The Shaved Duck
In 2008, two very different men opened two very different BBQ restaurants in St. Louis, and both have been wildly successful. Smoked meat guru Mike Emerson opened the doors to Pappy's, a national treasure, and inspired many to open their own small, casual BBQ restaurants around town.
Not long after, Ally Nisbet, owner of The Scottish Arms, opened the doors to The Shaved Duck, an upscale-casual restaurant and bar off Pestalozzi Street. Both have made their way on to TV, with Pappy's hosting Adam Richman of Man Vs. Food and The Shaved Duck getting a visit from human hedgehog, Guy Fieri. The combination of good food and small screen fame means these restaurants have another thing in common: a wait.
We arrived at about 6:15 on a Friday. After our 30ish minute sojourn at the bar, we were seated and promptly delivered bacon fat popcorn with pulled pork house rub and white cheddar. This > boring dinner rolls.
This was my first trip to The Shaved Duck (recommended, once again, by Chouquette's Patrick Devine) so I decided to go fully fatty. Our first starter was something I rarely eat anymore: fries. I was waffling back and forth about getting these, so our waitress gave us a "small" sampler. But these aren't ordinary fries...
These are SMOTHERED fries. They make a gooey cheese sauce, one of mankind's greatest inventions, toss in pulled pork, then smother those fries with it. Summary: cheese sauce, fries, pulled pork. That literally can't be bad.
Their smoked chicken wings came highly recommended, so we had to get some of those. Not wanting to over do it, we went with a half pound. They were fairly large as far as wings go with a nice smoky taste and good seasoning. I do think Gobblestop's are better, but these were solid. I also enjoyed their mango-habenero BBQ sauce, whose flavor profile I haven't had before in a sauce, I don't think.
These are burnt ends, which are just like little bombs of brisket. It's hard for me to critique BBQ. In my head, it usually falls into one of three categories - bad, good, great - with the good section having the widest range. Most burnt ends taste similar, as they're just the tough odds and ends of brisket cooked for a lonnnnnng time. These fall under the "good" category for me.
If a menu offers buttermilk cornbread as a side, I will get it 9 times out of 10. This one had a much more prominent corn taste than my mom's recipe, which I enjoyed. It was served in an extremely hot skillet with a side of honey butter, which makes it just that much more difficult to resist. I definitely recommend this. If I was forced to pick 3 of the starters we got, I'd replace either the burnt ends or wings with this.
No, we did not eat an entire whole chicken. We knocked out probably a quarter of their whole smoked & roasted chicken then took the rest home for some weekday lunches. The flavors were similar to the wings. What I was hoping for was a smoky taste with juicy meat and that's exactly what we got.
I'm not a big meatloaf fan (even the name turns me off, like sour cream), but the smoked meatloaf was probably my favorite dish of the evening. It was moist, smoky and meaty, plus it came with a root beer glaze. There's not much more you can ask for in a dish called 'smoked meatloaf'. I traded half of my entree (below) to get half of this one.
Considering the restaurant is called The Shaved Duck, I had to give their slow smoked duck a go. As with the meatloaf and chicken, the meat was juicy. The taste of overcooked, dry duck makes my toes curl and I become irrationally angry. The thin layer of skin was deliciously crisp, but I think it was the cherry-juniper jam that made the dish a stand-out. What I liked about both of these last two entrees is that they weren't typical BBQ fare, but they still had that smoky BBQ flair.
As if all this meat and BBQ sauce wasn't enough, we also were persuaded to try the gooey butter brownie. Put a good gooey butter cake and a good brownie together and what do you get? Diabetes! And a good dessert.
It's worth your time and the calories to take a trip to The Shaved Duck. Aim for a weekday evening or early on the weekend to avoid the wait.
2900 Virginia Avenue
St.Louis, MO 63118