Salume Beddu – St. Louis, MO – Artisan Cured Meats in a Strip Mall

What’s a better way to celebrate a half day of work than with a great lunch!  This week I tried the lunch at Salume Beddu on Hampton Ave.  I have tried their artisan cured meats before, but never their lunch items.

This is a very tiny place in an old strip mall.  You have to know what you are looking for or you might drive past.  There is seating for approximately 14 people, total.  The menu is equally small.  However each item clearly is designed with a purpose.  I chose the speck and Gruyere sandwich with preserved lemons.

The sandwich arrives warm.  The bread is a great golden brown.  It is crunchy and the interior has the right amount of chew. Clearly you can see there is a lot more bread than any of the other ingredients.  Speck can be overpowering but they nailed the right amount.  The Gruyere was the perfect complement adding a slight nutty flavor.  To me, it seemed like everything was proportioned to let the preserved lemon shine through.  I never thought I would call a sandwich refreshing, but that is the first thing that comes to mind.

Salume Beddu not only provides tasty artisan cured meats, but great lunch options.  The menu may be small, but this a great example of quality over quantity.  I am sure that I will be back to try them all.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  It’s night and day from the exterior and interior of this place.  As I said before, Salume Beddu is part of a small strip mall.  Once inside you feel like you have left the country.  I would highly recommend getting their salumi plate if you have never tried their meats before.  It is a great way to sample a wide variety.  Once you do, you know you will be taking some home.

Salume Beddu on Urbanspoon

Chicken Coop, St. Peters, MO – Fried Chicken. Yes Please!

Lunch-less at work in St. Peters, what do you do?  I always have a list of places that I want to try for when that happens.  One that has been on my list for a while:  the Chicken Coop in St. Peters.

Why has it been on the list for a while?  I have actually tried to go a couple other times but had not figured out their hours.  The Chicken Coop is a small shack on Mexico Road by an old school car wash.  It has a drive-thru window and a walk-up window.  There are a couple picnic tables on one side, however, most people either eat in their cars or take it with them.

The food is cooked once you order it.  So if you are in a hurry, call ahead.  Otherwise you will end up waiting about 15 minutes for them to prepare your meal.

The prices are very reasonable.  The menu has several appetizers, multiple chicken options, catfish, and a good choice of sides.  One appetizer that caught my eye was the creamy corn nuggets.  For my meal, I went for the 2 piece chicken meal.  This is the chicken coop after all, how could I not get chicken?!?!?  The two sides I choose were mashed potatoes and mac n cheese.

Once I picked up my order and got back into my car, it was obvious I was going to dig in right there.  The smell of the food quickly filled the car with awesomeness.  I’m not good with the whole patience thing.

First the corn nuggets:

They were smoking hot!  I should have expected that since the food was just cooked.   They were very crispy on the outside and had a great sweet flavor.  Order these if you go there, you won’t be disappointed.

Next, the two piece meal:

If you are paying attention you will notice that I actually received 3 pieces of chicken.  They were out of rolls so this was the wing was their substitute.  The chicken was light on seasoning and there was not an excessive amount of breading.  It was still juicy all the way through.  This was true even on the large breast piece, so they know what they are doing.  First-rate chicken all the way!

The mashed potatoes and mac n cheese are clearly the side kicks.  The mashed potatoes are pretty standard as you would get at most chicken restaurants.  The mac n cheese had some peppers in them to add a little spice.  Neither knocked my socks off.

This turned out to be a great choice for lunch.  I need to continue to try other sides, but the chicken and corn nuggets were great.  I have heard that this building had been several other things during its’ existence.  I hope it stays the Chicken Coop for many more.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  Folks, I’m going a 1 here.  It’s a small take out shack next to a run down car wash. The best seat in the house will be in your car if you want to control the climate.   If you want to stay “off the grid”, don’t worry, they are cash only.  The prices are great, especially for the quality of food you get.

Chicken Coop on Urbanspoon

Panhead Billy’s, Kingdom City, MO – KA-CHOW, Did I Find a Real Life Radiator Springs?

I’m not known for being someone who loves poetry.  However, as a child I memorized “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. It’s something that continues to pop into my mind from time to time.  Recently I was wondering if I was going to find a hidden gem on that “road less traveled” on a recent road trip back from Kansas City.

Along old Highway 40 in Kingdom City, I stopped by Panhead Billy’s Smokehouse BBQ and Tavern.  Taking the right turn onto highway 40 I was quickly reminded of the animated movie “Cars”.  Here was small stretch of highway that had an out of business gas station, abandoned motel, Nostalgiaville, and Panhead Billy’s.  Clearly all affected by the “progress” brought in by I-70.

Abandoned motel on old Highway 40.

As I pulled in the gravel parking lot and up to the metal building I was pretty sure I had found myself a sure 1 on the Dive 2 Five Scale.  However when I entered I was surprised by the time and effort was put into this place.

After settling in at the bar, I asked for recommendations.  The bartender first mentioned brisket that just finished in the smoker the previous night.  I ordered it with a side of fries.

The brisket was tender enough to cut with a fork.  Thank goodness, since I wasn’t given a knife. 😀  Maybe I looked like a shady character and couldn’t be trusted with one.  The fries were fresh cut on site.  As I have found with other fresh cut fries, they were on the soft side.  I prefer a crispy outside but these weren’t bad.  They were seasoned well.  There was only BBQ sauce so that kept things simple.  It was on the thin side, but with a nice subtle after-burn.

Panhead Billy’s is a typical small town BBQ restaurant.  It would likely get lost in the mix with Pappy’s and some of the other great BBQ in St. Louis.  However this is a good stop when you have that craving and are traveling along I-70.  It’s also a nice place to stop and support a local business.  This was the road less traveled that I will be traveling again.  After doing some research, I think on my next trip I will try their BBQ chips.  They sound tasty!

Dive 2 Five Scale:  2.  As I said, from the outside I expected to score it a one.  It was just simple.  Inside the wooden tables and chairs were a nice touch.  The chairs were over-sized and heavy.  I was really surprised how nice (and clean) the men’s bathroom was.  It’s more of a bar, but I would not hesitate to take my son there.  It wasn’t really a sports bar, but had two TV’s for those of us interested in the college football games.

Panhead Billys on Urbanspoon