St. Louis is not a barbecue town, at least not like the barbecue powerhouses of Memphis, Kansas City and the Carolinas. We have barbecue joints of course, and some of them are quite good, but none have elicited a public fervor for the sweet science of the pit. in Chesterfield just may change that.
Opened in late 2010 and located at 103 Chesterfield Towne Center, PM BBQ's first impression happens before you even open the door: the rich aroma of hickory smoke permeates the senses in the parking lot. It's an unpretentious place, tucked into a small storefront between and .
The interior is welcoming with wood tones and awards and plaques above the soda fountain in the corner. Food is ordered at the counter, then brought to your table quickly. Everything is smoked and served that day only, and when they run out, they're out. Check the menu board to see what's available.
The menu consists of pretty standard barbecue sandwiches: Sliced brisket ($8.99), pulled pork ($7.99), rib sandwich ($6.99), pulled chicken ($7.99), brat or hot link ($4.99) and smoked chicken salad ($6.99). Two sides come with a sandwich plate. Choose from smokehouse beans, potato salad, sweet corn spoonbread, coleslaw, green beans, homemade apple sauces, french fries and sweet potato fries. Sandwiches are available without side dishes for $1.50 less.
The meats are smoked Memphis style, meaning with a dry rub and no sauce. You can add your favorite sauce when the food is served, choosing between sweet or spicy—both Kansas City style sauces—Carolina, or mustard sauce. Carolina is a very thin, vinegar-based sauce with a kick provided by black pepper and red pepper flakes. Mustard sauce has Carolina roots as well.
The brisket, which is smoked for 12 hours, was sliced thick, but remained tender and flavorful. It was complimented nicely by the rub. The meat was piled high—as it was on all the sandwiches—and served on an ultra-soft bun.
When people say barbecue, they usually mean pulled pork. PM BBQ's pulled pork was complimented by the hickory smoke flavor. For many, a pulled pork sandwich must be topped with cole slaw and sauce. Here, the sandwich was delicious and combined perfectly with both the spicy or Carolina sauce. The crispy cole slaw was not overly sweet, so it complimented the pork rather than masking its rich flavor.
The rib sandwich isn't a sandwich at all, but a three-bone portion of a rib slab with a mini bun on the plate. The spicy dry rub was distinctive, but the smoke flavor still came to the front. Considering the length of time the ribs must have been smoked, the moistness was OK but not impressive, although the meat separated easily from the bone without falling off.
All the meats sampled—brisket, pulled pork and ribs—were slightly overcooked and flirting with dryness, necessitating the addition of sauce. The perfect sauce was a combination of two: First applying the spicy, then following with a small splash of the thin Carolina sauce.
The sweet corn spoonbread is the most popular side among regulars. It was unique, like eating a corn muffin mixed with a custard. Rich, complex and an attention grabber, the spoonbread was more suited to dessert than as a side with your sandwich.
PM BBQ can certainly compete with any barbecue joint in town on a good day, and mostly they'll equal or surpass the best of them. Some missed but much anticipated menu items include the half-chicken ($7.49), smoked chicken and dumplings ($4.99), loaded tater ($6.99) and hillbilly nachos ($7.99).
Meat sold by the pound, ribs by the slab and half-chickens are available for in-house dining or carry out. Catering is also offered.
PM BBQ is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday at 103 Chesterfield Towne Center. For more information, call 636-536-1966, or visit their website.