"A pork steak you can eat with a spoon". That is how BEAST Butcher & Block, one of the latest additions to the local barbecue scene, was introduced to me by a co-worker after it opened in The Grove neighborhood earlier this year. St. Louis has built an impressive pedigree of pit-masters and smokehouses serving up great brisket, pulled pork, chicken, etc...but this was the first time that someone has led their personal adulation of a local restaurant with rave reviews of that classic St. Louis summer cut, the all mighty pork steak. That meant, when it came time to do some reviews for our new Nine Network food community, Chew In The Lou, BEAST was an easy target.
Beast Butcher & Block is an offshoot of pitmaster David Sandusky's BEAST Craft BBQ of Bellville, Illinois. Focusing on counter service, offering platters, combos, sandwiches, snacks, and a la carte meats, there seems to be equal attention paid here to both the quality of the meat, as well as the trimmings and side dishes that come alongside. What separates good BBQ, from a good BBQ restaurant, is how well the whole experience comes together as you eat. Sides here aren't run-of-the-mill macaroni and cheese or pasta salad. The cole slaw is soothing to your mouth, just when you need it to balance the saltiness of the meat. The potato salad, with a cheesy, dilly creaminess, provides texture change you need. Even the french fries, often an afterthought, are well cared for, being hand-cut and fried in peanut oil assumedly. Do you like the fries at places like Urban Chestnut, or Five Guys? Then you will love these.
My Favorite Things:
- Pork Steak - Available in whole or half portion. Dry rubbed, I didn't even need sauce
- Sprouts w/Belly - Crispy roasted brussel sprouts that we all dream of making at home, but always fail to achieve. Oh, and there is pork belly with it too.
- French Fries
- The staff were very friendly and welcoming, even during a busy lunch rush.
My Least Favorite Things: Tough to find least favorite things. My 7 year old came with us to lunch, and the online menu didn't show kid options, but they had a solid selection on the menu at the counter. Updating the online menu is literally the only thing I can critique after my first visit.
I'd visit again to try:
- Wagyu Brisket
- Puffy Nachos (pork or brisket, beer cheese, sprouts, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños)
- #beercheesesteak Sandwich
- Candied Bacon
On Sunday's they also offer a "Nose to Tail Live Fire Brunch Buffet", featuring meats (obviously), omelets, waffles, and other brunch options, served in their side event room called The Skullery, where they host other food collaborations, tastings, meals, and classes on occasion. Reservations must be made in advance.
What others said:
- "If you might normally avoid a pork steak because of your memories of backyard barbecues past, don't. It has a tasty dry rub and is smoked until it gently falls apart. After every bite you can only respond "oh. my. god." Sides of cole slaw and roasted brussel sprouts with pork belly (!) gave a nice respite from a couple of the more spicy BBQ sauces. Sodas from Excel were a nice change of pace, but I look forward to coming back and trying some more BBQ with a local craft beer." -Dale, Co-Worker
- "It’s been awhile since I’ve fallen in love so quickly but honestly BEAST, you had me at pulled brisket. From the rustic atmosphere down to even the freakin’ ice in my soda, everything is*chef’s kiss*. 2 bites into my sandwich , with the first fry in my hand, I was already so sad the meal would be over and wanted to go back…and we’d just started! THAT’S. HOW. GOOD. IT. IS." -Ernmardia, Co-Worker
- "I don't like BBQ sauce, can I have ketchup with my grilled cheese?"- Amelia, Daughter
Know Before You Go:
- They have a parking lot, which was a welcome relief after making one pass along Manchester Rd. looking for street parking.
- Excel soda, so be prepared if you are a diehard Coke/Pepsi person. Also an array of beer
- Attached is The Butchery, selling fresh cuts from local farmers and ranchers, alongside other specialty products. We tested the smoked olive oil. Guess what dad is getting in his Christmas stocking next year?
So, at the end of the day, was the pork steak tender enough to be eaten with a spoon? Emphatically, YES. I didn't even touch my knife the entire meal. That sort of excellence is why St. Louis needs restaurants like BEAST. While we already have plenty of amazing choices in great barbecue, the entry of a a restaurant like this simply raises the stakes in the game, keeps everyone else on their toes, and ensures that St. Louis stays in the nationwide conversation for best BBQ in the country.
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