Let it be known that I am not a fan of BBQ. In fact, I rarely eat meat. However, I was intrigued by stories of the Woodyard Bar-B-Que in KCK. The family business started in the early 1900’s as a purveyor of coal and later specialty woods. They have been smoking meat in the current location on Merriam Lane for over 50 years.
You can smell and see the massive smoker as soon as you pull into the gravel drive. It’s taller than the first story of the old house that serves as kitchen and cash wrap. Bags of wood for sale are stacked waist high at the side of the building, with hand drawn signs identifying Pecan, Apple, Peach, Pear, Hickory and Cherry logs for home cooking. Seating is outside on a sloping brick patio near the odiferous smoker.
It would have been very pleasant sitting outside in the waning afternoon sun, enjoying the simple culinary scents, had we not been assailed by a brigade of aggressive flies. Elliott has a phobia of bugs and nervously eyed the pesky invaders while munching on his bag of chips (no fries on the menu!).
When our food arrived, I was floored by the size of Mark’s side of Burnt End Chili. A hefty portion to begin with, it was topped with huge hunks of sauce-soaked meat. Despite the serious carnivore appeal, Mark said that the chili was bland and he ended up just cherry picking burnt ends from the top.
He also had the Pulled Pork Sandwich, which came with some fabulous looking pickles, but no sauce. After adding some of the Woodyard’s own spicy sauce, he gave the pulled pork a mediocre rating – decent, but nothing compared to his favorite Oklahoma Joe’s meal.
Elliott and I were supposed to share a couple of BBQ Chicken drumsticks. An extremely picky eater, Elliott surprised me by actually taking a bite out of the blackened “chicken leg.” His adventurous mood was short-lived; and he promptly spit the chicken back out after realizing that it was spicy. I ate both pieces. The crispy skin did have a spicy kick to it. As we were eating, a friendly guy (presumably the owner) brought us two more steaming drumsticks free of charge. Mark and I happily split them, remarking that the chicken was by far the best part of our meal.
Bottom Line: The Woodyard has an undeniable rustic charm. Eating on the smoke-filled patio surrounded by cobwebbed planters and rusty old jugs feels like a fine adventure. The food itself is a bit of a letdown. If you do go, order the chicken (on Wednesdays they offer a 1/2 chicken dinner with bread and two sides for $6.95).