Fat Toney’s gives Soulard a ribbing

Fat Toney's smokes on a great combo of chips — oak for durability, hickory to impart a nutty aroma and temper oak's acrid essence. Cooking time and temp is fast and hot: six hours max at 275 to 325 degrees. Fat Toney's ribs are pretty tasty. They're tender, generously portioned and not oversauced. They're also baby backs, which means they're suited to a shorter cooking time than spareribs would require.

Which brings me to my beef with Fat Toney's beef. You can get away with cooking beef short ribs for four or five hours, but not brisket; you end up with something closer to roast beef than barbecue: no smoked-in pink color, no smoke rings (those tree ring-like harbingers of deep-down smoke flavor). Unfortunately, brisket is the only beef on the menu here, and it comes out grayish, with hardly any flavor. Worse, like all of Fat Toney's hot foods, it's been kept warm on a steam table instead of being sliced and reheated to order. Whatever smoky flavor that imbued the meat gets canceled out by the steam, which literally pulls out the flavor, and the slow-cooked juiciness.

Chicken is a challenge to any barbecue enthusiast. On one hand, it requires less smoke time than beef and pork. On the other, you don't want to see any red juices, lest you engender a salmonella panic. Fat Toney's way around this conundrum is to over-smoke his poultry — two and a half hours! — which doubtless allays fears of food poisoning, but the tradeoff is a dried-out bird and a bad case of cottonmouth.

Happy as a pig in slop at Fat Toney's.
Jennifer Silverberg
Happy as a pig in slop at Fat Toney's.

Location Info


Fat Toney's BBQ

1627 S. 9th St.
St. Louis, MO 63104

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Louis - Soulard


Fat Toney's Bar-B-Que
1627 South Ninth Street; 314-241-7427.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

Half slab $9.75
Whole slab $16.95
Sandwiches $4.25-$5.75
Plate dinners $6.95-$8.95

Inconsistencies extend to the side dishes. A vinegary house-made coleslaw is pleasantly kicky, but the potato salad is store-bought and swimming in a dispiriting yellow mayo soup. On one visit baked beans were choked by so much brown sugar they reminded me of "brown bread" (a canned Maine delicacy that defies description beyond blargh); on another try the starch shot to the fore, with better results. The fries might be sickly and soggy one day (steam table), firm and sprinkled with a tongue-tickling seasoning the next.

With his prime location and lazy-hazy ambiance, Goucher has a good thing going in Soulard. Should he choose to tweak a few things, Fat Toney's could emerge as an ideal place to be.

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