Hendricks BBQ opened earlier this fall, bringing both over-the-top design and quality food and drink over the bridge to St. Charles.
Let's start with the space first: The concept for Hendricks sprang from the same minds that spawned Sanctuaria Wild Tapas in The Grove and Diablitos in Midtown. Housed in the historic St. Charles Municipal Water Works building, the restaurant was rife with oversized portraits of blues, rock and jazz artists, rough wood walls, exposed ductwork, funky light fixtures and all manner of down-home details like Mason jars for glassware and checkered napkins. The main dining room was expansive, and there also was ample additional seating at the open kitchen and the bar.
Cool design work is all well and good; but at the end of the day, the menu makes the restaurant. Like Sanctuaria and Diablitos, the drinks at Hendricks are given as much attention as the food. There was a good selection of bourbons and numerous moonshine offerings, as well as a beer list that included tons of local favorites from the likes of Perennial, Civil Life, Six Row, O'Fallon and Schlafly, among others. Also of note was the list of creative cocktails, which included on-tap Manhattans and Old Fashioneds and custom concoctions like Bubba's Juice Box ($7), an intriguing mix of 4 Hands Divided Sky IPA, Campari and tequila.
Suitably impressed by the beverages, we're happy to report that the food at Hendricks was just as inspiring. The Onion Rings ($5)—served in a folksy miniature metal wash tub—started out the meal in crunchy, sweet buttermilk-battered style, and the cup of Inside Out Grilled Cheese soup ($3) we ordered was a tasty take on that quintessential comfort food, a rich beer and cheese concoction garnished with roasted tomato toast points.
Since the place has BBQ in its name, it was imperative we try some of the eponymous offerings. We opted for the Pick Three ($24), with the Smoked Brisket, Smoked Sausage and Smoked Turkey. There was a choice of three sauces, and our research concluded the hot version perfectly complemented the tender brisket, the sweet variant paired exceptionally well with the turkey and the sausage was accented ably by both of those, as well as the slightly spicy house sauce. From the lengthy lists of sides, we went with the Mashed Potatoes and the Cheddar Grits. Both were delicious, but the grits were exceptional, with a perfectly creamy, thick texture.
The menu also offered a variety of Homestyle Meals, Southern favorites with a bit of a twist. The Meatloaf ($15) was especially satisfying, with a spicy Creole flavor. It paired up perfectly with a side of the savory Green Beans, cooked up with some house-smoked bacon and onions.
A slice of the Bourbon Pecan Pie ($5) with an extra scoop of vanilla ice cream ($2) cut through the heaviness of the meal and proved the epitome of Southern decadence.
Be advised, here's no parking on the stretch of Main Street where Hendrick's is housed, so it's necessary to pull around back to the public parking area behind the building and walk a bit over some uneven terrain to get to the restaurant.
All in all, Hendricks BBQ is a fine addition to the culinary scene in St. Charles and provides a much-needed alternative to the preponderance of chain places in the area.
Hendricks BBQ, 1200 S. Main St., 636-724-8600, hendricksbbq.com.