Location: 1007 Merriam Ln., KC, K
Service: Counter + Server
Atmosphere: No frills BBQ
Price: Sandwiches $4-$7, Dinners $9-$13
Rating: One Napkin
Writing reviews on barbecue places in KC is about as worthless as arguing that my dad could beat up your dad (we all did that, right?).
If you've lived here any amount of time, you've figured out your favorite and are unwilling to even entertain the idea it could have an equal. And in a way, you're right. We're all right. Because the truth of the matter is that most of the barbecue in this city is darn good, and our individual preferences are derived from the smallest unique components that each different proprietor highlights in their own recipes: the flavor and consistency of the sauce, the spices in the dry rub, the special side dishes or even the location of the restaurant.
So I'll give you my review of Quick's – my most recent new barbecue venture – but I don't expect you to agree with me. As barbecue goes, the bottom line is that KC does it well and Quick's sits squarely in the company of our proud tradition if you happen to prefer their flavors. It's just not my personal favorite.
If I were pressed to describe Quick's in a single word, it would be "mild." Like it or not, if a BBQ joint serves sauce, that sauce is immediately part of the restaurant's identity and mild is how I found Quick's sauce. They poured quite a lot of sauce on the boat of ribs we ordered (in the proverbial debate of wet vs. dry, Quick's apparently is all wet). And as Elizabeth and I tested out the sauce, we both couldn't help feeling like it was darn near flavorless. So thick and with that dark burgundy hue, how could it not be bursting with spice or tomato or molasses? I don't know, but we agreed the key flavor that we picked out of the Quick's sauce as we ate more and more was… apple. Well, apple sauce, really. And it wasn't bad—just surprising. The stomach wants what the eyes think they see and we thought we "saw" more flavor in that thick red sauce.
We've had ribs, brisket and burnt ends at Quick's, feeling they represent the essential flagship meats in the barbecue world. And without generalizing too much, I can say, across the board, they were mostly tender and lean. Not as tender as the best barbecue I've had, nor as lean, but in a very acceptable range. But in the meat, too, there were aspects we found surprisingly different than we anticipated.
The first of these surprises was the temperature of the food. It was luke warm. As if it had been taken off a buffet line or something. Pretty odd. Not off-putting or disappointing, just not quite as hot as I like barbecued meats. Secondly, though boasting a visible ring of pink on the thinly sliced brisket, it seemed lower on smokey flavor than it should have. It was a little baffling, really. Seeing that pink ring and with a good, soft texture, I wouldn't imagine there wasn't anything strange about the methods used to smoke Quick's meats, except that, perhaps, they use mild-flavored wood and not too much of it. Bite after bite, I kept asking myself where all the flavor could be.
Even after the meal, the toned-down flavors of Quick's meats haunted my thoughts. The conclusion I've finally come to is that the recipe-makers for Quick's simply prefer a subtler-tasting plate of barbecue. And you know what? That's okay. I went back to Oklahoma Joe's after my trip to Quick's to study and compare and had my eyes opened about just how far on the other side of the seasoning spectrum OK Joe's is. No two ways about it: Oklahoma Joe's is wildly strong stuff. The rub on the pork has a ton of salt in it. The famously seasoned fries are doused in salt, too. And the smoke is so strong in the food that a single takeout bag containing no more than two sandwiches can make the inside of a vehicle smell like a meat-smoking chamber.
So what did I learn on my trip to Quick's? More about myself than anything. When it comes to 'cue, I like a LOT of flavor. I want so much smoke and salt that I wake up in the middle of the night parched, with a foot cramp. I want to see my face and fingers swell up from retaining water. I want my lips to taste like hickory the next morning and my hair to reek of it, as I shampoo. For me, barbecue isn't about subtlety. At all. It's about bold, bold flavor and meat that has taken on a tender texture that can only be derived from hours upon hours of low and slow cooking. Quick's is for a more refined barbecue fan, I'd say. I don't know who those fans are, but I'm sure they're out there. And I hope they've discovered Quick's.
Parting note on the sides: we had baked beans, onion rings and fries. The beans will not impress, the fries and rings, though, are good. Thick and crunchy, both, begging for ketchup and lots of it.
Rating: one napkin