It's easy to look at what's happening on America's coasts and feel an immense jealousy—a jealousy so deep that it boils into a spiteful anger—for the food our New Yorker and San Franciscan brethren get to enjoy day in and day out. A seemingly endless string of new restaurants opening weekly, many run by the familiar faces we know from Top Chef, Iron Chef, Chopped—the A-list and B-list food celebrities. Their pride won't let them admit it, but they're jealous of us too. They don't have our BBQ. I've been to two of Boston's best BBQ restaurants; to say I was unimpressed would be an understatement.
As much as we'd like to be healthier, fitter people, we Midwesterners love our comfort foods too much for it to be a feasible option. Fatty, flavorful meat is what we crave and Mike Emerson and Skip Steele are our pushers.
It was only a matter of time before the Pappy's family made their way out of the city and into the suburbs. Their first foray in the 'burbs is Dalie's Smokehouse, located in Valley Park, off of Dougherty Ferry road.
It's the largest of the four BBQ restaurants (Pappy's, Adam's, Bogart's) and, thankfully, the least crazy. That's not to say business hasn't been steady every time I've been in, but it's not the madhouse that is Bogart's.
One of the things I enjoy most about the Pappy's family of restaurants is that the menus are similar and the meats are smoked the same way, but the finishing touches and sides all differ. Bogart's ribs have a sweet apricot glaze—Dalie's uses their Papa Joe's Original sauce. The Dalie's menu pushes sweetness to the forefront, for better or worse. Looking at the sauces below, you'll see 5 of the 6 have "sweet" in their description.
Dalie's has two sandwiches you can't find at the other restaurants: a Cuban and an "Ultimate" reuben. If you call any item the ultimate version, you're saying it can't be topped, a claim I was more than willing to test. The marble rye is pushed to its limit, and much like Katy Perry's Golden Globes dress, its contents threaten to burst out at any moment. This is par for the course for a reuben—everyone expects an overstuffed sandwich with sauerkraut, 1000 island, and Swiss cheese—but the meat is the great differentiator here.
Not only are you getting thinly sliced traditional pastrami, but you're getting pork belly pastrami as well. It's a pretty marvelous take on the classic.
My all-time favorite BBQ item is the burnt end. These fatty, bark-covered bites of smoky brisket are ethereal, no matter where you get them. They're the chocolate truffles of the beef world. Dalie's are tossed in one of their house BBQ sauces, so they have an extra level of sweetness to them, if you're into that. I personally prefer Bogart's—they're less sweet, more peppery—but like I said, you really can't go wrong with them anywhere.
Few things are more brutal, more tempting, than taking photos of a hot rack of ribs. The smell of smoked meat and sweet caramelized BBQ sauce wafted up into my face as I tried my damnedest to take a great photo. Primal instincts were kicking in. Perfection be damned, I needed to eat.
If you've had ribs from Pappy's, you know what you're in for: absolutely perfectly cooked meat that pulls right off the bone, a sweet smoky flavor, and the wave of contentment and pure bliss. Dalie's slathers their ribs with their brown sugar laden Papa Joe's Original BBQ sauce, then torches them, making the entire top layer a caramelized masterpiece. I don't even need the meat. Just give me the top layer of bark.
Once I'd had my fill of pork (I had to stop myself from eating them all), I moved on to the smoked chicken, painted with their cranberry cayenne BBQ sauce. This instantly jumped to the top of my smoked chicken list in St. Louis, tying with Annie Gunn's for top dog. A lot of smoked chickens (especially if you buy them at the grocery stores) end up dry, but not Dalie's. No, ma'am, this is one juicy bird! The cranberry cayenne pairs with it beautifully. So well, in fact, I think I'm going to attempt to make my own at home for future poultry dining. And by that, I mean I'll go buy a jar.
Sides are solid, as one expects. The cinnamon-heavy apple sauce reminded me of the one my mom makes; the baked beans were surprisingly not cloyinglysweet, a nice change from the norm; the hushpuppies had a good crunch. The mac and cheese has a panko-bacon topping, which I would probably eat on its own, and the braised cabbage with green beans weren't bad. I thought that the pickles were farrrrr too sweet, though. I only had one. Perhaps the fried version is better.
If it's not apparent already, let me spell it out for you: I am ecstatic that West County finally has a Pappy's-family restaurant of our own. Yes, I think the food is a little too sugar-forward, but the meat is so fantastic, I don't even think extra sauce is needed. For those of you who have yet to go, you need to make it a priority.
Now if we could just get one more, right next to Nudo in Creve Coeur, my life would be complete.