Q • I ordered the meatloaf at Culpeppers; it was delicious. — Annette Saxon, O’Fallon, Mo.
A • When he was 13, Ken Smock and his sister Sandy started a tradition. “We would take each other out for our birthdays. Half the time we’d go to Culpeppers for chicken wings.”
Culpeppers itself is a St. Louis tradition: the original restaurant opened in the Central West End in 1935. Today there are two more locations, one in O’Fallon, where Smock is general manager, and another in St. Charles. Smock says the three restaurants are all different and what works out west “doesn’t necessarily work” in the Central West End and vice versa.
What does work at all three locations are old photos depicting St. Louis life in days gone by and Culpeppers’ famous chicken wings. Culpeppers blanches the wings first (that’s what makes them fry up extra-crispy), then pools them in wing sauce. Smock says, “We use a lot of sauce. People can dip and the wings don’t get dry.” Tuesday nights, Culpeppers sells wings for 55 cents, served with five different sauces.
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Culpeppers Meatloaf has an unusual ingredient: cream cheese. “It adds richness,” says Smock and holds the meatloaf together for easy slicing. Smock recommends baking the meatloaf on a wire rack in a roasting pan, this helps the meat cook evenly, letting the meat fat collect underneath.
Through May, the Culpeppers in O’Fallon and St. Charles will offer meatloaf on the Limited Time Menu. Culpeppers Meatloaf is not available at the Central West End due to its limited kitchen facilities. Anything leftover, Smock says, “makes a very good meatloaf sandwich.”
3 locations, Central West End, St. Charles and O’Fallon, Mo.
Special Request is written by Town and Country resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.