executive chef and managing partner ben welch will open the midwestern friday, march 1. photo by adam rothbarth

First Look: The Midwestern Meat & Drink in Downtown St. Louis

The Midwestern Meat & Drink, the much-anticipated restaurant and bar from the team behind The Wheelhouse and Start Bar, opens officially at 900 Spruce St., tomorrow, March 1, just in time for Mardi Gras revelers who want to indulge in more than celebratory shots.

The meat in the name comes from executive chef and managing partner Ben Welch, who made a name for himself with his highly lauded barbecue joint, Big Baby Q and Smokehouse in Maryland Heights.

The three massive smokers churn out all the meats fans of Welch’s cuisine have come to expect. In fact, most of the barbecue dishes from Big Baby Q make an appearance on The Midwestern menu, including the much-loved barbecue nachos and signature platters of pastrami and brisket.

There are plenty of new items as well, including a selection of toasts topped with fried burrata, scrambled eggs or avocado and a host of sandwiches.

Welch has also brought in some top-caliber kitchen help. Tello Carreon, former executive chef at Nixta, is doing the butchering in the back of the house, and baked goods are courtesy of Yolklore chef-owner Mary Bogacki.

Beverage director Tony Saputo (late of The Benevolent King) helms the drink side of the equation, putting together a tightly focused cocktail menu of classics and originals that include some zero-proof creations. Many drinks are named after classic Dolly Parton songs, like the Golden Needles, a nonalcoholic drink with pineapple, cinnamon syrup, lemon, lime and Earl Grey tea.

The spirits selections soar as high as the massive shelves on the back bar with more than 200 American whiskeys, including hard-to-find pours like the Pappy Van Winkle line. Beer and wine are also well represented in the beverage offerings.

Patrons of former tenant Flying Saucer will recognize the soaring ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows in the space but little else in the new incarnation. The crown jewel is the 80-foot bar from local woodworker David Stine (who also crafted the butcher block tables). It’s faced with reclaimed bricks and serves as the focal point of the open dining room, which seats 140.

A covered outdoor patio and music venue, dubbed Midwestern Station 900, is currently under construction and will seat around 80 when complete. A separate patio area will have room for approximately 50 diners.

For its inaugural weekend, The Midwestern will be open 3 to 11 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Regular hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. 

Look for weekend brunch in the near future, and even later hours, as the bar will soon have a 3 a.m. liquor license. Take a first look at downtown’s latest hotspot. 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Tags : Places, New Restaurants, Restaurants, First Looks