Review: The Wood Shack in Soulard
The Wood Shack Soulard’s base has been growing since chef-owner Chris Delgado first fired up the smoker in March 2017. A neighborhood crowd can usually be found sipping frosty pints and munching on sandwiches at communal tables inside or hanging out at the open-air bar on the front patio. Behind the laid-back scene are Delgado’s inventive flavor combinations, unique blends of wood smoke and fierce attention to culinary detail.
This is the decadent sandwich to scarf down after a long night of boozing. A fried egg lets loose its yolk over seriously thick slices of fruit wood- and mesquite-smoked pork belly slathered in fiery achiote salsa. The flames are tempered by cotija cheese and charred tomatillo guacamole, and house-made blackening-seasoned pork rinds add serious crunch.
Three Cheesy Pigs
Three kinds of pig meat – smoked ham, bacon and pulled pork – may sound like overkill, but your doubts disappear with the first blissful bite of my favorite menu item. The juicy meat mingles with a house Champagne vinegar mustard and the earthy flavor of pickled okra. Nutty French Comté cheese melts to the crispy Companion bakery baguette that holds this pork-stuffed masterpiece together.
Delectable prime rib is rubbed simply with salt, pepper and turbinado sugar before getting lost in a haze of mulberry- and hickory-wood smoke for four hours. Thin slices tear easily in a crispy French roll smeared with a simple blue cheese and sour cream spread. Charred onions add a nice, earthy flavor, while the bone marrow aioli – white wine, shallots, garlic and marrow – throws in a gravy-rich goodness that soaks wonderfully into the bread.
A generous mound of blackened and slow maple- and pecan wood-smoked turkey is the centerpiece of the Ragin’ Cajun – The Wood Shack’s most popular sandwich for good reason. Tucked into a soft Companion French roll, the moist, smoke-kissed turkey is slathered with a rich but not overpowering bourbon-bacon jam featuring notes of mustard, onion, coffee and chipotle. Avocado and havarti add layers of creaminess, and the house peppercorn dressing brings just the right amount of mayo flavor for a turkey sandwich.
Smoked Potato Salad
Fans of mayo-based potato salad will find a lot to love in this version, which uses potatoes that are parcooked then smoked for two hours. Wood smoke explodes with each smooth bite, and the creamy salad benefits from crunchy celery and spicy pepperoncini mixed in. The side complements the pork sandwiches especially well.
Other side dishes – the house coleslaw and the pasta salad with peppered bacon – aren’t worth ordering again. Though colorful, the slaw was a wet, bland glob. The pasta salad lacked any of the savory punch you would expect from bacon. Grab a bag of chips (or the aforementioned potato salad) instead.
Matt Berkley is a longtime contributor and critic for Sauce Magazine.
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