Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gates BBQ

I understand the cultural and historical value of Gates, Kansas City’s original family restaurant started in 1946. Gates Bar-B-Q has grown from a single store front at 19th & Vine (The same neighborhood that saw the rise of the famous Henry Perry restaurant) to six up-to-date restaurants throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Gates was founded by George and Arzelia Gates, their three children (Winnifred, Gwendolyn and Ollie), and the cook, Arthur Pinkard. Pinkard had been a cook for Henry Perry.

One of the major reasons for the success of Gates Bar-B-Q has been the barbecue sauce, manufactured and used by the barbecue restaurants since 1946. Demand for the sauce continued to grow and a decision was made in 1975 to introduce Gates Bar-B-Q sauce to the retail grocery stores. With over 60 years of experience, history and Legends it’s kind of an intimidating place to wright about. But then I reminded myself that this is a review and as scary as it might be to say…………… I have experienced better. I'm not going to lie.  I waffled on my rating between 2 and 3 stars (and ended up with 3 stars).

So what happened! Why not five stars? Well I guess I’ll start with the burnt end. I’m not sure if it was due to the fact that they chop them or not, but they had way too much fat and gristle. Nothing wrong with chopping brisket in fact I love chopped brisket. I just think the burnt ends should have been trimmed a bit more before being chopped. I should however mention that Brett liked the burnt ends. For sides we had baked beans or bb’s as they call them and fries. By now you’ve herd us call fries nothing but sauce testers and this test was great. This I will say, Gates has the sauce! Not just any sauce but the sauce and many sauces to boot. All of which are good. Some of which are awesome! Brett liked the original, Both Dennis and I liked the extra hot and Robert liked em all. As for the beans I personal think there some of the best as well. So far were two out of three so again why only three stars? Ok let’s talk ribs and chicken. Both were a bit dry. Not horrible but still a bit dry and with all that history and stuff I just think they should be just right. I should mention I did however love the rub that was on the chicken. A bit salty but really well balanced. The sliced brisket might have been a bit dry as well but as thin as they slice it couldn’t have been too dry. Also the brisket had a ton of flavor to it. A no sauce needed meat, however with that gates extra hot sitting there who could resist.  So there you have it, burnt ends not my favorite, sauce and beans great, ribs and chicken dry, brisket a bit dry but still great and full of flavor and that’s why 3 stars. Let me end on this note, we’ve had good service and not so good service on this adventure but they folks and family at Gates defiantly treated us as good if not better as anyone has. So long for now.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Smokin Guns

The new guys with Dennis.
Smokin Guns BBQ
Six years ago my best friend asked me to lunch. He’d heard of a newish BBQ Joint north of the river in KC. The owners had been competing in the BBQ circuit for six or seven years and decided to open their own place. They even took the Grand Champion title at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue contest. This meant a lot to me as I‘m a pork man and consider this computation the world series of pork. The decor consisted of simple wood walls, dinner tables with checkered tablecloths and dozens of awards from regional BBQ events. It smelled of the sweet nectar of smoke and at the time had a rack of Bullsheets for customers to read. I’d been in love with BBQ for many years by then however browsing through this magazine pulled me in even deeper. No more than a few weeks later I was a member of KCBS and sitting in a class to become a KCBS judge. Oh ya by the way all those endless awards and accolades were right on the money. I went back as often as I could from that point on. That is until I moved! Now I know Lawrence isn’t that far away from North KC and not much of an excuse but it’s all I got. Bad excuse or not it’s been over three years since I’d been..... Well fast forward to now. The Pit Crawlers have two new members and we were on our way to the first stop “Smokin’ Guns”. So here’s the thing ,this is the first time in the history  of Pit Crawler’s that I was nervous. The one thing any of our readers should know is we can’t account for consistency. What I mean by that is we go, we eat BBQ, we review. If a place we review is good nine out of ten times and we go on a day they just aren’t shinning. Well the review might not be flattering and vice versa. But this place was good..... at least every time I went, and that’s how I sold it to the guys in the Pit Crawl. So here we go! First things first the d├ęcor hasn’t changed or at least for the most part (I didn’t see a rack of Bullsheets). Same wood, same tables and tablecloths, same sweet smell and as for the dozen of awards all over well……. it’s grown. We ordered a whole slab of ribs, sausage, pulled pork, brisket, burnt ends, 1/2 chicken, baked beans, slaw and fries. Rather than everyman for themself we’ve decided to try something new, order a whole lotta stuff and share. That way each pit crawl member has input on every item in every review. The beans were good as were the fries but it was the slaw that took first place in the sides wars. In fact for the first time since we started this adventure we found a slaw that’s a real game changer. To many slaws taste like mayo and more than that to many taste the same, this one did not. No Mayo! Other things about this slaw I love are how much flavor it had and it’s texture. I like to top my pork sandwiches with coleslaw and feel it should spice up the meal not dull it down. This slaw spices it up! The texture was awesome as well, super crisp as if the added the dressing and tossed it together minutes before serving it. Well let’s get to the meat. Pulled pork was some of my favorite and the other guys agreed as well. Sweet and tender with just enough bark. The chicken was to die for! Sweet and juicy, fall off the bone tender (I only wish Jack could have been there). The Brisket was tender with a nice smoke ring around it. It had beautiful color to it as was smoked just right; however we felt it didn’t have enough flavor to it. Once sauced it was top ten before sauced we wanted more. The sausage was as petty as any presentation wise. You could see all the spices you were tasting as you ate it, and I liked eating it. Top five in my eyes! The only comment on the sausage that might be critical was when it was said to be more like Italian sausage than smoked sausage. To that all I can say is I don’t care what spices a place uses I just care what the end result is and this end result was fantastic. Some people like their burnt ends sauced however the burnt ends at Smokin’ guns had so much flavor they only require juices in your mouth. Of course we tried them with and with both of their sauces. Speaking of the sauces, they had two a regular and a spicy. Both were great, however we thought for the most part the regular edged out the spice for top spot. We’ll the ribs are all that’s left. In my eyes these were not just top 10 or even top 5 but number 1. I’m not saying they can’t be beat (any given Sunday and all that jazz). I’m just saying that consistency thing I spoke of earlier we’ll they got it. So long for now and remember what Bishop Tutu said “It’s not a sin to get sauce on your chin”. And thanks for reading!
Ribs and Burnt ends.

Nectar of the BBQ Gods!