Stack to the Future

Update: The Stack has since closed for business.

The moral of the story of our visit to The Stack is a two part-er.  First, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.  Second, it is critical to have an accurate website if you are a business.  Usually you have to wait to the end of the story to get the overarching moral, however, I feel the need to point it out early in this case because had both of those points been followed this review would have been posted a few months ago.  The Stack opened in January of 2012 in the building that was the final home of Smokestack BBQ (from the Jack Stack BBQ lineage).  They even use the same smoker.  We heard about some people that used to be associated with Smokestack opening up a new joint in the same location and decided to try it out.  This was about 3 months ago, less than 100 days after The Stack opened.  As is our usual routine we checked the web for details.  We like to get hours, menu details, etc before we make a visit so we can have a game plan to maximize our variety of food based on the number of people that will be dining.  However, back in March when we decided to check out The Stack would could not find a website for them and the only web info we could find was a lone yelp review.  That Yelp entry listed The Stack as being open until 10:00, and being lazy, we did not call to confirm this.  (Side note: Issues arising from moral #1 listed above can often be avoided with a phone call, but c’mon, look it up in a phone book?  What is this, 1993?)  After a later than expected night at work, and wrangling wives and kids we got to The Stack about 8:20 thinking we had an hour and a half plus for dinner.  Once we arrived we were disappointed to see the Yelp entry was inaccurate and they actually closed at 9:00.  Knowing we were going to be there for more than a quick sandwich, and having a desire to not be “that guy”, we relented and headed down the road to 75th Street Brewery instead.

When it was time for another review we landed back on The Stack.  This time we knew the hours first hand and planned our time better.  We did revisit the web to see if there was a site up and thankfully, there was.  I do give The Stack a pass on the lack of a website from our first search.  I know things can come up (especially when trying to get a business off the ground) and the website they put up is really polished and modern looking.  So after perusing their site (primarily the menu) we got our game plan together, wrangled up our wives (again),  and headed over to the new old BBQ place on 89th and Wornall.

When we walked in the patronage in the dining room was sparse.  We were greeted promptly and cheerfully by the young lady working the register.  She grabbed menus and led us to a table.  We looked over the menus just to confirm our pre-game plan and settled on how how we wanted to divide and conquer.  By this time our server, Tim, came by to get our drink orders and had them back to the table quickly.  One thing we noticed on the

I love a place that names their sandwiches

menu was that the “dinner for two” we were planning on ordering in duplicate came with extra sides that were not mentioned on the menu listed online.  This threw us just a bit as we ordered, and we kind of stumbled (especially on the second order).  Almost as if he read our minds as to what we were trying to do, Tim deftly suggested the most efficient and cost effective way for us to  get pretty much every side and meat on the menu.

The speed in which our food was delivered was mind numbing.  I didn’t look at a clock, but if I had to guess, I’d say from placing our order to the food being set on the table my watch clicked off just shy of four minutes.  Now I understand with heat lamps and microwaves and such you can be efficient in food delivery, but this food showed no signs of heat lamps or microwaves.  The fries were hot and crispy.  The meat was hot and tender.  The sides all came out fresh.  None of us could believe how quick we were served especially considering the quality appearance (and as we found out once we ate, the taste) of the food.

As Tim dropped off our last plate of food (he was acting as the food runner too in addition to being what looked like the only server for the dining room) he asked if we needed anything else.  The Stack only had one bottle of sauce on the table so I asked him if they had a spicy or any other varieties of sauce.  He said they had a hot and a sweet and when I asked if we could get some of each he obliged without hesitation and had them back to our table in about 30 seconds.

Before I get to the food, I want to make a quick mention of how good the service was throughout our meal.  Tim was the perfect balance of attentive and helpful.  He made sure drinks were full, checked in on us to make sure we had everything we needed, offered to bus empty plates, and offered to go boxes all without being intrusive or pushy.

My thoughts on the food:

Turkey and Ham:  I would normally never lead with turkey and or ham in this section, but there is a method to my madness.  First off, The Stack’s turkey and ham were fine.  They were not earth shattering and by no means were they inedible. Jake and I both had essentially the same notes for both meats.  Both of us summed up both meats with one word. On my notepad I had “standard”, on Jake’s, “normal.”  We have found most all turkeys and hams fall under this categorization.  So, from here on out, were are only going to mention turkey and ham if there is something that distinguishes either from the middle of the bell curve area.

Brisket: The brisket did not have a lot of smoke flavor, however it was still quite enjoyable.  On the spots where I got bark, the rub and smoke complimented the nice beef flavor that was present throughout.  It was a little drier than I like, but it was not off-putting at all.

Beef Burnt Ends: As you would expect from a proper burnt end, there was tons of smoke and beef flavor.  These were some of the leanest burnt ends that we have encountered.  Although this made them a little drier than some it also made them very easy to eat not having to pick around giant chunks of fat as you do with some.  I would not hesitate to get them again.

Pulled Pork:  Again, I found this drier than I like personally, but  it was still very tasty.  The smoke flavor was more present than in the brisket, but was still quite subtle.  Also, like the brisket, the parts that had a little bark had fantastic flavor.

Ribs: These were one of the hits of our meal.  They were very tender and had nice smoke penetration.  The rub made a nice crust and they were very thinly sauced which let the flavor of the meat shine through.

Sausage: The Stack serves their sausage two ways; sliced (long ways) or chunked (small discs).  It is very distinctly not an off the shelf product.  It looks like it is handmade and tastes like it too.  The sausage did not take on a lot of smoke but had the most distinct black pepper flavor I have ever had in a sausage.  Considering how many places either do an Italian sausage (which I don’t love as a smoked sausage) or just a typical off the shelf pork sausage without much character The Stack’s version is a welcome departure.  I definitely recommend giving this a shot if you are a fan of the cased meats.

Sides:

Like I said, Tim hooked us up so we really got to try almost the entire board of fare when it came to side dishes.  As one would expect from a place that comes from the Smokestack/Jack Stack lineage, the sides at The Stack stand out.  The cheesy corn on the surface is somewhat typical.  However, the more you eat the more flavors you get.  Obviously the cheese sauce is dominant, but as you keep eating the presence of garlic comes through and the big chinks of ham as a nice meaty, salty component.  The beans were very solid.  They cook them on the smoker below the brisket so that leads to a nice smokey, meaty, and rich baked bean.  For french fries they offered both a potato and sweet potato version.  The regular fries were hot and crisp.  The sweet potato ones were not as sweet as some and the seasoning gave them just a little bite.  These worked really well with the hot sauce.  The

Sweet potato fries

potato salad had a creamy dressing that was very balanced.  The flavor, especially the mustard flavor, was more muted than some, but it was still a very above average side.  I enjoyed it quite a bit.  The coleslaw had a thinner dressing than we were used to.  It was a little sweet and I primarily celery seed flavor in the seasoning mix.  The bread (that is usually an afterthought and nothing more than plain Wonder bread) was of note at The Stack.  It was a little thicker cut and had a little more body than a typical generic white bread.  They lightly toast and butter it.  Between the 5 of us we ate every piece on the plates.

 Sauce:

The Stack only leaves their original sauce on the table, but they also offer a hot and a sweet as well.  You have to ask for them, but believe me, do yourself a favor and ask for them.  The original is a very good Kansas City style sauce.  It tomato based and has a consistency a kin to a homemade ketchup.  The balance of spice and sweet was executed very well in this sauce.  We asked if they had any others, and Tim quickly brought us a small cup of the sweet and the hot.  The hot

Original Sauce

sauce has more of a vinegar bite and the heat really builds in the back of your mouth as you eat more and more.  The sweet sauce, from what I can tell, was sweetened almost exclusively with honey.  There is still a very nice spice presence but the honey adds a more subdued and natural sweetness than you usually get in a sweet sauce.  It is also a bit thinner than many sweet sauces which works well because if the sauce is too thick it can overpower and bury the meat.  I am not a big fan of sweet sauces, but this one was superb.  As we left I asked if they sold bottles of their sauces and was told they do sell the original and hot, but not the sweet.  that was unfortunate because if they did, I was going to buy a bottle.  It was that good.

The Hard Data:

Location: 8920 Wornall; Kansas City, MO

Service type: Table Service

Alcohol Served: none

Website: www.thestackbbq.net

Price:

Sandwiches: $8.25-$10.50

BBQ Dinners: $10.25-$13.99

Platters for 2: $24.99

Slabs: $11.25/$20.25 (half/whole; St. Louis cut)

Sides: $1.49-$2.35 (sizes up to a gallon available)

 

Ratings:

Category

Jake Rating

Elwood Rating

Meat

8/10

8/10

Sides

9/10

8/10

Sauce

9/10

9/10

Service

9/10

9/10

Value

9/10

9/10

Overall Grade

A

                     A

Elwood’s Take:

I will be definitely adding The Stack to my regular rotation.  To me The Stack represents what can be great in the future of KC BBQ.  I believe that when it comes to the BBQ experience at a restaurant in Kansas City the sides, sauce, and service are just as important as the meat.  The stack does all of these things at a very high level, especially considering they have been open less than a year at this point.  They also add some things that some of the traditional “big boys” could take a cue from.  They have a very sleek and contemporary website (now), and things like participating with the Frontflip app show that they are in touch with the more mobile World in which we are all now living.  If The Stack is any indication of things to come, Kansas City won’t be losing status as a BBQ destination any time soon.

 Jake’s Take:

I was incredibly surprised by how much I enjoyed my experience at The Stack.  I had seen Smokestack in that same location slowly fade away over the years and was a bit skeptical to see the reincarnation of their old location on Wornall road.  But that sure didn’t stop me from trying it out.  For me, the ribs win in the meat category.  They have so much flavor in each bite that I kept wanting more.  The crisp bark of their rub complements the ribs and they were cut beautifully and with care.  To top it off, the side dishes and sauces tie the entire experience together.  For me, the sweet sauce was simply amazing.  I loved it on everything.  I really hope The Stack decides to bottle it because it is unique enough to be a hit.  At the very least, they should leave it on the table and not keep it in back as a super secret sauce that you have to ask about.  It really deserves more attention than it gets.  For the speed of service, The Stack makes a great quick dinner or lunch, but they don’t make you feel rushed if you linger a bit.  The TV’s on the walls let you catch the game and meet up with friends.  As the Governator once said, I’ll be back.
The Stack Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

3 thoughts on “Stack to the Future

  1. Pingback: What’s in a name? That which we call smoked meat by any other name would smell as sweet. Or would it? | No Bull BBQ – A Kansas City BBQ Blog

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

  3. Pingback: Reviews…Reviews..Reviews…WE love them › The Stack BBQ ‹ 816.444.7675

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