by Cheryl Baehr
St. Louis barbecue is a crowded field: It seems a new smokehouse opens every week, each one as delicious as the last. Just when the market seemed to be saturated, restaurateur Tom Schmidt decided to get into the game, turning his Mediterranean restaurant Nico into Salt +Smoke (6525 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-727-0200), a temple of smoked meat.
Ribs, housemade bologna, wings -- it's all darned near perfect at Salt + Smoke. If there's one dish that best captures the restaurant's barbecue prowess, though, it's the beef brisket. The meat is rubbed with a peppery spice blend that's somewhere between classic barbecue and pastrami. It's then smoked until it is fall-apart tender: One wonders how the pitmasters can even carve it into slices. Salt + Smoke gives diners the choice of the fatty part, the lean part or the burnt ends. Those who opt for the fatty portion are treated to a barbecue masterpiece. The beef, fat and rub caramelize together, forming a candy-like nugget of meaty bliss that's nothing short of otherworldly. Salt + Smoke's brisket is proof that the new kid on the block can run with the big dogs.
Previously: #65: Buffalo Cauliflower Bites at Lulu's Local Eatery #66: Home Wine Kitchen's Shortbread Sea-Salt Biscuits #67: Death in the Afternoon's Grilled Mahi Mahi Sandwich #68: The Brisket Burger at Three Flags Tavern #69: Siam's Kimchi Hot Pot #70: Urban Chestnut's "Strammer Max" #71: "Mom's Special" at Mom's Deli #72: Broasted Chicken at Frank & Helen's Pizzeria #73: Parmesan Chicken Broth at Bocci Wine Bar #74: "Burger" at Small Batch Whiskey & Fare #75: Smoked Salami Sandwich at Adam's Smokehouse #76: Gyro on Pita at Olympia Kebob House & Taverna #77: The Johnny Cake at TreeHouse #78: A Classic Glazed Doughnut from Pharoah's Donuts #79: Skordalia at the Purple Martin #80: Beef Brisket Birria Taco Taco at Mission Taco Joint #81: Cappuccino from Sump Coffee #82: The Salted Caramel Croissant at Pint Size Bakery #83: Gnocchi at the Good Pie #84: Truffled Tater Tots at Blood & Sand #85: Marinated Feta Cheese at Evangeline's Bistro and Music House #86: Chorizo and Egg Sope at Spare No Rib #87: Duck Burger at Planter's House #88: WildSmoke's Smoked Chicken Wings #89: The Duck Prosciutto Flatbread at Bella Vino #90: The "Dam Burger" at the Dam #91: The "Hog Mess" at Blind Tiger #92: Khao Soi at Fork & Stix #93: The "Smokehouse Club" Sandwich at Bud's Smokehouse #94: Cafe Natasha's Yogurt Dip #95: Macarons at La Patisserie Chouquette #96: The Libertine's Fried Chicken #97: Pork Belly at Element #98: M'Lwee at Baida #99: Breadbasket at Juniper #100: Bucatini All'Amatriciana at Pastaria