Monday, January 7, 2013

Saint Louis: Rooster & Bogart's Smokehouse

One thing to do when traveling to a new city is find a brunch place that locals love and uses local ingredients that showcases the food.  I like to find a place like that for brunch because I think brunch has a much more casual dining environment and that you really have to stand out to differentiate yourself from all the other brunch spots.

This time around, I chose Rooster, which is located in downtown St. Louis.  Rooster actually specializes in a variety of crepes, from fruit filled ones to savory crepes, and I don't eat crepes that much so it was a nice change.  I also wanted something very different from what we were gonna eat later, BBQ, and crepes fit the bill!

1104 Locust St 
St Louis, MO 63102

Rooster, located in downtown.  The area was pretty dead when I was there though, with Rooster being the busiest.

front of menu 
Front of menu.

  grapefruit coffee
My fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and Diana's coffee.

smoked sirloin #4
I wanted something savory so I went for the Smoked Sirloin #4, which has red onion, arugula, goat cheese, and tomato jam, but instead of red onions, I asked for caramelized onions.

smoked sirloin
The smoked sirloin.  Thinly sliced sirloin with a nice smoky flavor.  Goat cheese & arugula worked well.  It wasn't until I took the first bite that I realized I was gonna be eating BBQ later too haha.

tomato jam
Tomato jam.  This was what really made this crepe pop.  I have no idea what's in it but that jam is dank!  Has a bit of kick to it sorta like harissa but similar to ketchup too.  Awesome.

caramelized banana & nuts
Diana's Caramelized Banana & Nuts French Toast.  

French toast is solid and the caramelized banana is a whole banana sliced in half then cooked in sugar. Great crunch from the coated sugar.  I also liked how there's a variety of nuts, like walnuts, pecans, and cashews, instead of just one type like many places.


Afterwards, we visited the Arch Gateway, walked around a bit to digest, then headed towards the Soulard neighborhood for Zagat's #1 BBQ spot, Bogart's Smokehouse!  Of course I had to compare to it the first BBQ spot I visited in STL, Pappy's.  Funny thing is Pappy's and Bogart's paths intertwine.  The pitmaster and the GM of Pappy's were part of the group that started Pappy's so many think of Bogart's as Pappy's second coming.  Some things may be similar, but Bogart's completely standing its ground against Pappy's!

Funny how the two top BBQ spots in Saint Louis are Memphis-style (dry rub) rather than STL's own saucy BBQ :P

Bogart's Smokehouse
1627 S 9th St 
Saint Louis, MO 63104

bogart's smokehouse
Bogart's.  Tiny restaurant located next to Soulard Farmer's Market.  Very different from downtown's Pappy's.

Lots of restaurants in STL uses pigs hahah.

The 4 sauces at Bogart's: Sweet Maegan Ann, Voodoo Sauce, Pineapple Express, and Mad Maddie's Vinegar.  I like sweet sauces so Sweet Maegan Ann was my favorite.

Decided to get a combo: half slab ribs & brisket.

ribs & brisket
The baby back ribs have a darker color while the brisket has a thicker smoke ring than Pappy's.

Very flavorful.  In fact, the dry rub and the finishing glaze is so good that I barely used any sauce for the ribs!  Their final process involves using a torch to caramelize the apricot glaze to achieve the crust and the color!  It is a bit sweeter, but you can still taste the rub and the smoke.  It's tough but I think Pappy's ribs win by a super narrow margin since it is more tender.

deviled egg potato salad
Deviled egg potato salad.  Their unique take on a classic side.

baked beans
Pit-baked beans.  Awesome baked beans and I actually like it here better than Pappy's baked beans.

smoked wings & pork skin
Diana went for the chicken wings special with coleslaw & pork skins.

Super legit, plump, juicy, flavorful wings.  I can eat these non-stop.  The coleslaw is oil based too so it's much lighter than mayo-based coleslaw.

seasoned pork skin
The pork skins.  It is actually just Old Vienna Pork Rinds, but when you eat it with the Mad Maddie's Vinegar sauce, it's like a party in your mouth!  Vinegar + the seasoned salt + pork skin = one damn good crispy bite.

I think... if I am just talking about ribs, Pappy's baby back is still just a bit better than Bogart's.  Pappy's is just more tender to me, even though the apricot glaze finish on Bogart's is bomb.  However, Bogart's quality is better overall.  It is not as packed, the ribs are good, there are more unique items like the wings, brisket is better, sides are much much tastier, and the people working there are just super friendly.  I am just sad that I will not eat any BBQ even close to those two back home in LA.  Sigh.