Meat piled high but…

If you know their history, or at least read about it on their website,  Rosedale Bar-B-Q prides themselves on being in business since 1934 and surviving The Great Depression by serving cold beer and affordable barbeque.  I am here to tell you that depression era barbeque is, well, depressing.  Long before we walked in the door of Rosedale’s on Sunday evening, there could have been a time where their meat, sauce, and service would pass for a good working man’s barbeque.  I believe that time may be long gone.  This appears to be another example of people going back to the same barbeque joint time and time again because that’s what they grew up with and that’s where they’ve always gone.

Rosedale Bar

As Elwood, Dry White Toast, and I arrived at Rosedale Bar-B-Q on a Sunday about 6pm, I noticed something a bit strange, but didn’t think anything of it until later.  We usually smell the smoker at most restaurants as we are in the parking lot.  It is one of those things you expect as you walk into just about any BBQ restaurant.  They didn’t have their smoker running at the time.  It is along the back of the building and easy to locate, but nothing billowing from the smokestack today.  Oh well.  What is stranger is that once we walked into the dining room, we never really got hit with that unmistakable aroma of smoked meats.  There was a slight BBQ hint, like when your neighbors eight or ten houses down the block fire up their grill.  You can kind of tell someone might be cooking something and it slightly peaks your interest but can’t really pinpoint what it is.

The order process is quite efficient.  They moved into their current building in 1990, 56 years after opening.  They probably knew a thing or two about how to set this building up.  There are two entrances to Rosedale’s on either side of the building.  You can walk right up to the counter on either side of the building to order.  I can imagine it is a marvel of efficiency during the peak lunch hours on Southwest Boulevard, but with only one person working the counter and bouncing back and forth for the Sunday dinner rush, it was a

Dining Room

probably bit slower, but not bad by any means.  As soon as you spoke your order, it was immediately repeated (yelled) into the kitchen area by the woman working the counter.  The longer we sat in the dining room, the more her voice would cut through us each time a new order came in.  About halfway through our meal, a new young lady took over the counter and was so soft spoken I don’t know how the kitchen could hear her.  It was a relief for us though.

Without our wives and family, we decided to order two of the deluxe combo dinners and DWT ordered the burnt ends.  This gave us coverage on six different meats and three sides.  Not knowing anything about Rosedale before today, we learned quickly that the regular customers have a second language that cannot be found on the menu.  After we ordered and received our food, almost everyone behind us had a special request on their order.  Phrases like “beef lean,” “hot and plain,” “dry,” “lightly fried,” etc. came in with every order.  It is good to see a BBQ restaurant go the extra mile to serve it the way each person likes, however it is a bit telling that few people actually order the meals as they are presented on the menu.

Sitting at the table once all of our food arrived, we realized how huge the portions were.  One of the dinner meals could easily be split by two people.  The menu stated two meats, beans, slaw, fries, and long end rib.  As it turns out, the long end rib is actually the long end of the slab with five ribs.  They piled the plates high and even gave you a second plate to spread the love around.  After un-piling my plate and distributing the meat around, I realized my French fries were not on the plate.  As it turned out, I didn’t care in the least.  It only took a few minutes to realize something was a bit off.  We hear people recommend Rosedale’s quite often.  Much like our outing to LC’s BBQ, we were left with that feeling of confusion.  Why in the world do people like this?  There was no noticeable smoke flavor on any of the meat, even the burnt ends.  It was like they still have the mentality of the Great Depression;  “There is no money for herbs and spices so plain meat is what you get and you better be thankful because there is enough to feed the whole family.”

My thoughts on the Food:

Brisket: Chipped beef served dry with no smoke ring or any smoke flavor.  There was no bark or even a hint of rub of any kind. It tasted like beef, but that was about it. The beef was tender and lean, with few exceptions, but overall something that could be recreated in the oven.

Pork: Like the beef, it was chipped and had no smoke coloring or flavor.  There was no bark or rub present on any of the pork.  It dried out quickly even though it was lean and appeared to be a decent cut of meat.

Ham:  I was able to ring out the ham like a wash rag full of water.  It dripped right out.  I think they let it sit in the water too long as any flavor was completely lost.  Even for ham, one of our least favorite things to order, it was a poor example.

Burnt Ends:  Like the other beef, there was no smoke ring, bark, smoke flavor, or presence of rub.  They were a bit chewy and not lean.  Simply put, there was barely any flavor which is odd for a burnt end.

Ribs: They were overcooked.  They had no seasoning but amazing coloring from the smoker.  It was the only meat that really showed and sign of being in a smoker to be honest.  They may have been left in a steamer for too long because any flavor was long gone.  The meat didn’t even taste like ribs.  They do not remove the membrane on the ribs, which is also a turn off form me.  However, the usually crispy and tough membrane was soggy and chewy, also making me think they were left in the steamer way too long.  One of the most distinct flavors of meat was completely lost by however they chose to preserve or reheat them.  The ribs also fell apart at the touch.  I picked up one bone and it slid straight out, leaving the meat in form.  It was a classic sign of apathy toward their food.  They pride themselves for the ribs being their famous signature meats.  Hopefully our slabs were the exception and not the rule.

Sausage: It appeared to be a standard Hillshire Farms summer sausage that could be picked up at any grocery store.  It was incredibly salty, and this is coming from a guy who loves salt.  They were served split and unfortunately, were probably the best meat of everything we had.

Sides:

Fries:  Something was off.  One of the things we all heard about Rosedale’s was that the fries were great and crispy.  Well, they were crispy.  But that was about the best thing I can say about them.  Maybe it was possible they were using old oil or ours had sat out too long so they re-dipped them in the fryer?  Either way, they were crisp on the outside but bland and confusingly dehydrated on the inside.

Slaw:  It reminds me of something you could pick up by the gallon at Wal-Mart for the family reunion.  Then it just sits there on the picnic table, gathering flies.  It was green and cold, but had nothing else going for it.

Beans:  They were probably the best of the worst when it comes to sides.  They were decent with chunks of meat, onion, and celery.  It wasn’t the worst beans we have had by any means, but there sure are better examples of BBQ beans spread throughout the city.

Sauce:

Rosedale Bar-B-Q has two sauces.  They are on the tables in squirt bottles or you can dispense them into containers from their condiment table.  I like when you can get your own sauce and replenish as necessary.  Unfortunately, I had no need to do so. The

Spicy Sauce (Left) Original (Right)

original was thin like a tomato puree.  There were a few spices floating around in there, but it was a pretty non-descript, basic, rudimentary, simple, easy, undeveloped, ordinary, plain, depression era sauce. I hope that paints a good enough picture. The second sauce was labeled “Hot and Spicy.”  It was.  But that is all it was.  There was so much pepper added to what was probably their original sauce that it was almost inedible to me.  It was hot for the sake of being hot and incredibly one dimensional.  There were no underlying sweet or savory flavors that make the good “hot” barbeque sauces popular.  If you were looking for a pick-me-up, you could definitely drown your flavorless meat with this sauce and maybe enjoy it for a minute.  But have a glass of water handy.

 

The amount of food we left on the table, after there was talk of hitting up Taco Bell on the way home.

The Hard Data:

Location: 600 Southwest Boulevard  Kansas City, KS

Service Type: Counter

Alcohol Served: Various bottled beer including: Most Budweiser products, Michelob, Miller, Coors, Shocktop, Landshark, Corona, Modelo, Busch, and Boulevard Wheat.

Website www.rosedalebarbeque.com

Price:

Sandwiches: $3.95 – $7.85

BBQ Dinners: $8.10 – $13.45

Slab: $15.95 – $19.50

Sides: $2.00-$2.95

*Note: All soda is served in either bottles or cans, so if you are used to sucking down free refills, conservation is key.

Ratings:

Category

Jake Rating

Elwood Rating

Meat

4/10

4/10

Sides

4/10

4/10

Sauce

4/10

4/10

Service

4/10

4/10

Value

5/10

5/10

Overall Grade

C-

                    C-

Jake’s Take:

While I found a nice charm to the interior of the building with pictures and news articles telling tales of the past, I couldn’t work through the tastelessness of their product.  We may have been naive in just ordering a combo dinner to sample all of their meat and maybe the super-secret good stuff comes from their sandwiches.   I don’t know why people recommend Rosedale’s time and time again.  Other than the large portions of food, I had a hard time finding a redeeming quality to our visit. We ended up leaving over half of the food on the table because none of us wanted to take it home.  That has never happened before.  I simply don’t find this to be a good example of the care and taste I have come to know with Kansas City BBQ.  The smoker not running in a restaurant that is supposed to be popular and is open 7 days a week is a telling sign that they may be trying to cut corners by keeping the meat longer in the steamers, in turn losing almost the entire flavor and any semblance of what good barbeque should taste like.  I could be wrong now, but I don’t think so.

Elwood’s Take:

I really wanted to like Rosedale.  Going in I knew they had been around a long time and that kind of history is something I respect greatly, no matter the industry.  I had even heard a few locals tell me how much they loved Rosedale’s BBQ.  The truth is, based on this visit, there is nothing that Rosedale offered that would entice me to come back.  One thing I did find though is how hard it is for me to rate food I don’t really like.  I have realized I have a hard time quantifying degrees of bad.  Because of this, I think the grades I gave Rosedale may actually be a tick high.  We have been lucky in that most of the places we have visited have been good to great.  A few have fallen into the merely “OK” category and received average grades, but even those places had a few things that were really positive (LC’s fried green beans, and Johnny’s ribs come to mind.)  But with Rosedale, what was good there was “sightly below average” at best and what was less than good  bordered on awful.

Maybe we hit on an off night.  Maybe the key is to go with a “regular” who knows the lexicon of the alternate menu.  Maybe the chicken (which we didn’t get) is fantastic.  But after my first visit to Rosedale it is not very likely that I will be returning to find out.

Rosedale Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>