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Special Request: Mother-in-Law House has sold pea salad for 35 years
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Special Request: Mother-in-Law House has sold pea salad for 35 years

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Mother-in-Law House pea salad

Special Request recipe for the pea salad at the Mother-in-Law House photographed on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in St. Charles. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Q • I would like the recipe for the pea salad served at Mother-in-Law House Restaurant in St. Charles. — Jackie Fuhrman, Granite City

A • “You know, a princess could live here!” a young guest once declared, impressed by the tall windows, original oil lamps and antique tables with white tablecloths at Mother-in-Law House. And maybe one did because way back in 1866, the structure was built as a home with a dividing wall: one side for a man with a homesick French bride, the other for his mother-in-law.

Owner Donna Hafer is still tickled by the princess idea. A serial entrepreneur, Hafer has owned a dress shop, a newcomer greeting service, a museum for Haviland china and another restaurant. “I loved them all,” she says. “They become like daughters, the businesses.” She’s also a big fan of St. Charles’ historic Main Street where Mother-in-Law sits. The restaurant’s quiet brick patio is great for people-watching one way, river-watching the other.

With one menu for lunch and another for dinner, “We’re really two different restaurants,” Hafer says. At lunch, Hafer recommends the signature chicken salad and giant burgers cooked to order — and french fries. “People say we have the best fries,” she says. In the evening, to get the quintessential Mother-in-Law House experience, she recommends starting off with bacon-wrapped water chestnuts followed by chicken Veronique. For dessert? There’s no choosing, so one of each, housemade peach cobbler and coconut cream pie.

The restaurant’s pea salad originated with Hafer’s mother and has been on the menu at Mother-in-Law House for 35 years. It’s one of a dozen salads in a complimentary salad bar during dinner. This week only, a complimentary serving will also be available at lunch, just ask.

“It’s so easy to make, really just dump and stir.” Hafer says. “Anymore, nobody has a lot of time.”


Mother-in-Law House Restaurant

500 South Main Street, St. Charles

636-646-9444; motherinlawhouse.com


Special Request is written by Town and Country resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.

To request

a recipe

Would you like to request a recipe from a restaurant that is still open in the St. Louis area? Send your request along with your full name and the city you live in to reciperequest@ post-dispatch.com.

Special Request is written by Town and Country resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.  

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