Destination: Salt + Smoke
A redefined concept for the space at 6525 Delmar Blvd. has swapped the saffron and tzatziki for slow-smoked barbecue and cured meat. Back in April, owner Tom Schmidt announced his plans to transform the Mediterranean-driven Nico into Salt + Smoke, a barbecue-focused eatery that officially opened on Friday, June 13.
After the final service at Nico on Saturday, June 7, Schmidt and his crew spent the week transforming the space into a welcoming barbecue joint. The interior teeters the line between rustic and chic with tasteful touches like Edison light bulbs above the bar, chalkboard signs and red and white checkered napkins. Outdoor seating allows the option to savor the lively Loop sidewalk scene, although tables situated along the window provide similar perks without the noise or summertime heat.
In the kitchen, chef Haley Riley and pitmaster Jon Dreja are focusing on executing the Salt + Smoke menu, which is anchored by Texas-style barbecue. Sandwiches, plates and sides are a mixed bag of ‘cue classics and unexpected riffs, such as the falafel burger topped with local sprouts and red pepper jam or the smoked Troutdale trout sandwich with smoked tomato mayonnaise and onion confit. Traditionalists can still sink their teeth into a rack of baby back ribs, piles of pulled pork or slices of brisket served with sides like pit beans studded with smoked bacon or white cheddar cracker mac-n-cheese. Sauces are served on the table and include “my sweet bestie,” “hotangy,” “white bbq” and “mustarolina.”
Appetizers at Salt + Smoke can easily become a meal on their own with items like smoked wings and burnt end toasted ravioli. Two salad options help expand the repertoire at Salt + Smoke, with one being a Caesar salad topped with the barbecued meat of your choice and the other field greens tossed with smoked mushroom and roasted garlic vinaigrette. Be sure to save a little room at the end of the meal because dessert options include house-made pies and scoops of chocolate, vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.
In a nod to the Southern love for all things bourbon, Salt + Smoke offers more than 100 different varieties behind the bar. Referred to as “the brown” on the drink menu, the whiskeys are served in “one finger” or “two finger” measurements. For those who prefer sipping a cocktail rather than straight, look to the list of craft and barrel-aged cocktails. Also, Salt + Smoke has a dozen wines available by the glass and a local lineup of craft drafts backed by nearly two-dozen bottled varieties.
Open every day from 11 a.m. to close. 6525 Delmar Blvd., University City. 5625 Hampton Ave., Hampton. 314.727.0200.