We're pretty lucky here in St. Louis to have ready access to some of the best barbecue around, and there's no shortage of places in the area to get some prime examples of meats cooked over fire. One of the latest barbecue purveyors to open its doors is WildSmoke in Creve Coeur, from the folks that brought us Edgewild in Chesterfield.
As expected of a place located in a former Culpeppers location, the restaurant has plenty of seating and loads of elbow room, plus ample parking outside, always a plus in our book. There's no table service, as is common at many barbecue establishments. Orders are placed at the counter and the food is run to your table.
The decor at WildSmoke leaves little doubt as to the theme of the place: rough wood accents, ‘cow-hide’ upholstery in the booths, and a plethora of kitschy Western bric-a-brac on the walls, ranging from cow skulls to cowboy boots.
The menu includes a rundown of pretty much all of the barbecue favorites you could think of, from ribs to pulled pork to all manner of apps, salads and sandwiches. To get a sense of the variety of meats available, we got two orders of the Two Meat Combo ($14). We got brisket, turkey, ribs and burnt ends. Other choices include pulled chicken, wings and bratwurst. We hit the sides hard with orders of fried potato salad, fries, green beans and Mexican street corn (all $2.50 each).
WildSmoke offers four different sauce options: Carolina Peach, Tennessee Zed, Root Beer Molasses and Showdown, as well as a variety of hot sauces and malt vinegar for all your seasoning needs. Of the sauces, the Carolina Peach was the definite standout, mustard-based with a nice balance of sweetness and vinegar tang.
Unlike a lot of similar eateries we've visited, WildSmoke is pretty stingy with its portions. Our Two Meat plate was pretty sparse on both counts, with just three ribs, a dollop of burnt ends, and but a few strips each of turkey and brisket. Taste-wise, it was a mixed bag. The turkey was juicy and tender; and the ribs were, as well, falling off the bone with little prodding. But the brisket was a bit too chewy, and the burnt ends came smothered in a really sweet sauce that obscured their inherent smokiness. The sides fared much better. The green beans had decent crunch, the potato salad had a great balance of creamy mayo and crispy fried potato chunks, and the street corn was sweet as could be. Again, though, the portions were fairly small compared to other area barbecue places.
Despite a decent weekend crowd, the line to order moved quickly and the food made it to the table in decent time and still plenty hot. WildSmoke also offers lunch service and online ordering, perfect for all of the hungry office-workers in the area looking for something other than the abundance of fast-food or fast-casual options nearby.
--- 12316 Olive, 548-2222, wildsmokehouse.com