Skip Steele is the Godfather of St. Louis barbecue. He was one of the co-founders of the very good Super Smokers barbecue place (click here to see the entry on Super Smokers), then he became involved with former Super Smokers general manager Mike Emerson in Pappy's Smokehouse. (Click here to see the entry on Pappy's.) Steele and Brian Scoggins then opened Bogart's Smokehouse with Emerson as a partner in the place. (Click here to see the entry on Bogart's.) While at Pappy's, Steele mentored the two men who went out on their own and opened Adam's Smokehouse in October of 2013. I had Adam's Smokehouse on my "have to visit" radar for a number of months before I finally went there on a recent visit to St. Louis.
Emerson and Steele are two of the partners in Mothership, the corporation that oversees the operations for Pappy's and Bogart's and sold the license for Adam's Smokehouse to Frank Vinciguerra and Mike Ireland, both of whom worked at Pappy's for several years working with Emerson and Steele learning the trade from two masters. (Pictured right - Mike Ireland and Frank Vinciguerra. Photo courtesy Riverfront Times.) Their close friend and co-worker at Pappy's, Adam Gaffney, died unexpectedly in 2012 at the age of 25 and to honor his memory they wanted to open their own place to celebrate Adam's love for both barbecue and sports. They found a small location in St. Louis' Clifton Heights neighborhood and opened their doors about 15 months ago.
Adam's Smokehouse is located on Watson Road, literally across the street from Chris' Pancake and Dining. (see map) I first spotted Adam's when my wife and I dined at Chris' earlier this year, making a note because I had it on my "to-do" list of restaurants to visit. (Click here to see the entry on Chris' Pancake and Dining.) Parking is available on Watson Road, so I parked just down the street and walked back to Adam's Smokehouse.
It's not a big place - probably seating a couple dozen people, tops. Dozens of pictures and posters of St. Louis sports teams adorn the walls. The large windows up front help shine natural light into the place with fluorescent ceiling fixtures augmenting the brightness in the dining area. The smell of the smoker was prevalent in the neighborhood on the cool day that I was there.
Like both Pappy's and Bogart's, Adam's Smokehouse opens at 11 a.m. and is open until around 6 or 7 p.m., or until the meat runs out. (They're closed on Monday and open until 4 p.m. on Tuesday.) And, unfortunately for me because I like beer with my barbecue, Adam's - like Pappy's and Bogart's - doesn't sell beer. I'm going to have to find out if these places are B.Y.O.B. establishments.
The menu at Adam's Smokehouse is your typical barbecue fare, but both Vinciguerra and Ireland insist that it's different from Pappy's and Bogart's in both the cuts of meat and offerings. One thing that I saw on their menu is tri-tip, something you just don't see at barbecue joints. Like I'm wont to do at most barbecue places, I wanted to get a meat combo platter to try their brisket and pulled pork. When I ordered at the counter I was told I got two sides. Their pit beans were a given for me, but I wasn't certain what I wanted for my second side. They had something called Billy Goat chips that were sort of a fried potato side, cole slaw, housemade applesauce, a pasta salad and potato salad. When I asked the guy at the counter what I should get for my second side he immediately said, "We sell a lot of our potato salad. It's got a little spicy kick to it." Potato salad, it is!
Not long after I found a table to sit at, a person brought out my barbecue plate. There were ample amounts of sliced brisket and pulled pork piled on a bun crown. The beans and potato salad also looked good to me.
The first thing I tried was the pulled pork. Although it was a tad dry to my liking, it still sort of melted in my mouth. It had a hint of smoky flavor and was very good. A bit more moisture in the pork would have made it outstanding.
The brisket more than made up for the very slight problem with the pork. It was tender and moist with a bit of a smoke ring along the outside. The brisket was some of the best I've had.
They have three barbecue sauces at Adam's Smokehouse. The Sweet Jane sauce is their regular sweet and smoky sauce. They have a cranberry cayenne sauce that had an interesting blend of a fruity taste with a bit of a spicy taste on the back side. I liked it, but not as much as other spicy sauces that I've had in the past. The third sauce was a Carolina vinegar sauce that had a bit of a peppery taste. Runny in its consistency, the Carolina vinegar sauce was actually pretty good, especially on the pork.
Now, I normally like to jazz up most of the baked beans I get at barbecue joints with a combination of the sweet and spicy sauces. But the pit beans at Adam's Smokehouse didn't need much help. They had a nice sweet and smoky taste to them with bits of pork in with the thick sauce. Not quite as good as the baked beans that I make at home, but these were excellent for a barbecue place.
The potato salad did have a bit of a spicy taste to it, but it wasn't my favorite. They were good, but I should have gotten a double order of the pit beans.
As I was getting ready to leave, I was taking my plate toward the trash receptacle by the front counter. Frank Vinciguerra came out and said, "Here, let me take those from you." Then he asked, "How was it? Did we do all right for you?"
I'll have to say that they did very well for me. As big of a fan that I am of both Pappy's and Bogart's, I'll now have to include the barbecue at Adam's Smokehouse in my favorites in St. Louis. The pork was very good - not the best - but still very good. The brisket was outstanding. And I really enjoyed the baked beans. Pappy's and Bogart's are 1A and 1B in my book when it comes to barbecue in St. Louis. Adam's Smokehouse is now 1C. I don't think you can go wrong at any one of those places.