Other stories filed under ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Meet the meats
September 26, 2017
On the left wall in the entryway there is a copy of an article written by food critic and television show host Anthony Bourdain, entitled “13 Places to Eat Before You Die,” in which Kansas City Joe’s, reward was lucky number 13. So yeah, I was pretty excited to cross one off my list. While waiting in the long, but surprisingly fast-moving line, I was able to take in the immense amount of photos and awards crowding the wooden walls that seemed to soak up the smoky smell emanating from the kitchen over the years. The overall atmosphere was reminiscent of a Texas family reunion at your great aunt Rose’s old saloon. I decided to order one of the specialty sandwiches, The Z-Man, whose toasted kaiser bun housed a heaping of brisket topped with provolone cheese and two onion rings. I was served, what seemed to be a sloppily thrown together sandwich on a plastic brown platter and I was wondering what Mr. Bourdain was thinking. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. While the food was no more expensive than a burger at your favorite sit-down restaurant, I truly felt like I scammed them, because the sandwich I had eaten was worth much more. Although by itself the Z-Man was a little bland, when I added KC Joe’s specialty sauce, it became one of the best barbecue sandwiches I’ve ever had. The crunch of the onion rings complimented the tenderness of the brisket and the airy bun to create a perfect texture combination. As I was eating the sandwich I didn’t even care what it looked like or where I was. So despite some of the restaurant’s aesthetic negatives, it was a wonderfully, flavorful experience to which I would be ecstatic to get the opportunity to try again.
Rating: 4 out of 5 sandwiches
From the outside, I would have never guessed this was a barbecue restaurant. In fact, until I was handed the menu, the only giveaway was the wall filled with bottles of Q39 barbecue sauce behind the host’s desk. The light colored wood and brick exterior instead reminded me of a fancy, expensive bistro. The inside was simplistic and modern with tons of natural light and I could tell this was not your typical barbecue joint. There was a wide variety of seating options, from booths to high-top tables to patio seating. I elected to sit outside, and since I had made reservations was seated almost immediately. I would not recommend attempting to walk in during lunch or dinner hour, due to the long wait for a table.
After I was seated, the waiter took the time to take me through each section of the menu and gave me his recommendations. He kept reiterating that Q39 was “competition barbecue” that had won multiple awards all across the country and I can honestly say I was shocked it didn’t win literally every award. No, this review won’t have any surprise changes of heart like KC Joe’s or disappointing finishes like Jack Stack, because Q39 was one hundred percent the best barbecue I’ve ever had ever in my life.
My sizable burnt end sandwich topped with onion straws came out fresh on a wooden platter, next to a hot serving of the most masterfully salted of fries. I really, honestly have nothing bad to say about this food. The sweet barbecue sauce complimented the meaty burnt ends, while the bun was toasted to a heavenly crunch-to-fluff ratio and the onion straws added a taste bud tantalizing splash of flavor. The sandwich was perfect. The ingredients were perfect. Even the water was somehow perfect. Plus, it was very respectably priced. The only thing I could possibly list as a con was that it took longer for my food to come out than the other two restaurants, but that doesn’t even matter because I could’ve waited hours for this food and still been more than satisfied.
Rating: 5 out of 5 sandwiches
I couldn’t think of a building that embodies old-fashioned barbecue in the way that Jack Stack does. From the bull statue out front, to the dark brick walls, to the actual smokestack jutting from the top of the steep roof, this place screamed classic barbecue. Despite coming in during the dinner rush, I only had to wait a few minutes for a table without a reservation and was seated in a semi-secluded booth. I was surrounded by figurines and pictures of farm animals as well as numerous black and white photos lining the aged wooden paneling of the dimly lit restaurant. The menu was large and the priciest of the three restaurants, but other than a few salads was very basic, full of simple meat plates, meat sandwiches and meat combos. The waitress was very polite and gave me time to navigate through the array of protein options, until I decided on the meat combo of pork burnt ends and beef ribs, with cheesy corn and fries as sides. The food came faster than I anticipated, considering how busy it was and was pretty much what I expected: classic, no-frills BBQ; what you see is what you get. While the fries weren’t anything special, the cheesy corn was absolutely top-notch; it was truly the cheesiest of cheesy corns’ I’ve ever had. After tasting my sides, I tore off one of the delicious-looking, thick, charred ribs, slathered in sauce. Sadly, I was underwhelmed. I was hoping for something with more flavor, but it was really quite plain. Yet, there was still hope; the burnt ends could still save the day. They started off strong because they seriously melted in my mouth; I wouldn’t have had to chew if I didn’t want to, but they were also a little plain. They weren’t bad by any means, they just weren’t as flavorful as I’d hoped. There was more than enough food on the plate; therefore, I don’t feel that it was overpriced, but at the end of the night, my stomach may have been full, but my tongue was bored. Still, I wouldn’t be opposed to going back or even recommending it to someone looking for a classic barbecue restaurant.
Rating: 3 out of 5 sandwiches