Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gates Bar-B-Q on 103rd and State Line in Leawood, KS

Gates brisket sandwich and fries
I'm back!  After a bout with bronchitis the quest continues!  Today I visited Gates Bar-B-Q off 103rd and State Line in Leawood, KS.  Gates has six Kansas City locations and I'm well aware that there is a debate among some people that certain locations are better than others.  I haven't been to all of them, but I have been to a few and I believe the food is pretty much the same at each location.

According to their website, Gates began in 1946 as "Gates Ol' Kentucky" at 19th and Vine in Kansas City.  They do have a very interesting history and I encourage you to read up on it on their site.

I arrived around 1:30 on Sunday afternoon.  When I opened the car door, the smell of barbecue and the smoker engulfed me.  I just love that.  The restaurant was still fairly busy at this time because of what appeared to be the "post-church service" crowd.  I walked in the door and was instantly greeted with their trademark "Hi, may I help you?"  I ordered a beef brisket sandwich on bun with fries.  There were about five people in line in front of me and there was a younger couple at the register getting ready to pay.  All of a sudden, the young man dropped to the floor, fainting.  The employee behind the counter asked if they should call 911 and the young lady said that they should.  There were a handful of us providing assistance and I grabbed my phone to dial 911 but before I could dial he  woke up and jumped off the floor, signed his ticket to pay, grabbed his food and walked out the door.  The rest of in line looked at each other in stunned disbelief at what just happened.  I've never quite seen anything like that before.  He was out for about 15 seconds and the young lady he was with woke him up and everything seemed fine.  Really strange.  Glad he appeared just fine though.

With the small incident happening, I received my food about 10 minutes after ordering.  For those that have never been to Gates, you order at the counter and you pay for your food right there and they serve you right there at the counter.  The total bill for my sandwich and fries was around nine dollars.

I found a seat in the dining area after getting my drink and barbecue sauces at the self serve drink and barbecue sauce stations.  I bit into the sandwich and instantly recognized the meat was pretty fatty and chewy.  They serve the sandwich with their "classic" sauce on it.  The brisket was thinly sliced and warm and tender, however I couldn't tell if the meat was flavorful or not because of the sauce.  I also couldn't tell if there was a rub on it.  There were a couple of large chunks of fat on the sandwich, so they obviously don't trim the fat much.  At least they didn't today.  The bun is what I would call a classic hamburger or barbecue bun.

The fries are thick cut slices.  I sampled their three sauces with my fries.  They offer their "Classic" sauce, a "Sweet & Mild" sauce and an "Extra Hot" sauce.  The "Sweet & Mild" sauce is pretty sweet with a ketchupy (is that a word?) aftertaste.  So much so that I looked up the ingredients online and realized that they use an extraordinary amount of ketchup in their sauces.  The "Classic" sauce is obviously not as sweet as the sweet sauce, but it does have a bit of sweetness to it.  The recipe online states that they use apple cider vinegar as a key ingredient and I would concur that you can taste that when eating the sauce.  The "Extra Hot" sauce obviously has a bit of a kick to it, however, with a name like "Extra Hot" I was expecting it to have a much bigger kick to it than it did.  It's still a really good sauce if you like that extra kick in your barbecue sauce.

I've been to Gates many times before and have never had a bad experience or bad food.  It's not my favorite barbecue place, but the sheer longevity of the restaurant and the multiple locations proves that they know how to do barbecue and have a following. I just wish the sandwich was less fatty and was served without sauce on it.  I'd say it's an average brisket sandwich compared to other places I've visited thus far.

With this visit, it marks number 35 of 70 barbecue restaurants on my list, which means I'm halfway there!  This is a big milestone for me.  I'm looking forward to the next 35!  Follow along on my Facebook page.  Till next time....

Friday, January 5, 2018

K & M Bar-B-Q in Spring Hill, Kansas

K & M brisket sandwich
When you Google "K&M barbecue in Spring Hill," it pops right up with a message "Best BBQ on the Planet."  I wouldn't go that far, but I'm glad I visited this nice family restaurant in Spring Hill today.

According to their website, "Family-Owned and operated, K & M Bar-B-Q has been serving great BBQ for over 20 years. What started as a hobby for Ken & Michelle serving BBQ sandwiches at fairs and festivals in a four county area grew to become a full service BBQ restaurant and catering company that has been located in Spring Hill, Kansas for 18 years.

K & M Bar-B-Q has long been known for their generous portions and reasonable prices. They have a fantastic reputation as THE place to go to enjoy the finest in hickory smoked meats and mouth-watering sides.

Tender beef brisket, savory ham, their own home-made italian sausage, moist turkey breast, delicious pulled pork and lip-smacking ribs and of course, no visit to K & M would be complete without their sweet and delicious baked beans studded with burnt ends!

A long time favorite of our customers is the Killer Combo- Your choice of your favorite 3 meats piled high and layered to create a tower of a sandwich that is definitely a show-stopper!

In 2007, K & M Bar-B-Q realized their proudest accomplishment with the construction of a new building that seats 230 people and offers a banquet facility for groups of up to 100 people."


I arrived around 1:15 on Friday afternoon.  This is a sit down restaurant where a hostess seats you and you are waited on by a server. As their website says, this restaurant has a few separate dining areas and is much larger than I had anticipated, seating around 230 people.

I was seated and waited on almost instantly.   I ordered a large brisket sandwich with no side dish.  The waitress said "I'll be right back with that."  And she was right back with my order about two minutes later!

The sandwich was served on a bun with thinly sliced pieces of brisket.  It was served with a generous portion with their barbecue sauce on the sandwich.  I thought they put too much sauce on it, but I realize some people probably like it that way.  The meat was very tender, but not very flavorful and was served only lukewarm.  I thought the sauce was good, with only a little bit of sweetness to it.

As I was eating, there were three adults who were discussing different barbecue places in Kansas City.  Interestingly, one of the men raved about Q39, which is the restaurant I reviewed last time.  I just kept my mouth shut!  I couldn't hear them too well because their child was watching some kids movie on his iPad at full volume while all three adults seemed oblivious that it was so loud.  Good thing I was there by myself and wasn't trying to have a conversation with anyone.

My bill was about ten dollars for a large brisket sandwich with no side.  Not a bad price and a pretty good portion of meat.  Just wish it was hot instead of warm and had tasted a little bit better.

I examined my list of barbecue restaurants the other day and I found that four on the list have closed down.  I've added a few since I started, so the new, updated list comprised exactly 70 barbecue restaurants in town.  Since this is visit number 34, one more visit and I'll have reached the halfway point on my quest.  This is very exciting for me!

You can  follow along on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/joesbbqblog/.  When I'm finished with the quest I'm going to rank my top five or 10 and then we are going to have events at each place so we can all go try the barbecue together.  It will be a blast!  Thanks again for reading.  Till next time....