Special @ #DavidsKitchen: Chili rubbed ribeye w/butter salsa sauce, bacon wrapped asparagus, peaches...

Special BBQ food

Q • My boyfriend laments being unable to duplicate his late mother’s potato salad; the BBQ Saloon’s tastes just like he remembers. — Alayna Davies-Smith

A • If television’s Don Draper opened a restaurant, would it look like the BBQ Saloon? Two decades ago, Queens native Phil Czarnec arrived from London to open a local office for an advertising agency and met his future wife, Tracy. She’d just opened the Central West End’s Wild Flower restaurant. For Phil to stay in St. Louis meant giving up a big new job in New York. But Czarnec fast embraced the restaurant business and St. Louis. “What a welcoming city this is!”

And so is the BBQ Saloon, which the Czarnecs opened in 2015 across the street from Wild Flower. It’s a casual, friendly spot with big comfy chairs in the bar, where Czarnec’s passion for whiskey is renowned: Both neophytes and aficionados appreciate his spirited judgments.


Czarnec is a creative, hands-on guy. He built out the space himself, transforming a turn-of-the-century building into a modern-day saloon with a leaded-glass front door, wood floors and exposed brick. He even designed the Saloon’s all-oak smoker that sits out front slow-smoking up to 90 racks of ribs at once. He characterizes the barbecue as “St. Louis style” (a little heat, a little sweet) and is especially proud of the beef ribs and the cold-smoked-then-grilled salmon.

To re-create the Saloon’s potato salad at home, executive chef Leon Crues, a former Navy chef, offers two tips. First, boil the potatoes until they’re almost done. “Go for a little more than al dente, ” he says. “You’re making potato salad not mashed potatoes.” Second, season the cooked potatoes before adding mayonnaise and other wet ingredients, seasoning the potatoes themselves, not the sauce.

The BBQ Saloon

Let's Eat from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A weekly treasure trove of tastiness, featuring reviews from restaurant critic Ian Froeb and how-to videos by food writer Dan Neman.

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