The panéed alligator at Molly's in Soulard
There aren't many places in St. Louis where you can order alligator -- to my knowledge, only at Broadway Oyster Bar
and, now, Molly's in Soulard (816 Geyer Avenue; 314-241-3200)
-- so you should avail yourself of the opportunity.
At Molly's, chef Bryan Flaxbeard
serves panéed alligator ($11.95), which he describes as "an upscale version of what you'd typically find in true Louisiana/Cajun cuisine."
"Most of the people I know that cook 'gator, they fry it and then dip it in a chile or [other] sauce," he says.
Flaxbeard riffs on this by coating the alligator in a buttermilk batter and then pan-frying it. He tops this with blue crab meat and sauces it with chive oil and a Crystal hot sauce reduction.
The alligator itself has a relatively mild flavor -- if you want to say that it tastes like chicken, then it would have to be the more flavorful dark meat -- that the blue crab's buttery sweetness rounds out.
The Crystal reduction is what really makes this dish work: Each batch is made by reducing a gallon of the hot sauce to a quart, resulting in a even more piquant vinegar-pepper taste. The heat is mild, but it gives the alligator just the right pop.