Need a place to eat this weekend? I have you covered, St. Louis foodie crowd.
Tucked away on South Hampton between Loughborough and Eichelberger, Edibles & Essentials is one of those delectable gems that defies description. If you happen to play sports on Dubourg High School’s field, you may smell the cherry-smoked fried ribs when you practice. If you drive by the front of the restaurant, an eye-catching French fry truck that travels all over the city is parked.
Do yourself a favor and come in for a bite to eat next time, but make sure you do one thing: bring an appetite and a willingness to try things. Chef/Owner Matt Borchardt mixes the menu up on a weekly basis, including two salads on the small plate menu and at least a fresh entree each week.
There are a few constants on the menu, and they are what you should try first. Trust me, the affection will occur quickly and soon, you’ll fall head over heels faster than Lady Gaga’s Ally did for Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born. Romance is one thing, and a unique take on ribs, a St. Louis specialty, is quite another.
The fried ribs are easily the best thing on the menu. Cherry smoked to perfection, Borchardt places 3-4 pieces into a fryer, crisping them until a dark yet succulent brown appears. Imagine getting the ribs from a certain barbecue place up the street, and taking them to another level. You’ll pick one up, dunk it in the Alabama BBQ sauce, and find your day instantly uplifted.
These award-winning ribs require no real promo, but you may give an acceptance speech after consuming them. Borchardt recently told our Frank Cusumano that the idea to fry ribs came about during a hangout with his brothers. After a few test runs, a recipe was supplanted in his mind.
The next constant dish are the award-winning French fries, which you can find around Tower Grove and Francis Park throughout the year on the Essentially Fries food truck, but always inside Edibles. The hand-cut fries are stacked high on a tin plate and covered with chopped garlic, smoked ketchup, and truffle aioli. The secret ingredient is the Grana Padano, an Italian cheese that is comparable to Parmigiano Reggiano, which can be found in risotto. The small plate item is not so small, and could be shared by three people, or one brave soul. Are they the best fries in town? You bet.
The Banh Mi Tacos are stuffed with perfectly seasoned and cooked pork belly and sandwiched in between a fresh corn tortilla with napa cabbage slaw and pickled red onion. They come at you threes, and if you have manage to get them into your mouth with spilling a few spoonfuls, take a bow.
Edibles & Essentials offers up comfort food at the highest level, and the tastiest food always creates a mess on the plate as well as finding a home under your fingernail for a surprise dessert hours later.
Borchardt doesn’t just rest on a few sure things. He floods the menu with aspiring culinary items that you probably thought of during a fever dream after a hunger strike. The Portabella sandwich features a larger-than-life grilled mushroom, fontina cheese, and caramelized onion aioli. How about a jerk pork melt? Shaved pork loin, havarti cheese, and pineapple jam supplement the jerk sauce and sourdough bread.
Feel like a warm bowl of soup? Matt changes it up daily, and today I had a duck and sausage gumbo that was coated with a protective layer of rice and green onions. A sizable piece of corn bread accompanies the bowl, and is the right combination of butter and crisp.
Red beans and rice. Moroccan chicken. Sweet potato curry. Wedge salad. Are these things you’d be interested in? Don’t bother your mind with what they entail; the goal should be to get to Edibles as soon as possible to try them. This is the place where you have to aspire to be open with your food picks, because most likely you’ll leave with a new favorite dish. At their best, restaurant entrees entice you to expand your palette while being blown away.
The menu may change weekly at Edibles, but the courteous hospitality from Matt and his dedicated staff never wavers. When you walk into his place, you’re instantly vital. Matt treats customers like they are all sitting at his dining room table at his home instead of being mere customers. As you wait for your dish, he’ll pour you a glass of wine, whiskey, or throw ice into a cup for this ice fanatic.
We haven’t even gotten into the gorgeous baked goods that adjourn the refrigerated containers as you walk up to the counter to order. When I went in today, a large platter with flour falling off the end contained a slew of brownies along with cookies of all kinds stared me down like a gunslinger begging me to say no. Cakes, pies, and small treats await your finishing touch after the main course is boxed up. You will have leftovers.
The establishment can double as a small store, with shelves full of wine bottles, olive oils, and cooking sauces. Unique kitchenware and essentials for your decorating your house are also available. During the summer time, the back patio opens up and musical acts including Duhart Music, St. Louis’ beloved father-daughter band, perform tunes as you fill your stomach with ribs, fries, and tacos.
If you are a foodie, these edibles are purely essential. So please, drive past Salt N’ Smoke next time, look for the food truck out front, and park your car some place close. Walk in, smell the food, shake Matt’s hand, and take a seat. This is one of those places where you try everything, and write home about later.
Edibles & Essentials is foodie heaven.