt change in seasons.

After you’ve had your fill of apples, the tractors will take you directly to a large pumpkin patch where you can join many in finding the perfect potential jack-o’-lantern. Post-pumpkin patch, the tractor will drop you right back where you started, at the market filled with flowers, gourds, cider and more. Sure, it’s a little gimmicky, but that’s all part of the fun. 

— Alice Gottesman, Contributing Writer

Not too cold for ice cream

As an ice cream connoisseur, and with weather yet to freeze my brain, I often find myself trying out new fall seasonal flavors, such as the pumpkin cake roll ice cream at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Just a few metro stops away from campus, this dessert treat is the perfect transition between a summer cool-off and a winter bundle. The warm spices of cinnamon, ginger and star anise certainly add a layer of depth not tasted in many other flavors, simultaneously cutting the thick heaviness of the cream cheese swirls. The smooth and buttery notes of heirloom pumpkin are enhanced even more by the golden nuggets found woven in: fun, bite-sized cake pieces soaked in vanilla and other spices to add pops of textural surprise. My favorite way to enjoy this delectable treat is to place a scoop over a freshly baked brownie, the buttery pumpkin cream melting into the moist chocolate. The pumpkin cake roll from Jeni’s, with its vibrant orange and buttercream beige swirls, is certainly a five-star representation of autumn.

— Annabel Shen, Contributing Writer

The cafe right next door 

Before a long day of classes, what better way to anticipate your future burnout than by making a trip out to Cherry Tree and grabbing yourself a treat? You deserve it. If you are like me, you naturally gravitate towards the hot chocolate and oat crème cookie. However, since it is fall, I decided to try a new seasonal item on the menu: the pumpkin cannoli. To be honest, I did not have the highest of hopes. I have never been a fan of pumpkin flavored items. This cannoli, however, really blew me away. It tasted like if you made a real pumpkin pie, not just artificial pumpkin flavoring, into a whipped cream form. The filling was immaculate and not too sweet, which is what I had been scared of. The crust casing was a bit thick, but it was still a great addition to my morning pump-up meal. All in all, the experience was pleasant, and I look forward to trying more of Cherry Tree’s fall-themed items in the future. 

— Ella Urton, Contributing Writer

Not your average pumpkin spice latte 

Colleen’s sits on Forsyth Blvd, less than a mile walk from the South 40. On this Thursday morning, well before my 9 a.m. class, I trudged to the cafe with my hands in the pockets of my cardigan. While walking outside, I kept my mask on; the protection from the cold felt nice. The branches of the trees that line Forsyth swayed in unison. 

The cashier greeted me and I asked, “Hi! Can I please have a pumpkin spice latte?” I paused. “Can I have it to go?” I had class in 30 minutes.

I managed to avoid this fall trend for most of my life; chai tea lattes had my unrelenting loyalty and I saw no reason to disrupt that. But then in came this particular pumpkin spice latte: with white foam swirling at the top and cinnamon overlaying the foam, it fulfills a seasoned kick I’ve always appreciated in my drinks. It’s hot and sweet and spicy, and yet no single flavor overpowers the other. The latte itself tastes like a cookie in liquid form and a rich pumpkin flavor wonderfully pervades the entire beverage. If you want something to pair it with and aren’t spooked by pumpkin overload, I highly recommend the pumpkin muffin. Rich, yet light and tender, they truly are the best complement to your drink. I’d also definitely recommend varying your routine with something other than a PSL — perhaps a coffee that isn’t overpoweringly sweet. You don’t want to get tired of pumpkin flavor too soon!

—  Keona Dordor, Contributing Writer

Polite Society serves loud fall flavors 

Although St. Louis weather seems to change its mind on what season it wants to be every day, you automatically feel like you’ve stepped into autumn when you go to Polite Society. The “restaurant, bar or gathering place,” as labelled on their website, is located inside a brick building within Lafayette Square, and has a glowing, orange aura as you approach. As you walk in and the host leads you to your table, dark, wooden walls and exposed brick surround you, creating a sort of cozy yet industrial feeling within the restaurant. Dark brown cushioned chairs are seated around each wooden table, and a floor to ceiling bookshelf attached to the brick wall is at the front of the restaurant, holding several dog-eared volumes.

As you sit down and open the menu, you are met with beautifully curated dishes ranging from gnocchi prosciutto to shrimp and grits. During a visit last year, I ordered a butternut squash ravioli cooked with ricotta, brown butter, sage and pancetta, and it was possibly one of the best things I have ever eaten; it was flavorful, comforting and perfect for the fall season. This time, I ordered a ravioli once again: filled with shitake, oyster and trumpet mushrooms, cooked in a rich alfredo sauce and served with pickled mustard seeds as a garnish. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, the mushrooms were oozing with flavor and the sauce was filled with flavor without being too heavy. I also ordered cornbread and crispy broccolini. The cornbread, served with warm maple butter, melts in your mouth, and the fresh broccolini coupled with a garlic ricotta and balsamic reduction was the perfect complement. 

Polite Society changes their menu each season, so each dish on the menu right now evokes a feeling of fall. The restaurant is a bit pricey, so it is definitely a treat. I have yet to try their brunch, plan to do so soon. 

— Olivia Salvage, Contributing Writer

Take some time to smell the turning leaves 

Drop off your backpack, grab your headphones, turn up the music and head to Forest Park. I think this time of year is epitomized by two m’s: magical (weather) and midterms (galore). Take a break from the latter and recenter yourself with the crisp air and nature’s bounty. You’ll find peace soaking in the swaying trees with leaves that teeter between red and green. For a brief moment, it’s neither too hot nor too cold. Your studying can wait — dare I say for the months where the temperature averages a high of 20 degrees. Whether you take in the view of Art Hill from the Forest Park fountain or people-watch the families staging their holiday card photos, take a breath outside of the WashU bubble.  

— Sarai Steinberg, Contributing Writer

Read more recommendations:

Bergson’s best: Rating the cafe’s fall drinks

Fall Break in St. Louis: Local entertainment venues to visit

A week of eating exploration: Reviewing five campus dining options


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