Q • Any chance of getting the recipe for Bandana’s potato salad? I’d like to make it for parties. — Elizabeth Palmisano, Festus
A • Bandana’s Bar-B-Q is a hometown success story. What started out 18 years ago as a popular Arnold barbecue joint has grown to a collection of 32 (soon to be 33) quick-service, family-friendly restaurants, including 16 in the St Louis metro area. Food-wise, Bandana’s keeps it homestyle: each restaurant prepares southern-style barbecue and sides fresh each day.
Bandana’s head pitmaster Dylan Lipe, a professionally trained chef who’s cooked barbecue competitively for 10 years, says the hardest-working “employees” on the Bandana’s team bear names like Jake and Elwood. They’re the two or three hickory-wood smokers that give each restaurant Bandana’s signature scent of wood smoke and work “pretty much 24 hours a day” cooking pork, beef and turkey overnight, chicken and ribs during the day. Lipe recommends that Bandana’s newcomers order a family-style “feast” for two, three or four people, large platters of meats and sides. “It’s the best way to try everything, there’s no need to anguish between the ribs and the pulled pork.”
Bandana’s regulars often attempt to guess the “secret ingredient” in the restaurant’s potato salad, swearing the old family recipe must call for something exotic. But, says Lipe, “It’s a really simple recipe. Done right, it’s really delicious.” Bandana’s customers agree, ordering 14,000 pounds a month, more during warm weather. Bandana’s potato salad contains no ingredient-list surprises but takes two days to make and calls for labor-intensive techniques important to both texture and taste.
Large red-skinned potatoes are broken into pieces by hand, the starch in the smaller pieces helps emulsify the dressing. One at a time, hard-cooked eggs are cut into matchsticks with an egg slicer; the two-slice process ensures the “maximum yolk and white in each bite.” The dressing and eggs are prepped the day before then refrigerated overnight to let the flavors “bloom.” Once the potatoes are mixed in, the potato salad rests for 30 to 45 minutes before serving.
Lipe smiles, “Maybe our secret ingredient is freshness.”
16 locations in St. Louis metro area