Good BBQ from a French Trained Executive Chef?

Yes.  Yes indeed.

RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack has a unique flavor that we have not found in other barbeque restaurants in Kansas City.  This is probably one of the reasons they were featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  Elwood and I, along with our friend Boomer tried RJ’s on a Friday night around 6:45.  We decided to give live tweeting a try and started as soon as we arrived.  Follow us @nobullbbqkc.  Not sure how the live tweet went on the other end, but it was kind of fun to do for us.  It was crowded, but they had just turned several tables and we were seated within a few minutes. In front of the front door, we noticed they have several front parking spots dedicated to their carryout, which they either do a lot of, or are trying hard to get started because they had multiple signs around the property referencing that they offer carryout. The dining room was not large, so getting the people to take the food home with them will provide more opportunities to give RJ’s a try.  In addition to the signs in the restaurant, we noticed something that sets them apart on their website.  You can place your order online for carryout.  They are clearly working this angle and make it easy to bring bbq home for dinner.

Walking around the building, we noticed a large back patio area with a small stage.  During the warmer months, they have seating outside and live entertainment.  This area appears to be a great supplement to the inside dining room.

The interior decor makes the name of the restaurant fitting.  You get the clear feeling of an old barbeque shack, even though they opened in 2003.  The walls were covered in pictures and ribbons and the ceiling had murals of beer companies, showcasing their full bar.  Apparently Bob was a John Wayne super fan because they have dedicated an entire wall of the restaurant as a shrine to the iconic actor, even in the

The Deuce Duke

bathroom there is the Duke for your deuce. They also had TV’s on the wall featuring NCAA basketball this night.  In the corner above the bar, we found a striking photograph of us.  It was marvelous.

Looking through the menu  we noticed they had a large selection of non traditional barbeque items that had more of a Cajun flair. They serve Cajun crab-cakes, fried okra, and gumbo for example.  Another part of their menu that sets them aside from all other barbeque restaurants we have seen so far; breakfast. They have a full breakfast menu available on weekends only and offer traditional cuisine such as farm omelets and country fried steak & eggs.  For our dinner, we settled on a two meat platter, a three ribs and meat platter, and a pulled pork sandwich.

During the meal, service was great and the waiter checked back often, without being bothersome.  My drink only got half empty before my next one hit the table.  Their eagerness to point us into the right direction by pinning down what was exceptionally good on the menu while we ordered.   This showed us they loved the food they served and that speaks volumes at a restaurant.  Two different waiters told us to try the Reuben sandwich.  Though we decided not to try it that night because we needed to cover as much ground as possible with platters, Elwood ordered it for lunch as a carryout later in the week.

My thoughts on the food:

Burnt Ends:  The flavor of the rub was ever present in each bite.  The burnt ends were moist, tender, smokey, and full of flavor.  The barq gave the beef a crisp coating and highlighted their rub and seasoning with great color. The unique rub was sweet, aromatic and left a appetizing desire for another and another and one more after that.  These were one of the highlights of the meal.

Sliced Brisket:  The meat was moist, tender, and beefy.  It was lacking any noticeable smoke flavor, though it did have a small smoke ring.  There was no presence of barq from outer edge of the beef, which was a bit disappointing because the burnt ends had so much and the flavor was great.

Pork Ribs: The meat fell right off the bone without pulling the rest of the meat with the bite.  The caramelized rub that encompassed the perfectly cooked rib meat was another highlight of the meal.  The barq on the ribs was second only to their burnt ends and the smoke flavor and coloring was present throughout each bite.

Sausage: Sliced at length and had the flavor and consistency of summer sausage.  They flavor was good and the meat was moist, served with a light layer of sauce.  Unfortunately from the moment they served us the platter, the sausage was less than warm.

Pulled Pork: This was on a sandwich, which was dressed in sauce.  The pork was pulled in large chunks and lacked any smoke flavor.  The meat was dry and really not remarkable.  It probably would have been an average sandwich if it were from outside of Kansas City or any other BBQ town.

Corned Beef Ruben:  (from Elwood) This meat had a wonderful flavor that beat out their sliced brisket.  It was smokey, tender, and moist.  This is the second time I’ve done a corned beef from a bbq joint.  The first was at Danny Edward’s Blvd BBQ.  This one was quite tasty as well.  The pickling spices used in curing really opened up the flavor and mated to a marble rye roll, Thousand Island dressing, and sauerkraut, made for a really good sandwich. The servers were spot on in recommending this.

Sides:  The highlight of the sides we tried were the crinkle cut sweet potato fries.  They had a crispy sugary coating that was done well.  (Side note on the sweet potato fries; I had these as the side with my take-out Ruben.  While they were still quite tasty, some of the crunch of them was lost in transit, as expected, due to steam.  I recommend consuming at restaurant for maximum enjoyment. -E)  The next best side was the Cajun rice pilaf.  It was fiery from the moment it hits your mouth.  The seasoning was not overwhelming but have a drink ready after a few bites.  The Bob-be-que beans were thick, with onion and pork present but overall not that good.  We felt like we could get a similar result from a can.  The cole slaw had a very light dressing and was again nothing outstanding.  It seemed like grocery store buffet slaw.  Finally, we tried the Cheesy Corn Bake.  Fresh off of a review of Jack Stack’s Cheesy Corn Bake, we were completely let down with RJ’s take on this side dish.  It had full corn kernels, cheese, and pork cubes, but was kind of one dimensional.  All in all, from a “Certified executive chef who has worked in some of the most well-known fine-dining establishments in the country,” we really expected more from their side dishes.

The Sauce:  This is where the experience of the executive chef shines.  The sauce is incomparable to other sauces we have had.  The unique fruity notes had all three of us looking at each other, playing guessing games to try to name that flavor.  We asked someone who worked there and he said we are tasting raspberry, pineapple, and apricot.  We had our minds set on plumb.  The table was set with two sauces, original and spicy.  The original was the fruity one with some zip from vinegar.  The spicy sauce was similar to the original but I would call it “Tangy” instead of spicy.  Their sauce was off the wall different from normal Kansas City sauces.  A tangy bombshell is how I could try to describe it.

The Hard Data:

Location: 5835 Lamar Ave, Mission KS, 66202

Service Type: Table service

Alcohol Served: Full Bar

Website: www.rjsbbq.com

Price:

Sandwich $5.25 – $8.95 (some include a side)

Combo Plate: $9.95 – $15.95 (most come with two sides)

Slab: $18.95

Sides: $1.85 – $3.50

Ratings:

Category

Jake Rating

Elwood Rating

Meat

7/10

7/10

Sides

6.5/10

6.5/10

Sauce

7.5/10

8/10

Service

8/10

9/10

Value

6.5/10

6.5/10

Overall Grade

B

B+

 

Summary:

Jake’s Take:

I was intrigued by some of the meat and sauce and underwhelmed by some of the side dishes.  If I were to recommend a meal to order, I would point you in the direction of the three ribs and meat platter, and select burnt ends for your choice of meat.  For the side dishes, the clear winner for me was the sweet potato fries and then I would say throw a dart at another one because you might have a better experience than me.  The environment is friendly to the barbeque lover and the hospitality of the staff makes you enjoy your time there.  The unique flavors represented at RJ’s is worth the visit.

Elwood’s Take:

I really like RJ’s.  They have some great specials for lunch (like sandwiches starting around four bucks) and have enough unique items on the menu to entice you to come back and really hone in on your favorites.  Sure, some of the sides are a little lack luster, and some of the meats are better than others, but the items that are good are really good. That alone makes it well worth visiting again.  Combine that with the friendly, enthusiastic staff, nice beer selection in the full bar (Thanks again Dave for the sample of Free State’s Maibock), unique sauces, and the patio out back for live music and you have all the ingredients for a fantastic BBQ experience.

If you liked reading our review of RJ’s, check out this episode of Check Please! Kansas City featuring RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack. (RJ’s is the first place featured)

Watch RJs Bob-Be-Que Shack, Andre’s Confiserie Suisse, NARA a Japanese Robata on PBS. See more from Check Please! Kansas City.

 

 

RJ's Bob-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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