Metro-East Living

Who Dat’s throws a New Orleans-style party every month

Who Dat’s Southern Food in Troy has a couple of exposed brick walls, harking back to the old days, when the building housed a tavern frequented by farmers.
Who Dat’s Southern Food in Troy has a couple of exposed brick walls, harking back to the old days, when the building housed a tavern frequented by farmers. dholtmann@bnd.com

Who Dat’s Southern Food in Troy is a direct reflection of its owners, Chris Salvage and his wife, Micki.

Chris grew up in New Orleans, so he’s the force behind the jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice and other Cajun favorites. Micki is a Marine native with a restaurateur father known for Memphis-style barbecue, also on the menu.

The couple has been operating Who Dat’s in Columbia for six years. They beefed up the menu for the Troy location.

“It’s about triple the size,” said Chris, 45. “We have fried food. We have fried chicken, fried pork chops, fried alligator, fried shrimp, that sort of thing.”

Who Dat’s is located at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Troy O’Fallon Road. The historic brick building has housed taverns for decades, although owners have covered it with tan siding and expanded with additions.

The Salvages recently built a covered outdoor patio for their shrimp and crawfish boils, which feature live music, on the second Saturday of each month in the spring, summer and fall. The party moves inside — with oysters — when it’s cold.

“I go get all the seafood myself from New Orleans,” said Chris, who worked as an electrician before getting into the restaurant business.

Inside, remnants of the old days include a massive wood bar and a couple of exposed brick walls. Chris has decorated with beads, feather boas, fleur-de-lis and other purple, green and gold Mardi Gras-themed items.

Some customers remember the location as a hangout for farmers, such as Stu Weider’s grandfather, who sold grain at the elevator next door.

“The food is good, and it’s a fun place,” said Stu, 64, of Troy, a retired teacher and administrator. “On Wednesday nights, they have open mic.”

Sometimes Stu meets former co-workers from Triad School District for Friday happy hour at Who Dat’s. He’s partial to the barbecue burnt ends, which are beef chunks cut from the point half of the brisket.

He’s also hooked on Micki’s gooey butter cake, which has won a couple regional awards. She rotates between 55 flavors, everything from raspberry to Reese’s peanut butter cup.

Triad High School health and driver’s education teacher Mike Georgeff, 47, of Troy, likes the Cajun pork chop.

“I’m not normally a pork chop guy because I think they’re dry,” he said. “But they put crawfish etouffee on it, and it’s really good.”

Micki is the daughter of Randy Ackerman, who has owned several metro-east restaurants. She previously operated Randy’s 643 in Troy.

The building on Troy O’Fallon Road used to be Randy’s House of Barbecue. The Salvages bought the business from Micki’s father and converted it into Who Dat’s in 2015.

The Memphis-style barbecue is slow-cooked in a smoker with cherry wood (14 hours for pulled pork). Sauce comes on the side to keep from hiding the meat flavor.

“The baby back ribs have a dry rub,” Chris said. “That means something because a lot of people don’t like them smothered in sauce.”

At a glance

  • What: Who Dat’s Southern Food
  • Where: 1595 Troy O’Fallon Road in Troy
  • Kitchen hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays
  • Seating: 70
  • Handicap-accessible: Yes
  • Carryouts: Yes
  • Catering: Yes
  • Information: Call 618-667-7227 or visit www.whodatssouthernfoodtroy.com or the Facebook page

On the menu

  • Gator Bites — Alligator appetizer that’s breaded, fried golden brown and served with housemade remoulade sauce, $9.25
  • Muffaletta — Ham, salami, mozzarella and provolone cheeses, olive salad and mayo, served warm on a muffaletta bun with remoulade sauce and chips, $9.25
  • Crawfish Etouffee — Crawfish tails smothered in butter sauce with onions, peppers, celery and garlic and served over rice, $5.50 for cup or $10 for bowl
  • Fried Chicken — Chicken made with recipe in Micki Salvage’s family for more than 50 years, $8.50 or $9.50 for quarter or $11.50 or $14.25 for half
  • Baby Back Ribs — Award-winning Memphis-style dry-rub pork ribs, $13.99 for half rack or $21.99 for full rack with two sides
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