Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pappy's Smokehouse

Generally, when I go to a barbecue place, I will order a half-rack of baby back ribs so I can better compare one barbecue place to another.  When I went to St. Louis, I actually expected that I might have to change that because St. Louis style ribs are spare ribs.  That was not the case however because Pappy's Smokehouse serves what they say is a Memphis-style barbecue.  Having never been to Memphis, I can not say that conclusively but they serve baby back ribs instead of the St. Louis style spare ribs so there is that.  When we arrived, there was a line out the door and I was told (and saw as we progressed that the line inside was also pretty long.  The line wrapped through a hallway which passed by the rear entrance to a brewery that shares the building and a couple of storage areas before entering the L-shaped dining room.  The line turned the corner before we came to the counter where we made our orders.  The dining room was rustic, as most barbecue places are with hardwood floors and tables although there were some high top tables to one side of the dining room which is where we sat.  One wall was glass which looked out at the street where the smokers were and the other wall, while it did have windows, they were curtained when we were there.  Above the windows hung t-shirts from a number of different barbecue places and on the opposite wall, the wall that separated the dining room from the kitchen was the wall of fame which had signed menus from many celebrities, both local and national.  Many of the autographs were from professional athletes, but there were a few chefs and actors as well.  When I got to the counter, I ordered my half-rack of baby backs but I also ordered a quarter pound of brisket so I might get a more complete feel for their cuisine.  For my sides, I ordered baked beans and potato salad.  A good slab of ribs should be able to stand alone without the help of sauce.  They should be meaty and the meat, while tender, should not easily fall of the bone.  The ribs should pull apart fairly easily but the meat should stay with the bone and there should be a nice smoke ring in the meat.  Up the time I had come here, I had thought that I had had some good ribs.  These were some of the best ribs that I have ever had.  There was a lot of tender and juicy meat on the bone that had a good spicy and slightly tangy rub on it.  The ribs pulled apart easily enough but the meat was "chew off the bone" tender.  There were three sauces that were served on the side.  Their Original is a a tangy tomato-based sauce with a peppery kick at the end which I understand uses apple sauce and soy sauce.  They have a Sweet Sauce called Sweet Baby Jane which tasted like it uses honey and brown sugar.  While I will grant that it was more than one note, I did find it too sweet for my palate.  Their last sauce was a Texas-style spicy barbecue sauce.and I have to say that it was really subtle.  There was a bit of a bite to it but that came at the end with a hot pepper flavor.  Besides that, it was hard to make out over the great flavor of the ribs.  While the sauces were unnecessary to enjoy the ribs, I enjoyed the Original best of the sauces.  While I really enjoyed the ribs, I really cannot rave about the brisket.  I will not say that it was bad, it just wasn't spectacular.  It had a good flavor but it wasn't as tender as it could have been.  The sides were very good with the baked beans having a nice spice to add to their sweetness and the potato salad had mustard in it as good potato salads should have (in addition to the well cooked potatoes and celery).  There was a slice of bread served with the ribs as well but I thought it was unnecessary and didn't try it.

I really liked the ribs at Pappy's Smokehouse although having said that, after having the best example of food that you have ever had, it is tough to go back to the lesser examples.  I will not however, reject a chance to go back or to try other great foods.  While I did not think that the brisket was all that, there was a lot more on the menu to explore besides the ribs and brisket (although I will not turn down a chance to have those ribs again).  

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