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Smoking Barrels - St. Louis, MO

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    Smoking Barrels - St. Louis, MO

    My family and I went on a recent trip to Kentucky for bourbon hunting/touring and then we headed to Branson, MO for a few days. I had checked the channel here for some Branson BBQ recommendations. I had a great plan for 10 of us to visit Gettin' Basted in Branson that Turbo9495 recommended but it didn't work out due to timing and the other group that was with us. We also tried to visit Pappy's and Salt+Smoke in St Lous but Pappy's closed at 6 and we couldn't get there by then and Salt+Smoke was only takeout so that wasn't' going to work.

    The good news is we were able to visit Smoking Barrels in St Louis.

    Not a big place, not a new or fancy place. On the chinsey, old, cramped and outdated side. A classic BBQ place. Wood pile outside. What appeared to be a FEC or similar smoker out front, but I couldn't be sure and I didn't feel like walking over to it. If it was a FEC/Cookshack then the woodpile was for show...but some of the wood had been removed from the pile and there was bark and such on the ground as if it had held more wood. So they must've had another smoker somewhere, likely out back.

    Anyway, inside wasn't impressive but it smelled like a BBQ joint inside- good sign. TONS of people were coming in picking up take out orders - good sign. I ordered 1/2lb fatty brisket and she knew what that meant- good sign- and 1/2 rack ribs.

    When the food was brought out it looked like it should - good sign. Brisket had a black bark, plenty of soft fat, and a smoke ring. It cut easily with my fork, good sign. Ribs looked right, nice bark layer, good sign.

    The texture for both was perfect. Brisket soft and perfect, ribs tugged off the bone clean. Good sign.

    The flavor- ehhh. There appeared to be ZERO seasoning on either meat. No salt, no pepper, nothing on the brisket that I could taste. The ribs, although they looked perfect, appeared to only have a light dose of sugar on them, nothing else, not even salt. The smoke flavor was there, not overpowering by any means, but just in the realms of adequate. Still, no salt was rather unacceptable to me. Thankfully there was a salt shaker on the table so this was easily remedied.

    Sauces were awesome! Standard sweet red, a spicy & sweet red (my fave) and a mustard/Carolina. This was clearly a place that knew how to prepare brisket and ribs but not how to use a good rub, and instead relied on their sauce for the seasoning. This is not how I prefer to do it, I think the meat itself should be all-inclusive and stand on its own and the sauce should be an option not a mandate. Rub is cheap. Thankfully the sauce was good enough that it really made the meal satisfying.

    Kids got wings and my one son said they were the best wings he'd ever eaten. He said when he gets his license he wants to drive back there just to get wings. He asked if we could get a takeout order of 40 wings to bring home (we didn't). I finished my sister-in-law's fries and they were outstanding fries. The garlic toast was very good. Everything was great except the BBQ meats' lack of seasoning (and their rather weak assortment of bourbons- Jack, Jim & Crown). The sauces were good enough I sipped them from the little cups they were served in.

    Our server was great and very attentive. I'm a good tipper and she got a good one.

    Here's a few quick shots, including my wife's meal of "sloppy chicken" & pulled pork. Sorry they're not the best but there was no time to pose any shots since we were starved after spending 4 hrs roaming the Science Museum and the zoo (in the chilly rain):

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    So the question remains, would I go back? If I couldn't make Pappy's or Salt+Smoke, sure. If I could try another place I would, you know, for science. If you know this place, or if you find yourself in this area and eat here please let me know your thoughts.

    I have been to Pappy’s and Salt and Smoke and Sugarfire ( the St Louis big names) but never heard of Smokin Barrels. Thanks for the write-up. Sounds like you had good trip. Nice to be able to get out again.



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