Short List: BLTsInnumerable thoughtless efforts have taught me, quite precisely, what to expect from a great BLT. First, the supporting cast: crisp lettuce, well-toasted bread and a mayonnaise that is tangy enough to induce the little quiver at the back of the jaw, just under the ear. Next, the bacon. Volume counts here, and the bacon has to be just at the border where tender meets crisp. Transcendent bacon can mask a lot of faults but never, ever can it hide a sad tomato. The tomato has to be ripe, real ripe, not that faded pinkish-orange of January. It needs all the sugar and acid it can get to counter the salty, decadent richness of great bacon. Here are some of our favorite players.
227 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314.963.0033 robustwines.com
Remember when I said bread plays but a supporting role in this sandwich? Someone’s a big fat liar. I have never encountered a BLT in which the bread commanded so much attention. The flaky, soft and chewy pretzel roll has usurped traditional toasted white bread as my carb accompaniment of choice. Monster slices of beefsteak tomatoes paired terrifically with another variation: creamy blue cheese dressing instead of mayo. It’s rare that you see very solid bacon get outgunned by the other parts of the BLT, but the tweaks made at Robust do just that.
Jim Edmonds Fifteen Steakhouse
1900 Locust Ave., St. Louis, 314.588.8899, 15stl.com
The honeyed sweetness of a Hawaiian roll hits first but is closely followed by a zingy zap from the mayo. Thick bacon cooked to perfection (the fat is crispy, but the meat is still tender) coats everything with its porky goodness just as sweet acid starts exploding from the tomatoes. Over it all is a whisper of bitter from the bright, fresh lettuce. These BLT sliders are just the cutest things ever, only this belies just how tasty they are and how much flavor they pack into two or three bites. I moved through them at a pretty feverish clip during a relaxed family dinner, but if I were at the bar late with some friends, I would slaughter these.
Rooster Crepe Sandwich Cafe
1104 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.241.8118, roosterstl.com
The BBLT at Rooster (that’s right, double bacon) knocked me off my barstool. Loads of impeccably cooked bacon, crunchy (people-can-hear-it-over-the-espresso-machine crunchy) romaine lettuce, mayo that pops, and crazy fresh, juicy, sweet and tart tomatoes on toasted sourdough (bread is your call) all came together to turn me into a happy but melodramatic fool. A heaping helping of self-satisfaction then descended when I was told that the bacon and bread were sourced locally.