In the Beginning…

As a fan of BBQ in Kansas City and as a person who wants to blog about my experiences in KC BBQ haunts, I am almost embarrassed to admit I have never eaten at Arthur Bryant’s.

Arthur Bryant’s is one of two places that can trace its lineage directly to the generally acknowledged father of Kansas City BBQ, Henry Perry.  The other place is Gates & Sons (which we will be visiting soon).

Jake and I took our families with us and visited Bryant’s on a Sunday evening.  The first thing that struck me as we got out of the car was the sweet scent of smoking hickory wood.  The freestanding brick building is surrounded by a large parking area that is protected by ~6’ tall wrought iron fence on the South and West.  There is ample parking given the amount of seating inside.   As we entered the building I felt like we were walking into the 1960’s.  Apart from the HDTV in the corner showing the NLCS game 1 the dining room feels like what I imagine it did 40 years ago.  We stood back to study the menu so we could maximize the variety of food we ordered.  Once we deciphered a plan we placed our orders at the first counter window.

We were given our meats from the second window and held on to them as the line moved toward the cashier where we essentially re-ordered the sides that we ordered at the first window.  The guy in front of us offered for us to go past him while he still waited for what I assume was another plate of meat.  This whole process seemed to me at best “free formed” and at worst disorganized.  I did like the self serve pickle jar by the cashier.

 

 

We sat down with our BBQ bounty.  Between the 6 of us we had ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, turkey, ham, and beef burnt ends for meat.  For sides we had BBQ beans, potato salad, coleslaw, and fries.  There were 3 types of sauces (Original, Sweet Heat, and Rich & Spicy) in squeeze bottles at each table.

 

My thoughts on the food:

Ribs: Nice flavor, especially on the bark.  A little fatty, but not so much that it takes away from the overall enjoyment of them.  The slightly fatty ribs work really well with the Original sauce, which is a tangy, and peppery vinegar based sauce.  The ribs were my favorite meat of the ones we tried.

Beef brisket: Good smoky flavor, especially in the smoke ring.  Overall the brisket was dry and almost had to be eaten with sauce.

Pulled pork: The pork is served covered in almost a paste like sauce.  This made the addition of any of the other sauces pointless.  The result would have lost all texture of meat.  Flavor was good not great.  The pork was probably my least favorite of the meat.

Turkey:  The only thing I had written in my notes on the turkey was, “uneventful.”

Ham:  The ham had good flavor.  It was not overly salty which was nice.  Really tasty with the sweeter “Sweet Heat” sauce.

Beef burnt ends:  I got a lot of hickory smoke flavor in the burnt ends.  Like the pork, they were covered in a sauce.  I thought they were a little fatty, but that should be somewhat expected with burnt ends.

The sides as a whole I found to be pretty average.  The fries were VERY lightly salted and not evenly cooked.  Some were crispy, some soggy.  The potato salad is mustard based.  I thought it was pretty good, my wife found it too “mustardy.”  Personal preference there I suppose.

One thing that was pointed out to me by my wife that I didn’t notice, but in hindsight I agree with is that none of the food was particularly hot.  It started at warm-ish and cooled quickly.  It wasn’t a huge deal while I was eating it, but looking back it would have been nice had it been served hot.

Sauce:

The Original sauce is vinegar based and quite thin in comparison to other ketchup-based sauces.  Arthur Bryant’s Original sauce is controversial.  Most either love or hate it with not much in between.  I landed more on the love it side.  It is very unique and won’t be mistaken for anyone else’s sauce.  It has vinegar tang and a mild peppery flavor.   There is a little grit to it, which may bother some.

The Sweet Heat sauce is more “sweet” than “heat”, but is nicely balanced.  Like I said, this one is good with the ham.

Rich & Spicy is more of a ketchup-based sauce.  I did not find it particularly spicy.   Overall I found it the weak link in the sauces.

 

 

The Hard Data:

Location: 1727 Brooklyn Kansas City, MO

Service type: Counter

Alcohol served: Yes, tap beer, Boulevard Pale Ale, Budweiser, Bud Light,

Website: www.arthurbryantsbbq.com

Price:

Sandwich: $8.50

Plate: $11.40 (meat by the pound)

Slab: $18.95

Sides: $2.50

Ratings:

Category

Jake Rating

Elwood Rating

Meat

7/10

8/10

Sides

7/10

7/10

Sauce

9/10

8/10

Service

7/10

7/10

Value

6/10

6/10

Overall Grade

B

B

Summary:

Elwood’s Take:

When we left we noticed license plates from 9 different sates in the parking lot (California to Arkansas, to Wisconsin in terms of distance).  To have nearly 20% of the states in the union represented in your patrons on a Sunday night that didn’t seem particularly busy was astounding.  It was obvious to me that the history and mythology of this BBQ institution rings true with BBQ enthusiasts across the metro area and the country.  Combine that with pretty darn good BBQ and you have a recipe for a restaurant that transcends the generations.  Once all that wore off however, I felt like Arthur Bryant’s was a bit overpriced.  $11.00 for decent meat on plain white bread and your choice of a pretty average side feels kinda steep.

 Jake’s Take:

The feeling of being in a restaurant that has stood the test of time, has been hosts to notable guests from across the globe, and having good barbeque to boot is not something to take lightly.  This restaurant is truly one of the great BBQ destinations in the country because of the history from where it traces its roots.  The meat was good quality and the sauce was so interesting to me that I kept coming back for another dip. The side dishes, which in Kansas City barbeque restaurants are about as important as the main meat dish, were lacking and I could take them or leave them.  I would return for the sauce and for the ribs, and not order a side. The price compared to others is a bit high.  If only they had a better side dish lineup, or at least one that was irresistible, I might think differently.

 
Arthur Bryant's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

One thought on “In the Beginning…

  1. Pingback: Happy Birthday to Us! | No Bull BBQ – A Kansas City BBQ Blog

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