At one of Wentzville's newest eateries, crawfish pizza shares menu space with fried catfish tacos and pulled-pork nachos.

909 Public House, the new venture from the team behind Cork & Barrel Chop House in St. Peters, opened Tue., July 31 in Wentzville. 

Where Cork & Barrel is known for its use of the popular Big Green Egg grill, 909 Public House gives executive chef Candice Poss (who oversees both restaurants) a chance to show off her prowess for Southern cooking. A Mississippi native, she's been making grits and flaky buttermilk biscuits since she was a little girl. "I love the whole menu," she says, counting the chicken skins, pulled pork nachos, mac 'n' cheese burger and crawfish pizza among her favorite dishes. "I think it's a really fun menu."

Fans of Cork & Barrel will recognize a few dishes that made the trip to 909 Public House, including the shrimp and grits, deviled eggs, black-eyed pea hummus, fried chicken sandwich and Southern burger. So far, though, 909's most popular dish has been the blackened Mississippi catfish, which is served with andouille sausage, Gruyère grits and Mississippi caviar. "Throughout our soft openings, it has sold like crazy," says dining room manager Michelle Hanson.

Other classic Southern dishes include a catfish po'boy, fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese and the aptly named Sweatin' Like a Sinner in Church hot chicken. Yet though the menu leans heavily Southern, diners will find other influences sprinkled throughout. Pulled-pork nachos, for instance, are a Korean-inspired take served with crispy wonton chips, ssamjang (a spicy Korean sauce), Asian slaw and wasabi crème fraîche. The menu also features a few takes on wings, including one with tomato tzatziki sauce and another that combines gochujang and sorghum molasses. And though the crawfish pizza started as a joke, it's quickly become another favorite; it features blackened shrimp, crawfish tails, pomodoro, onions, pepper, mozzarella, Cheddar and chives.

From the bar, choose from 40 draft beers and 30 wines. A cocktail menu developed by bar manager James Nahm will be rolled out soon; look for a Champagne Mojito, Crimson Blush (similar to a whiskey sour with a wine float on top) and a Lavender Breeze with fresh lavender sourced from Cork & Barrel's garden. Happy hour is offered Tuesday through Friday from 2:30 to 5:30pm, including $2 domestic bottles, $3 craft drafts, $3 wells, $5 wine, $3 fried chicken skins, $4 loaded fries, $5 fried green tomatoes and and $6 mac 'n' cheese poppers.

The 5,800-square-foot space seats 175 in total, spread across three rooms. Inspired by the industrial nature of the building, the restaurant features a subtle steampunk theme with vintage metal gears, watch parts, papier-mâché hot air balloons and even a large airship built by co-owner Joel Ragan. The team scoured antique stores and estate sales to decorate the space, including the china used for the menu. "If we ever wanted to open the same kind of space, it would never look exactly the same," Hanson says. "Not only is everything in the kitchen made from scratch, but the whole restaurant is."

909 Public House is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11am to 10pm, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 1am and Sunday from 11am to 10pm. Happy hour is offered Tuesday through Friday from 2:30 to 5:30pm.

909 Public House, 909 Main Plaza Drive, Wentzville, Missouri, 636.856.9777, 909publichouse.com

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