Monday, June 1, 2015

The BBQ Saloon Now Open in the Central West End

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 6:00 AM

The pulled pork sandwich comes with your choice of side for $10. - PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
  • Photo by Sarah Fenske
  • The pulled pork sandwich comes with your choice of side for $10.

When Phil and Tracy Czarnec, owners of the Wildflower Grill, first announced they were opening a barbecue joint in the Central West End, their marketing director told the Post-Dispatch it could be open by late summer -- and by that, he meant the summer of 2014.

That didn't happen, obviously. Nor did The BBQ Saloon open in the fall, or winter, or early spring of 2015. By May, the storefront at Euclid and Laclede had taken to sporting a sign that read, "Coming Sometime Soon, LOL."

But last Thursday, the restaurant finally opened its doors -- and drew a steady drumbeat of customers all weekend long. By late Saturday night, as well as Sunday around 6 p.m., servers were apologizing for running out of various staples.

The interior of The BBQ Saloon is barely recognizable as the former home of the Majestic. - PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
  • Photo by Sarah Fenske
  • The interior of The BBQ Saloon is barely recognizable as the former home of the Majestic.

One reason for the delay in opening is surely the complete overhaul the Czarnecs have given the space at 4900 Laclede since its days as a Greek-inflected diner. The Majestic was a neighborhood institution, a great place for a hungover brunch or a pitcher of beer -- but the look of the restaurant that's replaced it is a huge upgrade.

Exposed brick walls and hardwood floors are the backdrop to a host of stylish details, from the faux-cowhide throws on the benches to the Art Deco heads holding up shelves in the main dining room. Even the bathrooms have been given a major facelift, with striking white tiles and rosewater-scented soap.

Large windows overlook Laclede Avenue. - PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
  • Photo by Sarah Fenske
  • Large windows overlook Laclede Avenue.

As befitting a place where the servers' T-shirts note that "whiskey is water with soul," the whiskey list is voluminous. Just how voluminous isn't exactly clear, however, since the restaurant is still working on a final written accounting to give to patrons.

For now, you're advised to belly up to the bar and see if something catches your fancy, or perhaps just try a Manhattan. Amanda Hammond, a Niche veteran who runs the drinks program, learned to make them for her grandfather, and the servers are properly enthusiastic in suggesting them.

The pork ribs come in two sizes -- a half rack, shown here, is $18, which includes two sides. - PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
  • Photo by Sarah Fenske
  • The pork ribs come in two sizes -- a half rack, shown here, is $18, which includes two sides.

Unlike that roster of whiskeys, the menu itself is short and sweet. Try one of five barbecue plates -- St. Louis-cut pork ribs, beef ribs, salmon, BBQ pork steak or pulled pork -- or one of four sandwiches: a burger, a pulled pork sandwich, a shredded turkey or a vegetarian option made of zucchini, squash, tomatoes, pepper and onion.

Each plate comes with two sides, while sandwiches come with one. Choose between potato salad, slaw, baked beans or corn bread.

Turn the page for more photos of The BBQ Saloon.

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