Getting the band back together…

It has been exceedingly too long since our last post, let a lone our last review.  To

Hayward's Pit BBQ in Overland Park

remedy this situation we decided to “get the band back together” and visit one of Overland Park’s original BBQ places, Hayward’s Pit BBQ.  Hayward and Hattie Spears opened in 1972 turning a backyard passion into a restaurant that has been a staple in Overland Park ever since.  This place has stood the test of time so we figured it would be a great spot for us to check out.  The current location of Hayward’s was opened in 1981 and is a few miles South of the original location at 95th and Antioch.

Jake and I visited with our families on a Sunday night.  One of the first things noticed as you enter is a collection of news paper articles about Hayward’s and photos of Mr. Spears and some of their famous clientele ranging from sports stars, to actors, to politicians and more.  This place definitely has history.

Lots of accolades over the years

We were greeted promptly as we walked inside and were taken to a large circular table in one of the dining areas.  The restaurant was divided into essentially three dining areas plus a full bar.  There was a private party going on in one of the rooms and most of the guests that night were being seated an a large open area room that also doubles as another private dining area.  The decor and feel of the dining area and restaurant overall is very reminiscent of the early 1980s with wood paneling and patterned carpet and was impeccably clean and organized.  It really was like a time capsule and looked how I imagined it did shortly after opening.  We all commented on how great the place looked considering (from what we could tell) it was all original.

Full bar menu

The first thing that struck me was the full bar.  I did not see a bartender, but the fact that it looked like they could accommodate about any libation I might order was quite impressive.  As we started perusing the menu to settle on our plan of attack, I found an oddity.  Hayward’s has sliced beef brisket available on sandwiches, but not as a meat option on the combo platters.  It was not that big of a deal, I just found it unusual.  Our server was very friendly and accommodating.  Between small talk and indecision we ended up asking her to come back three times before we ordered.  She did not act the least bit put out by our delay, and by the third time Iwas put out by our delay.  We finally settled on our typical smattering of meats split between our two combo plates.  Beef burnt ends, pork ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, turkey, (Jake’s wife was with us), and sausage were on their way.  We adorned our combo plates with fries, sweet potato fries, baked beans, and fried pickles.  Our food came out on giant plates and was heaped high.  The amount of food was just immense.

One of our huge combo plates

My thoughts on the food:

Beef burnt ends

Beef burnt ends:  These certainly looked the part.  They had a nice char on the outside and a good smoke ring.  The first one I ate was awesome.  Great smoky flavor, tender, and juicy.  Then as I moved through the serving I would get one that was pretty fatty, and then one that was akin to beef jerky, and then another perfect one.  All in all, they were inconsistent.  The good ones were great and the bad ones bordered on inedible.

Smoked chicken:This came out as a full bone-in quarter (oxymoron, right?).  The skin was pretty wrinkled and not crisp.  The white meat was pretty dry and did not have much flavor.  The dark meat was better, but not great.  It was more moist but still lacked flavor in my opinion.

1/4 chicken

Sausage:  Thick cut on the bias and lightly covered in sauce, the sausage looked good on the plate.  The taste did not disappoint.  It had a nice smoke flavor, and was very moist.  This was the most consistent and consistently good meat I had that evening.

Pulled pork: The pork was very moist and tender.  It was a little fatty, but was easy to maneuver around the fat.  It was however, almost devoid of smoke flavor.  I found the sauce (of which they have one variety) worked well with the pork to make a pretty tasty combo.

Pork ribs:Again, like the burnt ends these were inconsistent.  None were fall off the bone, but the best ones were fork tender, juicy, and had a good smoky flavor.  The not so good ones were tough and would swing from dried out to almost all fat.

Pork spare ribs on the second combo plate

Turkey: The turkey was deli thin and had decent flavor.  It was moist, but almost artificially so.  Some pieces, especially toward the bottom of the pile almost felt slimy.

Fried pickles on the left, Sweet potato fries on the right

Sides:  French fries were pretty generic, but crisp and hot.  They were what you would expect from a good fry.  The sweet potato fries came out in a huge portion.  They were crinkle cut (french fries were steak fries), crisp, and had a nice brown sugary finish.  The fried pickles were the most unique side we had.  They were in a cornmeal batter that had a nice spice bite to it.  I really enjoyed the fried pickles and would get them again.  The Pit BBQ beans were disappointing to me.  If you’ve read previous posts

Pit Beans

you know I am not really a bean guy.  These appeared to be little more than canned beans mixed with sauce.  They had no meat in them and the part that was the most disappointing was the temperature.  When they came out I would call them barely room temp and they got colder.  I can hardly comment on the flavor because after one bite I was so put off by the temperature I didn’t have another.

Sauce in bottle on the table

The Sauce:

Like I said above, there is only one style of sauce.  I asked if they had a hot sauce and our server told me they did not but offered me Tobasco.  Again, the service showing that they truly aim to accommodate the customer.  The regular sauce is quite good.  I thought it was one of the more balanced sauces we have tried.  It had a good consistency, not too thick and not runny at all.  It started out sweet had a nice black pepper flavor throughout and just a hint of a spice bite at theend.

The Hard Data:

Location: 11051 Antioch;  Overland Park, KS 66210

Service Type: Table service

Alcohol Served: Full bar

Website: www.haywardsbbq.com

Price:

Sandwich $9.99-$12.49 (includes one side)

Combo Plate: $15.99-$23.99

Slab: $16.99 (pork, spare) $19.99 (beef)

Sides: $2.99-$4.99

 

Ratings:

Category

Jake Rating

Elwood Rating

Meat

5/10

5/10

Sides

7/10

6/10

Sauce

8/10

7/10

Service

9/10

8/10

Value

6/10

5/10

Overall Grade

B

B-

 

Summary:

Elwood’s Take:

Hayward’s has a lot of positives.  Their service is great, the facility is impeccable, the sauce is well balanced and tasty.  They have a long, storied history and the genesis of the place is a fantastic American success story.  The food however is inconsistent.  And unfortunately, that is a pretty major component in the recommendation of a restaurant.  If you catch Hayward’s when firing on all cylinders I’d imagine it could be really good.  However, with all the really great BBQ in the area, if you don’t catch a good day I’d imagine you might have a hard time justifying going back.

Jake’s Take:

As you walk into the front door of Hayward’s, the intoxicating smell of barbeque entices you further into this forty year old Kansas City barbeque tradition. Complete with the celebrity pictures on the wall, Hayward’s has proven the test of time and has all the character and charm you might imagine Hayward and Hattie have in their own home.  The inconsistencies were a disappointment to an otherwise great experience.  The service and hospitality of Hayward’s is  among the best of BBQ restaurants.  Hayward’s has been in business for over forty years and many of its regular customers have undoubtedly been coming for the majority of their lives.  These are the customers who should be pressing Hayward’s to be better, up their standards, and serve consistently good BBQ to their biggest fans.

Hayward's Pit Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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