Located in St. Peters, about 29 miles northwest of St. Louis, this meat-and-potatoes spot was opened a couple of months ago by a family with a storied local history. Co-owner Jill Ridgway Ragan’s great-grandfather, Edmond Ridgway, was one of the founders of the 7Up company. She, her husband and father are partners in the new dining venture.

The freestanding restaurant has an elegant stone and brick exterior. Inside, the decor has been artfully planned to use elements of wine packaging in creative ways. One wall is made of floor-to-ceiling nameplates cut from wine crates, and metal light fixtures are forged from barrel stays. The specialty, food-wise, is meat cooked in the Big Green Egg kamado-style cooker. Made in Tucker, Georgia, these oval roasters are made of high-fiber ceramics developed for the space shuttle program. Their air-tight chambers are said to give superior results, with extra-moist and clean-tasting meats.

Judging from the crowds on a recent weekend, St. Peters is more than ready for its own upscale steakhouse. Note: Cork & Barrel accepts reservations, and I highly recommend booking one before going. There are a few starters, including some that reflect chef Gustin’s travel background. We started with Broadstreet Spiced Shrimp ($14), which was an immediate favorite. The shrimp were excellently cooked to tender with slightly ‘crisp’ edges. They came spread with a sticky, sweet-savory coating that had a bit of spice to it, and a large mound of buttery rice—very satisfying on all counts.

The Field Greens ($4) salad is quite good, especially with house-made ranch dressing. A bed of baby greens includes creamy white cheddar bits, diced tomato, and delicious house-made croutons that are crunchy on the outside and have some give on the inside. They are deliciously sweetened and worked very well here.

On weekends prime rib is offered, in addition to strip, ribeye and filet steaks in various sizes to suit your appetite. Each is served with an artisan salad and a choice of side. A 12-ounce, prime rib ($28) was flavorful, served au jus with a separate plate for the chosen sides, old-fashioned green beans and salted baked potatoes. The meat was indeed very tender with the right amount of fat marbling for this cut, and well-salted. It isn’t offered rare or even medium rare, because, as the sous chef explained, “Our cooking method doesn’t allow for rare prime rib.” It was still delicious. The sides were good, too. The potatoes, small reds, came salted and soft-baked; the green beans were served ‘country-style’ with bacon strips.

Other entrees are available besides red meat, and we sampled the Parmesan Crusted Salmon ($21), a massive serving of fish with a pleasant crust of cheese and breadcrumbs. On top was a bit of lemon cream sauce, and underneath, a bed of sautéed arugula—satisfying and tasty. An extra side of Candied Brussels Sprouts ($4) was cooked very soft and sweetened, served with bacon strips on top.

The dessert menu is small, but includes a number of interestingly flavored homemade ice creams, like smoked honey spiced peach and white chocolate. We tried the strawberries and cream ($5), which had vanilla ice cream wrapped around fresh strawberry bits. Also sampled: an atypical bread pudding that arrived as a buttery mini-loaf and the Hot Cocoa Cupcake, a locally made confection with a mound of icing and a surprise marshmallow filling.

amuse bouche
the scene |
busy neighborhood steakhouse
the prices | 
$9-$14 starters, $14-$32 entrees
the chef |
lee gustin
the favorites | 
Broadstreet Spiced Shrimp, Prime Rib, Parmesan Crusted Salmon, Field Green Salad, Candied Brussels Sprouts

chef chat » lee gustin
pedigree | 
Restaurant School of Philadelphia
favorite ingredient
| Brown sugar
favorite local restaurant | 
Michael’s in Highland, Illinois
favorite cookbook |
 The Food Lover’s Companion
most memorable dining experience | 
At a general store in Bar Harbor, Maine, eating freshly caught lobster around a communal table
guilty pleasure food | 
Leftover hot wings

7337 mexico road | 636.387.7030

Photos: Bill Barrett