Q • Everything we’ve tried at Salt + Smoke is fantastic; we love the barbecue and especially the mac-and-cheese with Ritz crackers. — Mary Troll, Maplewood
A • Call it the barbecue drill. Going for barbecue usually means standing in line, hoping a table will open up in time to park yourself and your white-bread lined plastic basket before the food gets cold and the beer turns warm. Not Salt + Smoke.
Salt + Smoke (out loud, that’s Salt and Smoke) aims for the civilized approach of a full-service restaurant, which means a full wait staff, a full bar, a full menu. And it’s caught on. “We sold out on the first day and have been growing ever since,” says owner Tom Schmidt. “People come to sit back and relax with good friends, good drinks, good food.”
On that first day back in 2014, Salt + Smoke opened with a single smoker; now it has three. Executive chef and pitmaster Haley Riley uses a mix of wood for smoking: slow-burning post oak for overnight cooking for Texas-style brisket and pork shoulders; cherry for daytime’s bacon, wings and whole chickens, Missouri trout, ribs and house-made cheddar bologna, even smoky baked beans. Riley says, “We’re not cutting edge. We just do what we do, very well.”
Examples? Brining the pork and chicken first. Trimming prime-grade beef by hand for the Texas-style brisket. Seeking out responsible purveyors able to sustainably produce 30,000 chickens a year. Making everything from pickles to popovers to toasted-ravioli pasta to pie crust from scratch. “It tastes better,” Schmidt says. “And it’s part of our ethos.”
Salt + Smoke’s mac-and-cheese is topped with crushed Ritz crackers. The kitchen makes a huge batch once a day, twice a day on weekends and goes through nearly 500 gallons of cream a month, just for mac-and-cheese.
Salt + Smoke
6525 Delmar Boulevard, University City
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.
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