Sugarfire Part 2 – Twice in One Week

Back in September, Sugarfire Smoke House opened in Olivette.  With an event like that taking place so close to my house I had to check it out.  You can read about my first experience here.  Last week I went back to see how they were doing.  This is the first time I am doing a 2nd review on a restaurant.  It’s even more surprising because I also went there twice in one week. That should give you a big hint how I feel about this place.

So why review the same place again?  My first visit was on opening night.  I wanted to see how things have changed since they have been open for several months.  The first visit this week I went with a half slab of ribs, baked beans, and fries.

half slab and beansIf you remember my original review, the fries are made when you order them. By the time you ordered them your BBQ had already been plated.  The order of events was the same, but this time they brought the fries out to the table when they were ready. 🙂

The ribs and beans were excellent.  Even my 1-year-old son was enjoying the baked beans.  I will raise him to love BBQ for certain.  The ribs are not the “fall off the bone: kind.  They still have a good chew and they had the signature smoke ring.  Out of 12 sauce choices, I went with the sweet.  It’s personal preference for me with pork.

As I mentioned before I never go to the same restaurant twice in one week.  What made me go back so quickly?   Each time I went there, I stared at the burger option.  I also was greeted at the counter by the day’s specials written on brown paper.  They have been extremely tempting.  I went back after having my BBQ fix to make sure I tried something else.  This may have been a little overboard:

meal

Here’s the break down:

  • Top left – pasta salad with artichoke hearts and spinach leaves
  • Bottom left – sweet potato salad
  • Middle – pastrami sandwich
  • Right – double burger

Let’s start with the double burger. You can order it with an array of toppings.  I choose balsamic onions, Portobello mushroom, a farm fresh egg, and American cheese. Here’s a closer look.

burger

When I ordered it, I was surprised there wasn’t an option to choose how it would be cooked.  They were served medium well.  The patties are smashed on the grill, however they are not thin and crispy like at Carl’s Drive in.  All of the toppings were great and I loved that they left the yolk soft on the egg.  I would get this again.

However, the pastrami and the sweet potato salad stole the show.  This pastrami sandwich was one of the best that I have ever eaten.  It was piled with thick, fatty, juicy pastrami.  The toasted marbled rye was the perfect choice of bread.  I also liked adding in some of the Carolina mustard sauce.  The sweet potato salad was really unique.  I loved the flavor added by the sweet potatoes and it finished with just a bit of tang.  It’s a simple idea that I can’t wait to try and replicate.

Overall Sugarfire is a great BBQ place for those of us that don’t have quick access to Pappy’s or Bogart’s.  Each time I have been there I have never had to deal with much of a line.  Not only do they make great BBQ, but the burgers and specials were a surprise.  This restaurant will be in my normal rotation for sure!

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Hendricks BBQ, St. Charles, MO – EAT BBQ!

Since I moved back to the Midwest, I have started eating a lot of BBQ. The southwest didn’t have much to offer but St. Louis has a ton of great options.  My most recent BBQ joint was Hendrick’s BBQ in St. Charles.

Parking can be a little confusing the first time you go.  However, if you just follow the signs, you won’t have an issue.  You sneak up behind the building and can enter by climbing a flight of stairs or taking an elevator.  I took the elevator.  When the doors open I was greeted by that old familiar smell.  If you weren’t already hungry, you are now.

I love the decor of this place.  Wooden tables with chairs that look like old window shutters.    The paper on the tables reminds you that you are going to eat BBQ and it’s OK to be messy.  Also there is this awesome neon sign by the kitchen:

Eat BBQ

The menu is intense.  There were too many things that I wanted to try.  I decided to start with 2 appetizers.

First up, deviled eggs.  Deviled eggs are a staple at most of my family gatherings.  These were nice and tangy.

deviled eggs

Wait a minute, things were about to get even better.  For the 2nd appetizer, I had the pork cracklin’. They were salty and addictive.  I loved the ones that had the crispy outside and a nice creamy fatty inside.

pork crackling

As you have read by now, I love pork.  I order it any chance I get.  So of course for my meal I ordered… the brisket sandwich.  Why the change of heart?  I typically have a rule to try what is recommended by the staff when I am having a tough time deciding.  This was one of those times.

brisket

I ordered mine with the melted pepperjack cheese.  You can choose two sides with the meal.  I ordered the corn casserole (see above) and the mac n cheese (pictured below).

The brisket was tender and served on a very soft bread.  They had multiple BBQ sauce choices on the table, I stuck with the sweet for my sandwich. This was a very enjoyable brisket sandwich.  The corn casserole was like a soft cornbread.  It had creamed corn, onions, and whole sweet corn kernels.  I definitely recommend it.

mac n cheese

The mac n cheese was not the typical style your mom made. This was made with penne pasta, white cheese, and topped with bread crumbs.  Another winner.

Hendrick’s BBQ was a pleasant surprise in St. Charles.  I can see why their chef won the Chef Battle Royale at the 2012 Taste of St. Louis.  Tasting is believing, so get some for yourself.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  Hendrick’s BBQ is family friendly but is also a great place to go grab a cold one.  If you follow some of the food review sites, some people complain about the prices.  For BBQ it is on the pricey side, but they do serve quality dishes.  They have a great selection of local beers on tap.  You will hear lots of blues while you are there.  I loved all the small touches.  Sweet tea from mason jars… nuff said.

Sweet Tea

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Epic Pizza and Subs, St. Louis, MO – Vampires Beware!

“We’ve got a wood-burning pizza oven in the garden – a luxury, I know, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.” ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

Maybe not all of us have that luxury, but knowing where to get a good pizza cooked in a wood burning oven is a necessity.  This weekend, I went back to a favorite pizza place of mine in the Soulard area, Epic Pizza and Subs.

I love to walk around Soulard Market and find fresh ingredients for cooking.  One of my tricks for not over-buying is to shop Soulard while snacking on Epic Pizza’s garlic knots.  Pair them with a nice cold beer and you have a great way to spend part of your Saturday.

garlic knots

You can get them served with marinara or butter. They have a nice crisp outside and a soft doughy center.  You definitely enjoy the garlic but it isn’t overpowering.

During my last visit, I also ordered a white pizza:

white pizza

Their white pizza is extra virgin olive oil, diced garlic, grande Mozzarella, and ricotta cheese.  They do not skimp on the cheese, check this out:

cheese

The hand tossed crust is thin but has a little crunch to it from the wood burning oven.  As you can see it’s no match for the toppings that cause it to collapse.  It’s a cheese lovers dream!  Between the garlic in the knots and the garlic on this pizza, I’m pretty sure that I won’t have any issues with vampires in my near future.  This is not a first date place if you are hoping for that first kiss 🙂

Typically I do not eat pizza bones.  If you are unfamiliar with the term. pizza bones are the extreme outer crust that is usually rock hard.  When I have pizza delivered, my dogs get to enjoy this leftover “treat”.  However when it comes to Epic’s pizza, my dogs would end up very sad.  I eat the whole slice.  Although crispy, the crust still has great flavor and a nice chew.

Epic Pizza and Subs continues to crank out great pizzas and appetizers.  I have not tried a burger or sandwich yet, but may have to on a future visit.  I have a hard time straying from my two favorites, the garlic knots and the white pizza.

Dive 2 Five Scale: Another 3.  Great interior and family friendly.  The staff was very helpful and attentive.  There were 3 different people coming by to check on the table.  It’s in a great location right next to iTap.  It is Soulard, so street parking can be challenging.

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