Monday, September 27, 2010

Smokin' Guns Redux

For our first restaurant to officially kick off the KC BBQ Challenge we decided on one of the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives stops and hit downtown NKC for a little Smokin' Guns. As it is not the inherent nature of a travel show to give any destination a REAL review it seemed like a good choice.

Walking in was awkward. There were a few tables full of people who most likely go there often, which is good. Repeat business is a sign of either consistency, good food or stupid people. After our stop I don't think anyone there was stupid for returning, but I think that they're probably there because it's close, not because there aren't better choices. There was no music playing the entire time we were there and we seemed to be the boisterous table because we talked. I really wanted 101 The Fox to be playing in the background. It would have matched the paneling perfectly. We grabbed a table before we realized that no one would be coming to take our order, and that we had to pick from a menu hung on the wall. Like Mark said, it's one of those signs with the soda advertisement in the middle and letters that can be replaced easily. One like you'd see at a drive-in or skating rink. One that should never be in a restaurant because of the grease and dust that would collect in the cracks used to hold the lettering in place. Just a note... this place didn't seem like the kind of joint that would change the menu very often.

Ash and I got settled, talked it over and ordered a combo platter to share. I wanted the chance to get a feel for as much as the restaurant had to offer. Ribs, pulled pork, sausage, sweet potato fries and beans. Mark got some brisket and Sarah got the quarter chicken, so we all had a bit of one anothers' to round out our tasting. The Smokin' Guns sauce is good. It's not overly sweet as most KC sauces tend to be. It had a nice vinegar balance and good spicing. I'm not sharp enough to tell you what spices they were, that's something I hope to learn in this challenge. The ribs had a nice rub on them too. I used some on the fries and loved it. The ribs themselves weren't in my top 10. The meat stuck between our teeth which in my book is a no-no. I've since learned that in competition ribs should not fall off the bone, but stay firmly in shape and give some sort of "tooth tug". I would be a poor BBQ competition judge, because I love rib meat to practically jump off the bone and melt in my mouth. The sausage was pretty darn good. Lots of whole spices cooked within the meat and a nice crisp pop as you break through the skin. I'd have that again. The breast meat that I tried was dry, but again, the rub was tasty. The pulled pork was dry too. I think that maybe on a busier night the meat could be great, but it seemed that the fat had drained completely from the meat and it left a kind of funk in my sinuses as I swallowed. I am not a fan. I think the brisket was right. It may have fallen victim to the slow night, but it maintained some light greasiness and fell apart without any extra chewing. I'm giving the beef a thumbs up.

Overall I was pleased to find a new place where I can find a couple of menu items that I'd go back for. The sauce should be your crowning achievement as a BBQ restaurant. Smokin' Guns achieves that crown. It gets tarnished when the vessel of delivery is lackluster, but you're still wearing the crown, Guns. I think that the restaurant may have been the next logical step in a competition BBQ Team's succession. At least it felt that way. Cash in and run some XM through a couple of shitty speakers and you'll warm it right up in there. I'll come back XM or not.

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