4 friends take on the challenge of eating at every single barbecue restaurant in Kansas City.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Hayward's Pit BBQ
Bar steer wants you to drink. Heavily.
When I walked into Hayward's BBQ for Westy's bachelor party, I unwittingly walked into a place frozen in time. Or possibly an episode of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares waiting to be made. I didn't quite realize what was happening as we browsed the lobby, which is covered in possibly a hundred photographs of celebrity's from the mid-80s to the early 90s. This place apparently was huge at one point. I'm not totally sure of the chain of events that left it as a shell of a BBQ restaurant that it is today, though.
Sausage and Burnt ends; half eaten.
Dinner started off well enough. I called ahead of time to make sure they could get our party of 8 in without too much trouble on a Saturday night. 'No problem' they tell me, and they weren't kidding. Walking into the expansive dining area I was somewhat surprised that they were almost empty. That was the first sign of things to come.
I had to try as much variety off of the menu as possible, so I ordered up some chicken wings and a sausage & burnt end appetizer. It may have taken 20 minutes to get the appetizers out, but they were pretty good. I was expecting something more like buffalo wings, but they were really just lightly breaded and deep fried. And the burnt end & sausage plate went over pretty well. Not the best burnt ends, but they were meaty and we all liked the sauce. The sausage tasted a bit like a meatball, but I liked it.
Westy waits for the inevitable:
his wedding and his terrible dinner.
Then the next huge wait came. It probably took another 25 minutes for our actual dinner to be served. Being we were all talking and having a good time, I can't say exactly how long it took from order to serving, but it had to be approaching an hour. It was insane. This is BBQ. It's not like there's much actual cooking to do. Most everything is already cooked! By the time the food came out, it was obvious that it had been sitting under a heat lamp for quite a while. And it was fairly terrible. The brisket was fatty and bland. The pulled pork was fatty and bland. And the ribs were just bland.
The beans were just strange tasting. Not inedible, but I'd think twice about ordering them again. They tasted a little like chocolate.
This is a restaurant with some serious problems. I have a feeling this place has virtually no management. I would suspect the kitchen is operating in disarray. And I have a feeling that the servers are either overworked, or they're caught waiting on an inept back of house, because the service was painfully slow. As an example, the menu says that the dinners come with pickles. When they were served sans pickles, I asked our waitress if she could bring us some. By the time they got there a couple of guys were already done with their sandwiches, and I was more than half done with dinner. For pickles. On a plate. It took ten fucking minutes. Yeah, service was that bad.
Westy made the bold move of choosing the rib platter,
but wasn't rewarded for his boldness.
The back of the menu gives you a little bit of history of the place. From what I gathered, it goes a little something like this:
Some guy starts a small BBQ place in the 70s.
It's wildly successful with lines out the door, so he finds a huge new location to handle the crowds.
The restaurant rides on it's merits through the 80s and thinks it's the shit.
Time passes by and the management becomes complacent.
Eventually you end up with a huge restaurant virtually empty on a Saturday night, serving mediocre food at a glacial pace.
Charlie's sandwich was impressively large.
I've seen this type of thing before. So, while the experience was well below our expectations, this place COULD turn around. The sauce was good. Charlie's sandwich was huge. The appetizers showed promise. The food was bland and poorly cooked, but that's pretty easy to fix.
So there you have it. One more restaurant off the list is done. I have a feeling I'll have more experiences like this in the near future. Come on KC! Get your shit together!