The Patrick Ewing of Kansas City BBQ

 

The topic of best BBQ restaurant is one of those great discussions.  It is a lot like comparing great athletes from different eras.  It is a great discussion because a) there is no right answer, and b) it will be debated forever.  Take “Best big man in NBA history” for example.  Almost unilaterally Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, and Shaq are regarded as 1a-1d in some order.  But you always have a guy that throws somebody like Patrick Ewing in the mix and argues to the end about how he should top the list.  The addition of another name, the quoting of stats, comparison of

All-time great NBA Big Man Patrick Ewing

when they played all fuel the discussion and make it evolve.  In the world of KC BBQ there are some staple participants in the ongoing dialogue of best ‘Q in the city.  Any time a group of people discusses this, most of them generally fall into four camps.  You have your Bryant’s crew, your Gates group, your Oklahoma Joe’s loyalists, and though smaller in number the equally passionate Jack Stack fans.  There is always one guy though that brings up LC’s.  It never fails, they always pop up on the periphery of the conversation of best in town.  Because of this constant interjection of LC’s in the discussion, Jake and I have been wanting to visit for quite a while.  We have been planning for some time visiting some restaurants in the vicinity of Kauffman Stadium leading up to this year’s MLB All-Star game so we thought it the perfect opportunity to check out LC’s.

Our original plan was to try them on Sunday because it worked well with our schedule.  We got a bit confused and worried when we found no website for LC’s and virtually no web presence aside from customer reviews.  So we went old school and picked up the phone.  Bad idea.  The lady who answered the phone left us more confused.  When asked whether they were open on Sundays, she replied “Only when there is a game.”  So we said “You mean Chiefs games?”  “No, Royals too,” she replied.  Ok, we get it.  When there was a game in town, they would be open.  So we asked if they were open this Sunday.  She said, “I don’t know.”  Our final question may have been a sign of things to come.  We asked what time they would be open if their was a game on Sunday.  Her reply, “I don’t know.”  So, just so we are all on the same page here…  If you are in the general area of LC’s on a Sunday and the Royals or Chiefs are in town and playing a game that day and you are hungry at about the time the games are scheduled to be played, then you might roll the dice and see if you get lucky.  The Royals were away this weekend so we chose Saturday night and hoped they were still open.

As we entered the small building at 5800 Blue Pkwy (~10 min away from the Truman Sports Complex, where “The K” resides) the first thing that hit us was smoke.  Both the smell of smoke wood and a thin veil of actual smoke greeted us as we walked in the door.  LC’s has an open door smoker that appears to act as a holding area of sorts for meat that is about to be served.  The smell is great and it is kind of cool to see slabs of ribs, brisket

Indoor Smoker at LC’s

flats, and the like in their whole form prior to service.  The people working the counter were very stoic and showed almost no emotion about us or themselves being there.  We looked over the menu and settled on two mix plates (2 meats and a long end of ribs) and an order of burnt ends.  The burnt ends always seem to be the item referenced by fans of LC’s.  Even though they are only offered on their own and not as part of the mix plate we ordered them as well.  One thing I found unusual is the mix plate is not offered with any sides.  They are a la carte and start at $3.45 for a small serving in addition to the $16.99 mix plate.  We added, BBQ beans, french fries, cole slaw, and spicy fried green beans for sides to our meats which were, ribs, sliced beef, pork (which is sliced, not pulled), turkey (Jake’s wife was with us), and the order of burnt ends.

Old School Menu Board at LC’s

Pro Tip: All the meat is served generously sauced.  I heard someone behind us place their order dry.  I wish I had done this because although I did enjoy their sauce, I would have liked to control my portion.

My thoughts on the food:

Sliced beef – I thought the beef had good flavor.  Not overly smokey and it had a nice strong beef flavor.  The cuts we had were quite lean, which I like.  However, some of the slices were a bit chewy.  Overall it was one of the better meats.

Beef burnt ends – This is where we heard LCs really shined.  Like the sliced beef, the burnt ends had a nice balance of smoke to the beef.  Some of the pieces were good, others were really chewy, and others yet were almost pure fat.  Overall I thought them to be pretty inconsistent and wondering if we just caught them on a bad night based on what I have herd others say about the burnt ends.

Ribs – The ribs were almost an oxymoron of smoked meat.  They were quite fatty, yet pretty dry.  This is an odd combination because usually the fat keeps the meat moist and in the case of the dry meat it is because all the fat has rendered out.  They had decent flavor, but it was hard to get past the fatty/dry texture.

A note on the bark on the beef, burnt ends and ribs: Some pieces had a nice crisp full flavored bite to them.  Others were an electron short of being pure carbon and close to inedible.

Sliced turkey, pork, and ham – I kind of hate to group all of these together, but in the end they were almost indecipherable from each other.  Other than the ham having a bit more saltiness from curing they all ran together.  They were all overpowered by the sauce in which they were covered.  We both had the word “weird” in our notes in reference to the texture of the turkey.  Jake noted “watery and broken down”.  I agree if only because I had a hard time describing the texture otherwise.  I do not think I’d order any of the three again.

 

Sides:

BBQ Beans – The beans had a nice molasses sauce and hefty chunks of beef in them.  Overall, pretty tasty and my second favorite side dish.

French fries – There were pretty standard thick cut steak fries.  Outside was nice and crisp, inside was soft.

Spicy fried green beans- These were great.  Hands down

Fried Green Beans

these were the favorite side of all in attendance.  They had a nice crisp cornmeal coating that had a lot of flavor and was fried crisp.  The green beans inside were hot and still hadthat “snap” of a fresh green bean which I love.

Cole slaw – This was really tasty in its simplicity.  It had a nice creamy mayo based dressing and just a hint of celery seed for seasoning.  It was not overly complex and was just a solid take on cole slaw.

LC’s sauce

Sauce – LC’s sauce is a thin tomato based one.  It has a nice sweet base and just a hint of a vinegar tang.  The predominant spices I got from the sauce were celery seed and black pepper, though neither overly aggressive.  Even though it isn’t my favorite, I enjoyed LC’s sauce.

 

 

 

The Hard Data:

Location: 5800 Blue Parkway Kansas City, MO 64129

Service Type: Lunch: counter

Alcohol Served: none

Website: none

Price:

Sandwich $9.49-$10.49 (includes fries)

Combo Plate: $16.99

Slab: $19.99

Sides: $3.45


 

Ratings:

Category

Jake Rating

Elwood Rating

Meat

5/10

5/10

Sides

7/10

7/10

Sauce

6/10

6/10

Service

6/10

5/10

Value

5/10

4/10

Overall Grade

C+

C+

 Summary:

Elwood’s take: In the original discussions about how we wanted to relay information for this blog we decided that we would visit each restaurant twice.  Once we really started to dig into the logistics of that thought we quickly discovered that if we stuck to that idea we’d post about 3 reviews a year so we went more with a one visit, window into an “any day” at a particular place.  This visit to LC’s makes me want to revisit the “2 meal minimum” because I just have this feeling in my gut that I might be missing something.  I can’t believe all those glowing reviews are that far off.  With that said, based on this one visit I was not overly impressed.  The items that were good were merely “pretty good” and what was bad approached inedible.  On top of that, I found it kind of expensive even for the quantity of food.  To tie it back to my little basketball analogy, I do think Patrick Ewing is an all time great.  However, there is a marked gap between 1a-1d and Patrick Ewing.  (Sorry Ewing guy, face reality)  I also think that gap applies (probably even wider) when talking about LC’s in the scope of “Best BBQ in KC.”

Jake’s Take:

I can only hope we hit LC’s on a very off night.  However, if this is supposed to be the hidden gem in the Kansas City barbeque world that doesn’t get the same respect as the top guys, they gotta work harder than this.  The entire experience gave me a weird feeling of shame and confusion.  I was ashamed and confused as to why I couldn’t figure out what was so great about LC’s.  Was I missing something?  Did I overlook something special?  This was our first review in about four weeks.  Was I getting rusty or did I forget what the heck I was doing?  I took pictures and notes, observed my environment and felt like I wasn’t doing anything different from all of our other reviews.  Yet, I still couldn’t figure it out.

When looking at my mixed plate with sliced turkey and sliced pork, it was truly a mystery as to which meat i was eating.  It seems as though LC’s may be trapped in time and the rest of the world is passing by.  There is something to be said for small dives.  Guy Fieri has made an excellent living at showcasing them.  While the food on his show appears appetizing, well thought out, and the dive’s employees seem to enjoy making their customer’s happy, LC’s turned out to be something else entirely.  At LC’s I experienced a lack of any emotion and interaction by the staff at the counter, strange results in their smoked meats (dry and fatty, moist but chewy, or watery and falling apart), and such a slippery floor from the grease that I almost face-planted while picking up my tray of food at the counter.

At this point, I would like to try it again before being responsible for recommending this restaurant to anyone.  If you have lived in the neighborhood all your life, I understand that LC’s probably has a special place in your heart.  For me, it just wasn’t worth the 30 minute drive.  I passed several superior barbeque restaurants on the way.

 

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